Sports and Christianity share a deep connection for many students. Athletics remind the participants of God’s presence and blessings, often enriching their spiritual connection and encouraging a Godly attitude that can be applied in many facets of life. As Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas said, "I give all the glory to God. It's kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him, and the blessings fall down on me."
The following list of Christian Universities and Institutions have athletic programs rooted in the arts and sciences, combining textbook education and spiritual commitments. The athletic programs are focused on strengthening social interactions while retaining academics. As teams participate in sports encouraging self-confidence, students learn to adapt and contribute in real world environments preparing to enter chosen professions. These top athletic programs are members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities with foundations built on religious faith and beliefs. We’ve compiled a list of Athletics at Christian colleges based on:
All of the Christian colleges are accredited with key factors highlighting the sports programs. Each depiction includes facts about academic programs and historical athletic successes, campus amenities and the general quality of student life.
Located in Sterling, Kansas and founded as Cooper Memorial College, Sterling College has an historic affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. Sterling’s athletic department participates in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Warriors Athletic Association (WAA). In the 2016 Preseason Poll, the Women’s Volleyball team was picked to finish 6th in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (CAC) along with the Women’s Soccer. Men’s soccer team were picked to finish 8th.
Located in Charleston, South Carolina CSU holds the distinction as South Carolina’s largest accredited, independent university. CSU is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school. Division I is the highest level of major collegiate athletic powers, larger sports budgets, elaborate facilities, and more athletic scholarships. Women’s Tennis have advanced to the semifinals of the Big South Championship.
Founded in 1892 by the Free Methodist Church, GC is located in Greenville, Illinois. GC is an NCAA Division III school with academics achievements being the primary focus for student-athletes. Division III offers participation in a competitive athletic environment pushing student-athlete potentials on the field. Lady Panthers finished the 2016 season as champions at the NCAA national tournament.
ORU was established in 1963 as an interdenominational Christian university, located in Tulsa, OK. The latest win for ORU athletics; student wins three NCAA titles and a spot on the U.S. Olympic Shooting team earning the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics. Over the past 19 years, ORU won 91 All-American for the track and field programs adding three during 2015-16. ORU has nine athletic facilities on campus and is home to a over 26,000 graduates and a total alumni population of more than 40,000.
OKWU is a private Christian university located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. OKWU students were selected by the 2016 NAIA All-America committee as a sophomore receives the honor of NAIA’s Player of the Year and a senior receives the honor of NAIA’s Pitcher of the Year. One of the students has been recognized four times as an All-American winning the NAIA Pitcher of the Year for three consecutive years.
Located in the Green Hills area of Nashville, Tennessee, Lipscomb was established in 1891 and affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Lipscomb competes in the NCAA Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference. Teams competing against the nation’s largest schools, require students to maintain academic standards while playing sports. There are five on-campus athletic facilities including the Allen Arena with seating for 5,000. The women’s basketball team head to Nicaragua to assist in a community roofing projects, while the softball teams head to Mexico.
Located in York, Nebraska, York College was founded in 1890 in affiliation with the Churches of Christ. York College is also a founding member of the Midlands CAC. There are two state-of-the-art physical fitness centers on campus. The women's basketball team led the nation in rebounding in 2015-16 with 20.1 per game.
Established in 1907, ONU is a private university located in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Sports Conference affiliations are the Chicagoland CAC and Mid‐States Football Association. Volleyball teams held the highest GPA of 3.58. Women's soccer earned a GPA 3.49 followed by the women's swimming and diving and women's cross country at 3.45. Men's program hit the top five positions in tennis and tied fifth with women's basketball at 3.38.
Located in Abilene, Texas, ACU is a private university, established in 1906 and affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Teams finished fourth in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings for all NCAA Division II schools and won the NCAA Division II men’s outdoor track national championship. ACU won four Lone Star Conference titles for women’s soccer men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s track. ACU is a NCAA Division I-AA school with seven athletic facilities, including Shotwell Stadium with seating to hold 15,000.
Founded in 1913 JU is a private institution located in Elgin, Illinois. JU’s athletic department is endorsed by the NAIA. They placed sixth in the 2016 Chicagoland CAC for the All- Sports Cup. Dedicated to academic and sports, the campus has six athletic facilities.
