To many Arizonans, the Grand Canyon State is a beautiful desert oasis. It turns out the state's religious landscape is just as intriguing as its natural landscape. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of Arizona's residents identify as Christian. More specifically, 26% are Evangelicals, 21% are Roman Catholics, and 12% are Mainline Protestants. This goes to show that Arizona is a great state to find a Christian community, and it also offers ample opportunities for ministry and service.
Christian colleges in Arizona offer students a chance to pursue a Bible college education, study at a seminary, or get a liberal arts degree from a Christian university. Students in Christian universities in Arizona can earn a range of degrees, from the associate to doctoral level. Some schools are home to large bodies of online students, while others offer small communities dedicated to a particular type of Christian vocation.
According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of Arizona's residents identify as Christian. More specifically, 26% are Evangelicals, 21% are Roman Catholics, and 12% are Mainline Protestants. Pew Research Center
For any student who wants to practice their faith in an academic setting, a Christian college in Arizona offers supportive professors, a tight-knit community, and opportunities for ministry and service while in school. Whether students are seeking to pursue careers in full-time Christian ministry or simply want to explore how their faith integrates with their future professions, a Christian college in Arizona can help them achieve those goals.
Online Christian Colleges in Arizona
Christian online colleges can offer many benefits to digital learners. Students with jobs, families, and perhaps ministry responsibilities often benefit from an online program's flexibility and affordability. Students can pursue degrees from home and on their own schedules. Not only is this setting more comfortable, but it also allows students to meet work and family obligations while still earning their degrees. For those already employed in ministry, an online Christian college can be the answer to keeping up with church responsibilities while finishing a degree at the same time. Online learning can be a great way to save money, too. By taking online classes, students can avoid paying for on-campus housing, funding a long commute, or finding adequate daycare for small children.
Additionally, professors in Christian online colleges integrate faith-based learning into the online environment just like they do in a brick-and-mortar classroom. On Christian college campuses, students attend Bible classes, take Christian education courses, and engage with liberal arts electives from a Christian point of view. Online students can gain a very similar experience through online coursework. Plus, many online Christian colleges in Arizona offer easy ways to connect with other students through forums and groups, provide live streams of their chapel services and events, and make their counseling and spiritual support options available through the internet.
Arizona's Best Online Christian Schools
Arizona Christian University
Arizona Christian University is a nondenominational school founded in 1960 as the Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College. The university, located in Phoenix, was founded by Christian missionary and nurse Ida Clouse who donated 35 acres to establish the school.
Today ACU, one of the top Christian colleges in Arizona, offers more than 10 degrees from nine departments. The university also features five asynchronous online degrees that let students do classwork from anywhere at anytime. To earn an online degree, students must complete 120-122 liberal arts credits. Semesters run in eight-week cycles.
Regardless of their degree, all students earn a minor in biblical studies. That means students must take 18 credits, or five classes, in Bible studies. Bible studies classes include introduction to the Bible, early Chritisianity and its literature, and ancient Israel and its literature. Students can also choose from minors in subjects such as political science, Spanish, family studies, and sport management.
Faith in Christ remains an important part of the ACU experience. Students can participate in mission trips and worship bands. ACU also requires all students to agree to the Student Affirmation of Faith, which maintains that classes follow the values of evangelical Christianity. Other student resources include ACU library materials, including journals on JSTOR. The Academic Center also provides free tutoring services and students can request free counseling.
To apply for a degree, students must submit an online application and transcripts that show a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Arizona Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Grand Canyon University
Founded in 1949 as a private, Baptist-affiliated institution, the Christian Grand Canyon University offers an interdenominational education with nine colleges and more than 200 programs. Students can take classes at the main campus in Phoenix or attend courses at two colleges at the Sun City location.
GCU, one of the best Christian colleges in Arizona, also offers fully online certificates, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees that incorporate a faith-based education. Part of the general education requirements include taking a three-credit Christian worldview course.
