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.

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.

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.

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

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

Schwartz Scholarship Fund Scholarship $500 to $1,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a junior or senior enrolled at an accredited California high school, have a grade point average of 3.25 or higher, and have a household income of less than $150,000. Recipients must be set to enroll at an accredited college or university the fall after graduation. View Scholarship

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.
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