USW is located on a rural campus in Hobbs, New Mexico founded in 1926 as a private and non-denominational university. This year USW earned the prestigious award for the highest GPA. The USW women's outdoor track and field team tied for fourth overall in the NAIA. Women's and men's outdoor track and field teams as each led the nation in grade point average for all NAIA schools. NAIA recognized USW this year for having 14 of its 15 athletic programs named NAIA Scholar-Teams.
APU is a private, Evangelical Christian University, established in 1988 and located in Azusa, California. APU won the Learfield Sports Directors Cup for all NAIA schools and the NAIA women’s Division I national basketball title. Women’s team won four Golden State Athletic Conference titles for cross country, soccer, basketball, and track. Pacific West Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year was awarded the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Milligan College was established 1866, located in the Northeastern mountains of Tennessee is affiliated with non-denominational Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. As an NAIA school, Milligan has 24 intercollegiate sports with awards of 50 conference titles during the past ten years. Milligan continues to hold position in national ratings recognized for its outstanding academic and athletic leadership.
Taylor University is located in Upland, Indiana and established in 1846. Taylor is also a NAIA Division II school with honors for being the NAIA Players-of-the-Year, Capital One All-American awards, Crossroads League Players-of-the-Year and All-American award by CoSIDA Academic the second oldest management association in all of intercollegiate athletics All-American awards.
Dordt is located in Sioux Center, Iowa, established in 1955 and affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, committed to the Reformed Christian perspective. As an NAIA Division II school, 16 athletic teams met the qualifying standard for the NAIA Team-Scholar Program. Women’s cross country team had a cumulative 3.57-grade point during the past school year and the highest grade point average of the Dordt teams receiving the honor.
Tabor College is located in Hillsboro, Kansas and founded in 1908 by the Mennonite Brethren and Krimmer Mennonite Brethren faiths. In 2016, the Women's Cross Country team led with a GPA of 3.76. Fifteen teams were honored with the NAIA Scholar-Team for 2015-16 academics. Tabor was the only KCAC School with teams in the top 40 positions. The Women's cross country placed 20th, and Women's tennis placed 37th.
Liberty is located in Lynchburg, Virginia and established in 1971 as a Southern Baptist institution. Fourth consecutive Sasser Cup was awarded at the Big South Conference’s recognizing the conference’s top athletic programs. Six Conference titles were honored including the men’s cross country, golf, men’s indoor track, men’s outdoor track, softball, and women’s indoor track. Wins include NCAA Division I national champion and All-American honors for track.
Huntingdon College is located in Huntingdon, Indiana, established in 1897 and affiliated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced its annual Top 25 Team Honor Roll and for the 12th time since the program’s inception in 1997. HU was among the list of honorees. The Foresters finished the year with a team GPA of 3.548 and 11th among its NAIA peers. Past accomplishments include competition in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women with 38 NAIA All-American honors and 254 All-America Scholar Athlete honors.
NWC is located in Orange City, Iowa and affiliated with the Reformed Church in America. Nationally recognized as a top Midwestern College, NWC’s athletic department is approved by the NAIA with a total of nine NAIA national championship teams. NWC’s campus is home to seven athletic facilities. NWC’s women indoor track and field team posted the highest GPA 3.67 among the 1059 team competing for the 2015-16 honor from the NAIA.
Established in 1950, OCU is located in northeast Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. OCU is part of the NCAA II athletic conference with honors for All-Americans, Scholar Athletes, National Champions and Academic All-Americans. OCU holds 56 NAIA national titles and relay championships in cross country and track and field.
Located in Houston, Texas, HBU is a private university founded in 1960 by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. HBU is an NCAA Division I school. HBU’s football stadium seats 5,000 and their Home Courts are the Frank and Lucille Sharp Gymnasium, both seating 1,000. Women's basketball program records the fifth-highest team GPA in NCAA Division I at 3.612.
Emmanuel College is located in Franklin Springs, Georgia, established in 1919 and affiliated with International Pentecostal Holiness Church. 25 teams are integrated into the school’s future growth combining academics with sports. Women’s Soccer competes in NCAA Division I and Basketball in NCAA Division II.
SNU was established in 1899 as a private university affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. Located west of Oklahoma City, SNU is an NCAA Division II school. There are five on campus athletic facilities including the stadium seating 15,000. Sports programs include women's basketball and tennis, women's and men’s golf. Women's track and field took 11 awards, while men's track and field had four.