Students can pick from a large selection of online degrees. The most popular online fields include communication, criminal justice, healthcare, business, science, technology, and engineering. GCU offers an online 120-credit bachelor's in English, a 120-credit bachelor's in nursing, a 38-credit master's in criminal justice, and a 38-credit master's in urban ministry. Online classes run in accelerated five- or eight-week sessions, while on-campus courses follow traditional 15-week semesters. The asynchronous format allows students to study 24/7 at their convenience.
After applicants submit an application, a GCU counselor will contact them. Requirements vary depending on a student's status. Online admissions requirements also differ from on-campus requirements. Students transferring from an accredited college must have a minimum of a 2.25 GPA and at least 25 credits. Transfer students can transfer up to 90 credits toward a bachelor's degree and as many as 12 credits toward a master's degree. All students must submit high school or college transcripts.
Grand Canyon University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Arizona's Best Online Seminaries
Founded in 1988, Phoenix Seminary provides a graduate-level education preparing students to become pastors, missionaries, and counselors in the church. The seminary offers classes at its campus in Phoenix, Arizona and online.
Students can choose from two fully online degrees. Phoenix Seminary offers the master of arts in biblical and theological studies and the graduate diploma in biblical and theological studies entirely online.
Phoenix Seminary also offers a doctor of ministry, a master of theology, a master of divinity, a master of arts in counseling, and a master of arts in ministry. Students enrolled in those degrees can also take online classes.
Online classes typically follow a 15-week semester format, except for summer semesters that run in 10-week sessions. The online class format operates asynchronously with weekly deadlines, but no set class times. Classes follow an "Apply and Learn" format. Lessons either require students to "Learn" through activities such as reading and watching lectures, or learners "Apply" their knowledge through exams and assignments. Phoenix Seminary recommends that online students taking a two-hour online class devote a minimum of six to seven hours a week to their studies. Students use Moodle to get their assignments, take quizzes, and watch lectures.
Every student receives a personal librarian from the Seminary Library, which they can communicate with via phone, email, or Skype. Online students also receive academic advising, career counseling, and technical support.
Phoenix Seminary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
SAGU American Indian College
SAGU American Indian College formed in 2016 when the Southwestern Assemblies of God University and American Indian College Inc. merged. However, the college's history dates back to 1957 when the American Indian College opened to train Native Americans for Christian service.
Today, SAGU features three colleges, including the College of Bible of Church Ministries, the College of Business and Education, and the College of Music and Communications Arts. Students can earn certifications and associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.
SAGU Online also offers a wide selection of fully online degrees in the Bible and ministry, business, education, occupational leadership, interdisciplinary studies, history and social studies, English and language arts, counseling, psychology and human services. Classes follow an asynchronous format with students using Blackboard to find course materials, assignments, and online lectures.
Online students can access on-campus services such as the library catalog, counseling, and career resources. Students can attend chapel services on campus or they can watch chapel seminars and other live broadcasts on SAGUtv.
To enroll in undergraduate online classes, applicants must sign and submit an application. They also need to submit transcripts from either high school or college and placement test scores. SAGU, among the top Christian colleges in Arizona, provides Experiential Learning Credit of up to 46 credits to students who enroll in a three-hour course and successfully demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
SAGU American Indian College is an extension of Southwestern Assemblies of God University, which is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
What Christian Colleges are in Arizona?
Finding the Right Christian College
Prospective students and their families must consider many factors when selecting a Christian college. Besides academic offerings, financial aid, and faith alignment, students should also consider the factors that influence their health and well-being while studying. Let's take campus size, for instance. Does a small school with a close-knit Christian community and low student-to-faculty ratio sound appealing? Or do you prefer a larger university with more events and course offerings? Many Christian universities in Arizona also require a service learning component as part of their educational experience. Will there be opportunities for ministry and service within easy reach?
Bible colleges in Arizona typically offer Bible- or ministry-focused degrees while Christian liberal arts colleges may provide a broader array of majors.
