This ranking endeavors to highlight Christian colleges and universities who offer the very best in Visual Arts programs. Each institution listed is fully accredited and offer programs with unique features that cause it to stand out among the rest in the field of Christian colleges. This list features Christian college visual arts programs that are in the top tier in terms of the quality, value, and overall educational experience they have to offer.
The methodology behind this ranking began with schools that are members or member eligible of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). We then collected publicly available data for these schools in the following categories: 1) Number of undergraduate and graduate visual art degrees, 2) Faculty-to-student ratio, 3) Percent of full-time beginning undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid, 4) Selectivity, 5) Overall retention rate and 6) Overall graduation rate. The number of degree programs category received a slightly higher weight with all other categories receiving equal weight in calculating the final ranking.
Bethel University is a private, evangelical Christian institution located in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota. Bethel University was established in 1871 in Chicago Illinois, originally, as a seminary for Swedish Baptist immigrants. In 1914 the school merged with Bethel Academy in St. Paul and by 1931 expanded to become the Bethel Junior College. The college added a four-year liberal arts program in 1947, prompting another name change to Bethel College and Seminary. In the early part of 2004 the school adopted its current name in recognition of the school’s achievement and expansion. Bethel University’s mission is to boldly prepare and motivate students within the Christian faith, educating and energizing “men and women for excellence in leadership, scholarship and service” and preparing “graduates to serve in strategic capacities to renew minds, live out biblical truth, transform culture, and advance the gospel.”
Bethel University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1959. Bethel University boasts a total enrollment figure of nearly 4,000 – including more than 3,000 undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Bethel University offers a wide variety of undergraduate, graduate, adult degree completion, seminary, and online programs. In the area of Visual Arts, Bethel University offers three distinct programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Art; a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art; and a Graphic Design major. Bethel University’s Department of Art and Design purposes to inspire students to “shape the world through objects and visual communication” as faculty members challenge students to perfect technical skills and grow in their creativity. Art students enjoy a low student to faculty ratio of just 8 to 1, learning from professors who care about and purposefully mentor their students.
- Graphic Design
Cedarville University is a private, coeducational, Christian institution located in Cedarville, Ohio. Cedarville University was established in 1887 when the New Light Reformed Presbyterian Church took out a charter for the school. The school’s first classes began in 1892 though it was not until 1894 that the college officially opened. In 1953 the Baptist Bible Institute relocated to Cedarville’s campus and merged with Cedarville College (as the school was then known as). In 2000 the school achieved university status and changed its name to the one it currently holds. Cedarville University’s mission is to be a “Christ Centered learning community equipping students for lifelong leadership and service through an education marked by excellence and grounded in biblical truth”. Cedarville University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1975.
Cedarville University boasts a total enrollment figure of more than 3,500 – the majority of which are undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1. Cedarville University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs through its several colleges and departments. In the area of Visual Arts, Cedarville University offers three distinct programs: a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication Design, with concentrations in Graphic Design, Interactive Web Design; a Studio Art Major with concentrations in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics; and a Master of Fine Arts. Cedarville University boasts recently renovated and expanded art facilities including extremely well-equipped 2-D and 3-D art studios which students can access at any hour with card-swipe access. Cedarville University’s upper-level students enjoy spacious and semi-private studio spaces which allow them to expand and explore.
- Visual Communications Design
- Studio Art
- Master of Fine Arts
Houghton College is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution located in Houghton, New York in the Genesee Valley. Houghton College was established in 1883 as Houghton Seminary, a coeducational high school, by founder Willard J. Houghton, a Wesleyan Methodist minister. In 1899 the school began offering a few college classes and in 1923 the school was granted its first provisional charter from the state of New York. A more permanent charter was later granted in 1927 and full accreditation was achieved in 1935. In 2004 the college initiated its first master’s degree program to which Houghton College has since added several more. Named the 7th best college in the nation and the #1 in New York, today Houghton College’s mission is to provide an “academically challenging, Christ-centered education in the liberal arts and sciences to students from diverse traditions and economic backgrounds and equips them to lead and labor as scholar-servants in a changing world.”
Houghton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Houghton College boasts a total enrollment figure of more than 1,000 – the majority of which are undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1. Houghton College offers variety of undergraduate, graduate, and online degree programs. In area of Visual Arts, Houghton College offers three distinct programs, namely a Major in Art, with studio concentrations in Ceramics, Drawing, Graphic Design, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture; and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication and in Studio Art. Houghton College boasts the spacious, light-filled Stevens Art studio which features cathedral ceilings and plenty of natural light. In addition, Art students enjoy the benefits of quality studio equipment in Houghton College’s painting studio, printmaking studio, Design Media Studio, the Forsyth Learning Commons, Ceramics Studio and more.
