The oldest Mennonite college in the US, Bethel College was founded in 1887 by Russian Mennonite immigrants to provide teacher education for the growing immigrant population. Demand for higher education in Kansas grew throughout the late 19th century, and Bethel quickly began adding further programs and building their teacher’s school into a full liberal arts college. Today Bethel is one of the most respected and highest-ranked colleges in Kansas.
Academic ProgramsBethel College operates on a traditional liberal arts college framework, with all students working through the Common Ground curriculum, establishing the foundations of learning in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. As a reflection of its Mennonite heritage, Bethel’s curriculum is guided by basic Anabaptist values like social justice, service, peace, and personal integrity, as well as the liberal arts principles of critical thinking and lifelong learning. Bethel puts strong emphasis on experiential learning and study abroad in the interest of producing well-rounded, global citizens. A 9:1 student:faculty ratio gives students strong mentorship opportunities, while small classes build cooperation and community.
More than 30 majors, as well as 10 specialized teaching certifications, give Bethel students many options, including uniquely Mennonite areas like Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. Bethel has become well known for their pre-professional programs; in teaching, of course, Bethel is one of the best in Kansas, with a 100% certification exam passing rate for graduates, but Bethel also has highly performing nursing students and the highest rate in Kansas of graduates who go on to earn doctorate degrees (1 in 17).
Student LifeAs a Mennonite institution, faith and religion are important factors in student life at Bethel College. Students need not be Mennonite to attend; in fact, welcoming a variety of religious expressions (or none) is a deeply-held part of Mennonite identity. Students are encouraged to live lives of faith and intellectual inquiry, but more importantly, to engage with the communities around them, on campus and beyond. Bethel has a high rate of community action, and has been rewarded with recognition from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
There are many opportunities for involvement besides community service. The Threshers (named for the machine that the early Mennonite settlers used to separate wheat from straw) compete in 15 varsity sports as part of the NAIA, including basketball, soccer, and tennis. A highly diverse student body provides for cultural exchange, a multitude of groups and clubs, and special campus-wide events. Music is also an important part of life at Bethel, with students taking part in chorus, jazz, orchestra, and many other musical outlets.