Online Christian Colleges in California

With a population over 38.3 million, California is the most populous U.S. state. The state also has the most colleges and universities in the country. Of California's 454 colleges and universities, 148 are public institutions and 146 are private nonprofits; the latter group includes several Christian colleges in California.

73% of Californians hold a religious belief, and 63% identify as Christian. Among the Christian faith, the three largest groups in California are Catholic (28%), evangelical Protestant (20%), and mainline Protestant (10%). Pew Research Center

According to Pew Research, 73% of Californians hold a religious belief, and 63% identify as Christian. Among the Christian faith, the three largest groups in California are Catholic (28%), evangelical Protestant (20%), and mainline Protestant (10%). Of those surveyed, 76% said they hold an absolute or fairly certain belief in God's existence, while 83% answered that religion is very or somewhat important in their lives.

As a result of the state's diverse religious landscape, students looking for California Christian college programs will have many choices. Several Christian universities in California teach curricula taught through a Christian worldview.

Online Christian Colleges in California

Through eLearning, Christian students can attend a California Christian college of their choice. Students should expect the same faith-based curriculum from online Christian colleges as they would find on that school's campus. Peer and teacher interaction, collaboration, and support are accessible through discussion boards, chat, and group forums.

Christian online colleges offer a variety of student services in support of distance learners, including live streams of worship service, online spiritual counseling, and online groups where students can connect and share in daily devotion. Online Christian colleges emphasize community and fellowship and promote personal and spiritual growth.

Christian online colleges also offer the core benefits of online learning, such as flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Through online learning, students can work from the comfort of their own home and eliminate any time spent commuting. Online courses, which are often taught asynchronously, are especially convenient for students needing to balance school with work, family, or church obligations. Online learners can save on traditional college expenses, such as campus-based housing.

California's Best Online Christian Schools

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine was founded in 1937 during the Great Depression by George Pepperdine and affiliates with the Church of Christ, encouraging spiritual growth in all students. The best Christian college in California, Pepperdine educates over 7,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students on its Malibu campus as well as satellite campuses around the world. The university boasts five schools and dozens of undergraduate majors. Outside the classroom, students can participate in many NCAA Division I sports, including golf, tennis, and volleyball.

Pepperdine offers several online graduate degrees, including the offerings below:

  • MA in Psychology
  • MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • MS in Behavioral Psychology
  • MS in Leadership in Higher Education
  • MS in Learning Design and Innovation
  • Ed.D. in Learning Technologies
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Administration

Programs use a blend of synchronous and asynchronous curricula. Most students can earn master's degrees in 2-4 years, whereas doctoral students often need 4-6 years to graduate.

All programs require recommendation letters and a statement of purpose. Applicants whose undergraduate GPAs fall below 3.0 should submit GRE or GMAT scores. All programs charge per-credit tuition rates, and doctoral programs cost approximately 33% more than master's programs. Incoming students submit FAFSA results to apply to all university-funded financial aid. Pepperdine participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to help active military personnel and veterans pay for college.

Pepperdine University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Fresno Pacific University

FPU dates back to 1944, when the university, then the Pacific Bible Institute, educated only 28 students. By the 1960s, FPU offered two- and four-year degrees to hundreds of students. Today, undergraduates who study on campus have over 40 majors from which to choose. The university boasts a four-year graduation guarantee; students who make satisfactory academic progress each year do not pay additional tuition if they cannot graduate within four years. This Christian college in California affiliates with the Mennonite Brethren Church and hosts a Mennonite biblical seminary on campus.

FPU offers 16 online programs, including

  • BA in Business Administration: Business Management
  • BA in Criminology
  • BA in Early Childhood Development
  • MA in Ministry, Leadership and Culture
  • MA in Athletic Training
  • MA in Sports Administration

Students in bachelor's programs who need general education courses (e.g., first-time college students) earn them by joining a cohort of similar students. Over 18 months, 10-25 students take the same courses together. This program requires one virtual meeting each week, and students can skip courses they already have credit for. Master's programs provide students the flexibility to continue working while earning their degrees. Online courses at FPU last 6-8 weeks.

Application requirements vary by program; prospective master's students require a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and must submit at least one recommendation letter. Online students pay the same tuition rate as their on-campus peers and qualify for university-funded merit scholarships.

Fresno Pacific University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of La Verne

Dating back to 1891, La Verne educates nearly 8,000 students both on campus and online. This Christian college in southern California affiliates with the Church of the Brethren but does not require religious instruction for most majors. La Verne boasts four colleges as well as many online degrees and prides itself on the fact that first-generation college students represent nearly half of the student body. La Verne also boasts programs for adult learners returning to college after a long absence. Most on-campus and online courses feature low student-to-teacher ratios.

La Verne Online offers seven undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees:

  • AA in General Studies
  • BA in Business Administration
  • BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • BA in Educational Studies
  • BS in Information Technology
  • BS in Organizational Management
  • BS in Public Administration
  • MBA for Experienced Professionals
  • MS in Child Development
  • MS in Leadership and Development

Online programs at La Verne use asynchronous curricula, making it easier for students to continue working while earning their degrees. Students use Blackboard to communicate with professors and submit assignments. Prospective students interested in pursuing a bachelor's at La Verne must have an associate degree or adequate transfer credit.