- Visual Communications
- Studio Art
Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University is a private, coeducational, Christian institution located in near Los Angeles in the suburban Azusa, California. Azusa Pacific University was established in 1899 in Whittier California, originally, as the Training School for Christian Workers by a small group of Quakers and a Methodist evangelist. The first Bible college to be founded on the West Coast, the school began with a total enrollment of just 12 students. Since that time, Azusa Pacific University has experienced much growth and change. By the 1930’s Quaker influences on the school diminished as faculty members began to embrace evangelicalism in rejection of the more liberal California Yearly Meeting of Friends. Today, the school classifies itself as interdenominational, committed to the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition of evangelical Christianity. Azusa Pacific University’s mission is to be an “evangelical Christian Community of disciples and scholars who seek to advance the work of God in the world through academic excellence in liberal arts and professional programs of higher education that encourage students to develop a Christian perspective of truth and life.”
Azusa Pacific University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has been so since 1961. The University boasts a total enrollment figure of nearly 10,000 – including approximately 6,000 undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1. Azusa Pacific University offers a wide variety of undergraduate, graduate, adult degree completion, and online programs. In the area of Visual Arts, Azusa Pacific University offers four programs, namely a Bachelor of Arts in Art; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art; Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design; and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art. The mission of the University’s Department of Art and Design is to prepare students to “cultivate individual creativity… as a reflector of the creative and transformative nature of God.”
- Graphic Design
- Visual Art
Messiah College is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Though today the school is nondenominational, Messiah College was established in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church as the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home. The school first began meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the home of the school’s first president, Samuel Rogers Smith, a local businessman and a leader in the Brethren in Christ Church. In 1911 the school moved to its first campus, which was donated by Smith and by 1921, the school had grown into a junior college, making it the second junior college in the state; at this time the school’s name was changed to Messiah Bible School. In 1951 Messiah began offering four-year college programs and again changed its name, this time to the one it continues to hold to this day, Messiah College. Today, Messiah College’s mission is to “educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.”
Messiah College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has been so since 1963. The College boasts a total enrollment figure of more than 3,000 – including more than 2,500 undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1. A nationally ranked institution, Messiah College offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate-level degrees in the liberal and applied arts and sciences. In the area of Visual Arts, Messiah College offers three programs, namely a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with emphases in 2D studies, 3D studies, graphic design & visual art; and a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media, with concentrations in interdisciplinary degree in art and design, communications, and computer science.
- Studio Art
- Digital Media
Located in Clinton, Mississippi, Mississippi College is a private, coeducational, comprehensive Christian institution of the liberal arts and sciences and professional studies. Established in 1826, Mississippi College is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the country as well as the oldest college within the state of Mississippi. Mississippi College’s long and rich history spans nearly two centuries and the school has, not surprisingly, experienced much growth and change. In addition to being one of the oldest institutions of higher education, Mississippi College was also one of the first to become a coeducational college, granting its first degrees to women in 1831. Mississippi College’s vision is “to be known as a university recognized for academic excellence and commitment to the cause of Christ”. Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1922.
Mississippi College boasts a total enrollment figure of nearly 5,000– including approximately 3,000 undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1. Mississippi College offers wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its seven schools, which include the areas of Business, Christian Studies & the Arts, Education, Humanities & Social Sciences, Law, Nursing, and Science & Mathematics. In the area of the Visual Arts, Mississippi College offers seven programs. These include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with emphases in Painting, Sculpture, and Ceramics; a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art; a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design and Interior Design and Art Education; and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Art Education. As a Christian college, Mississippi College’s Department of Art “encourages the exploration of art in a creative environment in which Christian values find exercise in the art experience.”
- Studio Art
- Graphic Design
- Interior Design
- Art Education
College of the Ozarks
Located on a 1,000 acre campus in Point Lookout, Missouri, the College of the Ozarks (commonly referred to as C of O) is a private, Christian liberal arts institution. Known as “Hard Work U”, from its very beginning in 1907, C of O has adopted and followed an extremely unique practice of having students work rather than pay for tuition. Through the combination of state grants, scholarships and the school’s on-campus work program students are charged a grand total of $0 in tuition costs. Placing a strong emphasis on “character” education, C of O is committed to providing students with a quality Christian education, especially for students who are found worthy but who lack the financial means to obtain such an education. C of O openly discourages debt and does not participate in any federal, state or private loan programs; the university further leads by example and has no institutional debt of any kind.
