Columbia International University

Columbia International University
Columbia International University
Motto To know Him and to make Him known.
Established 1923
Type Private
Religious affiliation Inter-Denominational
President Dr. William H. Jones
Students 929
Undergraduates 485
Postgraduates 444
Location Columbia, South Carolina, United States
Campus Suburban, 400 acres (162 ha)
Former names Columbia Bible School
Columbia Bible College
Colors Blue and Gold
Mascot Rams

Columbia International University is a Christian institution of higher education located in Columbia, South Carolina. The university is recognized for its emphasis upon spiritual formation, biblical authority and world evangelization.



CIU began from modest beginnings in 1923 when it was founded as Columbia Bible School. The original purpose was to provide a two year course of study in biblical studies for local mill workers. By 1927, the decision was made to convert the school into a college and begin offering bachelor’s degrees in Bible. A location in downtown Columbia was established and the first dean (later president) of the college was chosen. The school continued to grow and eventually required a new campus. The college was relocated in 1960 to its present facility on Monticello Road. It was during the 1960s that the institution’s longest serving president, Robertson McQuilkin, son of the first dean of Columbia Bible College, was inaugurated. During this period, the institution also changed its name to Columbia Bible College and Seminary. The name was changed yet again in 1994 to Columbia International University to highlight the growing educational mission as well as to demonstrate a commitment to preparing students from all parts of the world for global Christian service.


  • Rev. Robert McQuilkin, 1927–1952
  • Rev. G. Allen Fleece, 1952–1966
  • Rev. Robertson C. McQuilkin, 1968–1990
  • Dr. Terry C. Hulbert (Interim), 1990–1991
  • Dr. Johnny V. Miller, 1991–1999
  • Dr. George W. Murray, 2000 - June 30, 2007
  • Dr. William H. Jones, July 1, 2007–Present


CIU Seal

CIU has three constituent divisions: the Bible College, the Graduate School, and the Seminary. Because of the closely knit nature of the institution and the emphasis on Christian education and biblical studies regardless of major, many of the divisions share faculty members.


The undergraduate division of CIU (formerly known as the Bible College) is the oldest constituent division of the university. The college is headed by a Dean and possesses faculty from a variety of academic competencies, including English, humanities, music, foreign and ancient languages, philosophy, psychology, communications, and various others. While it offers majors in various disciplines, all students must take several core competency courses in biblical studies as a part of general education requirements.

Graduate School

The Graduate School primarily exists as a complement to the undergraduate programs available. At this time, the main focus of the school is offering courses leading to degrees in education, though there is a large postgraduate counseling program. The Graduate School also offers a doctoral degree in education.


The CIU seminary (known as Columbia Biblical Seminary and School of Missions) exists for the purpose of training students who desire to pursue a vocation in full or part-time Christian ministry either in a congregational setting, in parachurch organizations or as a missionary. Students at the seminary are not required to hold a particular denominational affiliation to attend, though they must meet all the other requirements for attendance at CIU. Students must affirm CIU's doctrinal standard to be admitted and graduate from the school. In addition to the two residential and part-time master’s degree programs, the seminary also offers a part-time doctoral degree and a certificate of graduate study.


As an institution of higher education, CIU’s primary emphasis is on its academic programs. Like most other Bible colleges, the traditional academic emphasis has been placed on the humanities and liberal arts rather than natural sciences, in addition to strong emphasis on ministerial and biblical studies, even at the undergraduate level. This is evidenced by the fact that there are four undergraduate majors relating directly to ministerial skills but no programs in the sciences, with the exception of a certificate in nursing, though a portion of the coursework is completed off campus at Midlands Technical College.

Degrees Offered

Undergraduate Certificates in:

  • Bible

Undergraduate Minors in:

  • Business & Organizational Leadership
  • International Community Development
  • English
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • Philosophy
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • Video Production

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with majors in:

  • General Studies
  • Applied English
  • Bible Teaching
  • Biblical Languages
  • Communication
  • Family & Church Education
  • Humanities
  • Intercultural Studies (Missions)
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Music
  • Pastoral Ministries
  • Psychology
  • Teacher Education
  • Youth Ministry

Graduate Certificate in Biblical Ministries

Master of Arts (M.A.) with majors in:

  • General Studies
  • Bible Exposition
  • Bible Teaching
  • Counseling
  • Educational Ministries
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Leadership in Evangelism and Mobilization
  • Ministry Leadership
  • Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Formation
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Administration and Curriculum

Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T)

Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

Doctor of Education (D.Ed.)


CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for its undergraduate and graduate programs and is listed as a Level V school, meaning that it offers three or fewer doctoral degrees. Columbia International University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges; however on December 8, 2008, following its decennial review, the institution's accreditation was continued while it was denied its ten year reaffirmation and placed on warning for twelve months to bring into compliance issues noted below.