The University of La Verne is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Biola University

Biola's nine schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as psychology and media arts, and the university's student organizations represent a blend of secular and religious pursuits. Each year, Biola hosts a missionary conference to inspire students to perform mission work in foreign countries. Although originally a Presbyterian university when it opened in 1908, Biola no longer affiliates with any specific Christian denomination. However, many academic programs continue to emphasize the university's evangelical Christian traditions. Therefore, on-campus students must attend at least 20 chapel services each year to remain in good academic standing.

Biola's online programs encompass a plethora of fields, such as the ones listed below.

  • BS in Business Management
  • BS in Biblical Ministries
  • MS in Nursing
  • MS in Nursing (Nursing Education)
  • MA Bible Exposition
  • MA Theology (Greek and Non-Greek Tracks)
  • Special Education Certificate
  • Certificate in Biblical and Theological Studies

Courses in most online programs last seven weeks, and in some cases, students can earn their degrees in a hybrid format. Biola accepts new online students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Freshmen applicants require a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. Transfer students may apply up to 70 credits toward their bachelor's degrees.

Biola University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of San Francisco

USF stands as one of the most diverse Christian colleges in California, boasting additional campuses in Sacramento, San Jose, Orange County, and Santa Rosa. Each satellite campus specializes in unique academic programs. Although USF has evolved since its founding in the 19th century, all undergraduates still take courses in theology and religious studies as part of the university's core curriculum. Outside of class, students can participate in Greek life, clubs, and sports.

USF offers three online master's degrees:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Public Health

The nursing program comprises two degree paths — one for registered nurses and one for college graduates with non-nursing bachelor's degrees. The public administration and public health programs feature concentrations that enable students to customize their education toward their career goals. Online students benefit from virtual counseling as well as career, library, and tutoring services. Most online students earn their degrees in 21-24 months.

USF accepts new online students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Prospective students living outside of California should check the university's state authorizations page before applying. Application requirements to all three online programs include recommendation letters, a personal statement, and an interview. Each program charges different per-credit tuition rates.

The University of San Francisco is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Concordia University Irvine

Originally an independent Christian college, CUI joined the Concordia University System in 1993. The university's five schools include Christ College, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Professional Studies. CUI educates approximately 4,000 students on its Irvine campus as well as online. Online students benefit from the same student services that on-campus students enjoy, including academic advising and career counseling. CUI proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and possesses a Military Friendly School designation. This Christian college in affiliates with the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.

CUI offers five online bachelor's degrees:

  • Business Administration and Leadership
  • Healthcare Management
  • Leadership Studies
  • Organizational Psychology
  • RN-to-BSN

CUI designed its online degree completion programs for adult learners. Programs blend asynchronous and synchronous curricula so that students benefit from both real-time interaction with professors and the ability to complete coursework at convenient times. All online students take at least one course in religion. Students who need additional credits to reach the 120 required to graduate can earn them either on the CUI campus or at a local community college.

Prospective students can apply for the fall, summer, or spring semester. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Additional fees also apply. Transfer students who earned a minimum 3.29 GPA at their previous colleges or universities may qualify for a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship, which awards up to $11,000. Also, students in the RN-to-BSN program may receive an additional $4,000 scholarship if they maintain excellent GPAs. CUI is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Vanguard University of Southern California

Since 1920, VUSC has offered students a rigorous liberal arts education that emphasizes teachings from the Assemblies of God. The university's 15 departments award more than 30 undergraduate and six graduate degrees, and most undergraduate programs require some religious instruction. VUSC's Costa Mesa campus attracts students from the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. Many on-campus bachelor's programs confer initial teacher licensure in California.

VUSC offers two online certificates and one online master's degree:

  • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • Certificate in Anti-Human Trafficking
  • MA in Leadership Studies

Both certificate programs use seven-week courses and accelerated curricula to ensure that students graduate as soon as possible. The program features a practicum that students complete at a school in their home communities. The anti-human trafficking certificate emphasizes human trafficking aftercare and ethics. Finally, the online master's program conveys in-demand leadership, intercultural, ethical, and spiritual skills. Typical full-time students earn their degrees or certificates in two years.

VUSC accepts new students in the spring, fall, and summer semesters. Application requirements for the certification program resemble that for bachelor's programs. Prospective master's students submit two references, one of which must come from a pastor. Online certificate and graduate students pay the same per-credit tuition rate as their on-campus peers. Online graduate students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA may qualify for a university-funded scholarship.

Vanguard University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

William Jessup University

Nearly 1,700 students earn their undergraduate and graduate degrees from Jessup, a nondenominational Christian university with campuses in San Jose and Rocklin. The university hosts Schools of Business, Education, and Professional Studies. Bachelor's and master's programs at Jessup integrate in-demand skills with Christian teachings. Bachelor's programs charge the same per-credit tuition rate to all students; graduate programs cost slightly more. Both on-campus and online students may qualify for scholarships or grants.

