Facts and History

Columbia Bible College Ambassador Choir - late 1960s


What is now Columbia International University exists because of the power of prayer. Thanks to the prayers of a Sunday school teacher and her friends, CIU has been a catalyst for preparing students for ministry and missions.

The Power of Prayer

Emily Dick — concerned for the spiritual needs of Columbia’s mill workers and their families — attended Moody Bible Institute in 1913 to better learn Scripture. Five years later and now back home; she and her circle of six other “praying women” saw their dream of a local Bible school come true. The man of God who would lead the new work was Robert C. McQuilkin, CIU’s first president.

“What a mighty power for missions and for soul-winning evangelism the school may be!”

When Classes Began

The school began classes in the fall of 1922 in rented rooms at the former Colonia Hotel in downtown Columbia and at the YMCA, and officially became Columbia Bible School in 1923. Two hotel rooms served as the classroom and the office, and the hotel’s sunroom was used for popular Friday evening classes open to the public.

The School’s Name

In 1929, the school’s name changed to Columbia Bible College and six years later, the school began offering graduate courses. The college moved to its current location on Monticello Road in 1960 and the name was changed again in 1994 to Columbia International University.

Quick Facts

The Basics

  • Founded: 1923
  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Our motto: “To Know Him and to Make Him Known.”
  • Religious Affiliation: Multidenominational
  • School Colors: Blue & Gold
  • Mascot: Ram

Student Body

  • 2,273 students
  • 51/49 male/female ratio
  • Undergraduate student body is 65.9% Caucasian, 19.6% African-American, 4.2% international.
  • Seminary/Graduate student body is 33.4% Caucasian, 14.1% African-American, 22.7% international


  • More than 70 undergraduate majors, graduate and seminary programs, professional certificates, and convenient online programs for working adults
  • CIU offers degree and certificate programs
  • CIU has received accreditation from
    • The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
    • Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
    • The Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
    • The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
    • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU)
    • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
    • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • 16:1 student to professor ratio
  • Average class size: 18


  • Consistently ranked a Top Southern Regional University by U.S. News & World Report
  • A top Best Value University in the South by U.S. News & World Report
  • A Best College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report
  • Ranked #5 for Social Mobility in the South (among the best in making sure a student succeeds) by U.S. News & World Report