Olivet Nazarene University
"Experience superior academics, countless ministry opportunities, competitive athletics and a thriving social life at...

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

“Education with a Christian Purpose.” Since 1907, Olivet has made this not only its motto, but a mission. Faith is at the heart of superior academics, nationally competitive athletics, thriving social atmosphere and countless ministry opportunities.


Home to 4,916 students (2,886 traditional undergraduates), Olivet’s beautiful, 250-acre park-like campus is located in Bourbonnais, Illinois, just 50 miles south of Chicago’s loop.


Student Profile

Home to 4,916 — including 2,886 traditional undergraduates (in Fall 2015)— represents more than 40 denominations, most U.S. states and more than 20 countries.

Faculty Profile

139 full-time teaching faculty, 17:1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

2,358 students living on campus.

School Location

Bourbonnais, Ill.


ONU competes in 21 intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), and the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC).

Men’s sports: baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track

Women’s sports: basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball

Mascot: Tigers

Colors: Purple and gold

Other Information

Olivet Nazarene University is a Christian, liberal arts university, a service to the Church of the Nazarene, founded in 1907.

Academic Programs 

More Distinctions

  • U.S. News & World Report: “Best Colleges".

  • Best Christian Workplace Institute: “Best Christian Workplace”

Engaged Students

At Olivet, you won’t find yourself sitting passively listening to lectures. Ours is a dynamic, engaging, interactive experience designed to empower you to achieve your goals in life — whether it’s getting into an elite graduate or medical school, or being offered that dream job.

Service to the local and global community is a central theme in many of Olivet’s academic programs. Social work students organize an annual Christmas party and toy drive for children of jail inmates. Business students have created integrated marketing plans for small, local businesses in Swaziland and Haiti, and helped raise thousands of dollars in disaster relief for Haiti. Senior engineering students have travelled to South America to install wells they designed themselves, to provide clean drinking water for impoverished, remote villages. Physical science students conduct interactive astronomy shows in Olivet’s all-digital planetarium for hundreds of elementary students every year.

Olivet students prepare for graduate school and future careers through numerous opportunities for expanded scholarship and research. Math and science students, for example, can work closely with faculty members on forward-looking, 10-week research projects through the Pence-Boyce Research Program and Fellowships and Olivet Research Associates Program. Students even receive stipends so they can work full-time on their projects.

During Scholar Week, students from all academic disciplines — along with faculty and other guests — are invited to present results of their academic research projects during a week-long series of lectures and discussions.

Each semester, ONU offers off-campus study programs, including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities BestSemester programs, such as American Studies Program in Washington, D.C., Australia Studies Centre, China Studies Program, Contemporary Music Center, India Studies Program, Latin American Studies Program, Los Angeles Film Studies Center, Middle East Studies Program, Oxford Summer Programme, Scholar’s Semester in Oxford, and Uganda Studies Program.

Other study programs include AuSable Institute, International Business Institute, ISA Spain (Barcelona), Nazarene International Language Institute, Oxford Summer Program, Quetzal Education Research Center (QERC), Environmental Studies (Costa Rica), and Tokyo Christian University. Costs are usually comparable to a semester at Olivet, and students earn academic credit for these programs. Some financial aid is available.

Numerous educational and mission-oriented, short-term trips are available to ONU students during the Christmas, spring, and summer breaks. More than 250 Olivet students participate in mission trips each year.

Great Teaching

Olivet offers more than 120 undergraduate areas of study and holds the accreditation of the Higher Learning Commission and other top accrediting associations. Seasoned faculty members challenge each student, believing that Christians can increase their impact on the world through excellence in scholarship, thought and communication.

As a student at Olivet, you will:

  • Study in small classes with a student-faculty ratio of just 17:1.
  • Learn from professors, not teaching assistants.
  • Actively participate in learning, and collaborate in groups.
  • Gain real-world experience through internships and field placements.


Olivet’s Honors Program encourages and nurtures academically gifted students, preparing them to become the Christian scholars and servant leaders they were meant to be. Honors Program highlights include:

  • One-on-one mentored research with a professor of your choice, funding provided; or study abroad opportunities during your junior year,
  • Presentation of research at an Honors Research Symposium and
  • Numerous community service and cultural event opportunities. 


