Bryan College: Christ Above All

Bryan College is a highly ranked, fully accredited conservative Christian liberal arts college in Dayton, Tennessee. It was founded in the aftermath of the 1925 Scopes Trial to establish an institution of higher education that would teach from a Christian worldview. The college’s mission statement from the beginning has always been: “Educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.”

Bryan’s motto is “Christ Above All” and the college puts a heavy emphasis on teaching worldview issues. You will find “Christ Above All” not only emblazoned on the college logo but also pursued in the lives of Bryan faculty, staff, students, and alumni. “We want to make certain that we view culture through the eyes of faith, that we don’t view our faith through the eyes of culture,” said Dr. Stephen D. Livesay, Bryan College President.

The college was named after American orator, lawyer, and politician William Jennings Bryan. He was a Christian fundamentalist who supported Prohibition and crusaded against Darwinian evolution being taught as fact in the public schools. During the Scopes Trial in 1925, Bryan expressed the wish that a school might be established in Dayton, “to teach truth from a Biblical perspective.” Following his death on July 26, 1925, a national memorial association was formed to establish such an institution in Bryan’s honor.

William Jennings Bryan University was chartered in 1930. Its stated purpose was to provide “for the purpose of establishing, conducting and perpetuating a university for the higher education of men and women under auspices distinctly Christian and spiritual, as a testimony to the supreme glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Divine inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.” In 1958, it was designated William Jennings Bryan College, and the name was shortened to Bryan College in 1993.

Bryan College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1969. Bryan College is also a member of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Appalachian College Association (ACA), and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Bryan ranked 22nd in the U.S. News & World Report for Regional Colleges in the South as of the 2015 rankings, and in 2012 it was formerly ranked 4th among the “Up and Coming” institutions in its category by the same publisher. Bryan College was recently named a Best Value School for 2017!


Bryan is one of the few colleges to place a high emphasis on understanding, teaching, and encouraging students to live out a biblical worldview. Also unique to Bryan College is the opportunity for students to participate in a worldview program, so that they have the opportunity to share what they learn with others.

Students can earn degrees onsite and online. Options include associate degrees, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Bryan offers an online accelerated Associate’s Degree in Business, residential Bachelor’s Degrees in 25 majors with 49 unique fields of study, and three Master’s Degrees: the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Arts in Christian Studies, and the Master of Education. 70% of the full-time faculty at Bryan College hold the doctorate or highest degree available in their respective fields.

As of March 2017, a new partnership with Regent University will allow qualified Bryan College graduates a 25% scholarship on tuition to Regent Law’s J.D., M.A. (Law), and LL.M. programs. “Bryan College is excited to partner with Regent University School of Law to provide our graduates with a reduced tuition opportunity,” said Dr. Kevin Clauson, Vice President of Academics at Bryan College. “The law school has developed an excellent reputation for quality legal education in the context of a Christian worldview.”

Dual Enrollment

Bryan College offers dual enrollment classes (both online and onsite) to high school students at affordable rates. High school juniors or seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply. Bryan also offers a summer educational program that takes place in Italy for high school students that includes college credit.

In addition, Bryan College partners with Summit Ministries to offer 3 hours of college credit for high school students who complete the 36-week syllabus of either Understanding the Times or Understanding the Faith through SummitU.

  • Understanding the Times is transcripted as “Philosophy 112”
  • Understanding the Faith is transcripted as “Bible 111”

Since Bryan College is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, those credits will easily transfer to most schools (both religious and secular). Each institution is the sole determiner of credit acceptance, so it is recommended that you check with your chosen college before applying.

Online Classes

Online undergraduate degrees include: Associate of Business, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology. Online graduate certificate programs are designed for adult learners to develop their professional skills and add an advanced credential to their resume.

Student Body

Bryan College has 1,475 students. One-third attended public school, one-third attended private school, and one-third were homeschooled. The dual enrollment program has 409 students, the residential undergraduate program includes 631 students from 38 states and 12 foreign countries, and there are over 435 students in the adult and graduate studies programs. The average high school GPA is 3.64.

Campus Life

Bryan’s main campus is located on a 128-acre hilltop in Dayton, Tennessee, a small town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, just 35 minutes north of Chattanooga. The campus contains 20 buildings. Approximately 85% of Bryan students live on campus in one of seven comfortable residence halls, which vary from suite style to community style to townhomes, complete with wireless Internet access.

Bryan College athletic teams, nicknamed the Lions, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, fishing, volleyball, and track & field; while women’s sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, fishing, golf, soccer, softball, track & field, and volleyball.

Homeschool Students

Bryan College is very homeschool friendly, since approximately one-third of the student body made up of homeschool graduates. Because of the close-knit Christian community at Bryan, many homeschoolers find the college to be a great fit for them. Bryan faculty and staff become like an extended family to students. (The Student-Faculty Ratio is 14:1.)

Homeschool Admission Specialist Pat Wesolowski has been homeschooling for more than 29 years. Two of her children are students at Bryan College. To help guide other families through this process, the college developed The Journey, a free e-book specifically for homeschool families. This resource, written by Mrs.  Wesolowski, will provide you with helpful information about testing, dual enrollment, transcripts, and more. In addition, you’ll find tips and advice from the author based on her personal experiences. The e-book is available at

Bryan College holds regular events for homeschooling families including Homeschool Visitation Day events in November and February. Any questions about future events may be directed to Mrs. Wesolowski, the college’s Homeschool Specialist. There is also a Facebook page, Homeschool Students for Bryan College, dedicated to homeschool students interested in attending Bryan College.

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