Perhaps you are one of the 100 million members of the Baptist denomination worldwide or perhaps you are just interested in an excellent education with an emphasis the teachings of Jesus Christ – either way, enrolling in a Baptist university or college in the US may be an excellent option for you.
What is a Baptist?
"Baptist" is a general term for a wide range of Christian churches that hold similar but not identical beliefs. At the center of any Baptist church are four religious principles:
- Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity
- The Holy Bible is the only authoritative source to learn about Jesus Christ
- Christians should actively recruit new members into the faith
- Adults should be baptized rather than children (thus giving the group its name)
Although this branch of Christianity has roots going all the way back to the earliest Christian churches, the first Baptist church in America was founded in 1639, making it one of the earliest American versions of Christianity. During the American civil war, the Baptist church split into two basic camps:
- Southern Baptist
- A southern association that eventually became the Southern Baptist Convention (16 million American worshipers)
- American Baptist
- A northern association that eventually became the American Baptist Convention (3.5 million American worshipers)
Today, there are at least 65 different Baptist associations or denominations in the United States with a wide range of theological and cultural religious perspectives; yet they all share the same core principles.
What about Baptist colleges and universities?
Because there is such a wide diversity inside the Baptist denomination, it is difficult to accurately identify all the possible Baptist universities and colleges in America. However, there are nearly sixty (60) fully-accredited colleges and universities who clearly identify themselves with either the American or Southern Baptist communities. Of course, each community also has several seminaries and Bible colleges as well as those offering fully accredited degree programs. Among the most prestigious of the Baptist universities and colleges in America are:
- Baylor University, Texas
- Eastern University, Pennsylvania
- Liberty University, Virginia
- Linfield College, Oregon
- University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Why Attend a Baptist University?
Baptist universities and colleges in America offer students a rare and special combination of excellent academics and spiritual growth, in a moral, Christ-centered environment. Each school offers students the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with Jesus while developing the skills to serve their fellow humanity.
A core concept in Baptist universities and colleges is “educating for life” – an education that allows access to a practical, successful career, while also giving them the moral education necessary to live a good life. Unlike many colleges that promote an “anything goes” culture, students and faculty at Baptist colleges and universities are expected and supported in leading a morally decent lifestyle that allows students to focus on academics and personal growth.
All education in Baptist colleges and universities will be Christ-centered, placing the teachings and values of Jesus Christ as an essential part of every curriculum.
What if I'm Not Baptist?
You do not need to be a Baptist to study at a Baptist college or university, but you should be ready to learn about the Baptist teachings. Baptist universities and colleges boldly proclaim the role their faith plays in every aspect of their education. Students who do not share their belief in the importance of a Christ-centered education are unlikely to blossom at a Baptist university or college.
However, students from other Christian backgrounds and denominations may find the experience of studying at a Baptist college or university to be especially rewarding, as they can actively participate in the theological dialogue and discussions. An essential part of a Christ-centered education is the free and exciting exchange about ideas about God.
Do Baptist Universities and Colleges in America Welcome International Students?
Absolutely. Baptists are famous for their outreach to other cultures and nations, in the hopes of expanding the reach of Jesus Christ throughout the world. As such, Baptist colleges and universities in America eagerly recruit and welcome international students for their academic programs.
Nearly every American Baptist college and university has a department dedicated to recruiting and supporting international students as they pursue their college (and post-college) education. You should research and contact those departments specifically as part of your admissions process to see how each individual school can best meet your needs.