In a Pew Research Center survey, 78% of West Virginians self-identified as Christian, with 39% identifying as evangelical Protestants. The second-largest group were mainline Protestant at 29%, followed by Catholics at 6%. Of those surveyed, 90% said they believe in God. Approximately 77% of West Virginians attend regular church services, with 46% attending church at least once a week and 85% praying daily.
Approximately 77% of West Virginians attend regular church services, with 46% attending church at least once a week and 85% praying daily. Pew Research Center
West Virginia is home to 46 degree-granting colleges and universities, including 23 public schools and nine private, nonprofit institutions. Among the private schools are several Christian colleges in West Virginia, including Ohio Valley University and Bethany College. Prospective college students have additional options in online Christian colleges, which offer Christian college experiences with the convenience and affordability of distance learning.
Online Christian colleges offer many of the same benefits as on-campus schools, including a liberal arts-based education taught from a Christ-centered worldview. Christian student services, such as worship service and spiritual counseling, are available through online delivery methods, such as podcasts. Additionally, with only a few Christian colleges in West Virginia, considering distance programs adds dozens of higher education options.
Benefits of online education include convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Online students can learn from the comfort of their own homes, avoiding long commutes. Asynchronous classes allow students to complete coursework at their convenience, which is ideal for working professionals and students with family and church obligations. As tuition costs increase, online learning offers a cost-effective alternative since it eliminates certain expenses, including transportation and campus housing.
When choosing a school, prospective students should consider factors such as tuition rate, accreditation, and fees. Students attending college in West Virginia choose from 46 institutions, including nine private, nonprofit schools. Although there are only a few Christian colleges in West Virginia, students can also consider online options.
Christian students should consider each prospective school's campus values, code of conduct, surrounding community, and program offerings.
Admission to Christian colleges in West Virginia is competitive. Ohio Valley University admits 500 students per year, and Bethany College has a student population of about 200. Most Christian institutions have small campuses, which foster a close-knit community. The low student-to-faculty ratio results in personal attention for each student.
Christian students should also consider each prospective school's campus values, code of conduct, surrounding community, and program offerings. Christian colleges generally offer a liberal arts education, while Bible colleges confer Bible- or ministry-focused degrees. Students should choose an institution that fits their academic and career goals. Students attending school in person should also decide what type of off-campus experience they want. Volunteer opportunities and the safety of the surrounding area vary, especially between small towns and big cities.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
Bible college is ideal for Christian students pursuing a Bible- or ministry-focused degree. While Christian colleges in West Virginia also offer degrees in religious studies, Bible colleges provide more focused curricula from a biblical perspective. Students at Bible colleges gain a foundation in biblical studies that prepares them for graduate studies in theology.
Although earning a degree from a Bible college is not a prerequisite to enter seminary school, many aspiring ministry professionals choose that path. Bible colleges mainly confer undergraduate degrees, whereas seminary schools offer graduate programs. Students at seminary schools focus on theology and undergo advanced training for pastoral careers and roles in ministry or the clergy. Many seminaries are affiliated with a specific denomination and prepare graduates for service in that particular faith. Divinity school is similar to seminary school, but is offered through a college or university.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
Accreditation is one of the most important factors when choosing a college in West Virginia. Accreditation ensures a school meets or exceeds set standards of quality. The accreditation process is voluntary, and schools must undergo regular evaluations to maintain accreditation. A school's accreditation status determines whether its students qualify for federal financial aid; only students at schools accredited by an agency with approval from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) qualify for federal aid. The ED recognizes all regional accrediting bodies, but not all national accreditors.
Christian colleges in West Virginia and throughout the country often hold accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. Regional accreditation is the older of the two and is typically awarded to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. National accreditors evaluate a wider selection of schools, including for-profit and single-purpose institutions, such as vocational or career schools. Also, specific programs and departments may hold specialized accreditation. The ED maintains a searchable database of all accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.
Christian colleges in West Virginia and throughout the country often hold accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The ED recognizes all three agencies. The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to West Virginia institutions.
West Virginia is facing an economic downturn driven by a decline in coal production. According to the BLS, the state's unemployment rate has been 5.4% for six months. Year-over-year, West Virginia's unemployment rate increased 0.4%, while the national unemployment rate decreased 4.1%. Other economic indicators for the state, including per capita income and labor force participation, all lag behind national averages. West Virginia's hourly mean wage is $19.90, compared to the national mean of $23.48. The state's annual mean wage is $41,400, which is $9,220 lower than the national average.
