Columbia Southern University

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Coordinates: 30°19′45.26″N 87°39′9.4″W / 30.3292389°N 87.652611°W / 30.3292389; -87.652611

Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern Seal.jpg
Motto Flexible. Affordable. Online.
Established 1993
Type Private
President Robert Mayes, Jr.
Provost Jeffrey Barksdale, Ph.D.
Dean John Hope, Ph.D.
Students 20,185[1]
Undergraduates 14,853
Postgraduates 5,332
Location Orange Beach, Alabama, United States
Colors Navy Blue and Gold
Nickname Knights[2]
Columbia southern logo.gif

Columbia Southern University is a private university specializing in distance education, headquartered in Orange Beach, Alabama, United States. Offering degrees in various fields, Columbia Southern's online programs are among the most affordable options in the United States.[3][4]


Columbia Southern University was founded in 1993 by Dr. Robert G. Mayes, Sr.[5][6] The university developed its first degree programs in environmental engineering and occupational safety and health in 1994.

By 1996, the infrastructure to administer these programs was firmly in place and additional degree programs were developed and offered. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration was the first to be offered before computer science, criminal justice administration and health administration were also made available.[5]

Achieving accreditation had been a goal for Columbia Southern University since its inception and that goal became a reality on Jan. 15, 2001, when the Distance Education and Training Council granted national accreditation to CSU.

In 2002, several approvals and affiliation agreements with state schools were achieved along with receiving Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support and Veterans Affairs approval.

In 2003, Columbia Southern University expanded its international offerings by being one of the first U.S. universities to offer a hybrid (online and classroom) degree program in Vietnam. The opportunity to earn an MBA degree was offered in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Between 2002 and 2004, CSU expanded its degree offerings to include associate degrees and six new majors and launched the Learning Partnership program. This program would allow businesses, municipalities, organizations and corporations to partner with CSU and receive benefits such as tuition discounts, application fee waivers, and later scholarship opportunities, for employees/members and their spouses and children.

Dr. Mayes headed the institution until his death in 2005, when his son, Robert Mayes, Jr., assumed the presidency.[6]

In 2008, Columbia Southern University received approval by the U.S. Department of Education to offer Federal Student Aid. In the same year, the school broke ground on a new 67,000-square-foot building which would open in 2009.

On January 8, 2010, Waldorf College, a private undergraduate liberal arts college in Iowa, was purchased and became CSU’s sister college. In 2011, CSU’s program in Vietnam became the first distance learning program to be accredited by the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training.


Columbia Southern has been accredited by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC), formerly the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), since 2001.[7][5] DEAC is an accreditation agency recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Columbia Southern is also a member of the Higher Education Transfer Alliance (HETA), a voluntary group of accredited institutions that are concerned with the importance of student mobility, enhancing success in transfer of credit, and affirming the responsibility and prerogative of individual institutions with respect to acceptance of transfer credits. It was one of the few accredited institutions selected by the DEAC to start offering accredited online doctorate in business administration (DBA), but the program was discontinued in March 2014.[8][9]

Faculty and agreements with other institutions[edit]

Currently, Columbia Southern has more than 1,000 full-time faculty and staff. It enrolls and graduates thousands of students annually on both national and international level. Columbia Southern also maintains partnerships with University of North Alabama and Waldorf College. The university is one of approximately 140 schools approved to offer up-front tuition assistance through the U.S. Army’s centralized tuition assistance portal, GoArmyEd.[10]


Columbia Southern consists of three colleges, offering a total of 26 degrees at the associate, bachelor and master levels, and 21 certificate programs online. The College of Arts and Sciences offers a degree program in criminal justice, psychology, as well as a comprehensive general studies program, allowing students to complete core classes prior to declaring a specific degree. The College of Business features nine of its own degrees, including eleven concentrations within the business administration program. The College of Safety and Emergency Services consists of 14 degree programs and five concentrations.[11]


  1. ^ National Center for Education Statistics
  2. ^ "University adopts mascot". Columbia Southern University. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "2014 Most Affordable U.S. Online College Rankings". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Golden, Daniel, [1] "For-Profit Colleges Target the Military", Bloomberg Businessweek, December 30, 2009
  5. ^ a b c Barron's Guide to Distance Learning: Degrees, Certificates, Courses by Pat Criscito (2002), ISBN 0-7641-1791-2, page 179
  6. ^ a b History of CSU, Columbia Southern University website (accessed February 24, 2008)
  7. ^ Distance Education and Training Council Directory of Accredited Institutions 2007-2008, June 18, 2007, page 11
  8. ^
  9. ^ Six Institutions gain Accreditation Distance Education and Training Council website (accessed May 24, 2010)
  10. ^ List of GoArmyEd partner Colleges, GoArmyEd website (accessed March 28, 2009)
  11. ^ "Online Degree Programs". Columbia Southern University. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 

External links[edit]