SAU is the second-largest Evangelical Christian University in Michigan located in Spring Arbor, Michigan. Established in 1873, their athletic department is endorsed by the NAIA. Supporting SAU’s athletics on campus there are eight athletic facilities. The Cougars honored four 2015-16 NAIA Scholar-Athletes on the women’s basketball.
Dating back to 1893, Bethel College is affiliated with the United Missionary Church and built upon the Wesleyan tradition. Located in Mishawaka, Indiana the campus is home to six athletic facilities including the Wiekamp Athletics Center. As a NAIA school, this year women's soccer program receives the highest athletic honor bestowed by the conference, and named 2015-16 Crossroads League Female Student-Athlete of the Year. In a league that produced 46 All-Americans among its nine sponsored women's sports and more than 1,300 female student-athletes compete during the year.
RWC is located in Rochester, New York, founded in 1866. The athletic department is under the sanctioning body of the NCAA Division II with four on campus athletic facilities. During 2015-16 academic year RWC won six East Coast Conference Champions for the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Men’s and Women’s Track & Field.
Located in Jefferson City, Tennessee is CNU a private institution established in 1851 and affiliated with the Baptist denomination. CNU is a NCAA Division II school sponsoring intercollegiate athletics for over 100 years. Today the CNU sponsors approximately 450 participants in 18 intercollegiate sports competing in the NCAA.
Established in 1883 and located in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, USF is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches. University of Sioux Falls ranked 33 in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Colleges – Midwest. As an NCAA Division II school, USF received the 2016 All-American for track and field and honors for the women’s basketball.
Located in Anderson, Indiana, AU was established in 1917 and is affiliated with the Church of God denomination. Anderson is
NGU ranks fifth in the 25 Best Christian Colleges and Universities in the South for 2017 by Christian Universities Online (CUO). NGU is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas/Gulf South. NGU students receive the team academic honor and make the list for the Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll.
Bethel University is a private institution located in the suburbs of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Bethel is endorsed by the NCAA at the Division III level and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association. In 2015-16 the American Volleyball Coaches Association awarded Bethel University with the AVCA Team Academic Award. The home team has been a recipient of this award eleven times.
HSU is located in Abilene, Texas, established in 1891 and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The athletic department is approved under NCAA Division III. Hardin-Simmons' women's golf team had three players named to the Women's Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar team for the 2015-16 season. The Hardin-Simmons women's soccer team earned a trip to Italy every three years for team bonding.
Located in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania WU was founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Wu is an NCAA Division II school and the athletic department belongs to the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC). Women's basketball team was honored as one of the 2016 most academically accomplished squads in the country by the WBAC. The Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) recently honored student-athletes from WU.
Located in Canton, Ohio, Malone was established in 1892 and affiliated with the Evangelical Friends Church. Authorized by the NCAA Division II, there are ten teams awarded All-American including Men and Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field. Malone’s athletic department is student-athlete focused, and coach-driven.
North of Boston in Wenham, Massachusetts, Gordon was established in 1889 originally under the name of Boston Missionary Training School. As a NCAA Division III school and the Commonwealth Coast Conference, Gordon’s campus has a total of six athletic facilities. 2015-16 Hall of Fame student athletics are honored for outstanding volleyball records throughout the four-years, with a second as one of the most decorated women's basketball players
Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, CC was established in 1876 and is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America. CC continues to rank on the top list of colleges and as a NCAA Division III finished fifth in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings. Seven Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles have been awarded to women’s basketball; men’s cross country, men’s soccer, women’s swimming, men’s track, women’s track, softball.
Biola University is located in La Mirada, CA, established 1908 as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian institution. Biola is affiliated with NAIA Division I, NCAA Division II and the Golden State Athletic Conference. Biola Women's Soccer is partnering with the So. Cal Seahorses for a summer service trip and outreach matches to Iwata and Osaka Japan.
Warner is a private Liberal Arts Institution located in Lake Wales, Florida on a rural campus setting. Warner’s athletic department is affiliated with the NAIA and the Sun Conference. The Royals men's and women's track and field teams finished as NAIA National Championships The men's team placed 58th overall at nationals and the women’s team tied for 52. The Royals baseball team opened up their 2016 NCCAA National Championship with a win in the first game.