Jessup offers six online bachelor's degrees and four online graduate degrees:

  • BA in Psychology
  • BS in Business Entrepreneurship
  • BS in Business Management
  • BS in Computer Science
  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Healthcare Administration
  • MA in Leadership in Christian Ministry
  • MA in Sports Management Leadership
  • MS in Kinesiology
  • Master of Business Administration

Jessup's online bachelor's programs accept both freshmen and transfer students. Transfer students can apply up to 90 transfer credits toward their degrees at this Christian college in California. Most undergraduates earn their degrees in 3-4 years. Graduate programs accept 6-9 transfer credits and take 2-3 years to complete.

Jessup accepts new online students at six start dates throughout the year. Prospective students can take a free online course to determine if online learning matches their learning styles. Applicants to bachelor's programs whose high school GPAs fall below 2.0 must also submit SAT or ACT scores. Jessup participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide veterans and active military personnel additional financial aid opportunities.

William Jessup University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Hope International University

Thousands of students across the world choose HIU for the school's excellent undergraduate and graduate programs. From its Fullerton campus, this Christian college in southern California boasts an academic partnership with Cal State Fullerton so that students attending either school can benefit from the academic programs the other school offers. Though nondenominational, HIU infuses broad Christian teachings into its courses. Outside the classroom, the Office of Campus Ministries provides students multiple opportunities to volunteer throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Both on-campus and online students receive career, academic, and wellness resources throughout their time at HIU.

HIU offers one online associate degree and five online bachelor's degrees:

  • Associate of Arts
  • BA in Criminal Justice
  • BA in Liberal Studies: Teacher Preparation
  • BS in Business Administration
  • BS in Christian Ministry
  • BS in Human Development

The associate of arts program conveys knowledge and skills applicable to careers or bachelor's completion programs. Students can enter bachelor's programs as freshmen or transfer students. All bachelor's programs include a core curriculum that requires at least one course in Christian worldview and contemporary living. The teacher preparation program does not confer California teacher licensure. However, students can transfer their credits to an HIU master's program that does confer licensure.

Applicants must submit official high school or college transcripts and a 250-word essay. Those applying as freshmen must possess a minimum 2.5 high school GPA, and prior college credit must reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA to transfer.

Hope International University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Mount Saint Mary's University

A Catholic college in southern California, MSMU offers nearly 40 academic programs, including graduate degrees. Although the school accepts both male and female students, more than 90% of MSMU students are women, and first-generation college students comprise more than half of the university's student body. Both on-campus and online students can access the university's career services center, which helps students find internship placements in the greater Los Angeles area. The university also boasts more than a dozen organizations that support female students so they may become more effective leaders in and outside of the classroom.

MSMU offers one online certificate, four online bachelor's degrees, and one online master's degree:

  • Entrepreneurship Certificate
  • Bachelor's in Business Administration
  • Bachelor's in Criminology
  • Bachelor's in Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor's in Pre-Health Sciences
  • MFA in Creative Writing

The certificate program at this Christian college in California requires 18 credits and takes approximately one year to complete. Bachelor's programs comprise 45-60 credits, making them the perfect choice for prospective students who already possess associate degrees. Finally, students in the online master's program can complete their degrees either entirely online or in a hybrid format, with some courses on MSMU's Los Angeles campus. All online programs use the Canvas learning management system.

Prospective students applying to certificate and undergraduate online programs submit official transcripts, one recommendation letter, and an essay. Applicants to the master's program should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit two recommendation letters.

Mount Saint Mary's University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

John Paul the Great Catholic University

A small Catholic university in Escondido, JPCatholic educates approximately 300 students. Because the school uses the quarter system, many undergraduate students need only three years to earn their degrees. On-campus students attend mass each day and can further their spiritual development by participating in up to six spiritual activities (e.g., spiritual direct seminars, morning liturgy). JPCatholic does not participate in Greek life or sports at this time. Students services accessible to online and on-campus students include a peer mentor program, student advising, and a writing center, among others.

JPCatholic offers one online master's degree in biblical theology. This entirely online program emphasizes the New and Old Testaments; many courses focus on only 1-2 books of the Bible. Other coursework includes instruction in Hebrew and Greek as well as historical and modern theological issues. The program also features practicum courses wherein students work under experienced theology teachers' guidance. Typical full-time students earn their master's degrees from this Christian college in California in two years. Many graduates go on to careers as theology lecturers and professors.

Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, professional references, and an essay. Online master's students may qualify for the Verbum Domini Scholarship, which provides significant financial support.

John Paul the Great Catholic University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Simpson University

Although affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Simpson accepts students from all faith backgrounds. Undergraduate and graduate programs appeal to both first-time college students and adult learners. Most undergraduate programs require coursework in religion or feature concentrations in religion. Simpson's academic resources like the student success center and the writing center provide support to students in need.

Simpson offers two online bachelor's degrees and four online master's degrees:

  • BA in Psychology
  • BA in Organizational Leadership
  • MA in Organizational Leadership
  • MA in Education
  • MA in Ministry Leadership
  • Master of Divinity

The latter three master's programs use a hybrid learning model wherein students take some courses on Simpson's Redding campus. Online courses at this Christian college in California use asynchronous curricula, meaning that students can view lectures and complete coursework at any time of day. Simpsons professors who teach online courses possess advanced degrees and also teach on-campus courses.

