Columbia International University (CIU) is a dynamic university that trains Christians for global missions and full-time vocational Christian service in a variety of strategic professions and marketplace ministry.
Columbia International University offers undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and advanced programs. The corporation also includes Ben Lippen School, a Pre-K3 through 12th grade Christian school that prepares young people to fulfill the Great Commission.
Located on 400 scenic acres next to the Broad River, just minutes from South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia, the campus is home to a diverse group of Christians.The student body represents many denominations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and reflects the socioeconomic diversity of the world, united by their desire to know Christ and to make Him known.
CIU was born out of a prayer group of six women who sought the Lord for a means to evangelize and disciple mill workers in Columbia. The results went beyond their expectations. The CIU ministry was founded in 1923 as Columbia Bible School, occupying the former Colonia Hotel in downtown Columbia in 1927. The school became Columbia Bible College in 1930, one of the nation’s first four-year Bible colleges. Graduate courses were first offered in 1936, marking the beginning of what is now CIU’s Seminary & School of Ministry. The school moved to its present 400-acre campus in suburban Columbia in 1960 and changed its corporate name to Columbia International University in 1994. In the 2009-2010 academic year, programs were moved to the following colleges: College of Arts & Sciences, College of Education, College of Intercultural Studies, and the Seminary & School of Ministry.
Robert C. McQuilkin was CIU’s first president, holding the office until his death in 1952. He was succeeded by G. Allen Fleece, who led the university until 1966. Robertson McQuilkin, son of the first president, served from 1968 through 1990. Then Dr. Johnny V. Miller, current CIU emeritus faculty member and former pastor, served as president from 1991 through 1999. Dr. George Murray was appointed president in 1999 and then as chancellor in 2007. Dr. Bill Jones served as president beginning in 2007 and was appointed chancellor in 2017. He was succeeded by Dr. Mark Smith who has served as president since 2017.
As our motto states, CIU was founded to prepare students “To Know Him and to Make Him Known.” Our purpose remains the same today. All programs emphasize spiritual development, biblical training, and ministry skills development. From the early years until the present, CIU has focused on five core values: the Authority of Scripture, World Evangelization, Victorious Christian Living, Prayer & Faith, and Evangelical Unity.
The school’s first class boasted seven students. Today, CIU enrollment is over 1,600 students, which includes students enrolled in online programs. Over 19,000 alumni have received training from CIU serving in 150 nations.
CIU is multi-denominational, dedicated to preparing world Christians to serve God with excellence. Educational units offer degree programs ranging from associate level to doctoral level. All programs emphasize spiritual formation, mastery of biblical content and interpretation skills, cultivation of a biblical worldview, ministry skills development and vocational competency.
CIU serves students from over 40 states and 30 foreign countries. More than 52 church denominations and independent fellowships are represented in the faculty and student body, and about 30% of CIU graduates work in cross-cultural contexts.
Columbia International University educates people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ. We pursue this mission as an academic community modeling, mentoring, and motivating students to cultivate spiritual vitality and character formation, acquire knowledge in biblical content, gain interpretation skills, to develop competence as critical thinkers and communicators, formulate a comprehensive biblical worldview for themselves, and explore and initiate experiences that are ministry-focused.
Both the curriculum and the community life at CIU are intentionally designed to stimulate a dynamic context in which each student is assisted and encouraged to:
- Know Christ by learning submission to His lordship and dependence on the Holy Spirit, thus making progress in conforming to His image.
- Know the Word by gaining mastery of its content and understanding of its meaning, by assimilating and applying its truth, and by developing skill in the use of study tools.
- Know oneself by an increasing awareness of spiritual gifts, personality types, and personal potential.
- Know people by becoming sensitive to their needs and the contexts in which they live, improving communication with them, no matter their culture.
- Know the skills required in a particular area of ministry. By “ministry” CIU consciously and intentionally includes those who are called by God to minister in and through professional disciplines — whether in communication, education, business, psychology, or other professional disciplines where training programs are being developed.
In addition to the faculty, the university provides resources for learning and curricular guidance necessary for progress toward these goals. CIU expects students to be active participants in the spiritual, academic, social, and physical dimensions of college life. As they do, they come “to know Him” better and are able “to make Him known” more effectively. We believe God’s purpose for CIU institutionally and for its faculty and students individually is achieved only by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through yielded believers.
Philosophy of Education & Doctrinal Commitments
The educational philosophy of Columbia International University is derived from two essential goals:
Personal Goal: We desire growth in personality, character, spiritual maturity, and knowledge. At CIU, our objective experientially is to know God and become increasingly like His Son, Jesus Christ. To become like Christ implies that we know who He is. Our knowledge of Christ has two dimensions: to know all we may know about Him cognitively and to know Him in an intimate relationship experientially.
Vocational Goal: We design professional programs to enable students to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. We prepare students for various vocational responsibilities, whether they serve God in their home countries or in a cross-cultural setting. We also understand that vocational responsibility must come with a balance of home, church, and other community responsibilities. Fulfilling one’s responsibilities in a godly, balanced way is our well-founded service.
