Top 20 Affordable Small Private Schools

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There are many reasons why students may choose to attend a small private school. Smaller institutions often have smaller classes and are laser-focused on students and the learning process. The full-time workload at smaller schools can be very demanding as well as rewarding. Having fewer students can often make for a tighter community within the school. With smaller classes, it can be much less intimidating for a student who may be struggling with a course to seek out help.

Top 20 Affordable Small Private Schools

Most smaller private schools are also of religious affiliation, which can add to a student’s feeling of belonging. It can also make the school feel more unified. Students attending a college which also incorporates their religious views are more likely to allow them to feel more secure as they will have similar values as their fellow classmates as well as instructors.


A number of factors come into play in order to rank these affordable small private schools. After gathering data on private schools around the country, it was first determined if there was an online college program in place at the school. While some schools have larger online programs than others, those in this ranking do offer online courses in some form.

The first group of numbers used in ranking was the acceptance rates and graduation rates for these private schools from the National Center for Education Statistics website. Added to these were the overall scores and academic scores from Niche which were converted into a numeric form whereas A+ was given 100, A was assigned 90, A- assigned 80, and so on in that sequence.

In an effort to award a higher numerical ranking to schools with a lower student-to-faculty ratio, annual cost of attendance, and number of students, these values were subtracted from the above total of the first four with some slight modifications. The annual cost of attendance, as supplied by CollegeData was reduced and rounded to thousands only. All schools fall between $20,000 and $30,000 cost of attendance. The number of students per faculty members was used, and the total number of enrollment was rounded and reduced to hundreds.

For example, a school with an acceptance rate of 80%, a graduation rate of 42%, and scored B(60) overall, and B+(70) in academics would have a preliminary total of 252. If the same school has 9 hundred students, 11 students per faculty member, and an annual cost of 20 thousand to attend, these numbers subtracted would give a ranking total of 212.

We also referenced the Top 100 Best Online Colleges ranking during our research.

Top 20 Affordable Small Private Schools

20. St. Louis Christian College

St. Louis Christian College in Florissant, Missouri was established in 1956 out of a growing need for leadership in the churches of the St. Louis area. In the first year, it served a student body of 19. Today the enrollment at St. Louis Christian College is at 173 with a student to faculty ratio of 7:1.

St. Louis Christian College offers a number of degree programs to its students such as Behavioral Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Preaching Ministry, and Christian Ministry. In addition, they offer a certificate in TESOL, and programs in Intercultural & Urban Missions as well as Music & Worship. Also offered in a General Studies program which offers students an opportunity to earn their Associate of Arts degree in General Studies where they may be able to transfer to a larger college or university with whom SLCC has a transfer agreement. Online degrees are offered in Christian Ministry and Religious Studies.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $19,475

19. Point University

Founded in 1937 under the name of Atlanta Christian College, Point University in East Point, Georgia has retained its affiliation with Christian Churches and Churches of Christ although it has grown and undergone many changes over the years. In fact, the historic campus is located in East Point, Georgia while the main campus has moved to West Point. Today, Point University serves 1,582 students and has a 49% graduation rate.

While Point University does offer many Christian degree programs, it also offers students degrees in Business, Education, Humanities, Counseling and Human Services, Fine Arts, and Math & Science. Online degree choices at Point University range from General Studies, Christian Ministries, and Human Relations to Criminal Justice, Organizational Leadership, Business Administration, Child Development, and Psychology. Point University clearly offers a wide variety of academic choices to its students both on and off the campus.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $26,900

18. Baptist College of Florida

Founded in 1943 and called Florida Baptist Institute, Baptist College of Florida in Graceville to provide seminary-type training for those who felt the calling but did not have a college education or were not of traditional college age. Today, the school enrollment is up to 481 students and has an 11:1 ratio of students to faculty.

It is not at all surprising that bachelor degree program offerings include Ministry, Biblical Studies, Christian Studies, and Leadership/Christian Education. However, throughout the years, the school has grown and now includes bachelor degree programs in English, Business Administration, Psychology, History/Social Studies, Elementary Education, English Secondary Education, and History/Social Studies Secondary Education. Baptist College of Florida also offers a B.A. in Music, a Bachelor of Music in Worship Leadership, and a Bachelor in Music Education, Instrumental. Distance Education and Online Programs for these degrees are also available for students of Baptist College of Florida.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $21,312

17. Life Pacific College

Life Pacific College was established in 1923 in order to meet the education needs of students who wished to learn the thorough Word of God and to train and prepare evangelists and missionaries. Over the course of the years, the school has changed with the times, updating and adapting while still holding to its Pentecostal Christian and Foursquare heritage. Today, Life Pacific College enrolls 612 students and has a 16:1 student to faculty ratio.