Although online tuition does not differ from on-campus tuition, many online courses provide free digital textbooks. Finally, undergraduate students may qualify for one of six financial aid opportunities that consider both academic merit and need.

Simpson University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

California Baptist University

Over 10,000 students from all over the world attend CBU to earn bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's 11 schools and departments offer traditional liberal arts programs as well as religious instruction for students preparing for careers in ministry. Since 2010, multiple new buildings have opened on campus, expanding the university's academic offerings significantly. CBU's education programs prepare students for initial teacher licensure in California.

CBU Online offers a robust selection of online programs, including 24 bachelor's degrees, 16 master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees. All programs use asynchronous curricula so that students can continue working full time while earning their degrees. Students without other responsibilities can take courses in an accelerated format.

Applicants to online bachelor's programs at this Christian college in southern California should already possess associate degrees or adequate transfer credit. Besides prior college coursework, students can earn credit by passing CLEP or DSST exams. As courses start every eight weeks, new students do not have to wait long before starting their education. California residents may qualify for a Cal or Chafee Grant.

California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

San Diego Christian College

Located in Santee, a San Diego suburb, SDC educates nearly 700 students both on campus as well as online. The college awards associate and bachelor's degrees. Although a nondenominational school, SDC requires coursework in servant leadership, historical perspectives of the Gospels, and spiritual formation, among other religious courses. Other graduation requirements include service learning that students complete in and around San Diego County. SDC also hosts weekly chapel services and sponsors student mission trips. Student athletes can select from five sports that fall under the Golden State Athletic Conference.

SDC offers one online associate program and five online bachelor's programs:

  • AA in Liberal Studies
  • BA in Christian Ministries
  • BA in Human Development
  • BS in Business Management
  • BA in Communication
  • BA in Psychology

Bachelor's programs accept both freshman applicants and transfer students. Students in the associate program can earn their degrees in two years, while students in bachelor's programs typically need four years to graduate. All online degrees provide academic flexibility; students can personalize their educational experiences by completing a concentration or minor. Students living in or around San Diego can complete these programs in a hybrid format that requires evening classes. Application requirements to this Christian college in southern California include official high school or college transcripts, a completed application, and a short essay.

San Diego Christian College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Pacific Union College

Situated in beautiful Napa County, PUC educates 1,600 students in 70 undergraduate and one graduate program. The university boasts small class sizes and an honors program that includes a capstone project. PUC follows Adventist Christianity and holds membership in the Council of Independent Colleges.

PUC offers one online master's degree in business administration, which is run in collaboration with Southern Adventist University. The 54-credit curriculum emphasizes management in a changing world, financial management, and leadership and change. Students apply their faith by taking a course in integrating faith and business. All courses last 12 weeks, and most students take 3-4 courses each semester. Full-time students can earn their degrees in just 12 months.

Application requirements include official undergraduate transcripts. PUC does not ask for standardized test scores. Incoming graduate students with excellent undergraduate GPAs may qualify for one of four merit scholarships, and students who work as ministers at Adventist churches receive free tuition.

Pacific Union College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Azusa Pacific University

The first Bible college in California, APU dates back to 1899. Today the university instructs over 10,000 students in both religious and liberal arts programs. APU prides itself on having one of the most diverse student bodies of any U.S. university.

APU offers a variety of online degrees, including three certificates, four bachelor's, 16 master's, and two doctoral degrees. Many online programs have on-campus and hybrid equivalents. Programs boast asynchronous curricula, allowing students to continue working while earning their degrees. However, many courses feature one-on-one interactions with professors and peers, typically through video conferencing software such as Skype. Online students use Canvas to complete coursework and receive many valuable learning tools (e.g., software tutorials) to help them study online.

Prospective students applying as freshmen must possess a minimum 3.0 high school GPA and a 19 ACT or 990 SAT score. Each graduate program sets unique application requirements that typically include a personal statement and at least two recommendation letters. Undergraduate and graduate students pay different tuition rates at this Christian college in California. Active duty members earning their degrees online receive additional tuition assistance through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Azusa Pacific University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Life Pacific College

First-time college students and adult learners turn to LPC for educations that provide in-demand knowledge and skills with a Christian perspective. Online students benefit from extensive academic and career services; the latter offers resume critiques and practice interviews. LPC affiliates with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, an evangelical Pentecostal denomination.

LPC offers two online bachelor's degrees and three online master's degrees:

  • BA in Ministry and Leadership
  • BA in Organizational Management
  • MA in Leadership (Spanish)
  • MA in Strategic Leadership
  • MA in Theological Studies

LPC designed its online bachelor's programs for students who already possess associate degrees or at least 75 transferable credits. Each undergraduate course lasts five weeks, and students take courses in a set order as part of a cohort. However, as both programs use asynchronous curricula, students can continue working while earning their degrees. Master's programs also use cohorts. The strategic leadership program features two one-week residencies on LPC's San Dimas campus.