Occupations in the community and social service sector have some of the highest salary potentials among occupations in the state. The West Virginia state government projects social assistance will experience the third-highest growth from 2014 to 2024, with a 1.49% annual growth rate. In seventh place for long-term projections is healthcare and social assistance, with a projected annual growth of 1.06% and an 11.10% increase overall. West Virginia ranks healthcare social worker number two among long-term projected in-demand jobs.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||380||$16.44||$34,200|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||520||$17.97||$37,380|
|Mental Health Counselors||670||$16.14||$33,570|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||1,030||$17.43||$36,260|
|Healthcare Social Workers||700||$23.31||$48,490|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||2,040||$14.38||$29,920|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||50||$24.70||$51,380|
According to CollegeBoard, 70% of full-time students receive a grant to offset college costs. Most students need financial assistance, and there are many available scholarships and awards. As a first step, students should apply for the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for grants, loans, and federal work-study programs. Students should also begin applying for scholarships months as early as February 1. Research local scholarships and awards reserved for individuals with your unique qualifications. West Virginia Christian students should look for awards specifically for the Christian students and West Virginia residents.
Scholarships for Christian Students
WVCEA Fine Arts Scholarship $2,000
Bowen Charitable Trust Scholarship $1,000
WMU Foundation Scholarships Varies
4th Degree Pro Deo/Pro Patria Scholarship $1,500
National CCAA Scholarship $1,000
Stuart and Lucille Armstrong Scholarship $1,250
Scholarships for West Virginia Residents
Horatio Alger Association State Scholarships $10,000
IOGAWV Scholarship Program Varies
West Virginia PGA Scholarships $500
CFWV West Virginia Higher Education Grant Varies
CFWV West Virginia Engineering, Science, and Technology Scholarship Program Up to $3,000
Dennis Carlton Gandee Scholarship $500
Charleston Rotary Club Grant $2,000
Find a Church in Your Community
Students attending college in West Virginia should spend time learning about their new community. For Christian students, this includes discovering locations for church services and volunteering. Many students use ChurchFinder.com and USA Churches, which provide church profiles that are searchable by city, denomination, and keyword. Students can compare churches based on service times, distance, worship style, and available ministries and programs.
Networking websites help Christians build a community of like-minded individuals for work, professional development, and fellowship. These networks are often a source of internship and career opportunities.
- The Christian Business Network With a biblical foundation, CBN brings together Christian business developers, content providers, and community seekers with similar views of the marketplace. The organization also connects recruiters with entrepreneurs and employers with job seekers.
- Christian Business Fellowship CBF is a community of Christian small business leaders and owners. Members support each other by exchanging ideas, peer counsel, and insights. CBF focuses on promoting leadership and business accountability.
- CBMC International With a ministry presence in 80 countries, CBMC is dedicated to marketplace ministry around the world. The organization emphasizes the influence of Christ on business practices and fosters the development of future Christian leaders.
Find Christian Ministries
Cost and geography can prohibit Christian students from attending Christian colleges in West Virginia. In this case, students often choose Christian online colleges or public universities. Students at public schools can still invest in their spiritual growth and find fellowship through campus ministries.
- Campus Crusade for Christ Cru is a parachurch organization supporting 5,300 campus ministries and community programs in 35 cities. Founded in 1951 at UCLA, Cru provides spiritual guidance to students and communities.
- Chi Alpha A network of 300 Christian campus ministries, Chi Alpha provides fellowship, discipleship, unity, and prayer. Each year, Chi Alpha holds Reach the U Institute, a training conference for effective ministry on college campuses.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students IFES supports students and their ministry around the world in areas of evangelism, discipleship, and mission. The movement launched in 1947, and today, IFES is present in more than 160 countries.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes Founded in 1954 and headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, FCA is an international ministry of athletes and coaches who work to positively impact communities through the platform of sports.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association CCMA is a professional organization that supports Catholic campus ministers. The association comprises nearly 700 campus ministries and maintains a presence on more than 955 campuses. CCMA was founded in 1908 at Purdue University.
- Lutheran Student Movement USA LSM-USA is a student-led organization that has provided fellowship for Lutheran college students since 1969. The Chicago-based organization was the result of a merger between the Luther Student Association of America and Gamma Delta.
- Reformed University Fellowship Since the mid-1970s, RUF has served as the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church of America. The first RUF chapter launched in 1971 at the University of Southern Mississippi, and the organization now has 140 chapters in 37 states.
- UKirk UKirk is a network of campus ministries that has represented the Presbyterian Church since 2012. UKirk assists members through coaching, education, and advocacy and helps members find service and mission opportunities.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life BCMLIfe is a network of Baptist campus ministries that work together to minister to campus groups, church groups, and campus churches. BCMLife evangelizes and disciples students through group worship, social ministry opportunities, community service, and mission.
Public Universities in West Virginia with Christian Ministries
- West Virginia University: WVU is home to 26 religious student organizations, including Chi Alpha, Cru, RUF, and FCA. These organizations offer fellowship, Bible study, evangelism, community service, and mission opportunities.
- Marshall University: Marshall maintains 28 religious organizations, including the campus ministries of BCM, Cru, Chi Alpha, FCA, and UKirk.
- Fairmont State University: FSU offers honors and interest student organizations, including faith-based groups such as Chi Alpha, which provides opportunities for worship, Bible study, fellowship, community service, and semester events.