Top 10 Christian Colleges & Universities in California
- Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff
- 2019 17 Jan
Choosing the right college or university for yourself or helping your teen choose is very important, but it can be daunting. There are so many Christian colleges to choose from, and each state has many great schools to offer. We’ve created a list of the top 10 Christian colleges and universities in the state of California, to make your decision a little easier if you’re looking on the west coast. In no particular order, here they are:
1. Biola University
Biola University is a private Christian university in La Mirada, California. Located approximately 16 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Biola was established over a century ago in 1908 by Lyman Stewart and the Reverend T.C. Horton. The two men had one extraordinary vision, which resulted in the created of Biola University. They were committed to promoting Christian higher education, which is still reflected in the University’s mission to this day: “The mission of Biola University is biblically centered education, scholarship, and service — equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Biola University has a total enrollment figure of 6,095 students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1. It is made up of nine schools that offer a combined total of more than 150 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. These schools include Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Crowell School of Business, Rosemead School of Psychology, School of Cinema and Media Arts, School of Education, School of Fine Arts and Communication, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Science, Technology, and Health, and the Talbot School of Theology. Biola University holds institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission and has since 1961. The institution and a few specific programs are also accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The University admits 70% of applicants and boasts a high overall retention rate of 84% with an overall graduation rate of 69%. Financial aid is readily available to students who might need it, with more than 90% of Biola students receiving one or more forms of financial assistance.
- Location: La Mirada, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Interdenominationa
- Enrollment: 4,048 (undergrad), 2,124 (graduate)
- Tuition: $41,976 (annual)
- Room & Board: $10,926 (annual)
For more information, visit biola.edu
Photo credit: Biola University
2. Providence Christian College
Founded in 2005, Providence is the only WASC-Accredited college on the West Coast with a Reformed theological perspective. It ranks on U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. Providence’s Faith Guided Learning™ sees faith as the engine, driver, and heart of knowing, so faith is integral in every subject. Within a quiet neighborhood in view of the San Gabriel Mountains, just minutes from L.A., Providence shares its 17-acre campus with the Venture Center and other Christian schools and ministries, creating internship and ministry opportunities. Degree programs include Biblical studies, business, media, arts, education, English, sciences, philosophy, politics, history, psychology, and sports psychology. Students are required to participate in unique day-trip experiences within the local area and are offered extended cross-cultural immersions, through Providence’s Adovah (Hebrew for “work, worship, and service”) program. Adovah exposes students to local radio stations, the L.A. Times, the opera, L.A. Philharmonic, Mormon temples, the Church of Scientology, secular museums, Mt. Wilson Observatory, and Skid Row to broaden their awareness and learn critical thinking.
Students attend chapel twice-weekly and live near the centrally-located dining hall with outdoor balcony and courtyard. Providence’s NAIA athletes earned the Champions of Character Five-Star Institution Award for 2017-2018 based on character training, promotion, community service, GPA, and competition conduct. The Sea Beggars compete in baseball, golf, soccer, cross country, volleyball and track & field. Clubs include film, drama, hiking, and more. Students can also enjoy intramural volleyball, soccer, basketball, dodgeball, and flag football; or join the Student Senate or Campus Activities Board. Providence’s mission is to equip students to be grounded in biblical truth; educated in the liberal arts; and engaged in their church, community, and the world for the glory of God and service to humanity.
- Location: Pasadena, California
- Denominational Affiliation: Reformed Protestant/Non-denominational
- Enrollment: 160 and rising (undergrad)
- Tuition: $30,720 (annual)
- Room & Board: $9,500 (annual)
For more information, visit providencecc.edu
Photo credit: Providence Christian College
3. Simpson University
Simpson University is a Christian liberal arts university located in Redding, CA; it is the only Christian university north of Sacramento. W.W. Newberry founded the university in 1921 as Simpson Bible Institute; the school is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. It was named after Presbyterian minister Albert Benjamin Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and pioneer of the Bible institute movement in the late nineteenth century. Today, the school’s vision is “to be the university of choice for students who aspire to achieve their chosen life goals through a Christ-led, transformational and innovative education.”
Simpson University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers 25 liberal arts and professional studies degrees. It also offers an adult bachelor degree-completion program, graduate studies, and credential programs. There are medical professional paths for dental school, medical school, occupational therapy, physical therapy, optometry, and pharmacy. According to the university’s website, “More than 30 percent of traditional undergraduates are first-generation college students, and ethnic diversity characterizes almost one-third of the population.”
The ratio of students to professor is 11:1. The professors come from major universities all over the U.S. and are focused on integrating faith and learning. Overall the campus community desires to promote Christ-centered learning and meaningful work. Every fall students are invited to join a WorldSERVE team, which is a year-long discipleship journey that includes a short-term mission project.