Accreditations for Olivet include:

  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • The American Dietetics Association
  • The Council on Social Work Education
  • The National Association of Schools of Music
  • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education
  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education programs


University distinctives include:

  • In fine arts, Olivet’s School of Music earned the Apple Distinguished Program designation for 2014 through 2016 for its iLearn@Olivet initiative, which provides an iPad to every member of the Tiger marching band and all music majors, as well as faculty and staff members.
  • In 2014, to accommodate the growing engineering program, the University completed an expansion and renovation of Reed Hall of Science. The building has a new three-story wing dedicated to studying technology and innovation, and two former lecture halls are new, state-of-the-art engineering design labs. As of 2015, plans call for another Reed expansion—for the natural sciences program—as well as expansion and renovation of Larsen Fine Arts Center and Wisner Hall of Nursing and Health Sciences.
  • State-of-the-art academic facilities include Benner Library and Resource Center, information hub for digital and print research and communication; and Strickler Planetarium, renovated in 2008 with the same technology in Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and one of the Midwest’s few all-digital planetariums.

Vibrant Communities

Olivet is about more than just classrooms and books, offering countless opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. When they are not at one of the University’s coffeehouses, campus events, in Chicago or working out in the state-of-the-art fitness center, Olivetians can be found doing …. just about everything!

Outside the classroom, Olivet students participate in more than 80 clubs and organizations, including 30 intramural sports, the 200-member marching band, two orchestras, 28 musical ensembles, theater groups, clubs, and ministries.

Among these organizations are nearly 20 different student-led ministries, through which students serve the community and world in hundreds of different ways. Olivetians can be found leading worship at summer camps for junior high students, playing checkers with veterans at a nursing home or building the next “Habitat for Humanity” house. During spring and summer breaks, Missions In Action groups travel globally — in the U.S. and abroad — to extend the love of Christ.

Across Olivet’s 21 intercollegiate athletic teams, champions are trained for success — on and off the playing field. Competitors bloom while playing for national titles; they become champions by serving the community around them.

Approximately 80 percent of the student body participates in Olivet’s vibrant intramural program. Intramural activities include:

  • Basketball
  • Dodgeball
  • Euchre
  • Flag football (men’s and women’s)
  • Homecoming 5K run
  • Pool (billiards)
  • Racquetball
  • Soccer (indoor and outdoor)
  • Softball
  • Volleyball (indoor and sand)
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Ultimate Frisbee


Olivet also boasts three club sports:

  • Men’s basketball
  • Men’s volleyball
  • Women’s volleyball


Weekly chapel services, student-led Party with Jesus, and local churches offer students, faculty and staff the opportunity to worship and grow together. Chapel services, held in the 3000-plus seat Centennial Chapel, regularly feature some of today’s most renowned spiritual, business, political and other leaders who offer instruction and inspiration for the ONU community.

Successful Outcomes

No matter their destination after graduation, Olivet graduates find success — in every sense of the word. Olivet has a worldwide network of more than 37,000 alumni, living in all 50 U.S. states and 30 world countries. States and 60 world areas. As educators, medical professionals, musicians, engineers, pastors, lawyers, missionaries and business professionals, Olivetians are living out the “Olivet difference” in their homes, workplaces, churches and communities.

The Davld L. Elwood Center for Student Success, a cooperative effort among faculty and staff, helps foster a campus-wide culture of success. Its services are aimed at helping students develop their full potential during their college years and beyond. They seek to foster a balanced Christian worldview that results in students embracing lifelong learning, personal integrity, commitment to God and His Church, and leadership opportunities at home, at work and in society.

In recent years, alumni have gone on to obtain graduate degrees from such prestigious schools as the Naval Aerospace Institute, Harvard, Yale, Boston University, Wharton Business School, and highly-rated law schools such as Stanford, Notre Dame, Ohio State.

Pre-med students have been accepted at Michigan State University, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Ohio State University, Wayne State University Loyola University, and other outstanding medical schools.



Admissions and Financial Aid

2015–2016: Comprehensive tuition: $40,690 (Tuition and fees: $32,790). 99 percent of students receive financial aid.

Olivet Nazarene University admits qualified students based on high school record (or college transcripts for transfer students) and ACT score. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen is 24.

For the 2014–15 academic year, Olivet awarded $101.9 million in financial aid. Each year, approximately 99 percent of ONU’s traditional undergraduates receive a collective total of $38.7 million in federal and state grants and institutional scholarships. The University participates in all federal and state financial aid programs. To apply for aid, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Priority deadline for FAFSA filing is February 15. The University creates a financial aid package once a student is an accepted ONU applicant.