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Bible colleges are institutions of higher education that specialize in biblical studies. Curriculum is Bible-based and differs from that of liberal arts colleges or research universities. Bible colleges generally exclude the study of philosophy, unlike seminaries and theological colleges. Bible colleges are also unlike seminaries but similar to theological colleges in that Bible colleges are primarily undergraduate institutions.



Bible colleges are associated primarily with evangelical Protestant denominations.[1] Their primary purpose is to prepare people for roles in Christian ministry.[2] The Bible-centered curriculum is typically supplemented by structured programs of Christian service.[3]


As far as the USA is concerned, the origins of the Bible college movement are in the late 19th century Bible Institute movement.[4] The first Bible schools in North America were founded by A.B. Simpson (Nyack College in 1882) of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and D.L. Moody (Moody Bible Institute in 1887). Many were established as a conservative reaction against "liberal" established theological colleges and seminaries.[2]


Bible colleges generally confer certificates, associate's degrees, diplomas, or bachelor's degrees, most often in biblical studies and Christian ministry. Some Bible colleges offer supplementary training or degree programs in ministry-related areas that also have secular application, such as Christian education, and church music. Some others have established seminaries and graduate divisions.

Many Bible colleges in the United States and Canada that offer intercollegiate athletic programs are members of the National Christian College Athletic Association or the Association of Christian College Athletics.

Increasingly, Bible colleges also offer distance learning modules online. However, few yet offer modules about actual Web ministry.[5]


Each country has their own governmental requirement for accreditation, so this should be researched appropriately. For instance, the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) accredits many Bible colleges in the United States. Bible colleges may also be accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, by regional accreditors, or by international counterparts.

In the UK, as of 2009, all Bible colleges (along with all independent colleges of higher education) need to be accredited by either the British Accreditation Council (BAC) or Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC).

Some Bible colleges and institutes operate without conventional educational accreditation or government licensing. These institutions typically claim exemption due to the religious nature of their programs, that involving an outside agency in this capacity would compromise their missions. Dr. Paul Chappell, founder and president of West Coast Baptist College explained the basis for his refusal to seek accreditation for that school, writing: "The local church should have no approving agency over its ministry. I believe this position to be consistent with the Scriptures and with our Baptist distinctives... A study of history would reveal that educational institutions begin to waver when they become more interested in what the world thinks of them than what God insists upon. ...For the accredited college, the approval of an accrediting agency becomes its 'life’s blood.' ...It is my firm conviction that the 'life blood' of a Christian college should be nothing other than the living Word of God itself."[6]


The Association for Biblical Higher Education asserts that "there are more than 1,200 Bible schools and colleges in the United States and Canada," and that Bible colleges produce "a large percentage of North American evangelical missionaries and serve as a primary training center for local church leadership."[4] The South Pacific Association of Bible Colleges claims that "more than fifty per cent of all Protestant missionaries in the world today are graduates of the Bible Colleges."[7]

According to one source, there are over 2,000 Bible colleges worldwide as of January 2009.[8]

Notes and references

  1. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia lists the largest affiliated denominations as Mennonites, Pentecostals, Holiness movement churches, Baptists, The Church of Christ, Church of God, the Missionary Church, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. See Bible Schools, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (3rd page in online version of article)
  2. ^ a b Bible Schools, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (1st page in online version of article)
  3. ^ Bible Schools, in The Canadian Encyclopedia (3rd page in online version of article)
  4. ^ a b History: Biblical Higher Education, American Association of Bible Colleges website (accessed November 19, 2007)
  5. ^ Open Letter to Colleges proposing web evangelism course modules
  6. ^ WCBC website page on Accreditation: Liberal Arts Studies and the Local Church Bible College
  7. ^ SPABC History
  8. ^

External links



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