Given the history of Life Pacific College, it is not surprising to find many Christian degree programs available for students. LPC offers B.A.s in Biblical Studies, Transformational Ministry, and Worship Arts & Media. They also offer A.A. in General Studies and Biblical Studies. However, they also offer students a B.A. in Business Administration, a B.A. in Human Development & Psychology, and a B.A. in Communication. While some courses are offered online through Moodle, students who are interested in taking courses online should contact Life Pacific College for more details on availability.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $26,733

16. Appalachian Bible College

Appalachian Bible College in Bradley, West Virginia hasn’t stopped growing since it was founded in 1950 as a bible training institute for youth. Today ABC has 281 students enrolled and a 53% graduation rate and is still growing.

At Appalachian Bible College students can earn a Bible Certificate either on campus or online through ABC Connect, it is a 1-year certificate. ABC also offers an A.A. in General Studies for students who may be interested in pursuing a 4-year degree at another institution which is not offered through ABC. They also offer an A.A. and a B.A. in Bible/Theology and an Ministry.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $24,942

15. Lee University

Founded in 1918 as a small Bible institute with 12 students, Lee University has certainly not been stuck in the past as it has grown to a Liberal Arts College into a Liberal Arts University. Today, Lee has more than 5,000 students enrolled, a 17:1 student to faculty ratio, and a 52% graduation rate.

Lee University offers students a large number of degree programs to choose from within it’s different schools and colleges. True to its roots, there is a school of religion where students can study Theology or Christian Ministries. It also has a school of Nursing, a school of Music, and Helen DeVos College of Education. They also have a College of Arts and Sciences for students who may be more interested in Business, Communication Arts, and Language and Literature to name a few. Distance Education at this time offers Liberal Studies, Bible and Theology, Christian Studies, and Ministry Leadership.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $29,120

14. New Hope Christian College

Eugene, Oregon is home to New Hope Christian College, founded in 1925. NHCC is dedicated to higher education and honoring Christian values. With 140 students enrolled, New Hope Christian College maintains a 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Degree choices at New Hope Christian College are designed with Christian leadership in mind. A Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership is offered with a number of different concentrations. There is also a Bachelor of Science in Creative Arts offered with Drama and Dance concentration, Music & Worship concentration, or Technology & Production concentrations available. There is also an Associate of Science in Ministry Leadership online program available. Also, students have a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership online degree available for them at NHCC.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $28,643

13. Barclay College

In 1917 Quakers founded Barclay College in Haviland, Kansas as a Bible study college. Today Barclay College has 273 students enrolled and has 11 students per faculty member. The college welcomes all students from evangelical faith backgrounds who would like to obtain their higher education in a Bible-centered Christian environment.

As with many small Christian institutions, the degree offerings include majors such as Bible/Theology, Bible as a Second Degree, Missions, Pastoral Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Worship Arts. Also offered are Missions|Bi-Vocational, Missions|Nursing, and Sports and Recreation Ministry. Students can also major in Business Administration, Elementary Education K-6, or Psychology and Family Studies. Online offerings through Barclay College are not as diverse, however students can choose from Biblical Studies, Christian Ministry Leadership, Business Management or Psychology for either a bachelor degree or a certificate. There is also an Associate Degree in General Studies available online.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $28,390

12. Maranatha Baptist University

Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin was founded in 1968 and is named Maranatha for the Aramaic phrase which means, “Lo, He cometh”. This Christian university enrolls 1,059 students and has a 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

There are a wide variety of academic programs available through the schools and colleges at Maranatha Baptist University. Students can choose from Bible and Church Ministries and Seminary to Business, Nursing, Education, or Arts and Sciences. The online programs may not be quite as diverse. However, the university does offer associate’s degrees in Bible/Ministry, Business Management, Criminal Justice, Digital Media, Humanities, and Technical Education & Trades (transfer program). Bachelor degrees available online are for Bible/Ministry, Business Management, Educational Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies. There are also three graduate programs available online and one certificate program.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $22,190

11. Harding University

Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas can trace its roots back as far as 1915, when Harper College was founded. Harper College and Arkansas Christian College, founded in 1919, merged in 1924 in order to form Harding College, a senior college which would later become Harding University in 1979. Today Harding University has an enrollment of more than 6,000 students and a graduation rate of 64%.