Prospective bachelor's students should possess transfer credit that reflects a minimum C- grade. Other undergraduate application requirements include a personal essay and a character reference. Applicants to graduate programs submit two recommendation letters. Graduate students pay slightly more per credit than undergraduate students at this Christian college in southern California.

Life Pacific College is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Bethesda University

Bethesda University was founded in 1976 by a South Korean Pentecostal minister. All undergraduates take at least six service-learning courses so they can apply their faith in the broader community, including online students. Students must also attend chapel at least once each semester and participate in spiritual mentorship meetings.

BUC offers one online bachelor's program and two online master's programs:

  • BA in Religion
  • MA in Biblical Studies
  • MA in Divinity

In the bachelor's program, students can concentrate in biblical studies, pastoral ministry, missions, or Christian education. Each pathway includes a general education core and at least 30 credits in the Bible. Bachelor's students can earn their degrees in four years. Master's programs take 2-3 years and include six field education credits. Both master's programs prepare graduates for careers in ministry. All three programs boast asynchronous curricula.

Application requirements to this Christian college in California include official high school or college transcripts and a 1-2 page essay. For undergraduates, BUC accepts up to 45 transfer credits. International online students pay a slightly higher per-credit tuition rate than U.S. students. New undergraduate and graduate students should research the university's 16 scholarship opportunities.

Bethesda University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Horizon University

An online Christian university, Horizons educates over 2,000 students. The university imbues each course with a Christian worldview that emphasizes helping the needy, modeling Christian teachings in daily life, and serving Jesus Christ through religious activities. All courses use the Populi learning management system. The university offers students an online library with research and writing help desks. Horizon boasts a special relationship Azusa Pacific University (APU) wherein Horizon graduates can immediately enter APU's master's in theology program.

Horizon offers all of its academic programs online, including three certificates, one associate degree, and three bachelor's degrees. Certificate programs include chaplaincy, biblical counseling, and TESOL. All certificates take one year to earn. Associate in biblical studies students analyze the New and Old Testaments and the foundations of preaching, among other topics. Finally, the bachelor's programs in biblical studies, leadership and ministry, and organizational leadership feature ministry service practica that students complete every year.

Before applying, prospective students attend a virtual information meeting with Horizon staff. Application materials include high school or college transcripts and a 300-word writing sample. Unlike other Christian colleges in California on this ranking, Horizon charges the same low per-credit tuition rate to all students regardless of program. Horizon does not award merit-based grants or need-based scholarships to students at this time.

Horizon University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.


California's Best Online Seminaries

Bethel Seminary - San Diego

Although founded in Minnesota, Bethel's satellite campus in San Diego brings excellent academic programs to students living in southern California. Bethel's on-campus seminary programs prepare practicing and aspiring ministers to further their educations and careers while reaffirming their faith. Many undergraduate and graduate programs boast online and hybrid options. Bethel's adult undergraduate programs help students with some college experience finish their degrees. On-campus students attend religious services at least twice weekly and can participate in local faith groups and mission trips. The university affiliates with Converge, a Christian denomination formally known as the Baptist General Convention.

Bethel boasts 35 online programs, including

  • BA in Christian Ministries
  • BS in Business Management
  • Master's in Athletic Training Leadership
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership

All bachelor's programs qualify as degree completion programs, meaning that incoming students already possess associate degrees or significant transfer credit. Associate and bachelor's students can graduate in as few as two years. Many full-time master's students also graduate in two years, while doctoral students may need up to six years to earn their degrees. Some programs may require students to attend courses on campus. Finally, all undergraduates take at least two courses in religion.

Undergraduate and graduate programs start every five weeks, making Bethel the perfect choice for prospective students who want to start their education as soon as possible. Bethel boasts a generous credit transfer policy. Graduate students pay slightly more in tuition than undergraduate students. Bethel does not award scholarships or grants at this time.

Bethel Seminary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Fuller Theological Seminary in California

Evangelist Robert Fuller founded the seminary that bears his name in 1947. In addition to spreading Christian teachings, the seminary set out to advance intellectualism and become a world-class center of Christian learning and research. The seminary hosts three schools — theology, psychology, and intercultural studies — that educate approximately 2,900 students. The university offers many programs in Korean to train South Korean evangelical pastors. This multidenominational Christian university in southern California boasts satellite campuses in Colorado, Washington, Texas, and Arizona. The seminary plans to move its main campus from Pasadena to Pomona in the next few years.

Fuller offers one online certificate and five online master's degrees:

  • Certificate of Christian Studies
  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in Theology
  • Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies
  • Master of Arts in Global Leadership

The certificate in Christian studies program boasts two specializations, including ancient Near Eastern languages. Certificate students who earned a minimum 3.5 undergraduate GPA automatically receive the Logios Scholarship, which covers all tuition expenses. Master's programs feature asynchronous curricula and virtual academic and career services resources. Finally, master's programs require practica that students complete in their home communities.

