If your religious beliefs play a central role in your life, then the prospect of pursuing a faith based education might sound appealing. However, if you’re pursuing an online education, you might be concerned that you’ll have to choose between an institution that offers the religious affiliation you want and the flexibility and online classes you need. Fortunately, a number of faith based schools offer online degree programs that allow busy, religious-minded students to enjoy the best of both worlds.

The Legacy of Religiously Affiliated Colleges

A faith based or religiously affiliated college is a private institution of higher learning that was built upon or teaches from the worldview of a certain faith. Faith based schools take various forms, but among the most common in the United States are colleges with a Jesuit, Catholic, Mormon, Lutheran or non-denominational Christian affiliation.

Most of the faith based schools that offer online programs have long histories as brick-and-mortar institutions. For example, the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, which offers online certificate programs in executive education, has been educating students since 1842.

Along with these lengthy histories, a number of religiously affiliated schools have been recognized for the solid education they provide their students. Publication USA Today even ranks faith based schools, publishing lists like the 10 best Roman Catholic colleges. Many religiously affiliated schools, like Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., earn high marks from authoritative college rankings sources such as U.S. News & World Report.

Besides having a reputation for academic excellence, some religiously affiliated colleges also have a reputation for being surprisingly affordable. Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, happens to be among the top 10 most affordable online colleges in the country, with part-time students paying just $365 per credit. (Full-time students pay even less per credit.)

Online Programs of Study at Faith Based Universities

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that faith based institutions only offer religious degree programs. Certainly they offer majors like theology and ministry. However, they also offer a wide range of majors in other fields, including:

  • Art and design
  • Business
  • Computers and information technology
  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • Healthcare

Though religion isn’t itself the subject of study, each of these programs incorporate the school’s religious affiliation to varying degrees. For example, a program that requires courses in ethics might incorporate the doctrine and moral principles of the religion affiliated with it.

How do you know if a religiously affiliated school is the right choice for you? Consider what you want out of your education. If you’re pursuing a degree that’s directly related to religion, then of course a faith based school makes sense for your situation. If not, consider what kind of perspective you’re looking for in your degree program. Some students may find a faith based online college degree program limiting, while others may find it the perfect opportunity for spiritual as well as intellectual growth.