- Location: Redding, California
- Denominational Affiliation: Christian and Missionary Alliance
- Enrollment: 504 (undergraduate), 111 (graduate), 133 (non-traditional)
- Tuition: $29,750 (annual)
- Room & Board: $8,724 (annual)
For more information visit, simpsonu.edu
Photo credit: Simpson University
4. The Master’s University
Located in Santa Clarita, just miles from Los Angelas and the beach, The Master’s University was initially founded in 1927 as Los Angelas Baptist Theological Seminary with 24 students. Their first Bachelor of Arts programs was started in 1946 to accommodate WWII veterans, and the college division of LABTS began in 1950. In 1975 the school was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as it still is today. In 1985 Dr. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, became the school’s president; he is currently the longest-serving president at TMU. That same year, Dr. MacArthur and the board of directors decided to change the name of the school from LABTS to The Master’s College and they also agreed that the school should be non-denominational. The school doubled in size and began an academic expansion.
Today, TMU provides a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, with 13 majors (including a one-of-a-kind marketing media major) and 4 master’s degree options; they also provide 100% online programs in both undergraduate and graduate fields. At TMU, 94% of students receive some sort of financial aid. Their athletic division is NAIA Division I, they are ranked #46 for Regional Universities West and #38 for Best Value Schools by U.S. News. Connected to TMU is The Master’s Seminary (TMS), located in Los Angelas.
TMU’s mission statement is: “The mission of The Master’s University is to empower students for a life of enduring commitment to Christ, biblical fidelity, moral integrity, intellectual growth and lasting contribution to the Kingdom of God worldwide.”
- Location: Santa Clarita, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Non-denominational
- Enrollment: 1,340 (undergrad)
- Tuition: $24,950 (annual)
- Room & Board: $11,200 (annual)
For more information visit masters.edu.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
5. California Baptist University
California Baptist University is located in Riverside, CA (a short drive from popular beaches and mountain resorts) on a 160-acre campus; it was founded in 1950 by the California Southern Baptist Convention. CBU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers bachelor's (76 majors and 52 minors), master's (31 degrees) and credential programs in Riverside, San Bernardino and online. They also offer three doctoral programs. Below is CBU’s mission statement:
“California Baptist University believes each person has been created for a purpose. CBU helps students understand and engage this purpose by providing a Christ-centered educational experience that integrates academics with spiritual and social development opportunities. Graduates are challenged to become individuals whose skills, integrity and sense of purpose glorify God and distinguish them in the workplace and in the world.”
U.S. News ranks CBU #32 in Regional Universities West, #20 in Best Value Schools, #7 in Most Innovative Schools, and #168 in Engineering Programs (no doctorate). CBU athletics are part of the Western Athletic Conference. A healthy spiritual life is important at CBU, you can join discipleship ministries, partake in global immersions, serve locally, attend chapel, and participate in men’s and women’s ministries.
- Location: Riverside, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: California Southern Baptist Association
- Enrollment: 10,486 (undergrad & grad)
- Tuition: $32,942 (annual)
- Room & Board: $11,780 (annual, includes fees)
For more information visit calbaptist.edu.
Photo credit: California Baptist University
6. San Diego Christian College
San Diego Christian College is a private, evangelical Christian college located in Santee, California. Founded in 1970 by Drs. Tim LaHaye, Art Peters, and Henry Morris, the school was originally known as Christian Heritage College. Its three founders set out to provide students with an education that would not only train their minds but their hearts as well. Shortly after the first degrees were awarded in 1973, the College moved campuses to share a 32 acre complex with Shadow Mountain Community Church. The College is accredited by the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has been since 1984. Its mission states that San Diego Christian College “exists to educate and inspire students through the truth of Scripture and the development of competencies that prepare graduates whose purpose is to impact the world.”
A small school, San Diego Christian College has a total enrollment figure of 658. San Diego Christian College offers various programs for undergraduate and graduate students, while also offering a wide selection of online courses. The College’s graduate programs include Master of Science in Leadership, Master of Arts in Teaching, Teaching Credential, and Combined Credential and Master’s Program for Teaching. A few of the school’s popular undergraduate majors include Business Administration and Management, Human Development, Psychology, Biology, Theological and Ministerial Studies, and many more. San Diego Christian College admits 52% of applicants and has an overall retention rate of 68% with an overall graduation rate of 53%. Financial aid is readily available for students who might need it, with more than 95% of students receiving some type of financial assistance.
- Location: Santee, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Non-denominational
- Enrollment: 658 (undergrad)
- Tuition: $29,864 (annual)
- Room & Board: $11,640 (annual)
For more information, visit sdcc.edu.
Photo credit: San Diego Christian College
7. Point Loma Nazarene University
Point Loma Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts University located in San Diego, California. Established in 1902 by the Church of the Nazarene as a Bible college, the school was originally given the title Pacific Bible College. In 1973, the school underwent a significant transition when it was relocated to Point Loma in San Diego, where the California Western University once stood. The school was renamed Point Loma Nazarene University in 1983. The University’s mission is, “to provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service is an expression of faith.”