In addition, it's important to research the campus life and values at any Bible college in Arizona. Does the school prohibit the use of alcohol, limit co-ed housing, or require daily chapel attendance? Knowing the school's behavioral expectations from the outset can save students from frustration or disappointment later. Students with full-time jobs or family commitments often prefer to earn their degree online rather than on campus. Online Christian colleges in Arizona offer many chances to integrate faith and learning in their courses but may offer fewer opportunities for community and personal spiritual development. Regardless, it's helpful to research any college's technological resources before enrolling as a student. Finally, prospective students must consider the school's program offerings. Bible colleges in Arizona typically offer Bible- or ministry-focused degrees while Christian liberal arts colleges may provide a broader array of majors. It's important to know which qualities you are looking for before deciding to enroll in a Christian university.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
Students who seek a future career in full-time Christian ministry have three choices for their education: a Bible college, a seminary, or a Christian liberal arts college. Most Bible colleges in Arizona and other states hold accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). These schools often require a major in Bible as well as a vocational major, such as pastoral ministry, to complete a bachelor's degree.
Usually accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, a seminary is a graduate school of applied theology that offers master's degrees and sometimes doctorates. To gain admission to most seminaries, applicants must already hold a bachelor's degree. A Christian liberal arts college offers a range of academic and practical majors, typically including several majors and minors in Christian ministry, biblical studies, youth ministry and related fields. Students who plan to pursue ordination as ministers should consult their denomination to learn more about which educational approach is right for them. Some denominations will accept a bachelor's degree from one of the Bible colleges in Arizona while others require seminary degrees.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
Students searching for the right Christian college should make accreditation a major factor in their selection criteria. In the United States, accreditation is a rigorous, voluntary, and private process that schools go through to improve their programs and demonstrate their credibility in the academic community. To take advantage of most financial aid packages -- federal, state, or private -- students must attend an accredited school. Regional accrediting agencies are the most prestigious accreditors for both Christian and secular schools. In fact, most regionally accredited colleges only accept transfer credits earned at other regionally accredited colleges. The Higher Learning Commission is the regional body responsible for schools in Arizona. It is the main accrediting agency for Christian colleges in Arizona.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes two other accrediting agencies for Christian universities in Arizona and across the country. One is the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools (TRACS), and the other is the aforementioned ABHE. Many Christian schools hold accreditation with both the regional agency and either ABHE or TRACS. Future students, especially those planning careers in fields that require state or federal licensure (such as teaching or medicine), should determine if their chosen college's accreditation meets the required standards in their field.
Career and Salary Expectations
Arizona offers more than a dry climate, warm weather, and beautiful scenery. It also offers a robust job market. According to a 2018 State of Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity report, Arizona is experiencing steady job growth of 2.5%, with the highest rate of growth in the leisure and hospitality sector. Steady population growth, a stable housing market, and rising wages are helping to fuel the state's job market. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only 4.9% of Arizona residents claim unemployment.
Arizona is experiencing steady job growth of 2.5%, with the highest rate of growth in the leisure and hospitality sector.
While overall wages and widespread employment can give a snapshot of Arizona's economic outlook, it's important to investigate those numbers in detail. According to the BLS, the annual mean wage for all occupations in Arizona is $48,160. That's only slightly less than the national mean wage of $50,620, and Arizona's cost of living is considerably lower than the national average. Since many community and social service organizations are looking for counselors and others with backgrounds in human service and faith-based community transformation, opportunities for ministry abound for graduates of Christian universities in Arizona.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||1,510||$31.00||$64,480|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||4,570||$20.24||$42,100|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||6,090||$18.45||$38,380|
|Healthcare Social Workers||3,760||$15.78||$32,820|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||6,750||$15.78||$32,820|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||100||$28.77||$59,840|
|Religious Workers, all other||70||$19.80||$41,180|
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Scholarships are one of many ways students can fund their college education. A scholarship is funding set aside by a foundation, church, company, or nonprofit organization that eligible students can compete to receive. Students attending Christian colleges in Arizona as well as other students from Arizona may find several scholarships for which they qualify.
