20 Best Value Small College for a Christian Studies Degree

Updated December 13, 2022

By BVS Staff February 2017 Graduates of Christian Studies programs have a diverse field of occupations to find success within. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research estimates that there are more than 300,000 churches in the United States alone — each a part of its own community, with its own opportunities. Many people choose to use ...

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By BVS Staff

July 2020

Graduates of Christian Studies programs have a diverse field of occupations to find success within. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research estimates that there are more than 300,000 churches in the United States alone — each a part of its own community, with its own opportunities.

Many people choose to use religion-based degrees in occupations outside the church. Some become teachers for religiously-affiliated schools, or counselors, or business professionals that help operate non-profits.

To help you find Christian Studies programs, we created a list of the 20 best small colleges for Christian studies majors who are on a budget. Each program offers two majors for Christian Studies students or two concentrations within one major. As reported on College Navigator, all of the programs listed have an estimated annual cost of less than $25,000 a year. Additionally, each program has undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%.

Need to find out which college is the most affordable of them all? Keep scrolling until you reach number one.


Each of these top schools offers at least two majors (or at least two concentrations within one major) for students seeking a bachelor's degree in Christian Studies (which also includes programs in Biblical Studies, Christian Theology, Ministry, and Worship Arts). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education - which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $25,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable college for a Christian Studies degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!

#1 College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO
#2 Bryn Athyn College of the New Church Bryn Athyn, PA
#3 Johnson University Knoxville, TN
#4 Bryan College-Dayton Dayton, TN
#5 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
#6 Montreat College Montreat, NC
#7 Ave Maria College Ave Maria, FL
#8 North Park University Chicago, IL
#9 Greenville College Greenville, IL
#10 Bethel College-North Newton North Newton, KS

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  1. College of the Ozarks

    Point Lookout, MO



    Though College of the Ozarks' famous no-tuition policy makes it one of the most affordable colleges for a Christian studies degree in the country, its low cost hardly detracts from its quality. On the contrary! Ozarks' Biblical and Theological Studies program features several concentrations that will appeal to a broad swath of ambitious Christians. From ministry and mission work to Christian apologetics, the courses of study available through this degree program alone make Ozarks a top competitor among Christian schools. But they don't call it "Hard Work U" for nothing; staff encourage Biblical Studies majors to get involved in spiritual vocational programs outside the classroom too.

  2. Bryn Athyn College of the New Church

    Bryn Athyn, PA



    With fewer than 300 undergraduates, Bryn Athyn College of the New Church makes other small schools seem overwhelming large by comparison. Each and every one of the 274 Christians enrolled on this tiny campus enjoys an extremely intimate community setting - the school's student-faculty ratio is 7:1! And just like residents of small towns, undergrads at Bryn Athyn tend to help out wherever they can. Religion majors regularly work as greeters at the Cathedral, teach at the church school, lead tours at the Glencairn Museum, and even develop programming at the New Church Office of Outreach. This level of student engagement is unparalleled, helping make Bryn Athyn a top small college for Christian studies majors.

  3. Johnson University

    Knoxville, TN



    Founded in 1893, Johnson University has been providing spiritual edification to aspiring ministers for nearly a century and a half. Today, a wide range of specializations within the field of ministry help it stand out as one of the best small Christian colleges. All told, Johnson's School of Congregational Ministry offers eight fully-fledged bachelor's programs in ministry alone, including Children's Ministry, Pastoral Care and Counseling, and even Strategic Ministry. Of course, Johnson has a School of Bible and Theology as well; in fact, every undergraduate at the school is required to supplement their chosen major with a second degree in theology.

  4. Bryan College-Dayton

    Dayton, TN



    Bryan College-Dayton's motto, "Christ above all," succinctly summarizes the very qualities that make it a top small college for Christian studies majors. Within the Christian Studies program itself, students can choose from a straightforward theology program (the Bible Option), a ministry program (the Ministry Option), and a liberal studies program (the Philosophy and Culture Option). Although the upper-level coursework is distinct in each program, all three share a solid foundation of general studies and scripture-based classes. Outside the classroom you'll find boundless opportunities for spiritual engagement and service learning - not least of which is Devotion, a traveling worship team that brings music, prayer, and testimony to communities around the state.