In addition to the real-world work experience the school’s tuition program provides, the College of the Ozarks offers a range of academic programs with more than 40 majors, 36 minors, and several pre-professional programs. In the area of the Visual Arts, C of O offers two programs: a Graphic Art Program and a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Studio Art with concentrations in the areas of Graphic Design, Ceramics, Computer Art, Fibers, and Painting. The mission of C of O’s Art department is to “dynamically develop professional artists who are individuals of excellent character.” Through C of O’s Boger Gallery, the college’s Art department is able to provide events for the College and surrounding communities, including visiting artist exhibitions, workshops and lectures, an annual student art exhibit from local schools as well as exhibits featuring graduating art majors.
- Studio Art
- Graphic Art
Calvin College is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Calvin College was established in 1876 by the Christian Reformed Church in North America as part of the Calvin College and Theological Seminary for the purpose of training church ministers. The school began with just seven students who met in a rented upper room in Grand Rapids, following an initial six-year curriculum consisting of four years of literary studies followed by two years of theology. By 1906, the literary department of the school became known as the John Calvin Junior College; in 1920 the college officially transitioned into being a four-year college. Since that time, the school has continued to experience growth and expansion, moving to its current campus in the 1960’s. Calvin College’s mission is to “equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.”
Calvin College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1930. Calvin College boasts a total enrollment figure of nearly 4,000– the majority of which are undergraduate students – with an average student to faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Calvin College offers five Visual Arts Programs, including a Film and Media Major; an Art History program; a Studio Art Program, with concentrations in Ceramics, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, and Visual Communication; and a Graphics Major (BA) with concentrations in Type, Layout, Design, and Photography. Calvin College also offers an Art Collaborative; a program designed for first-year students whose interest lie in the arts, collaboration, and leadership. Ideal for any students interested in either arts-related activities or in academic programs, students who are accepted into the program explore their calling as artists through courses, activities and an interim trip to art destinations in the U.S. or abroad.
- Studio Art
- Art History
- Film and Media
- Fine Arts
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Lipscomb University is a private, coeducational, Christian, liberal arts institution. Established in 1891, Lipscomb University was founded by David Lipscomb and James A. Harding as a Christian liberal arts education. The school was originally called the Nashville Bible School, but later changed its name to honor David Lipscomb who donated his estate to serve as the school’s campus. Lipscomb University is the alma mater of several prominent ministers in the Church of Christ movement and has remained thoroughly affiliated with the Churches of Christ throughout its history. Lipscomb University’s “primary mission is to integrate Christian Faith and practice with academic excellence. This mission is carried out not only in the classroom but also by involvement in numerous services to the church and larger community.” Lipscomb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1954.
The University boasts a total enrollment figure of more than 4,000 students, including nearly 3,000 undergraduates. Lipscomb University offers more than 140 fields of undergraduate study as well as several pre-professional programs, adult degree programs, and more than two dozen master’s and doctoral degrees. Lipscomb University offers a total of eight programs in the Visual Arts, namely a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Film Production, Studio Art or Graphic Design; a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Art (Studio) or Art Therapy; a BA or a BFA in Animation; a BA or Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design; and a Master of Arts in Film and Creative Media. Offered through Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment & the Arts, the college’s mission is to be a “Christ-centered, innovative, entrepreneurial arts community, committed to rigorous artistic training, creative collaboration and professional growth.”
- Film Production
- Fashion Design
- Studio Art
- Graphic Design
- Art Therapy
- Art (Studio)
- Film and Creative Media (MA)
Located in Jackson, Tennessee, Union University is a private, four-year, coeducational, liberal arts-based institution. The school operates off of a 290 acre urban campus about 80 miles east of Memphis and 120 miles west of Nashville. Union University also operates extension campuses in both Germantown and Henderson, Tennessee. Union University’s mission is to provide a “Christ-centered education that promotes excellence and character development in service to Church and society.” The university’s total enrollment figure reaches approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students with nearly all fifty states and more than 30 foreign nations represented in the student body. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Union has received a number of major recognitions from names such as U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and has been ranked in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, among others. Affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and established in 1823, Union holds the distinction of being the oldest Southern Baptist-affiliated institution.
Union University offers more than 100 programs of study through more than 25 different academic departments and schools which make up the University. Union University’s Department of Art offers a total of nine visual art degree programs, with majors and programs in Art, Ceramics, Drawing, Graphic Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Studio Art, and Visual Aesthetics. Each of Union University’s Art professors are active artists who practice their skills in a personal studio space on the school’s campus. Students benefit from first-hand involvement in the visual arts – a method which has proven to be a most valuable teaching method. At the heart of each of Union University’s art programs is the “application of faith and art.” Union places value on “high artistic tradition, hard work, passion and persistence.” Art students enjoy close interaction with art professionals and participate in a variety of art retreats, service projects, and field trips.
- Graphic Design
- Studio Art
- Visual Aesthetics