Calvin College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Calvin College
Calvin College is a Christian liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan with 100+...

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

With courage and wonder, Calvin students explore the world God created.


Founded by the Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College is a top-ranked liberal arts college that equips and empowers its nearly 4,000 students from around the globe. Students learn to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.


Offering 100+ majors and programs, Calvin integrates faith and learning, and provides students with a liberal arts platform that is a springboard to consistent postgraduate success.



Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
3,788 undergraduate students
98% of undergrad students are full time
44% male 56% female
45% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
262 full-time faculty
96 part-time faculty
13 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
95% of first year students live on campus
59% of all students live on campus

School Location

Calvin is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city named Lonely Planet’s #1 travel destination in 2014 and one of the New York Times Places to Go in 2016. The college is also just a short drive from Lake Michigan and its premier beaches.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices

First-Year Seminars and Experiences x
Common Intellectual Experiences x
Learning Communities x
Writing-Intensive Courses x
Collaborative Assignments and Projects x
Undergraduate Research x
Diversity/Global Learning x
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning x
Internships/Coops/Practicums x
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience x

Retention Fall 2015

86% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2015

73% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 10%
Hispanic/Latino 4%
Black or African American 3%
White 74%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 4%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 4%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 2%


NCAA Division III. 21 varsity sports (10 men’s, 11 women’s); five seasons of intramural sports; yoga, spinning and Pilates group fitness classes; regular outdoor climbing, biking, skiing, canoeing and backpacking trips and daily open climbing on Calvin’s 38’H x 80’W indoor climbing wall.

More Distinctions

  • Calvin College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Learning of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

  • Calvin is consistently ranked in the Open Doors Report as a top five baccalaureate institution for the total number of students who study abroad each year and for international student enrollment.

  • Calvin College is ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report among Midwest Regional Colleges (2017).

  • The Fiske Guide to Colleges has placed Calvin College on elite lists of small colleges with strong programs in business and engineering.

  • "Calvin students describe the overall academic environment as challenging but supportive [...] Calvin graduates have few problems getting accepted to graduate schools of law, medicine, or business." (The Fiske Guide to Colleges)

  • "Every accredited college or university offers education, but not every school prepares students for the real world in the way that Calvin does [...] Best of all, perhaps, Calvin provides a fantastic Christian education for little money, compared to other private schools." (The Best 373 Colleges by the Princeton Review)

  • Calvin receives numerous grants awarded by foundations, corporations and government agencies. These gifts provide invaluable support for excellence in education, enabling Calvin to offer exceptional resources that do not require tuition dollars.

  • Calvin is one of 240 colleges and universities selected by the Carnegie Foundation to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification, earned by demonstrating significant collaboration with its broader community (local, regional/state, national and global).

  • Calvin College is a top Fulbright Scholar producer among bachelor’s institutions in 2014-15, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website listed Calvin College as one of just six bachelor’s institutions in the nation to have at least two faculty members awarded prestigious Fulbright grants in 2014-15.

  • Since 2008, Calvin College has been awarded 18 Goldwater Scholarships, a number matched by only one other undergrad institution during that span of time. The scholarship is considered the most prestigious award given to undergrads in science, math and engineering.

A Calvin education equips students to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. From first-year orientation through graduation and beyond, Calvin provides the challenge and support to help students become both leaders and servants in every area of life.

Leaders and Servants

Calvin programs provide students with meaningful, real-world experiences. For example, students in Calvin’s community-based nursing program spend significant time not just in hospitals, but also in community organizations and neighborhoods. First-year engineering students design equipment for non-profit organizations, while teams of senior engineers work on year-long design projects. Some of these projects have even led to patents and innovative products. For more than 25 years, accounting majors have volunteered to help low-income taxpayers file their tax forms through an IRS-sponsored program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Every student is driven to apply their major to helping others.

Across the Globe

Calvin’s off-campus programs teach students that renewal is a worldwide effort. Students spend semesters in 11 locales, choosing from more than 30 different off-campus courses during the January interim term. According to the annual Open Doors Report released by the International Educational Exchange, Calvin ranks second nationally among the nation’s baccalaureate institutions for the number of students who study abroad. Calvin also ranks fifth in that same category for the total number of international students studying on its campus.

