Bible Colleges were first established in the late1880’s to prepare lay and semiprofessional workers for the church. A. B. Simpson, founder of Nyack Missionary Training Institute (1881), was concerned primarily for the unenlightened peoples of the world and the preparation of missionaries to help meet their needs. Dwight L. Moody, founder of Moody Bible Institute (1886), directed his attention to the urban centers of America as well as to foreign lands. The colleges they founded became the pattern for a new expression in higher education.
Although it is impossible to obtain an accurate count of the Bible colleges in North America today, an estimate of 600 is probably conservative. Many missionaries, pastors, evangelists, Christian education directors, church musicians, and others have been educated in a Bible college.
From the beginning, the Bible college movement has been dynamic — not only in the rapid multiplication of its colleges, but in the expansion of its programs. This dynamism is apparent in the effort to improve the quality of education by extending two-year courses to three, four, and five years, making admissions requirements more stringent, increasing the general studies component and implementing other changes.
Caribbean Bible Colleges
The Bible college movement in the Caribbean appears to have emerged from the need for training for ministry in the region. While the extent of the evangelical Bible college movement in the Caribbean is unclear, colleges exist in the four major language groups—English, Spanish, French and Dutch. Different lists have identified as many as 89 such schools. Many of these schools were established by denominational bodies and in collaboration with missionaries and have training for ministry as their primary objective. The curricula of these schools follow the pattern of the traditional bible college including biblical, theological, general and professional studies and emphasize spiritual formation and practical ministry. The schools offer programmes lasting between one and four years leading to a certificate, diploma, baccalaureate or masters degree through traditional and non-traditional delivery systems.