"The Commission determined that it failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 2.11.1 (Financial Resources), Core Requirement 2.12 (Quality Enhancement Plan), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.8 (Qualified Academic/Administrative Officers), Comprehensive Standard 3.4.7 (Consortial Relationships), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 (Faculty Competence), and Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability) of the Principles of Accreditation."

In the December, 2009 meeting of SACS, the commission determined that Columbia International University had resolved four of the five areas of non-compliance, but CIU was again denied reaffirmation of its ten year accreditation, and given twelve months to resolve the on-going problem with Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability).[1]

On December 6, 2010, SACS reaffirmed their ten year accreditation for Columbia International University for resolving its problems involving Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability).[2]

CIU is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education with its next ten year review in 2019.[3] The seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada to award the Master of Divinity, the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Ministry.[4] The Graduate School is also accredited by the South Carolina Department of Education to offer graduate degrees in early childhood and elementary education leading to certification as a teacher in State of South Carolina.[5]

Distance education

CIU also offers degrees with a majority of credits earned by distance education. The Advancement in Ministry track allows students seeking a M.Div. at the seminary to take courses via correspondence or the internet for up to two-thirds of the degree program, or approximately 75 credit hours. The remaining 25 credit hours are taken on campus during one week intensive courses offered throughout the year. The structure of this program has the clear advantage of permitting the student to obtain a degree but without relocating closer to the seminary campus or leaving full-time employment. One obvious disadvantage would be that the student only has limited interaction with other seminary students and the faculty. The Advancement in Ministry track is also available for students who wish to pursue certain M.A. degrees, but is not available in a formal way outside the Seminary.

Student life

Like most evangelical schools and many seminaries, CIU does have doctrinal affirmations and lifestyle standards which all students (regardless of degree sought) are expected to affirm as a part of admission.

Doctrinal Standards

There are seven doctrinal points which students must assent to as a part of their admission to and candidacy for a degree from CIU. These are Biblical inspiration, natural separation of humanity from God, salvation by grace through faith in Christ, the historical doctrine of the Trinity, the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer, and the evangelical mandate to witness to the Gospel of Christ. Additionally, the doctrine of Premillennialism is officially held by the school, but students are not required to adhere to this doctrine. Students who do not agree with these doctrines may petition to receive a waiver prior to admission.

The seminary also requires student affirmation of CIU’s doctrinal standards, excepting premillennialism, prior to graduation, even if the student received a waiver prior to admission. CIU does require faculty in Biblical studies to affirm premillennialism.

Lifestyle Standards

CIU holds to a goal of spiritual formation in preparation for life after college. Students are required to sign a covenant form agreeing to keep various lifestyle standards established by the university. Some of the standards include prohibition from alcohol and tobacco. During a semester all students are required to fill out “accountability forms” and report to Student Life.Though not required during summer and winter breaks, students are expected to maintain CIU lifestyle standards.

The standards have been a point of contention for many years; while many students express frustration, the administration defends the standards and cites that those who fail to keep their word regarding standards lack integrity. While not actively publicized, a complete handbook is available for viewing at [1].

In the spring semester of 2007, one of the most contentious standards, the "physical expression of affection" standard (dating couples may not hold hands or kiss, but may only hug briefly) was revised to allow for more freedom of physical expressions (couples dating seriously are now allowed to hold hands and kiss briefly).

Student organizations

  • Student Senate: organization that serves as the go-between with the students and faculty/administration; all presidents of the other organizations sit on Senate
  • Student Union: organization which plans and hosts fun activities for all students.
  • Graduate Life Council
  • Married Students Association
  • The Green Team: Environmental organization
  • The Finial: yearbook
  • Credo: theological/philosophical magazine with articles written by its staff members and students
  • The Pilgrim's Protest: student newspaper that accepts submissions from the student body or the free, confessional and respectful exchange of all ideas.
  • Mu Kappa: an organization for Missionary Kids (MK's) and Third Culture Kids who are enrolled at CIU.
  • African American Student Association
  • Student Missions Connection: student group which prays for current missionary activities and helps members seek their role in global missions.

Denominational Relationships

CIU prides itself on being an interdenominational institution. It is not directly affiliated or sponsored by any single denomination though welcomes all students from any number of evangelical Christian denominations and somewhat more loosely, any Protestant denomination. The school's admissions, however, does not discriminate against Catholics. There is a small portion of Roman Catholics among the student body and a more significant number of Anglicans among faculty, staff and students. To preserve its evangelical character, CIU permits only Evangelical organizations to advertise on their affiliated radio stations.