Application requirements vary by program but typically include three recommendation letters, three essay responses, and official transcripts. Fuller does not require standardized test scores. All online programs charge a flat tuition rate. Along with programmatic scholarships, incoming students may qualify for additional financial aid opportunities.

Fuller Theological Seminary in California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The Master's University and Seminary

From its campus in Santa Clarita, TMU educates students on campus as well as online. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees to its approximately 1,300 students. This Christian college in southern California emphasizes a commitment to Christ, moral development, and fidelity to biblical teachings. Many courses use 16- and eight-week versions so accelerated students can graduate as soon as possible.

TMU offers four online bachelor's programs and three online master's programs

  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor's in Christian Ministries
  • Bachelor's in Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor's in Biblical Counseling
  • Master of Business Administration
  • MA in Biblical Studies
  • Master of Education

The business administration and education programs do not require coursework in religion, and the education program does not confer California teacher licensure. TMU's generous credit transfer policy means that some bachelor's students can graduate in only 24 months. Full-time graduate students can earn their degrees in just one year.

Undergraduate applicants can submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. Prospective graduate students should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The MBA and master of arts, biblical studies program have additional requirements, including prerequisites. Each program charges a different per-credit tuition rate. Most graduate students pay twice the undergraduate tuition rate. TMU does not offer scholarships or grants to online students at this time.

The Master's University and Seminary is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Actually located in San Anselmo, SFTS dates back to 1871, when a Presbyterian pastor founded two religious schools in Marin County. The university offers master's and doctoral degrees — as well as certificates — to on-campus and online students preparing for careers in ministry or related professions. AT SFTS, all professors possess advanced degrees; most professors also have extensive experience leading congregations. SFTS plans to join the University of Redlands in the near future.

SFTS offers one online graduate degree — an MA in theological studies. This program appeals to prospective students who plan to work in religious settings but not as ordained ministers. However, many ordained ministers choose this program to develop their knowledge and skills further. The rigorous curriculum features three components: biblical studies, church history, and ministry and spirituality. The 48-credit program concludes with a master's thesis that students develop under professors' guidance.

Prospective students can apply for the spring or fall semester. Applicants submit two academic references as well as one church reference. SFTS does not require standardized test scores. This Christian college in California accepts up to 24 graduate credits. Transfer credits must reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA. Online master's students pay a flat tuition rate each semester. SFTS awards scholarships and grants to eligible students.

San Francisco Theological Seminary is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Southern California Seminary

Located just outside San Diego, SCS helps students strengthen their ties to God by providing rigorous religious instruction. The university celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016 and has embraced online learning so that students living all over the world can prepare for careers as ministers. Like other colleges, universities, and seminaries on this ranking, SCS offers its programs in both English and Korean. Many SCS students perform international mission work during their time in school as well as after graduation. Finally, both on-campus and online students benefit from virtual library, academic, and career resources.

SCS offers eight online programs

  • AA in Christian Ministry
  • BA in Biblical Studies
  • MA in Biblical Studies
  • MA in Christian Counseling
  • MA in Christian Ministry
  • MA in Philosophy and Apologetics
  • MA in Science and Religion
  • Master of Divinity

The AA and BA programs boast generous credit transfer policies, while master's students must take all credits at SCS. All courses use asynchronous curricula, providing students the flexibility to continue working full or part time while earning their degrees. As new courses start every seven weeks, newly accepted students do not have to wait long before starting their education. Finally, typical full-time students earn their degrees in two years at this Christian college in southern California.

Application requirements vary between undergraduate and graduate programs. International applicants use a specialized application. Online master's students pay approximately 75% more in tuition compared to undergraduate students. Online students also pay technology fees for each course they attempt.

Southern California Seminary is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

What Christian Colleges are in California?

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Finding the Right Christian College

When choosing a college, prospective students should research a school's program offerings, transfer policies, and average class size, among other things. While Christian students weighing their options in California have a wider selection of in-state schools than students from smaller states, every student should consider factors such as cost, campus size, graduation rate, and location.

The college experience is transformative, and can have a lifelong impact on an individual.

The college experience is transformative, and can have a lifelong impact on an individual. Like Christian colleges worldwide, Christian colleges in California enforce values and standards that result in a unique learning environment and community experience that secular schools cannot provide.

Most California Christian colleges are considerably smaller than state schools. As a result, most Christian universities can offer a low student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for a more intimate experience. Students can find Christian colleges in California in cities and towns of all sizes, including San Diego (population of 1.4 million) and La Mirada (home to little over 49,200).

Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools

The main distinction between Bible and seminary colleges in California is the type of degrees that are offered and the focus of the curricula. At Christian colleges, the curriculum represents a liberal arts, Christian worldview, while at Bible college, the curriculum is more ministry-focused. Many Bible college students major in religious studies, taking courses such as doctrine, life of Christ, the Old and New Testament, Greek, and Hebrew, along with courses broader in scope like the Bible as history, biblical finances, or world religions. Seminary school, meanwhile, is where students further advance their studies in theology and scripture in preparation for pastoral work.