We often describe our educational process at CIU as an educational triad-three educational components come together to provide balanced education. The first component is academic excellence with the Bible at the core. This component focuses on content and may be characterized by educating one’s “head.” The second component focuses on character and may be characterized by educating one’s “heart,” the component by which students grow in maturity in Christ. The third component is ministry skill development (or experiential education) in which students systematically practice skills related to personal and vocational goals in the community away from the classroom. This component focuses on competence and may be characterized by educating one’s “hands.”
The teaching at Columbia International University is based on the great fundamentals of the Christian faith, all of which center in the person of Jesus Christ, our crucified, risen, and glorified Savior and Lord. The following, together with other Christian principles of doctrine and practice (including the affirmation of the full trustworthiness of Scripture which, in its original writing, was verbally inspired and without error) shall be the basis of the faith and doctrine of CIU:
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God, the written record of His supernatural revelation of Himself to man, absolute in its authority, complete in its revelation, final in its content, and without any errors in its teachings.
- All men in their natural state are lost, alienated from God, spiritually dead: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
- Salvation is only by grace, a free gift of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus, who died for our sins according to the Scriptures (I Cor. 15:3). Those who thus receive Christ by faith have their sins forgiven (Eph. 1:7) and their hearts cleansed (Acts 15:9), are born of the Spirit, become children of God (Jn. 1:12-13), and are made new creatures in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).
- God is one God, who reveals Himself in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, as the Scriptures affirm, is the Son of God and Son of man. He was born of a virgin and is Himself very God. The Scriptures also declare the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit.
- Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead in the same body that was laid to rest in the tomb (Jn. 20:25-27). The bodies of all believers who die will be raised from the dead and they will receive an incorruptible body like unto His glorious body (I Cor. 15:53; Phil. 3:21). All other men shall be raised unto “the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28-29).
- Christians, born of the Spirit, are to live the new life in the present power of the Spirit. “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk” (Gal. 5:16-25; Col. 2:6). The Christian’s responsibility and his normal attitude of life is to yield himself to God (Rom. 6:13), trusting God to keep him.
- Christian “living” includes Christian service, the winning of souls around us, and the preaching of the Gospel in the uttermost parts of the earth. In carrying on this work the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is needed, which is granted to every believer as he yields and trusts (Acts 1:8; I Cor. 12:7; Eph. 3:20; Acts 5:32). And in all of this service, prayer is to have the central place (Jn. 14:12-14; Eph. 6:18-19).
- Jesus Christ will come again to earth the second time (Heb. 9:28) personally (Acts 1:11; I Thess. 4:16), bodily (Acts 1:11; Col. 2:9), and visibly (Matt. 26:64; Rev. 1:7). His coming will precede the age of universal peace and righteousness foretold in the Scriptures (Matt. 24:29-30, 42; II Thess. 2:7-8; Rev. 20:1-6). (Candidates for graduation need not affirm the premillennial position.)
Although Columbia International University is denominationally unaffiliated, we seek to serve a variety of evangelical denominations and independent congregations. The faculty and student body reflects church affiliations across a broad spectrum of denominations and church fellowships. Students find exposure to persons from various ecclesiastical traditions (which are united in their commitment to evangelical orthodoxy) an enriching and beneficial experience. The curriculum at CIU makes provision for church polity courses taught by ministers who represent various denominations. We also provide for elective courses on denominational distinctives as desired by various groups.
The following affiliations are typically represented on campus:
African Methodist Episcopal
African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Alliance des Eglises Evangéliques Interdépendantes
Anglican Church in America
Assemblies of God
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod
Christian and Missionary Alliance
Church of God in Christ
Church of the Nazarene
Conservative Baptist Association
Evangelical Free Church of America
Free Will Baptist
Independent Baptist Churches
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Church, various denominations
United Methodist Church
Accreditation & Recognition
Columbia International University is:
- Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting agency for the Southeastern United States for undergraduate and graduate education, to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, first professional, and doctoral levels.
- Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, a North American accrediting agency for undergraduate and graduate institutions offering degrees in Bible and ministry.
- Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association of Theological Schools, a North American accrediting agency for seminaries and theological graduate schools.
- Authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students.
- Recognized by the Selective Service System.
- Chartered as a collegiate institution by the state of South Carolina and authorized by the state of South Carolina to grant such degrees as the Board of Trustees shall determine.
- A member of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.
- Listed in Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education.
- Listed in the Education Directory (Higher Education).
- Approved at the undergraduate and graduate level for early childhood and elementary teacher education programs by the South Carolina Department of Education.
- A member of the Higher Education Transfer Alliance (HETA) for transcript evaluation.
- Approved by the Certification Commission of the Association of Christian Schools International for the preparation of teachers for a ministry in Christian school education and for secondary Bible certification.
- Approved by the State Approval Agency, South Carolina Department of Education, State of South Carolina, to train persons under Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Veterans), Chapter 34 (Veterans Educational Assistance), and Chapter 35 (War Orphans Educational Assistance) of Title 38, US Code.
- Holds membership in the Evangelical Training Association.
Students or other stakeholders wishing to reach accrediting agencies may do so by contacting them at the following addresses:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
5850 T.G. Lee Boulevard Suite #130
Orlando, Florida 32822
The Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15275
(Columbia Biblical Seminary programs only)
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703. 535.5990
(Master of Arts in Counseling only)