Harding University offers its students a choice of over 100 majors and minors. Areas of study include, but are not limited to, Bible & Ministry, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Communication. Computer Science, Education, Engineering & Physics, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Nursing, Pharmacy, Political Science, Social Work, and Theatre. It is obvious that there is a wide variety for students to choose from at Harding. There are both graduate and undergraduate courses available online for students, however it is not indicated that there are fully online degree programs as yet. Students interested in online courses can check out the course schedule online or contact the university for more information.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $29,029

10. Moody Bible Institute

The Chicago Evangelization Society, which later became known as Moody Bible Institute, was established by D.L. Moody in 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. In 1901 the Moody Correspondence School began for students who were unable to physically attend the school.

Undergraduate courses offered by Moody Bible Institute are in the following areas of study: Dual Degrees, Bible, Communications, Educational Ministries, Intercultural Studies, Music, Pastoral Studies, Theology, and Sports Ministries and Lifetime Fitness. Online courses are offered in two formats, one is 8 weeks and the other 16 weeks. There is a certificate, associate’s and bachelor’s degree available in Biblical Studies. There are also programs for online bachelor’s degrees in Theology, Ministry Leadership, Theological Studies, and Theology and Cultural Engagement.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $28,244

9. Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois was founded as a Bible institute in 1944. Today, those same values are not forgotten as the school is home to nearly 900 students. LCU also has a 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio and a graduation rate of 61%.

There are 2 certificate programs, 3 associate degree programs, and 12 bachelor’s degree programs available for undergraduates at Lincoln Christian University. There are also 14 programs for master’s degrees and a doctorate in ministry program. There are seven different degree programs offered entirely online at LCU. Undergraduates can choose from an A.A. in Bible, B.A. in Business Administration, B.A. in Psychology, or a B.A. in Christian Ministry. Graduate students can choose between a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, M.A. in Intercultural Studies, or a M.A. in Bible & Theology.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $25,899

8. University of Mary

University of Mary in Bismarck, founded in 1959, is the only private Catholic university in the state of North Dakota. Starting with an enrollment of 69 students, U Mary now serves approximately 3,000 students with a 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Undergraduates at U Mary have 54 majors to choose from, including Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Science, Healthcare Administration, Marketing, Nursing, Social Work, Theological Studies, and many others. There are also 14 master’s degree programs available as well as 3 doctoral degrees. The evening and/or online programs at U Mary offer a number of choices for undergraduates, such as bachelor degree programs in Accounting, Business Administration, Business Management, Criminal Justice, Healthcare Administration, Information Technology Management, Marketing, Nursing, Psychology, and University Studies. There is a large number of master’s degrees also available, and even two doctorate programs.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $27,420

7. Johnson University

Knoxville, Tennessee is home to Johnson University, previously known as Johnson Bible College and School of Evangelists, which was founded in 1893. Today enrollment in Tennessee is over 700 students, and overall Johnson University has more than 1000 students with a graduation rate of 57%.

Johnson University has a large number of programs for undergraduate students. Bachelor degree majors can range from, Bible, Children’s Ministry, and Preaching and Church Leadership to Public Health, History, English, Communication, and Business Administration, to name a few. There are also associate degree programs available in select majors at Johnson University. Master’s degree programs available at Johnson are M.A. Education Technology, M.A. Holistic Education, M.A. Counseling, M.A. Post Baccalaureate Teacher Education, and Min of Strategic Ministry. Johnson University has a growing online campus with a variety of certificates, undergraduate degree programs, as well as graduate degree programs.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $20,750

6. Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny Iowa was founded in 1921 under the name of Omaha Bible Institute, it later changed names two more times before it came upon its current name. Faith enrolls around 270 students today with an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio and has a graduation rate of 66%.