In general, a Bible college or Christian college in California confers two- or four-year degrees. Theological seminary schools offer advanced degrees, such as a master of divinity. At the postgraduate level, students can also pursue a dual degree at many seminaries or divinity schools, complementing the master of divinity with social work or clinical counseling. Though attending a Bible college is not a requirement to enter a seminary, it does provide a foundation for theological studies at the graduate level.

Accreditation for Christian Colleges

Accreditation in higher education ensures that an educational institution meets established standards of quality. In order to receive accreditation, a college or university must pass a peer review by an accrediting agency. This evaluation process is voluntary.

There are three types of higher education accreditation: regional, national, and specialized. Regional accreditation is the oldest type of accreditation, and six regional accrediting bodies, recognized by both the Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), are tasked with evaluating institutions. National accreditation is the other type of institutional accreditation and is typically granted to for-profit and vocational schools. Many Christian colleges hold national accreditation. Meanwhile, specialized accrediting agencies review part of an institution, such as a program and/or department. Students must attend an accredited college or university if they want to receive financial aid or have their transfer credits accepted at another school. The ED maintains a searchable database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Most of the Christian colleges in California have regional or national accreditation. The WACS Senior College and University Commission grants regional accreditation for the state. For national accreditation, the main accrediting bodies for Christian universities in California are the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Association for Biblical Higher Education. For seminary school, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada is a common accreditor. All three accrediting bodies are recognized by ED and CHEA.

Career and Salary Expectations

California's economy continues to grow. Following a strong year for employment, in March 2018, the state posted a 4.3% unemployment rate for a second straight month. Of the state's 11 main industries, educational and health services has added the most jobs, followed by manufacturing and mining and logging.

California is sixth in the nation, though its 2017 PCPI of $58,772 was 3.5% higher than the previous year. California's mean wage is $27.50 per hour and the state's annual average salary is $57,190.

With the largest population in the U.S., the state of California also ranks first when it comes to personal income. In 2017, the state reported a total personal income of $2,303,870,496. As for per capita personal income, California is sixth in the nation, though its 2017 PCPI of $58,772 was 3.5% higher than the previous year. California's mean wage is $27.50 per hour and the state's annual average salary is $57,190.

According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the educational and health services sector grew by 3.3% in one year (2017 to 2018). The EDD projects 11.1% growth for community and social service specialists by 2024.

Community and Social Service Occupations in California
Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors 9,050 $21.37 $44,450
Marriage and Family Therapists 10,350 $26.90 $55,950
Mental Health Counselors 15,300 $22.63 $47,070
Rehabilitation Counselors 11,240 $17.63 $36,670
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 30,310 $26.10 $54,290
Healthcare Social Workers 14,530 $34.17 $71,080
Social and Human Service Assistants 41,130 $19.77 $41,110
Clergy 5,210 $26.76 $55,670
Directors, Religious Activities and Education 3,820 $22.98 $47,800
Religious Workers, all other 990 $20.03 $41,660
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

A recent report on trends in college pricing found that 70% of full-time students receive some kind of financial aid to help offset college expenses. To maximize your chance of winning a financial award, it's important to prepare for scholarship season, which begins on February 1. Students attending a California Christian college should research scholarships at the local and state levels, as well as awards created for Christian students or residents of California.

Christian Scholarships

Fourth Degree Pro Deo/Pro Patria Scholarship $1,500

Who Can Apply: The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council awards merit scholarships for students entering an undergraduate four-year program at a Catholic college or university in the U.S. Applicants must be in good standing with the Knights of Columbus, the son or daughter of a member or deceased member, or a member in good standing of the Columbian Squires. View Scholarship

Italian Catholic Federation Scholarships $400

Who Can Apply: ICF awards merit scholarships to qualified students who have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 and who are of Roman Catholic faith; of Italian descent; and live within the Roman Catholic dioceses of California, Arizona, Illinois, or Nevada. If the student meets the GPA but none of the other requirements, they can still apply if their parent, guardian, or grandparent is a member of ICF. Scholarship winners are eligible for awards of $500, $600, and $1,000 during their second, third, and fourth years. View Scholarship

WMU Foundation Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: The WMU Foundation awards 12 scholarships each year to students who have parents affiliated with a Southern Baptist entity. Applicants are missionary students or are preparing for missionary work. To be considered, applicants must supply two endorsements from a WMU leader and an academic source. View Scholarship

National CCAA Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The National Catholic College Admission Association provides eight awards each year to graduating seniors who have been accepted into a National CCAA member institution. There are eight Christian universities in California that would qualify, including Santa Clara University, Holy Names University, the University of San Diego, Thomas Aquinas College, and Mount Saint Mary's University. View Scholarship

Your RoadMap Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: New students enrolling in college for the first time at a Christian college or Bible college can enter this Christian Connector random drawing. Students cannot enter their name more than once, and the award is not renewable. View Scholarship

Scholarships for California Residents

Horatio Alger Association State Scholarships $10,000

Who Can Apply: The Horatio Alger Association provides significant assistance to students who have faced and overcome adversity. Applicants must be high school seniors who are ready to enter college in the fall and exhibit a strong commitment to pursuing a four-year degree at either a nonprofit public or private institution in California. View Scholarship