National Presbyterian College Scholarship $2,500
Ruth K. Jacobs Memorial Scholarship $1,500
Baptist Life Association Scholarship Program $1,000
United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry General Scholarships $500-$1,000
Gladden Johnson Scholarship $2,500
Scholarships for Arizona Residents
Beacon of Hope Scholarship $2,500
Arizona Quarter Horse Youth Scholarship $5,000
Arizona CPA Foundation for Education and Innovation Private University Scholarships $1,000
Project Management Institute Phoenix Chapter Academic Scholarship $2,500
Arizona Elk Society (AES) Annual Youth Scholarships $750-$1,000
Find a Church in Your Community
Finding a church near the university can help students connect with a community of faith, serve a new neighborhood, meet new friends, and grow spiritually. To search Christian churches by city, students can use the Arizona Church Directory. Similarly, USAChurches.org maintains an Arizona web page with listings of churches that searchers can filter by keyword, city, church size, or worship style.
Networking in the business community is important for a recent graduate's career. As a person of faith, finding Christian mentors who can advise students about both vocation and spiritual life is invaluable. Joining a Christian networking group or website can be a great way to meet like-minded Christians, learn about job opportunities, and grow as a professional.
- Christian Business Network (CBN) Building an international community of Christians in the business sector, CBN's members can take advantage of both online and face-to-face networking opportunities and resources.
- Christian Business Fellowship (CBF) With a mission to connect Christian business leaders throughout the world, CBF empowers Christian executives through education, a journal, and group discussions.
- Christian Business Networking (CBN) CBN connects Christian professionals and business owners through weekly meetings. The organization began with four chapters in the Phoenix area and now has more than 250 chapters across the country.
Find Christian Ministries
Not all Christian students in Arizona choose to attend a church-affiliated college. Many select public universities, which may be more affordable or may offer a major not available in a Bible college in Arizona. The state's non-religious universities offer students of faith opportunities to pursue their spiritual lives through fellowship, study, prayer, and service. Some Christian campus organizations affiliate with a single denomination while others are more broadly based.
- Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) Cru is one of the largest campus ministries in the world. It offers an array of missions opportunities for students, training for professors and parents, and safe places to discuss questions about faith and life.
- Chi Alpha (XA) XA is a campus ministry organization sponsored by the Assemblies of God. It offers students of all Christian denominations opportunities to worship, fellowship, pray, and go on mission trips together. The organization holds a national training conference each summer.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) IFES began as a non-denominational organization in 1947 with a goal of impacting the community and world. The organization works through evangelism, leadership development, and global programs.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) The FCA combines faith with athletics. They provide ministries such as Bible studies, camps, international trips, a coach's ministry, and more.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA) CCMA engages in the spiritual lives of campus ministers, providing them with networking opportunities and resources to build strong campus ministries.
- Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. Connecting young Christian leaders from around the country, the Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. serves students through a national gathering, spring break service trips, and other collegiate ministries.
- Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) As the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), RUF serves the university community by providing campus ministries, programs for international students, and a university church initiative.
- UKirk A network of college ministries affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), UKirk gives students a chance to follow Christ together through service, learning, sharing, and worship.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life (BCML) A national network of Baptist ministries on college campuses, BCML offers a campus-based ministry, collegiate church planting, an international student ministry, and opportunities for missions.
Public Universities in Arizona with Christian Ministries
- Northern Arizona University: NAU provides its students with a variety of clubs and organizations, some designed to enhance spiritual life. Students can participate in Chi Alpha, Intervarsity, Lutheran Campus Ministry, and other groups.
- Arizona State University: Nearby faith communities enhance the religious and spiritual life on the campus at ASU. On campus, students can enjoy Christian groups, including Anglican Campus Fellowship, Bible Study Club, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and Young Life.
- University of Arizona: Five of the university's Christian groups work together as part of The Christian Center. The University of Arizona also hosts Ambassadors for Christ, XA, Cru, Damascus Road, Christian Challenge, and many other campus ministries.