Point Loma Nazarene University has an enrollment figure of 3,150 undergraduate students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A wide range of programs is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with more than 60 areas of study. A few of the University’s most popular majors include journalism, international development, and music & ministry. 71% of applicants are admitted into the University which boasts an overall retention rate of 86% with an overall graduation rate of 74%. Financial aid is readily available, with 90% of students receiving some type of financial assistance.
- Location: San Diego, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Nazarene, evangelical
- Enrollment: 3,150 (undergrad)
- Tuition $35,100 (annual)
- Room & Board: $10,450 (annual)
For more information visit, pointloma.edu
Photo credit: Point Loma Nazarene University
8. Azusa Pacific University
Number nine on Forbes’ America’s Top 10 Christian Colleges, Azusa Pacific University “began as a Training School for Christian Workers in 1899, preparing men and women for ministry and service.” The school is ranked 357 overall by Forbes and holds the U.S. News Rank of National Universities: Tier 1 (#187). It also ranks #177 in High School Counselor Rankings. APU has over 100 programs for education, from Bachelor’s Degree to Master’s and Doctoral and includes programs on-campus as well as online. Azusa Pacific University has many schools of study, including Business and Management, Visual and Performing Arts, and also, Azusa Pacific Seminary.
- Location: Azusa, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Christian Interdenominational (Wesleyan Holiness tradition)
- Enrollment: 5,770 (undergrad)
- Tuition: $38,880 (annual)
- Room & Board: $9,000 (annual)
For more information, visit apu.edu
Photo credit: Azusa Pacific University
9. Westmont College
Westmont College is situated in Santa Barbara, California. Westmont holds the U.S. News Rank of National Liberal Arts Tier 1 (#96) and one of Princeton Review’s Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best-Value Colleges. It also ranks #101 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools and #118 in High School Counselor Rankings. In addition to their wide variety of Academic Programs, ranging from computer science and engineering to communications, social science, anthropology, and kinesiology, Westmont also offers study abroad programs in several countries around the world.
Westmont encourages a love for the arts with its Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art and Westmont Classical Repertory Theatre. The school also encourages leadership with its Westmont Leadership Development Program. Westmont College is listed as one of Business Insider’s Top 50 Most Underrated Colleges in America and rated number fifteen by the Washington Post’s for “colleges and universities with greatest salary growth between starting and mid-career salaries.”
- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Non-denominational
- Enrollment: 1,298
- Tuition: $44,13
- Room & Boad: $14,296
For more information, visit westmont.edu.
Photo credit: Westmont College
10. Pepperdine University
Pepperdine University was founded in 1937 by George Pepperdine as a place where people of all faith backgrounds would treat one another with care and respect. George’s motto is Matthew 10:8 – “...Freely ye received, freely give.” Pepperdine University’s “Waves of Service” is inspired by its founder's mission to serve others sacrificially. While faculty are members of the Churches of Christ, courses are structured around non-denominational Christian traditions and students represent many religious backgrounds. Pepperdine ranks #39 in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Value Schools,” and #10 in Forbes’ “Most Entrepreneurial Universities.” Its stunning, beachfront, 830-acre Malibu campus is 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles. As part of its sustainability commitment, 500+ acres of the Malibu campus are preserved in a native state. Green building initiatives emphasize energy efficiency, reduced topographical grading, and optimal solar orientation. On-campus irrigation is 99% recycled water. Residence halls and apartments provide quick access to schools, recreation, and dining.
Student-to-faculty ratio is 12.5:1 across all schools which offer undergraduate, master's, doctoral, MBA, and joint degree programs at locations throughout Southern California. Undergraduates can choose from over 45 majors and 40 minors. Pepperdine Waves athletes compete on 17 NCAA Division I teams and have won 25 championships. Graduates include 48 Olympians and 6 gold medalists. Students find inspiration in weekly convocation or unique opportunities like beachside "Surf Convo" and "God in the Wilderness" retreats. As a “Waves of Service” volunteer, students participate in Project Serve, Step Forward Day, Challenge for Charity, and more. Nearly half of all undergraduates study abroad in Argentina, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and China. Summer programs allow students to complete their language requirements or focus on biology, business, humanities, music, and theatre. Pepperdine believes that everyone is called to have a life of purpose by serving others.
- Location: Malibu, CA
- Denominational Affiliation: Churches of Christ
- Enrollment: 3,604 (undergrad)
- Tuition: $53,970 (annual)
- Room & Board: $15,320 (annual)
For more information, visit pepperdine.edu
Photo credit: Pepperdine University
We hope this list has been helpful in your search for the best Christian college or university in California. To view other top Christian schools across the nation, check out our 70 Best Christian Colleges and Universities list.
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This article is part of our larger Higher Education resource library centered around colleges and universities. We hope these articles help you narrow down your search for Christian colleges and universities.