University of Northwestern-St. Paul was established in 1902 as a private, nondenominational Christian college located in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Authorized by the NCAA Division III and the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, Northwestern offers on-campus athletic facilities for Baseball, Softball, Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, Football, and Lacrosse. It’s also Home of the PGA Champions Tour 3M Championship with a 27,000 square foot, practice facility and 12,000 square feet of putting greens.
Wheaton College was established in 1860 as an interdenominational Christian College and located in Wheaton, Illinois. Success includes field achievements of 50 top finishes in the Learfield Directors’ Cup Standings. Other awards for Wheaton are six National Championships, 31 student-athletes National Titles with five National Players of the Year honorees. Wheaton College continues to rank in the top US college ratings for it high level of academics and sports.
Shorter University was established in 1873 and located in Rome, Georgia. As a NCAA Division II school, its emphasis is on elite-level athletic training and individual development. Shorter finished third in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings for all NAIA schools, won two national championships for men’s indoor track and men’s outdoor track and won three Southern States Athletic Conference titles: men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s golf.
Erskine celebrates 175 years as a Christian academic community, founded by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1839. Erskine College is located in Due West, South Carolina in Abbeville County. Today, Erskine’s athletic department is affiliated with the NAIA and the NCAA Division II for 20 years. The Erskine College women's tennis team was recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for their academic success both as a team and individually. The Erskine College men's volleyball team finished the season as NCAA statistical champion.
MBU is an Evangelical Christian institution located in Saint Louis, Missouri, founded in 1957. MBU has a total of is endorsed by the NAIA and offers three on-campus athletic facilities. The MBU men’s and women’s teams compete nationally and win at the NAIA as a part of the American Midwest Conference NAIA National Championships.
Founded in 1890, Whitworth is a private institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Located in Spokane, Washington students from 30 states and 29 countries are enrolled. Approved by the NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference, Whitworth’s athletes have received All-American recognition and 80+ have been named Academic All-Americans.
Located in Riverside, CA, CBU was established in 1950 by the California Southern Baptist Convention. CBU has a total of CBU seven athletic facilities on campus and is affiliated with the NCAA Division II. Teams jump 22 spots up the leader board and grabbed their highest placement in the Division II Learfield Directors' Cup in the Top 10 and overall fourth. Men's volleyball finished 16th and women's volleyball was 19th followed by men's soccer ranking 22 and the women’s joined the Top 30 at 26.
GCU was established in 1949 and is located in Phoenix, Arizona. GCU is a NCAA Division I school and part of the Western Athletic Conference. Grand Canyon Women's Volleyball team is named in NCAA Division I programs for earning team award this season. Two students on the Women’s Golf receive the All-American Scholars award by the Women's Golf Coaches Association. There are seven athletic facilities on campus with seating ranging from 1500 to 7000.
OBU is located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, established in 1910 and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. OBU’s athletic department is affiliated with the NCAA Division II and the Great American Conference. OBU won a college record of four national championships in one day for men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s indoor track and field.
Located in Mechanicsburg, PA, Messiah was founded in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church. Messiah is a NCAA Division III school with 25 NCAA Division III National Champions, 112 Conference Team Championships, 271 NCAA Division III All-American and 29 Capital One Academic All-American titles. Top 25 Preseason Poll for 2016 have Messiah College women's soccer is listed at the No. 3 spot. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced the 2016 All-Academic Honors this week.
Campbellsville University is a private, Baptist Institution established in 1906 and located in Campbellsville, Kentucky. CU’s athletic department is affiliated with the NAIA, NCCAA Division I, WCWA, and Mid-South Conference. On campus there are eight athletic facilities and five off-campus locations. Women's golf program narrowly edging men's cross country with a 3.69 GPA for the top spot for NAIA Scholar-Team honors. Tigers and Lady Tigers won the Mid-South Conference with 14 teams honored.
King University is a private institution located in Bristol, Tennessee, established in 1867 and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. King University qualified for having the Top athletic programs at Christian colleges based on two factors. The first, as a Div.-II school, King’s athletic programs embody the student’s academics success, athletic contributions, and community involvement. The second are the school’s athletic achievements are balanced between the school's mission, sports requirements and greater the student's commitment. The women's wrestling team defended the No. 1 spot for the second straight year earning a third consecutive title.