Liberty University is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. The private, non-profit university was founded by evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College. The school gained university status and the name Liberty University in 1984. In 1985, they began offering distance learning classes. Liberty University offers students 147 undergraduate, 87 graduate and 11 doctoral degree programs, with over 200 available as online programs. The school, which recently boasted $1 billion worth of assets, is one of the largest private schools in the nation. Liberty University features a theological seminary as well as schools of medicine, law, music and cinematic arts. The university is consistently ranked as a top school by education publications like U.S. News and World Reports, Barron’s Educational Series and Forbes.
Liberty University Accreditation Details
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which is one of six of its kind in the nation endorsed by the U.S Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The school has maintained its SACS accreditation since 1980. The SACS accreditation organization has six levels of categories based on the type and number of degree programs offered by a school. Liberty University is classified at the highest level because it meets the SACS level six requirement for four or more doctoral programs. The university also has specialization-specific accreditation status for 60 of its degree programs. For instance, many of Liberty University’s music, nursing and engineering degree programs are likely accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology respectively.
Liberty University Application Requirements
As Liberty University grows in prominence, prospective students find that the school’s admissions standards have become increasingly competitive. One of the first steps in the admissions process is the completion of an application which is different for undergraduate, graduate, online, law and medical degree programs; international students must also complete a separate admissions application. Liberty University encourages its prospective new, transfer, graduate and professional degree students to speak with an admissions counselor before beginning the application process, but students may apply online via the school’s website.
The application requires students to provide their chosen level and type of degree for enrollment as well as the projected starting term. Application information that is common to all degree types include personal contact information such as full name, phone number, mailing address, email address, native language, social security number and marital status. Uniquely, a prospective Liberty University student can expect to provide background information that includes the name, address and pastor of their home church. The application also requests that students disclose whether they have ever been dismissed from a school for academic or behavioral misconduct, their criminal background and any previous drug or alcohol usage. Students also have the opportunity to list their high school extracurricular activities such as debate team member, band member, chorus, sports or student government. A student’s academic history is a part of the information requested, and students must submit the name of their high school or equivalent, the date of their diploma and their grade point average. Students who know their standardized test scores are also requested to provide that information.
An application requirement that is distinctive of Liberty University is the signed agreement statement. Students and their parents must sign that they acknowledge and agree with the university’s stance against alcohol, tobacco, drug use, sexual immorality, co-educational residence living and immodest dress. The application must be accompanied by a $40 application fee. In addition to the main application, students must complete a 400 word essay and submit transcripts. Applications submitted online enter the Liberty University admission system within 24 hours, and the entire admissions process takes approximately five weeks.
Tuition and Financial Aid
The estimated fee for tuition, room and board for the 2014 school year was $29,200. Students have opportunities to fund their education through a variety of ways that include the traditional federal financial aid loans, grants and scholarships. Additionally, Liberty University offers numerous scholarships to assist students who qualify. A $250 confirmation deposit submitted by the student qualifies them for access to the school’s private scholarship program. For example, participating students can earn up $8,500 over four years just by submitting their admission documentation on time; those who submit their packages early gain greater incentives. The school also has a priority program for admissions, and students who meet the program’s early deadlines are admitted into a scholarship drawing that pays between $5,000 and full tuition for the year. Pastors and alumni earn $500 a year in awards, and those who excelled academically in high school are awarded amounts between $1500 and the full price of tuition per year for up to four years. Students who attended certain private schools that are affiliated with Liberty University qualify for scholarships. Students can also earn scholarship awards up to $600 for books for their first semester of attendance.
Online Undergraduate Degree Programs
Liberty University’s founder attributed the non-profit university’s rapid growth and unusually large amount of assets to investments in its physical infrastructure as well as its online degree offerings. The school offers students over 250 online degree and certificate programs from which to choose. Some of the undergraduate online majors include aeronautics, business, communications, information systems, education and nursing. Education degree majors can choose among 120 credit hour specialties like early childhood education, special education and elementary school education. A 90 hour supervised practicum is required for the online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, but the other degree programs can be completed 100 percent online. Registered nurses who want to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can consider Liberty’s online option which allows them to complete their degree online and gives them the opportunity to network at the Lynchburg campus with faculty and peers during week long intensive classes for course topics like Health Assessment and Nursing Concepts. The BSN is usually completed within two years. However, the actual time that it takes for Liberty University students to earn their online undergraduate degrees varies because the university accepts up to a certain number of qualified transfer credits. Additionally, Liberty University students receive credit for prior work experience and earned credentials from nationally recognized professional organizations.