Biola University scores highest of the 562 Christian colleges and universities in North America for making Christian faith central to its identity, curriculum, community and policies, according to a just-released study in the book Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide by Dr. Perry Glanzer. Dr. Glanzer is a professor at Baylor University and Fellow at the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.
“Our desire at Biola is simply to live into our deeply Christian convictions and to do so without defensiveness or apology,” said Biola University President Barry H. Corey. “Those of us in the great enterprise of Christian higher education realize that it’s our distinctiveness that sets us apart, standing out rather than blending in as we prepare the rising generation for vocations of excellence and influence. This detailed research project is an affirmation of what we have been about for 115 years.”
Glanzer and his research team developed a comprehensive tool that identifies, ranks and evaluates how Christian colleges operationalize their Christian identity, and Biola University is recognized as the number one listed university based on the tool’s methodology. With 562 Christian colleges in North America, Glanzer’s work clarifies which schools put their Christian identity into practice through concrete actions or policies — permeating the university's ethos.
The book, intended for parents, students, faculty and staff, reveals how seriously a university takes its Christian identity at various levels, according to an article by Glanzer published in The Gospel Coalition last week — “Choosing a Christian College: An In-Depth Guide.” Utilizing research-based methodology with 11 clear empirical markers to determine the influence of an institution’s Christian identity, Glanzer evaluated 554 Christian colleges and universities in the United States and 16 institutions in Canada. Of the institutions evaluated, Biola scored as number one, with an impressive 26 out of a maximum score of 27.
“The media often depicts Christian college in America as a monolithic experience, but that could not be further from the truth,” said Glanzer in the article. “Differences in institutions’ rhetoric, membership qualifications, curriculum, and co-curricular expectations can lead to entirely different experiences for students at Christian schools. Thus, it behooves us to make clear distinctions between different types of schools.”
Glanzer’s study reveals that Biola is the top Christian school in how it enacts its mission, which is biblically centered education, scholarship and service — equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The 11 empirical markers Glanzer used to determine if an institution lives out their stated Christian identity are mission, first-page rhetoric, “About Us” rhetoric, membership requirements, vice president for mission, specific Christian academic department, required Christian Bible/theology classes, explicitly Christian centers or institutes, chapel/mass, only Christian student groups and code of conduct reasoning.
“Whenever a person or institution claims an identity, one would expect empirical self-descriptions or behavioral markers that indicate the influence of that identity.… We need to consider the evidence demonstrating actual commitment to the professed identity,” said Glanzer in the article.
Glanzer and his co-authors were motivated to create the Operationalizing Christian Identity Guide (OCIG) to analyze Christian colleges and universities. This guide confirms the university’s commitment to remain faithful to its mission both in statement and in practice since its founding in downtown Los Angeles in 1908. It is currently the only institution categorized as a “national university” to require a Christian profession of faith from its faculty, students and staff and for the majority of its traditional undergraduate students to complete enough credits to earn a minor in biblical studies alongside their degree.
This is not the first time Biola has been ranked a top Christian school. In Niche.com’s “2024 Best Colleges,” Biola was ranked #9 out of 333 for Best Christian Colleges in America, #12 out of 100 for Most Conservative Colleges in America, and #174 out of 1,537 for Best Colleges in America.
A Southern California university, Biola has more than 5,000 students, nine schools and offers more than 150 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
Learn more about Biola’s academic programs.
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