Messiah College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Messiah College
Messiah College is a nationally ranked, private Christian college of the liberal and applied...

Messiah College

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Messiah College is nationally recognized for bringing together top-tier academics and Christian faith. The College’s motto, “Christ Preeminent,” shapes every experience its students have at school. Lifelong friendships. Support from faculty mentors. Outstanding preparation for life and career. Championship athletics. Celebrated arts programs. Transformational service and ministry. Eye-opening study abroad. At Messiah, one’s life, faith, world, and possibilities open up. Students come to see anew.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,723 undergraduate students
98% of undergrad students are full time
39% male 61% female
38% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
192 full-time faculty
149 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
96% of first year students live on campus
86% of all students live on campus

School Location

Located in suburban, south-central Pennsylvania, Messiah College is nestled on 471 scenic acres. Messiah’s campus is just a short driving distance from nearby metropolitan areas. The downtown restaurants, galleries, museums, and sports venues of the state capital of Harrisburg are just 15 minutes away. The busy urban centers of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York City are all within a 2-3 hour drive.

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

88.1% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2015

77% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 4%
Hispanic/Latino 4%
Black or African American 3%
White 83%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 1%


Messiah College has 22 NCAA Division III sports team and is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Conference. In addition to NCAA athletics, there are many club sports and recreational leagues on campus. The Messiah Falcons have won 26 NCAA Division III national championships including a DIII-leading 10 titles in men’s soccer. The College colors are navy blue and white, and the mascot is the Falcon.

Other Information

Messiah College is a liberal arts and applied sciences College, founded in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church. The College continues to emphasize its Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan theological heritage even though it is no longer legally owned by the Brethren in Christ Church. Now the College’s faith base is broadly evangelical and includes students and employees from a variety of denominations and Christian faith traditions.

More Distinctions

  • Messiah College graduates have distinguished themselves as Rhodes, Fulbright, Carnegie, Truman, and Boren Scholars.

  • In a Career and Professional Development Center post-graduation survey, 97 percent of the class of 2015 respondents indicated they were employed or in graduate professional programs within six to nine months after graduation.

  • Messiah College is ranked as the 4th "Best Regional College" in the northeastern U.S. by U.S. News and World Report.

  • The College is also ranked #3 in its region as a "Great School. Great Price" by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Messiah College is ranked #55 for "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs" in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Messiah is the only school in NCAA history to win both men’s and women’s national championships in soccer in the same year—not only once, but four times.

  • Last year, more than 600 students studied or served abroad in more than 40 different countries.

  • Messiah’s internship program is nationally recognized for excellence in professional preparation of students for today's workforce. More than 485 colleges, universities, and businesses use Messiah's training materials or model their internship program after Messiah.

Common Intellectual Experiences

Messiah College’s core general education program helps fit together various coordinates along a four-year journey. Challenging experiences and courses help students foster their ability to apply learning and discernment to new and complex situations. The result: a transformative education that emphasizes big-picture thinking, values diversity and embraces application of responsive solutions to real-life challenges. Messiah’s core curriculum is broken down into four segments:

  • Abilities of the Liberal Arts (first year seminar, oral communications, and Created and Called for Community)
  • Liberal Arts (mathematics and natural sciences; social sciences and history; humanities and arts; languages and culture; and non-western studies)
  • Christian faith
  • Social responsibility

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

One of the best examples of Messiah College’s collaborative assignments is the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research. It is a center for service, scholarship and project-based learning that enables participants to apply academic knowledge and live out their Christian faiths through hands-on problem solving with nonprofit organizations, governments, and business partners in both the local region and around the world.

Partners of the Collaboratory invest in the educational mission of the College through their interactions with students, producing professional and sustainable results for them by leveraging long-term partnerships and volunteerism. Collaboratory projects enable students to engage classroom fundamentals in a real, client-centered environment. Students lead and manage the Collaboratory in partnership with the educators and volunteer professionals who mentor them.

Undergraduate Research

Research experiences are embedded throughout the undergraduate curriculum in science, engineering and health, and they are often connected to local and global clients. Students in the nutrition major connect research to work with local community partners, including designing interventions and writing grant proposals. Applied health science majors design and complete small research projects in their first- and second-year introductory research courses, often acting as springboards for larger related projects in the junior and senior years. In the natural sciences, strong students are invited as early as the first year to work alongside faculty mentors on research. All students have the opportunity to learn how to design a research plan in a research methods course and complete a research project in a subsequent semester.

The engineering curriculum at Messiah is crafted around an innovative ‘integrated projects curriculum’ in which all students, starting in the first year, work with faculty and students on projects that meet the needs of real-world nonprofit clients. Engineering project teams make long-term commitments to clients. Often, a project will last much longer than a student’s time enrolled at Messiah, enabling engineering students to be part of something much bigger than a classroom exercise. Messiah College takes seriously its role of developing confident and competent professionals. Every spring, seniors in each of the health and science fields present their research results at a spring Symposium.