The college majors offered at Faith Bible College and Theological Seminary, ranging from one to four-year programs, are Assistant Pastor, Biblical Studies, Biblical Worldview, Local Church Ministries, Missions, Pastoral Training, Sacred Music, Music Education, Elementary Education, Secondary English Education, Secondary World History, and Office Administration. Online courses currently available at Faith are High School Courses which can allow students to take online courses while still in high school to earn credits, Seminary Courses, Non-degree courses, and Endorsement courses for students enrolled in the Elementary Education program or those currently teaching.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $24,730

5. Grace Bible College

Grand Rapids is home to Grace Bible College, founded in 1939 under the name Milwaukee Bible Institute, and later Milwaukee Bible College. In 1961 when it relocated to Grand Rapids, the name changed to Grace Bible College. More than 800 students are enrolled and enjoy a 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio at the college.

Degree programs offered at Grace Bible College include Biblical Studies and Worship Arts, but the college also offers programs in Business, History, Early Childhood Education, Interdisciplinary Studies, Education, Human Services, and Exercise Science. There are also Michigan transfer degrees available for students who may desire to go on to earn a degree which is not currently available to them at Grace Bible College. Also offered as adult programs are online courses in which students could earn associate or bachelor’s degrees in Business, Leadership & Ministry, or Human Services. There is also a masters program for a degree in Ministry available.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $29,287

4. Blue Mountain College

Blue Mountain College was founded as an all women’s institution in 1873 by General Mark Perrin Lowrey and was operated by three generations of the Lowrey family until 1920. In 1956, the college did allow men who were preparing for church-related vocations to attend, and became fully co-ed in 2005. Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi currently enrolls around 500 students with an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio and 55% graduation rate.

Students attending Blue Mountain College have a wide variety of majors they are able to choose from. Subjects in which degrees are available are Biblical Studies, Fine Arts and Speech, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Mathematics and Natural Science, Language and Literature, Business, Education, and Kinesiology and Health Studies. BMC online offers students choices of core curriculum, a B.S. in Business Administration, or a B.S. in Psychology.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $20,558

3. Calvary University

In 1961 the merger of Kansas City Bible College and Midwest Bible College gave birth to Calvary University. Later, in 1987, Citadel Bible College of Ozark, Arkansas also merged with Calvary University, which retained its name. The university serves more than 300 students and has a 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Calvary University offers undergraduate students nearly 40 different majors to choose from when they enroll. While naturally there are a number of religious programs available, there are many others including Business Administration, Education, History, English, French, German, Spanish, Journalism, Photography, and more. There are also three graduate degrees available to students, Master of Science in Organizational Development, Master of Science in Education, and Master of Science in Worship Arts. Calvary University also offers select courses online as well as hybrid courses which can be found through viewing the calendar and schedule on their website.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $20,056

2. Martin Luther College

New Ulm, Minnesota is home to Martin Luther College which is owned and operated by Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). The college is the product of a merging of Dr. Martin Luther College and Northwestern College, founded in 1884 and 1865 respectively. Around 900 students are enrolled at MLC which has a 73% graduation rate and a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Students who attend Martin Luther College can choose from a B.A. Pre-Seminary Program; B.S. in Education for Early Childhood, Elementary Education, or Middle and Secondary Education; or B.S. in Parish Music Program, Staff Ministry Program, Educational Studies, or Theological Studies. A Master of Science in Education or Master of Science in Educational Administration can also be earned at MLC. There are also certificates and courses for continuing education, some of which can also be taken online.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $24,590

1. Bob Jones University

The school was established in 1927 by the evangelist Bob Jones, Sr, but he did not relocate Bob Jones University to Greenville, South Carolina until the year 1946. It is currently a non-denominational private Christian college with an enrollment of around 3000 students. It has a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio and a graduation rate of 62%.

Undergraduate students at Bob Jones University have more than 50 programs of study to choose from. While being a Christian school, it does offer programs such as Christian Ministries, Biblical Counseling, and Church Music, but also offers programs in Culinary Arts, Nursing, Actuarial Science, Business, Education, Sports Management and many more. Graduate students also have a wide variety to choose from.

The online programs at Bob Jones University are fewer, but they do offer many of the most popular programs. Undergraduates have a choice of 17 programs such as Bible, Accounting, Business Administration, History, Finance, Psychology, and others. Graduate students have 5 online programs to choose from, and there are also High School programs for those who may want to get a jump-start on their college education.

Annual Cost of Attendance (Resident): $25,820

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