Real-World Experience

Calvin provides students with a broad range of learning opportunities, with 85-percent of students completing at least one internship while in college. Students are able to take advantage of the vast network the Calvin community has created, finding themselves working at companies like Airbus in Germany, the New York Stock Exchange, Wolverine Worldwide, Herman Miller, Zondervan, World Vision, and hundreds more. Each year, more than 120 students also work alongside Calvin faculty doing research in the sciences, arts, and humanities.

Thoughtful Participants

Calvin’s biennial Festival of Faith & Writing brings together conference participants and renowned authors for a weekend of education and renewal. The festival is joined by other notable events such as the award-winning annual January Series, the Faith and International Development Conference and a remarkable concert line-up.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries x
Choral groups x
Concert band x
Dance x
Drama/theater x
International Student Organization x
Jazz band x
Literary magazine x
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles x
Musical theater  
Pep band x
Radio station  
Student government x
Student newspaper x
Student-run film society x
Symphony orchestra x
Television station  
Yearbook x

Calvin College is the kind of place where professors know students’ names, and where teaching is job number one. No one will ask students to leave their faith at the door when they enter a philosophy classroom or a biology lab. In fact, professors will challenge students to deepen their faith by engaging big ideas and current issues.


Calvin professors regularly engage students in grant-funded research; nearly all faculty have been published in academic or professional journals and/or presented their work at major conferences. In 2015, 85 undergraduate students worked alongside 44 faculty members for 10 weeks of full-time summer research in the sciences. These collaborations give students valuable experience and expertise. Such projects often lead to published reports and presentations in which students are cited as co-authors.

Community Outreach

Community engagement and service are central to Calvin’s mission, and faculty are involved both personally and professionally. In almost every department, academically based service-learning activities provide a relevant connection between theory and practice.

Christian Commitment

100% of Calvin’s faculty are committed Christians who actively integrate their faith with learning, teaching, and scholarship. Whether through classroom interaction or individual advising appointments, faculty mentor students as they navigate their way through college.


Calvin faculty, staff, and students are developing new ways to be smart about using the environmental resources God provides. One example of this is the student-proposed Calvin Energy Recovery Fund, a revolving fund that is used to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions on campus. The cost savings from CERF projects are routed back into the fund to support future projects.

In 2010, the college was given the Green Award for “greatest green initiatives” in the Grand Rapids area. The college has also been recognized as a “Tree Campus USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation. And, Plaster Creek Stewards, a collaboration of Calvin faculty, staff, students and community members, are continuing their education, research and restoration efforts in Michigan’s most contaminated watershed. The group has received numerous grants from state and federal agencies to continue their work, including a $1.1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2014.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts x
Computer literacy x
English (including composition) x
Foreign languages x
History x
Humanities x
Mathematics x
Philosophy x
Sciences (biological or physical) x
Social science x


Other: Health and Fitness, Cross-Cultural Engagement, Rhetoric, Biblical Studies

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 48 221 281 169 27 5 0 751

At Calvin, students learn to connect the way they think with the way they live.

Calvin students enjoy great films and political debates, challenging assignments and dorm Bible studies, pre-concert conversations with bands, and service-learning in the Grand Rapids community. Learning to be a wise and faithful participant—and leader—in God’s world doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice.


Within the residence halls and apartments, there are a number of optional living-learning communities that focus on topics such as environmental stewardship, understanding race and anti-racism, faith and athletics, foreign languages, and the honors program.


Calvin is home to more than 70 student-led organizations where students get involved, create community, and develop leadership skills. If civic engagement, social justice, or environmental sustainability is on the heart of a student, they’ll most likely be found on a service-learning spring break trip or in the position of a Community Partnership Coordinator in their dorm.

The Box Office

Calvin’s Student Activities Office (SAO) strives to provide a season of concerts, films, lectures, and other programs that allow Calvin students to interact with the best and the brightest artists of a wide array of genres, including The National, Switchfoot, Lupe Fiasco, FUN., OK Go, Sufjan Stevens, The Head and The Heart, and many more.

Location, Location

Calvin’s beautiful, 400-acre campus is located in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Calvin community integrates into the larger Grand Rapids community in ways that are as varied and diverse as the student body of Calvin itself. Maybe it’s the Calvin art student displaying his work at Calvin’s downtown 106 Gallery or in the annual citywide ArtPrize competition. It could be the senior at Calvin doing her internship at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. Or maybe still it’s the group of Calvin students living in a Project Neighborhood home, strengthening ties with neighbors and each other.


