By BVS Staff
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!
20. Walla Walla University
College Place, WA
With a Best Regional University in the West designation from U.S. News and World Report, Walla Walla inclusion on this top Christian degrees ranking makes sense. The college's affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church makes it an especially great choice for undergraduates interested in pursuing a degree—and eventually a career—in theology. In addition to subsidizing the cost of tuition, affiliation with the Adventist church provides opportunities for service learning and a host of travel opportunities at Biblical sites in the Mediterranean Basin. Within the School of Theology itself, students can pursue degrees in fields including Biblical Languages and Religion.
Net Price: $24,104/yr
19. Elmhurst College
Elmhurst College's Religious Studies Department offers three distinct majors: Religious Studies; Theological Services and Christian Ministry; and Religion and Service. All told, these three affordable undergraduate Biblical studies degrees have more in common than not: Shared core requirements include "Introduction to Biblical Studies" and "Christian Social Ethics" to provide a broad faith-based foundation. All three also require a senior seminar. But where the former program (Religious Studies) is largely academic, the latter two have much stronger experiential requirements (including international study courses and/or internships), as well as senior capstone projects.
Net Price: $23,688/yr
18. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
If you've always dreamed of becoming a pastor or a theologian, a degree from Andrews University could be a logical next step along that path. The Religion and Biblical Languages Department at this affordable small Christian college offers an array of bachelor's degrees to suit virtually every career path within the church: Biblical and Theological Studies; Religion and Society; and [Christian] Secondary Education are just a few of the diverse programs available to undergraduates at Andrews. Beyond degrees, study abroad programs and the Andrews Ministerial Association provide ample opportunities to witness firsthand how believers around the country—and around the world—celebrate Christ.
Net Price: $23,491/yr
17. Crown College
Saint Bonifacius, MN
Although many qualities help make Crown a top college for a Christian studies degree, one of its most impressive features is the experienced and dedicated faculty members who change lives every day. While Crown's Biblical, Theological, and Ministry Studies Department certainly deserves recognition for its extensive range of bachelor's programs (which include degrees in Pastoral Leadership, Youth and Family Ministry, and Biblical and Theological Studies), the faculty and staff provide the backbone of the school. After all, every full-time faculty member in the department has ministry and/or pastoral experience that contributes to their reputation not only excellent educators, but also excellent leaders.
Net Price: $22,426/yr
16. Anderson University
Anderson University's impressive selection of affordable undergraduate Biblical Studies degrees makes it a great choice for any student interested in strengthening their religious foundation. From Biblical Studies to Christian Ministries, Anderson undergraduates have myriad opportunities to celebrate and study the divine. In particular, the Christian Ministries program stands out because students who learn better through hands-on projects can opt for a more experiential format. This track combines internships, community outreach, and appropriately named "experiential courses" to create a more active – and interactive – approach to spiritual leadership.
Net Price: $21,945/yr
15. Asbury University
Asbury University stands out as one of the best small Christian colleges in the country, if not the world. From chapel and weekly devotionals to the school's "four cornerstones" (Scripture, Holiness, Stewardship, and Mission), Wesleyan theological values suffuse every facet of the Asbury experience. The Christian Studies program provides a natural extension of these values, offering a number of engaging, comprehensive majors in the department. And ambitious applicants will be particularly pleased to learn that the school limits the number of required credit hours for each program in order to encourage students to double-major (and maybe get a minor, too!).
Net Price: $21,622/yr
14. Hardin-Simmons University
Hardin-Simmons University earns recognition from quite a few sources: Colleges of Distinction, U.S. News and World Report, and College Choice all consider it one of the best small colleges for Christian studies majors. And for good reason – spiritual students at this university can take advantage of Bible study groups, international mission trips, and community outreach activities, not to mention high quality academic programs. And for those who wish to devote themselves more fully to the study of religion, the Logsdon School of Theology offers a host of opportunities. Majors like Biblical Studies, Religion, and Ministry provide a comprehensive understanding of Christianity that remains grounded in the liberal arts.
Net Price: $20,528/yr
13. Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs, NC
Gardner-Webb University might be the youngest Baptist college in North Carolina, but it still has a long tradition of transforming its students spiritually and intellectually. In particular, GWU's Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy houses many degree programs that promise to accomplish just that: Biblical Studies, Discipleship Studies, World Religions, and Missiology are just a few of the exciting bachelor's programs available to faith-focused undergraduates at this affordable small Christian college. But GWU's most unique feature just might be its Accelerated Pastoral Ministries Program, which consolidates a Bachelor of Arts in Discipleship Studies, a Minor in Biblical Studies, and a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Pastoral Studies into a span of just five years.
Net Price: $20,417/yr
12. Warner Pacific College
Warner Pacific College may have just five hundred students, but it still provides everything a top small college for Christian studies majors should have. From cohort-style First-Year Learning Communities to merit-based scholarships, WPU fosters an intimate campus brimming with opportunity. In many ways, WPU's Christian Ministries major is the natural extension of these values: field experience and cross-cultural awareness-building are just two of the recurring requirements for the degree. After acquiring years of experience studying the Bible and serving others, many graduates go on to become pastors, ministers, and educators.
Net Price: $20,172/yr
11. Marian University
At Marian University, those interested in earning an affordable undergraduate Biblical Studies degree can choose from quite a few promising majors. With bachelor's degrees available in Theology, Catholic Studies, Pastoral Leadership, and Religious Education, Marian provides students with many opportunities to transform their passion for Christ into a lifelong career. And Marian also offers a robust campus ministry program with resources for all Christian denominations, as well as other faiths. Campus ministry-sponsored "Life Groups" include the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a faith-based dormitory (Alverna House), and a non-denominational prayer group.
Net Price: $19,992/yr
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.
Net Price: $19,861/yr
9. Greenville College
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.
Net Price: $19,788/yr
8. North Park University
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.
Net Price: $19,158/yr
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.
Net Price: $18,800/yr
6. Montreat College
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.
Net Price: $18,721/yr
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.
Net Price: $18,557/yr
4. Bryan College-Dayton
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.
Net Price: $16,153/yr
3. Johnson University
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.
Net Price: $15,458/yr
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.
Net Price: $13,923/yr
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.
Net Price: $13,567/yr
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.