The Columbia College Story

It begins with a feeling: you belong here.

Too many people have been made to feel that higher education isn’t a place for them—that it is someone else’s dream. But we change all that. With individualized attention and ongoing support, we don’t just help students of all backgrounds live into their identity as scholars. We help them write a new story for the future where they play the starring role.

The first traditional Ivy Chain ceremony was held in 1900, and the tradition continues today. The ivy  drapes each senior, knitting us to our college. As the ivy's cut, it symbolizes our shared bond.

In 1851, Christian Female College received a charter from the Missouri Legislature, opening doors to women, not just as a finishing school, but as a college for women.

The then-president Luella St. Clair, was one of the country’s first female college presidents, kept the college open through the Civil War, with the help of many committed faculty members who stayed on, knowing they might not be paid.

In 1970, Christian Female College took a confident leap forward. From being a two-year institution exclusively for women, we evolved into the inclusively progressive Columbia College, a four-year co-educational institution.

By 1973, our forward-thinking spirit caught the attention of the nation's military. In a historic move, they asked us to extend our educational venues to their bases. We proudly stepped up, becoming one of the first colleges in the country to seize this opportunity.

In 1975, our doors swung open in the evening to adult learners, embracing all those eager to learn.

In 2000, we boldly embraced the future of education by offering some of the nation's first online courses. We led the way, inspiring others to follow.

This is who we have always been.

When other universities closed their doors—to women, during war times, to those in military service—we opened our doors wider so that the life-changing power of an education wasn’t held at arm’s length from anyone. It’s always taken out-of-the-box thinking, adaptive programming, and a spirit of innovation to make that possible. But inventiveness is in our DNA.

Others may shrink back, give up, or take the easy road when challenges come. But the moments that call for courage and creativity are the moments we feel most at home. Because we are determined to ensure that our students get the best—the most attentive professors, the most adaptive programs, the most nimble solutions—and that means holding loosely to the status quo and staying rooted in our longstanding resolve to invest in a brighter tomorrow. One transformed student at a time.

We are Columbia College.


Making Lasting Impact

Our inspiring professors, life-changing educational experiences, and safe and welcoming environment make it possible for every student to truly thrive.

View our network of locations

25 +

locations nationwide

97000 +

alumni worldwide

20000 +

military-affiliated alumni

Together, We Shape The Future

We are intent in our commitment to open doors for those students, and support those who strive for excellence. Our history set the tone, and we’ve never backed down from that calling, offering exceptional instruction, real-world experience, and a place at the table for tomorrow’s leaders from all walks of life. 

With the help of Columbia College, who will you become?

because a future built by you is a future built for you.

Too many people have been made to feel that higher education isn’t a place for them— that it is someone else’s dream. But we change all that. With individualized attention and ongoing support, we help you write a new story for the future where you play the starring role.