Coed dorms  
Men’s dorms x
Women’s dorms x
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students x
Special housing for disabled students x
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing x
Wellness housing x
Other housing options x


Other: Project Neighborhood Homes 


The success of Calvin graduates goes beyond job titles, salaries, graduate degrees, and employers as they pursue God’s call on their lives. Still, the results are clear: Calvin grads get good jobs at places like Google, Pixar, National Geographic, and Boeing. They earn higher mid-career salaries than grads from other private colleges in Michigan and attend some of the best graduate schools in the country. Learn More. Calvin offers the kind of Christian education that fills students with a deep sense of purpose. Graduates from Calvin are exactly the kind of people who publishing companies, churches, schools, and law offices want to hire.

Tangible Takeaways

Calvin’s career center assists students in preparing for careers after graduation through workshops, job fairs, internships, and on-campus interviews. Over 85% of Calvin’s 2015 graduates had internships while in college. These support systems are more than effective; 98% of the Class of 2015 survey respondents reported that they were professionally employed or in graduate school within one year of graduation.

New in 2017: The college’s unique career and life readiness program, Calvin LifeWork, is a four-year journey that helps students launch successfully after college.

Calvin Alumni

Career networking by Calvin’s 60,000 alumni gives graduates a boost in domestic markets and around the world. These alumni share a worldview and values, nurtured by an active alumni association in networks around the world. Graduates remain connected to Calvin and to each other. Recent Calvin alumni include:

  • Ryan Bierma ’03, who installs permanent GPS stations on volcanoes in Alaska as a station specialist/field operations manager for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology.
  • Niala Boodhoo ’96, who is the host/executive producer of The 21st, a new statewide interactive weekday talk show for Illinois.
  • Jonathan Hirte ’08, who is the legislative director at the office of Congressman Tim Walberg, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
  • Lia Kaufman ’05, who completed medical school at Loyola, completed her residency at the prestigious Mayo Clinic and is now a gastroenterologist at Spectrum Health.
  • Kirsten Kelly ’95, who is a director/producer in New York City for Spargel Productions, Providence Productions and NYU.
  • Brendan Snyder ’10, who snagged a great job before he even graduated, working as an AdWords account manager at Google in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is now an account executive for Food & Beverage at Google in New York.
  • Ryan Struyk ’14, who is a political reporter/researcher for ABC News in Washington, D.C.


Admissions Fall 2015

3,824 Total Applicants
2,840 Total Admissions
944 Total Freshmen Enrollment

74.27% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling Admission? No

Closing Date: Aug 15 

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Religious affiliation/commitment

Application Essay
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities

Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest
Class rank

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 520 670
SAT Math 530 670
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 23 30
ACT Math 22 29
ACT English 23 32
ACT Writing    

Visit Calvin

Calvin recommends Fridays at Calvin for a comprehensive visit experience, but also offers other visit options to accommodate your schedule and preferences.

In addition, Calvin offers a number of special visit days that highlight specific academic programs at Calvin. Attend one of these visit days and you will attend classes in your area of interest, meet with professors and students in your major, and hear about opportunities for learning outside the classroom.

Explore all visit options, including a virtual tour, at!


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $31,730
Room and Board (on campus) $9,840
Estimated Total On Campus $41,570


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-16 Estimated

$25,227 First year students
$23,099 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-16 Estimated

73.8% on average, the percentage of need that was met
17% of financial need students that had need fully met

$16,333 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$6,538 Average need-based loan

Awards and Scholarships

  1. Academic Scholarships: Calvin academic scholarships for incoming students range from $8,000 to $18,000. These scholarships are awarded automatically based on GPA and standardized test score. Over 85% of incoming students receive one of the following scholarships. Explore these scholarships:
  2. Additional Awards: Calvin offers additional awards to new students based on a variety of criteria (diversity, first generation, legacy, etc.). These awards are given in addition to academic scholarships. Learn more:
  3. Donor-funded Scholarships: These awards are generally based on financial need and a variety of criteria including program of interest, residency, high school attended, diversity and other student characteristics. Search the full list:

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