Columbia International University

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Columbia International University
New CIU Logo.jpg
Former names
Columbia Bible School
Columbia Bible College
MottoTo know Him and to make Him known.
AffiliationMultidenominational Christian
PresidentDr. Mark A. Smith
Location, ,
United States
CampusSuburban, 400 acres (162 ha)
ColorsBlue and Gold

Columbia International University (CIU) is a Christian institution of higher education located in Columbia, South Carolina.


CIU began 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.


President Term of Office
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 2000–2007
Dr. William H. Jones 2007–2017
Dr. Mark A. Smith July 1, 2017–Present


CIU Seal

CIU has five colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Counseling, the College of Education, the College of Intercultural Studies, and the Seminary & School of Ministry. Because of the closely knit nature of the institution and the emphasis on Christian education and biblical studies regardless of major, many of the colleges share faculty members.[1]


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[edit]

The Graduate School primarily exists as a complement to the undergraduate programs available. 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 terminal degrees in education: an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education), and an Ed.S. (Education Specialist). These advanced degree programs are led by program coordinator Dr. Brian Simmons, author of multiple works on education and former president of Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).


The CIU seminary (known as Columbia International University Seminary & School of Ministry) 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 assent to CIU's doctrinal standard for admission and candidacy for a degree. In addition to two master's degree programs, the seminary also offers a 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 Christian 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 undergraduate majors relating directly to ministerial skills but no programs in the sciences. A Business & Organizational Leadership major was added in 2012.


CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools[2] for its undergraduate and graduate programs and is listed as a Level V school, meaning that it offers three or fewer doctoral degrees. 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]

Online education[edit]

CIU also offers online degrees and other degrees that are a hybrid of on-campus and online courses. The structure of this program has the clear advantage of permitting the student to obtain a degree but without relocating closer to the campus or leaving full-time employment. One obvious disadvantage would be that the student only has limited interaction with other students and the faculty. Some courses are offered on-campus as one-week intensives at CIU's main campus in Columbia or at CIU's extension sites in Atlanta and Korntal, Germany.

Student life[edit]

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[edit]

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. CIU requires all teaching faculty to affirm Premillennialism.[6]

Lifestyle standards[edit]

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. Students are required to complete a Spiritual Growth and Self Assessment – a narrative of a student’s spiritual journey during the year. 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 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[edit]

  • 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.
  • The CIU Thespians: organization that provides opportunities for students to participate in theatrical shows, stage craft, and theater management.
  • Graduate Life Council
  • Married Students Association
  • The Finial: yearbook
  • Credo: university's academic journal published biannually containing scholarly papers submitted by students from both the undergraduate as well as graduate programs.
  • The Rambler: 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 Mission Connection: student group which prays for current missionary activities and helps members seek their role in global missions.
  • International Student Association
  • Military Veterans Fellowship
  • Married Student Association[7]

Denominational relationships[edit]

CIU 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.

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.

The following affiliations are typically represented on campus:

  • African Methodist Episcopal
  • African Methodist Episcopal Zion
  • Alliance des Eglises Evangéliques Interdépendantes
  • American Baptist
  • 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
  • Episcopal
  • Evangelical Free Church of America
  • Freewill Baptist
  • Independent Baptist Churches
  • Independent Churches
  • National Baptist Convention
  • Pentecostal
  • Presbyterian Church in America
  • Presbyterian Church, various denominations
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • United Methodist Church [8]

Additional programs[edit]

While the primary mission of CIU is to provide an evangelical higher education to its students, the corporate entity also includes Ben Lippen School.

Ben Lippen School[edit]

Ben Lippen is a private, interdenominational Christian school located on the CIU campus. It was 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. In 2013, there were nearly 800 students enrolled at the school.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Columbia International University 2013–2014 Academic Catalog
  2. ^ "CIU Accreditation Reaffirmed". Columbia International University. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  3. ^ "ABHE Commission on Accreditation". Association for Biblical Higher Education. 2011. Archived from the original on 2010-11-19. 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. Archived from the original on 2011-08-04. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  5. ^ "Approved Educator Preparation Programs". April 28, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  6. ^ CIU 2013–2014 Academic Catalog
  7. ^ CIU Undergraduate Viewbook
  8. ^ CIU 2013–2014 Academic Catalog

External links[edit]

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