What Makes Bible College Unique

Categories: Big Questions

Columbia Bible College - Classroom

Should you go to Bible College?

Big question!

The first step to answering this question is to make sure you understand exactly what Bible College is.

Enter this blog post. We’ll lay out the defining features of a Bible College and what you can expect if you enroll.  By the time you reach the bottom of this page, we hope you’ll be better equipped to decide whether to hit that ‘Apply’ button!

Bible College has a strong focus on the Bible.


Why is this important to spell out? It’s one of the key differences between a Christian university and a Bible College, so it’s worthwhile to understand. At a Christian university, you’ll study in a Christian environment and your classes will be shaped by a Christian perspective. But you may only take two or three classes specifically focused on the Bible.

At Bible College, a significant chunk of your core classes will centre on the Scriptures. What’s the big-picture story of the Bible? How do we  integrate our reading of Scripture with today’s big questions? What do Christians really believe? What about the areas where we don’t all agree?

The Bible is the living, breathing Word of God – and it’s meant to lead us to Jesus. So Bible Colleges exist to give students the chance to encounter Jesus by grounding themselves in  the teachings of Scripture.

Jordan C - Columbia Bible College
“I absolutely love my Bible and theology classes. They have been some of the most exciting and transformational aspects of my life and I could not imagine where I would be today without them.” – Jordan C, Biblical Studies


Bible College focuses on your whole self.

If you graduate from a Bible College knowing the Bible backwards and forwards but you aren’t excited about following Jesus, we’ll feel like we failed you.

Discipleship is a huge word at a Bible College. You know how Jesus said the most important commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “to love your neighbour as yourself?” We take those verses seriously.

We believe that being a follower of Jesus means letting Christ shape every part of who you are. What’s important is not just the info you’ve mastered: it’s your values, your spirit, your relationships, and your skills. That why Bible Colleges aim for a balanced approach to education, with lots of room for service, hands-on learning, spiritual growth, and mentoring.

Bottom line? Expect to grow and change if you attend Bible College.

Amy P - Columbia Bible College student
“I didn’t expect to be so stretched. I’ve been stretched in every single way this year: spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. That’s made me grow so much, and even though it’s been difficult at times, I’ve become a stronger follower because of it.” – Amy P, Diploma in Applied Leadership


Bible College is a college.

College. As in academic institution with textbooks, lectures, essays, and exams.

This is where Bible College is different from most one-year discipleship programs, non-accredited  Bible Schools, or training initiatives. These programs are incredible! In fact, many students transfer to Columbia Bible College after first spending a year with a one-year discipleship program. There is huge potential for learning in these programs, but it’s good to realize their focus tends to be more on personal reflection and/or active service.

At a Bible College, you’ll be hitting the books. Work load and expectations align with what you’d experience at any public college or university. That’s because these are accredited college classes. And it’s what allows many Bible College course credits to transfer to other institutions.

Why do academics matter? One key reason is that Jesus told his followers to love God not just with their hearts, but also with their minds. In fact, it’s a bad idea to separate the two.  Bible College will train you to study the Bible (and other subjects) with care, to think through different viewpoints, to arrive at your own perspective, and to communicate your ideas clearly.

So if you enroll in Bible College, come ready for academics. You’ll be reading lots, tackling assignments, cramming for mid-terms. If this sounds intimidating, hang in there for our next point…

Amanda D - Columbia Bible College
I learned my brain is wired for theology. I love that we can dig into who God is, His heart, and the way He relates to us. It’s never-ending; there’s always more to learn. That is huge for me. Nothing we ask is too hard for God. I can poke and prod and dig into things, and He’s going to stand up to all of it, because He is infinite and good. – Amanda D, Biblical Studies


Bible College is a caring, Christ-centered community.

I’ll never forget my first university chemistry course: I walked in expecting a classroom and found myself in a two-storey lecture hall with seats for 900 people! I had to squint to see the professor.

That doesn’t happen at Bible College.

At most Bible Colleges, it’s rare for a class to have more than 50 students. Faculty will really care about you: they’ll get to know your name, check in with you, and even sit with you in the cafeteria. If you’re struggling with an assignment, their doors are open.