While CIU does have enrolled students and faculty who are members of Christian communities which would not typically be identified as evangelical Protestant, it does require that all faculty and staff belong to a local Protestant church. This policy was enforced some years ago when one faculty member, Dr. Edward Rommen, was removed from his seminary teaching post upon his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy and reception into the Orthodox Church in America. Prior to his removal from the faculty, Dr. Rommen was a prominent member of the Evangelical Free Church of America.

While the school does admit students from many backgrounds, the most commonly represented groups, as of 2004, are Baptist (25%), Independent (23%), and Presbyterian (11%), and are generally drawn from churches which could be termed conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist.


CIU has been the center of some notable theological, political and philosophical controversies.

Theological Controversies

Founding President Robert C. McQuilkin temporarily lost his membership in the American Keswick Society (headed by the Rev. W. Griffith Thomas) in the early part of the 20th century, due to theological conflicts over differing views of human nature and remaining sin in the Christian person. Griffith-Thomas and the American Keswick group were convinced that McQuilkin adopted a sinless perfection theology, which they opposed. During the last part of the twentieth century, Dr. Miller, as president, refrained from using the classic Keswick phrase "Victorious Christian Life", and substituted "Authentic Christian Life." This substitution never caught on, however.

Princeton theologian Benjamin B. Warfield wrote a scathing theological attack on the Keswick movement, which continues to be read in Reformed circles today.[6]

Political Controversies

Robertson McQuilkin insisted on the racial integration of the school before he would consider accepting the board's offer of the presidency in the late 1960s. This occasioned great controversy within the institution, and some turn-over on the Board of Trustees.

President Johnny Miller's public call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina state house dome occasioned great controversy in the Carolinas, and lost the school some supporters.

Academic/Philosophical Controversies

In the 1990s, Dr. Ed Rommen was removed from his faculty position in the seminary due to his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. Dr. Rommen claimed that he could still subscribe to the school's statement of faith. However, since CIU was founded by evangelical Protestants, and is a longtime member of the AABC (American Association of Bible Colleges), the administration took the position that the school's statement of faith was a Protestant symbol despite the absence of explicit anti-Catholic/Orthodox language.[7]

On May 7, 2007, board chairman Harold Weaver announced that George Murray was being transitioned to the new position of Chancellor, and Dr. Bill Jones, who had briefly occupied the position of Provost, would become the school's next president on July 1, 2007. Jones has publicly stated that his presidency will focus on changing some fundamental elements which, in some cases, negatively stigmatize CIU and its graduates.

Additional Programs

While the primary mission of CIU is to provide an evangelical higher education to its students, the corporate entity also encompasses two other major educational and evangelistic entities.

Ben Lippen School

Ben Lippen is a private, interdenominational Christian school located on the CIU campus. It was originally founded as a boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina in the 1940s, but was moved to its current location in 1988, offering middle and high school programs. An elementary school away from the main CIU campus was begun in 1989, and in 2006 a main elementary school campus was completed on CIU grounds and classes began there in August. The schools are co-educational and feature a mix of commuting and resident students. The curriculum mirrors most public institutions with the exception of teaching subject from an evangelical Christian worldview and the inclusion of Bible classes and chapel for students, faculty, and staff. There were approximately 375 high school students in 2008.

Christian Radio Stations

Two commercial-free, listener supported radio stations playing Contemporary Christian Music are supported by CIU. The first, 89.7 WMHK-FM, is located on the CIU campus and broadcasts in the Columbia metro area. It received the Station of the Year Award in 1996 from the National Association of Broadcasters for religious/gospel programming, is the 2006 recipient of the CMB/GMA Station of The Year "Dove Award" and is ranked #2 nationally for religiously oriented radio stations. A sister station in Charlotte, North Carolina, 91.9 WRCM-FM, began broadcasting in 1993. Both stations feature a mix of music and preaching and sponsor concerts in their listening areas by CCM artists.

See also


  1. ^ SACS 2009 December Actions and Disclosure Statements – Columbia International University
  2. ^ "Actions taken by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees". Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges. December 6, 2010. p. 2. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  3. ^ "ABHE Commission on Accreditation". Association for Biblical Higher Education. 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2011. "Reaffirm Accredited Status – Columbia International University (SC) until 2019" 
  4. ^ "ATS – Member Schools". The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools. 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Approved Educator Preparation Programs". April 28, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ See The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. XVII, no.2, c. 1919.
  7. ^ Scott A. Swanson, "Universities Question Orthodox Conversions," Christianity Today 42 (10 August 1998) 18, 21.

External links

Coordinates: 34°04′33″N 81°04′31″W / 34.075768°N 81.075314°W / 34.075768; -81.075314

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