The Benefits of Faith Integration in College

by Tobin Perry

As you decide which colleges to apply to, it’s natural to focus on the ways each school will help you grow academically and socially. You want to know whether you can get a job when you complete your studies and whether you’ll fit into the campus culture. But it’s also important to consider how a university approaches faith integration.

Your years as a college student are some of the most decisive times you’ll ever experience in your spiritual development. For many people, the most influential factor is how they make sense of their faith during college.

Why Faith Integration Matters

When weighing your college options, it’s critical that you look carefully at how a university incorporates faith, not just in chapels and discipleship groups, but in the classroom where academic learning takes place. Here are four reasons why this is so important to your personal, academic, and spiritual development.

  1. Integrating Christian commitments with what you are learning will bolster your faith. “The robust learning that happens in the college classroom will bolster your faith in God,” said Paul Kaak, Ph.D., the executive director of the Office of Faith Integration at Azusa Pacific University. In your academic studies, you’ll have the opportunity to explore how God’s truths play out in your field of interest, whether that is communication, the arts, or the physical sciences.
  2. Your convictions are solidified during your college years. One of the most significant parts of the college experience is that you are very likely to form lifelong convictions on a number of issues. In a school where faith is integrated into your education, your biblical and theological commitments help shape this process.
  3. Christian virtues are in demand in the workplace. Employers are looking for workers who consistently demonstrate virtues like honesty and diligence. Choosing a Christian university that’s serious about faith integration—such as APU—can help you develop these attributes by explicitly connecting professional expectations with Christian character.
  4. You’ll be prepared not just for a career, but for a calling. The term “vocation” comes from the Latin word meaning “to call.” Effective faith integration links work to calling. Graduates focused on calling are rooted in God’s greater plan, rather than how much money you make or how much fame you garner.

What Faith Integration Looks Like in Universities

Misconceptions abound about what effective faith integration looks like. It’s not primarily about whether a school requires chapel sessions, even though that is important too. And it doesn’t mean professors replace the content of their course with Bible verses or devotional readings.

Instead, it’s primarily about what happens in the classroom as faculty share insights into each subject that tie into the Christian faith.

This will look different within each discipline. In an article about academic faith integration at APU, Kaak wrote that the school’s nursing and sociology programs provide a good example to learn from. While all such students will come to better understand suffering in their studies, an institution committed to integrating faith will help them discover “a kind of compassion that goes deeper than pity,” he asserted.

How APU Integrates Faith

Faith integration is a key distinctive of Azusa Pacific University. The school has always been transparent about its God First approach to higher education. It impacts everything from the school’s commitment to diversity to how professors integrate faith with the curriculum.

“The intention is that each student, upon graduation, will have credible and useful faith-informed resources for life, work, and future study,” Kaak said. “During the college years, and beyond, APU students should develop greater confidence in God, his truth, and in his intentions for people and communities in the world he has entrusted to our care.”

Want to learn more about how APU integrates faith in the educational process? Explore the Office of Faith Integration.