  5. Concordia University-Chicago

    River Forest, IL



    In Concordia University's Theology and Languages Department, faculty and staff constantly challenge expectations for a top college for a Christian Studies degree by upping the ante on innovation. Take Concordia's Deaconess Studies program, for example. As the "only undergraduate program leading to deaconess certification in the Lutheran Church," it's a top resource for those looking to fulfill the myriad roles deaconesses play in administering the grace and care of the church to those in need. Another example? In partnership with the Mill Neck Family of Organizations (an advocacy group for the Deaf community), Concordia offers an intensive summer program in Deaf Ministry.

  6. Montreat College

    Montreat, NC



    Thanks to an abundance of concentrations and specialization options, Montreat College's Bible and Religion program is as diverse as the students who choose it. Young people have many reasons for following in the path of Christ, and Montreat covers just about all of them. From Preaching and Evangelism to Biblical Scholarship—and even a "special emphasis" that undergrads can design themselves —this affordable small Christian college's majors are just about infinitely customizable. But your learning doesn't end in the classroom. Thanks to options like the Service Learning Team and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, students of faith take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom too.

  7. Ave Maria College

    Ave Maria, FL



    Going by name alone, you might expect that Ave Maria College would be a good choice for a Catholic Studies degree—and it is. Indeed, the school's affordable undergraduate Biblical Studies degree covers some of the most influential figures in Western thought (such as Augustine, Aquinas, and More), weaving their respective works into a canonical curriculum that is at once philosophical, historical, aesthetic, and—perhaps most of all—spiritual. But while this program includes many of the traditional aspects of a religious education, it doesn't neglect the liberal arts. Instead, the curriculum blends spiritual and secular topics to produce well-rounded graduates with the skills to succeed in a variety of settings - not just inside a Cathedral.

  8. North Park University

    Chicago, IL



    North Park University combines rigorous biblical scholarship, global perspectives on Christianity, and service learning to create one of the best undergraduate Biblical studies degrees in the country. Coursework at North Park's Biblical and Theological Studies program is in-depth and varied, spanning topics like Christian Ethics and Spirituality, the Philosophy of Religion (including a course on C.S. Lewis), Old Testament Poetry, and World Religion. Thanks to fantastic opportunities—like the chance to take an archaeological tour of Greece, Turkey, and Asia Minor—North Park provides a comprehensive program of study for young Christians, preparing them for a career in the church, academia, or anywhere in between.

  9. Greenville College

    Greenville, IL



    With unique degree programs in Youth Ministry and Worship Arts, Greenville College shines as one of the most exciting affordable small colleges for Christian studies majors in the country. It also might offer one of the most idiosyncratic degrees on this list: the Jewish-Christian Studies program. This major provides aspiring Christian theologians, ministers, pastors, and educators with insights into what one might call their "sister" religion. Alongside classroom study, majors in this program conduct visits to synagogues and other religious sites to increase their exposure to this homologous system of faith.

  10. Bethel College-North Newton

    North Newton, KS



    Compared to some of the other schools on this affordable Christian degrees ranking, Bethel College of North Newton could seem a bit limited in its approach. After all, this school provides only a single faith-based degree offering: Bible and Religion. Nevertheless, this comprehensive degree program packs a serious punch by promoting a variety of experiential learning opportunities. You might opt to study abroad by taking courses in the Middle East, or you could join the Ministry Inquiry Program and spend a summer seeing what it's like to lead a congregation. Thanks to these hands-on opportunities, Bethel keeps Bible and Religion majors thoroughly engaged throughout their college careers.

Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small Christian colleges? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.

See also: Top 10 Cheap Online Theology and Christian Studies Degree Programs (Bachelor's) 2016


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