At Bethel University, we're committed to excellence.
But here, excellence means something more. It means taking our faith in Christ and integrating it into everything we learn, into everything we do, so we can accomplish incredible things—for God's glory and our neighbors' good.
We've been a leader and model in Christian higher education since 1871. For generations, our fusion of evangelical faith with top-ranked academics has transformed women and men, preparing them for unique callings in the kingdom of God.
John Alexis Edgren founded Bethel as a seminary in 1871, with the name Baptist Union Theological Seminary. The seminary trained pastors to serve Swedish Baptist immigrants, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Edgren, a sea captain and scholar who knew 30 languages, founded Bethel on the enduring conviction that Christians ought to love God with their minds and represent Him in all fields.
Moving to a University
The Baptist General Conference (now Converge) took on support of the seminary in 1914, moved it from Chicago to St. Paul, and merged it with a Christian high school. Following World War II, Bethel answered demand for four-year degrees, becoming Bethel College & Seminary.
Over the following decades, visionary leaders expanded Bethel Seminary to the West and East coasts, while growing the undergraduate program in St. Paul. In 1989, non-theological graduate programs were launched, followed by bachelor's degrees for working adults along with online learning options.
In 2004, already classified among "master's level universities," Bethel changed its name to Bethel University to match its broad scope of programs across 4 schools:
College of Arts & Sciences
College of Adult & Professional Studies
Bethel remains a private, Christian university, sponsored in part by the churches of Converge, but open to all men and women willing to learn within an evangelical perspective and community.
Poised for the Future
In less than three decades, Bethel's programs have more than doubled to over 100 degree options, and enrollment has grown to nearly 4,500 students. But Bethel remains true to the vision of its founder, John Edgren: to develop broadly educated, critically thinking Christians-changing the world through service and leadership in Christ's name.
Boldly informed and motivated by the Christian faith, Bethel University educates and energizes men and women for excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service. We prepare graduates to serve in strategic capacities to renew minds, live out biblical truth, transform culture, and advance the gospel.
Bethel will be the Christ-centered university of choice for this century.
Rooted in faith. Committed to excellence. Bethel will become the leader in Christian higher education by building stronger communities, equipping confident leaders and gracious servants, and preparing passionate world-changers. Through our thoughts, words, and actions, we’ll demonstrate what it means for a university to be centered on Jesus Christ.
Bethel University is a vibrant, Christ-centered educational community. Here, students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds share a common goal: to become whole and holy persons. Throughout this transformational journey, we rely on core values to guide us spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.
First, we are Christ-followers, striving to live out the teachings of Jesus and to emulate His life as revealed in Scripture. We are also character-builders. Through healthy, supportive relationships and a culture of service, we develop the personal strength and emotional intelligence to make right choices in a broken world.
As learners, we are critical thinkers and problem-solvers committed to academic excellence and intellectual rigor. At the same time, we are truth-seekers, recognizing that all truth—scientific, artistic, philosophical, or theological—has its source in God.
We have been put on this earth for a purpose: God wants us to use our talents and compassion to be world-changers and reconcilers. As we humbly and honestly engage with our own biases and preconceptions, we grow closer to understanding Christ's infinite love and selfless mission of redemption.
In this complex and troubled world, we aim to be both salt and light—preserving the good and reflecting the guiding light of Christ. This requires a mature faith that is grounded in a personal relationship with God and able to withstand the storms of life.