Bible Colleges don’t just have small classes – they’re small, period. Columbia Bible College, for example, has about 425 students this year. It’s hard to get lost in the crowd in a community this size. If you’re willing to be friendly and engage, it’s almost impossible not to make friends.

What makes Bible College communities especially supportive is that they’re Christ-centered. It’s a unique chance to study and live with other young adults who want to love and follow Jesus. Prayer, encouragement, worship, spiritual conversations – these are all part of the every-day culture at a Bible College.

Abi T - Columbia Bible College student
“I was studying at a great university, but I didn’t feel valued as a person by some of my professors. I wanted a place where I mattered and a place that I could ask the questions of where I want to go. Columbia has given me countless opportunities of open doors and has allowed me to be able to open up about where I am at and find my calling from God with the help of my professors. I’m not a number at Columbia; I matter.” – Abi T, Diploma in Social Entrepreneurship


Bible College is not only about the Bible.

For sure, there’s an emphasis on biblical studies and theology at a Bible College. Many people are surprised to find out Bible College students also take courses in other subject areas too: history, literature, psychology, business, leadership, and more.

The world needs you.

Bible Colleges believe that young adults living Christ-centered, kingdom-focused lives have the potential to change the world. They want to launch students into careers and vocations that will saturate our communities and churches with the hope, mercy, and peace of Jesus.

If you’re thinking this means training for roles like pastor, missionary, worship director, and youth worker, you’d be right. But it also means programs that help prepare counsellors, outdoor guides, health care workers, educators, and social entrepreneurs. Because the world needs servants and leaders who can confidently integrate their faith with the challenges of life in today’s world.

I felt this profound need to understand my own theology, and how I relate to the church and community around me. Along with that were questions about addiction — it was just so prevalent with the youth I was involved with – and I didn’t know how to address that. I came to Columbia because I wanted an integration of my own faith — where I fit in — and to understand these deep needs faced by communities around the world.” – Jeremy A, Counselling & Human Services.


Bible College gives you flexible program options.

Universities mainly focus on four-year Bachelor degrees, which is amazing if you’re clear on where you’re headed, but a little daunting if you’re still figuring things out.

Bible Colleges are more likely to offer a range of programs. You could enroll for a one-year program, a two-year diploma, or a four-year  degree. This is one thing Bible Colleges have in common with community colleges.

What this means is that if you’re not sure what to do next, you can enroll in a shorter Bible College program. You could choose a one-year or two-year program focused on discipleship, on university prep, or on a specific career.

Whichever you choose, the great thing about Bible College is that the combined focus on developing your faith, your character, and your skills will mean your time is not wasted. You’ll be able to finish a complete program (always nice to finish something!), graduate with a certificate or diploma, and be ready for wherever God wants to take you next. Chances are, your time at Bible College will also make it clear to you what that next step should be.

“I’ve experienced a whole new context, and I have new perspective – my horizons have grown. I’ve also grown in depth. I’m learning to seek God in the everyday and understanding that no matter where I am – the most important thing is my relationship with God. Whether I’m on a campus full of Christians or anywhere else in the world, the mission is the same: to love in such a way that people know that Jesus is the one who loves them first, and to stir them to love Jesus in that way too.” – Justin S, BA in Biblical Studies


Should you go to Bible College?

Now you know what makes a Bible College a Bible College:

  • Bible Colleges value the Scriptures and give students the chance to study them closely.
  • They emphasize your growth as a person and a follower of Jesus.
  • They’re an academic setting, with a strong focus on developing the mind.
  • A Bible College offers a small, Christ-centered community with lots of support and encouragement.
  • They prepare students for lives and careers that make a positive difference.
  • A typical Bible Colleges offers flexible program options with different lengths

How do you feel about studying in a community that brings all these things together?

If the answer is ‘excited,’ ‘inspired,’ or ‘intrigued,’ you should probably hit that ‘Apply’ button.

Learn more about Columbia Bible College’s programs, community, and application process.