Bethel College was established in the flourishing frontier town of McLemoresville in 1842, and was quickly granted a charter by the State of Tennessee in 1847. In those days, Bethel was primarily devoted to the training of young men for the ministry but was open to other young men who were interested in higher learning.
In the 1920s, a few years after Bethel had become a Presbyterian college, the City of McKenzie donated land and constructed a new building for the school. Bethel College was able to survive the depression of the ’30s and World War II. From a mid-war low of 75 students, Bethel’s enrollment climbed steadily throughout the decades, topping 1,000 for the first time in 2001 and hitting 2,408 in 2008—an all-time record.
Several recent innovations at Bethel have spurred this new growth. The Success Program, a concentrated curriculum designed for adult learners, has added hundreds of new students and new satellite campuses to the college. Bethel’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is the second largest in Tennessee. Bethel’s Physician Assistant Studies master’s degree program is one of only three in Tennessee. The first graduates from this two-year program graduated in 2003. Also, The Laptop Initiative, which provides a notebook computer for every full-time student, was the first of its kind in Tennessee.
In March 2009, the board of trustees voted to change the name of the college to Bethel University to reflect the tremendous growth of the school.To visit our main campus website, please visit http://bethelu.edu