Each summer, 8-12 Messiah College students earn competitive internal Steinbrecher research fellowships, living on campus and working one on one with faculty for 4-10 weeks in laboratory research. A significant number of Steinbrecher students are rising sophomores and juniors. On the national stage, Messiah students are selected each year in multiple disciplines for competitive research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) in universities across the country, and in some cases, internationally.

Study Abroad

Messiah College’s off-campus programs provide students with transformative, safe, and quality semester-long and short-term cultural learning experiences that assist them in navigating the complexities of becoming global citizens and encourage them to deepen their understanding of and appreciation for the world and their place in it. Students may choose from more than 30 semester-long off-campus programs in more than 40 countries. Students may also study abroad short-term during J-Term or May-Term.

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 X
Pep band X
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society X
Symphony orchestra X
Television station  
Yearbook X

Education for an Evolving World

Messiah brings together two powerful educational streams: a rich liberal arts experience (rooted in disciplines such as history, English, language, music, and theology, to name a few) and applied professional programs (disciplines such as business, education, engineering, and nursing). Messiah equips students to gain skillful expertise in their majors’ areas of study while developing their abilities to think critically, communicate effectively, and sharpen their insights across multiple cultures and contexts.


When students arrive on Messiah’s campus, they’ll find themselves among a lot of new people from a variety of different schools, cultures, and backgrounds. To help ease the transition to college life, Messiah has created a “First-Year Experience” where students begin to build community right away with students who are going through the exact same transitions. Living in the same residence halls, sharing similar classroom experiences and attending special chapels and social events together helps them get to know people quickly and naturally.

Special first-year courses foster the ability to think, read, write, and speak effectively. Students who develop these abilities are more flexible and adaptable to the changes of the world across the spectrum of different fields and life experiences. These courses provide students with the basis upon which to enhance their skills in thinking, reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The first-year seminar and small class context provides an effective way to introduce first year students to the intellectual life of college.

Faculty from a diverse array of disciplines engage students in conversations that focus on issues central to the College’s educational mission: faith, identity, vocation, character, and responsible action. Courses include opportunities to develop effective writing, close reading, critical thinking, as well as the identification and appropriate use of sources for research. All these skills foster a discerning mind and the effective communication of ideas, which provide an essential foundation upon which one’s learning and intellect develop over their college career.


While writing instruction may have its home in Messiah’s General Education curriculum, it is best achieved on an “across-the-curriculum” basis. That is, early instruction is provided in the core curriculum, but it is also required, under specific guidelines, in each major program as well.

The writing program at Messiah includes four components: a College Writing Workshop; a First-Year Seminar; Created and Called for Community; and a writing-enriched course developed for the major. Messiah’s writing courses build on the intellectual and writing skills developed during First-Year Seminar in a common learning context. The major specific writing-intensive course is taken within the students’ chosen disciplines. There is considerable variation in the kinds of courses into which various majors incorporate the writing emphases; each department is responsible for addressing this requirement as part of the academic major.

Common Core

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

Class size breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 71 208 217 94 12 7 1 610

Cultural Events for Everyone

Messiah College hosts a variety of lectures, symposiums, conferences, concerts, film series, and musical and theatre performances that are open to the public. In 2013, Messiah College opened the Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts. This venue is used to host prominent national speakers and recording artists for the public; host educational workshops and competition for regional students; provide continuing education opportunities for local educators and other professionals; and regularly contribute to the local arts community, including affiliations with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra and the State Street Academy of Music.  

Campus Diversity

Messiah College’s commitment to diversity seeks to build upon the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ signature concept of “inclusive excellence.” This calls for the development of institution-wide policies that promote educational excellence through the pursuit of diversity in the learning environment, curriculum, and teaching. Today, one of the goals of both the College’s Strategic Plan and the Diversity Strategic Plan is to integrate inclusive excellence in all areas of life at Messiah College. The ultimate goal is to promote cross cultural understanding, global learning, civic responsibility, social justice, peace, and reconciliation, along with sustainable spiritual and environmental practices. Implementing “inclusive excellence” aids in preparing students to become agents well equipped to adapt, engage, work, learn, and heal within diverse worlds, both at home and abroad. The responsibility for pursuing inclusive excellence is a collective one that falls on the shoulders of every individual and office on campus.