Chen Foundation Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: Partnering with the Asian Pacific Community Fund, the Chen Foundation awards a renewable scholarship to an economically-challenged student entering their first year of study at a California State University or California community college. The award may be renewed one time so long as the recipient demonstrates good academic standing and is active in community service. View Scholarship

Professional Businesswomen of California Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: Each year, the PBWC honors three high school seniors who are preparing to enter their first year of postsecondary education at an accredited college or university. The applicants must be women and California residents. Selection is based on the strength of an applicant's academics, personal essay, and letters of recommendation. View Scholarship

PSR High School Scholarship Essay Contest $1,000 to $3,000

Who Can Apply: Physicians of Social Responsibility awards 10 scholarships to graduating seniors in the Sacramento County area and the 11 surrounding counties. Applicants must be in good academic standing. Judges determine winners based on essay accuracy, originality, clarity, cohesiveness, and overall impact. View Scholarship

California Association of Collectors, Inc. Scholarship $1,500 to $2,500

Who Can Apply: CAC awards three scholarships for first-, second-, and third-place essays arguing the importance of establishing good financial credit during college. Applicants are high school juniors who plan to pursue full-time postsecondary education at an accredited college, university, or trade school. View Scholarship

Resources

Find a Church in Your Community

ChurchFinder.com and USA Churches help students learn about their community and find nearby churches. Both sites contain hundreds of thousands of church profiles, which are browsable and searchable by location or denomination. Students can quickly compare churches in their new community by service times, church size, worship style, common attire, and ministries and programs.

Get Connected

Christian networking websites help to further expand a person's Christian global community, opening doors to collaboration, professional development, and possible job opportunities.

  • The Christian Business Network The CBN provides resources, networking opportunities, collaborative services, and support to its members, who share in their Christian faith and commitment to the community. The network membership includes business developers, content providers, community seekers, employers, recruiters, entrepreneurs, and job seekers.
  • SF Bay Christian Entrepreneurs Based in San Francisco, this group of like-minded business professionals serve marketplaces through a Christian worldview. Sponsored events and meetings focus on work, faith, and marketplace ministry.
  • Fusion A private membership organization created to connect Christian marketplace leaders, Fusion facilitates the building of partnerships and multidisciplinary solutions to business challenges. Members gather monthly at Irvine, Anaheim, and downtown LA branches to discuss work, service, and ministry.

Find Christian Ministries

Location and the cost of attending a private Christian college are two obstacles that many students face. Many Christian students end up attending a public university, where they can join vibrant local ministries with fellow religious students. Through campus ministries and fellowships, Christian students can readily find the community and spiritual guidance they seek during their college years, even if they don't attend a Christian college.

Interdenominational
  • Campus Crusade for Christ Founded in 1951 at UCLA, Cru operates as a parachurch organization that supports 5,300 campus ministries, plus 35 city citizen-kingdom community programs. Through evangelism commitment and discipleship ministry, Cru provides spiritual guidance to students and the community.
  • Chi Alpha Chi Alpha is a network of 300 campus ministries that provide its members with fellowship, discipleship, and spirit-empowered communities of prayer. The first Chi Alpha ministry was established in 1953 at Missouri State University.
  • International Fellowship of Evangelical Students IFES, a global fellowship, supports student ministries in the areas of evangelism, leadership development, and pioneering. Launched in 1947, IFES also works to strengthen national movements.
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes Founded in 1954, the FCA is a nonprofit sports ministry, which challenges coaches and athletes to serve the local community, inspire, and affect change through the influential and far-reaching platform of sports and gospel.
Catholic
  • Catholic Campus Ministry Association CCMA is the national, professional organization for Catholic campus ministers. Established in 1908 at Purdue University, CCMA is comprised of nearly 700 campus ministries and has a presence on over 955 campuses.
Lutheran
  • Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. This Christ-driven organization provides fellowship for Lutheran college students throughout the U.S. The organization's nine regions match those of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. There's an annual gathering each year in Chicago.
Presbyterian
  • Reformed University Fellowship Since the mid-1970s, the RUF has served as the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America for colleges nationwide. The first RUF was established in 1971 at the University of Southern Mississippi.
  • UKirk UKirk provides professional support to those engaged in ministering on campus on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Launched in 2012, UKirk works to present a central hub for establishing connections and sharing resources among professionals.
Baptist
  • Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life A network of Baptist campus ministries found across North America, BCMLife provides large group worship, small group discipleship, as well as community and social ministry opportunities and student leadership development.

Public Universities in California with Christian Ministries

  • UCLA: This UC school offers Christian students various services through its campus ministries and student organizations. Bible study, group worship, and Sunday gatherings are all available from Cru, RUF, Grace on Campus, and InterVarsity.
  • California Polytechnic State University: Through campus ministries, Cal Poly offers Christian students small- and big-group worship and community through spiritual growth. Students can also attend a quarterly conference for prayer, discussion, and ministry.
  • CSU Sacramento: Sac State is home to one of 19 Chi Alpha ministries in California. Through on-campus ministries, Christian students gain fellowship and a go-to space for Bible study and group worship. Chi Alpha started at Sac State in 1994.