What was to one day become Oakwood University began on 380 acres of land (purchased for the bargain price of $6,700) that had once been a plantation before it became a school in 1896. An industrial school at its inception, it opened its doors in Huntsville, AL to a growing community of freed African Americans looking for training in a useful trade, though it only started with 16 students.
Still affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church that helped open the school’s doors over a century ago, it is an historically African American school, but today attracts a very diverse student body of Associate, Bachelor, and even recently began offering a Master’s degree program. With about 1900 or so degree seekers presently, Oakwood utilizes its long history and Christian affiliation to pursue a mission of offering a Christ-centered education mixed with a long history of recognized academic excellence (US News & World Report regularly ranks it in the tops in Southern Baccalaureate schools and colleges that send African Americans to med school).
Currently offering over 47 different undergraduate programs, Oakwood students come from all over the country and the world enjoy the now 1,185 acre campus (a Huntsville historical landmark). Popular majors span from Education to Nursing, with Chemistry and Biology majors often going on to graduate schooling in various medical fields. There is also one Master’s degree offered through the Department of Religion and Theology, a Pastoral Studies Master of Arts, standing as another sign of the infusion of religion that still permeates the school to this day. There is a Christian radio station operated on campus, an Office of Spiritual Life that offers service jobs for help with tuition, and numerous church services throughout the week at the on campus Oakwood University Church, all of which helps prepare students to just academically, but nurturing their spiritual side as well to help in “developing servant leaders”.
Though there are no online degrees offered entirely without taking a good majority of classes traditionally on campus, Oakwood’s LEAP program is for adults looking to get a degree or finish achieving their diploma using nights or weekends and does offer a selection of online choices to help with this. Though there aren’t a large number of classes offered currently, distance learning at Oakwood is growing with their attendance, especially at a college that values education for as mass a student body as possible. Online library services and numerous online student aids are offered, though.
For those looking to study at a distance from the USA, there is an Adventist’s College study abroad program that takes students outside the country to Adventist schools from Spain to Greece, allowing creditable study in foreign countries. The location in Huntsville also lends itself to interning opportunities in a major city and their summer semesters offer accelerated courses and teacher certifications on a schedule working adults can keep with.
Though historically an African American university, their commitment to education is color blind and their dedication to creating students who serve the world for Christ has brought forth decades of graduates looking to make the world a better place.