Learning Communities

In “Created and Called for Community,” one of the four components of Messiah’s writing program, students consider a central question: “What is my vocation as a faithful steward of God’s creation?” They seek answers by engaging biblical themes of creation, forgiveness, compassion, peacemaking, and reconciliation through an examination of literary, historical, artistic, philosophical, and theological works.They use the lens of Messiah College’s distinctive foundational values, focusing on the importance of community and hospitality, as all peoples are made in the image of God. Students develop the ability to be theologically reflective; to develop an appreciation for their own identity and Christian vocation; and to cultivate their intellect and character in preparation for lives of leadership through service in the world. Thus, in addition to developing intellectual skills of the liberal arts, “Created and Called for Community” also lays a foundation in the outcome of Social Responsibility.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms x
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 x
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing x
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  

Community of Educators

Messiah’s Community of Educators model fosters complementary partnerships between curricular and cocurricular educators. This both challenges and supports students to develop meaningful goals for in- and out-of-class educational experiences. In addition, Messiah’s blend of the liberal and applied arts and sciences allows students to develop the transferable skills and competencies that employers seek in today’s graduates. Messiah’s vibrant community, which extends well beyond the bounds of campus, allows students to connect with alumni, parents, and friends of the college to develop meaningful networks for post-graduate success. Because of these features, 97 percent of 2015 graduates responding to the College’s annual post-graduate survey report that they are either employed or in graduate programs 6-9 months after graduation.

Service Learning, Community-Based Learning

Service learning is an element of Messiah’s curriculum—and has been since 1989. Messiah is committed to providing experiential opportunities for students to learn through service. Courses across the curriculum require educational and community objectives to be met experientially in service.

Messiah intentionally integrates community service into the classroom, offering many opportunities for students not only to receive academic credit for service, but also to apply their education with local and global communities. There are countless other service opportunities outside of the classroom, too. More than 98 percent of the Class of 2015 participated in some form of community service during their time at Messiah.

Community service is institutionalized in the College’s Agape Center for Service and Learning, which administers and coordinates programs of service learning, community service, and mission. Students, faculty, and staff work with community-based partners in local, national, and international settings to empower communities and encourage students toward an ethic of civic engagement.

Experiential Learning Initiative

Messiah College’s nationally recognized Career and Professional Development Center recently led the way in implementing a new college-wide Experiential Learning Initiative. Through the program, Messiah requires all students to complete at least one experiential “hands-on” learning experience such as internships/practica, service learning, leadership roles, or off-campus study or research. In these experiences, students are challenged to consider the impact of their involvement on their broader community. Educators guide students and help them develop a practical expression of what they’ve learned—such as a resume, e-portfolio, website, LinkedIn profile, etc.

Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience

Every major at Messiah College is required to have a senior capstone. This ensures that students apply the tools of their major to a number of areas important to the liberally educated person. In this culminating experience, students are expected to act and reflect at a level that indicates proficiency with the content and skills of the discipline. In addition, the senior capstone enables students to enhance their understanding of Christian vocation by understanding philosophical assumptions and ethical issues of their major; articulating how faith connects to their specialized area of study and to potential career options; and reflecting on their studies to assess and cultivate the skills and knowledge relevant for transitioning to employment, voluntary service, apprenticing, and/or graduate study.


Admissions Fall 2015

2,469 Total Applicants
1,950 Total Admissions
691 Total Freshmen Enrollment

78.98% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling Admission? Yes

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities
Religious affiliation/commitment

Application Essay
Volunteer work

Alumni/ae relation
Racial/ethnic status
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 500 620
SAT Math 510 630
SAT Writing 490 600
SAT Essay 7 8
ACT Composite 21 28
ACT Math 21 28
ACT English 21 29
ACT Writing 21 30

Admission Information

Messiah College currently has 3,305 undergraduate and graduate students. Each year, close to 700 students choose Messiah for their undergraduate studies. Many students apply to Messiah College just before starting their senior year of high school. Messiah begins releasing decisions on August 15. If applying after August 15, one could expect a decision in approximately three to four weeks after all materials have been received. The application includes standard questions along with a two-part question requiring a short essay response. To learn more about Messiah’s admissions process feel free to click on the link provided here.


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $32,350
Fees $830
Total $33,180
Room and Board (on campus) $9,920
Room Only $5,250
Board Only $4,670
Estimated Total On Campus $43,930


For a complete listing of costs and fees see


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 estimated

$23,989 First year students
$23,080 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 estimated

71.1% on average, the percentage of need that was met
18% of financial need students that had need fully met

$17,299 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,867 Average need-based loan

Financial Aid Information

Messiah College’s average aid package for first-year students is $24,546. This amount does not include federal PLUS loans or private/alternative loans and is based on 2016-2017 academic year. Upon acceptance, students are automatically reviewed for a scholarship which they will be made aware of in their acceptance packet. If students meet the criteria, they will also be invited to interview for our Honors Program and scholarships, as well as our Martin’s Multicultural programs and scholarships. To further understand the criteria and programs, click here. Messiah College also offers scholarships in the arts and humanities.

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