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 Robert McQuilkin, first president of CIU, formerly Columbia Bible Collegefriends, 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!"

Columbia Bible College StudentWhen 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

  • 1,011 students 
  • 49/51 male/female ratio
  • Average incoming ACT is 23
  • Undergraduate student body is 77.2% Caucasian, 11.8% African-American, 2.3% international.
  • Seminary/Graduate student body is 61% Caucasian, 19.8% African-American, 11.1% international


  • 22 undergraduate majors
  • CIU offers degree and certificate programs
  • Accreditation from SACS, ABHE and ATS.
  • 17:1 student to professor ratio
  • Average class size: 20


  • Ranked #1 in South Carolina by BestColleges.com
  • Ranked #2 by ChristianUniversitiesOnline.org
  • Ranked #3 in South Carolina in the WalletHub survey
  • A Top Southern Regional University by U.S. News & World Report each year since 2006
  • A Top School for Military by Military Advanced Education magazine
  • Ranked #6 in Southeast “Best Bang for the Buck” school by Washington Monthly
  • Top 20% among military-friendly schools in the nation by Victory Media
  • 98% of seminary/graduate students rate the quality of teaching good to excellent