Principia College

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Degrees Offered at Principia College

Principia College appears in our ranking of Best Tiny Colleges.

Principia College is a small liberal arts college in the village of Elsah, Illinois. The school offers 25 majors and eight minors. Students graduate with either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. At this time, there is no graduate program at Principia College.

Popular courses of study include media and communication studies, business administration and information science. It’s also possible to study subjects like international relations and to support that study with a language component.  The school has French and Spanish majors.

The arts have strong support on campus as well. Students can major in studio art, music, music technology, and theatre. They also have an option to minor in dance. Principia students can also delve more deeply into what it means to be human by studying subjects like history, philosophy, religious studies, women’s and gender studies or anthropology.

Although the school doesn’t offer fully online degrees, it is possible to take online classes. The school provides a list of each of these classes on its website.

About Principia College

Although Principia College is not affiliated with the Church of Christ, Scientist, its guiding academic principles and campus life are founded on the principles of Christian Science. According to the school’s website, one-hundred percent of students and faculty practice the Christian Science religion.

The US News and World Report gives good marks to this private college in Elsah, Illinois. The school ranked sixth on the news site’s Best Value School category and 100th on the site’s National Liberal Arts Colleges category. The class sizes are small. Only about 11 students are in each class. Students come from 27 countries around the world. Fewer than 500 students study at Principia College each year.

Although the school is sequestered on 2,600 acres in Elsah, which is itself small and rural, campus life is meant to be engaging and interesting. The school hosts about 72 campus-wide activities during the year, including theatrical, music and dance performances. Sixteen Annenberg Visiting Scholars have come to the school since the mid-2000s, as have three US presidents.

The school has close access to Peer Marquette State Park, where students and faculty can go hiking. And it’s also a 45-minute drive to St. Louis.

Additionally, Principia students are also an adventurous bunch. Almost 60% of the class of 2019 went on a field program or trip abroad. Principia faculty designs and leads these programs, which are intended to encourage global service and citizenship, as well as personal and spiritual growth. Past study abroad trips have taken students to Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, New Zealand, France, Malta and Japan to name but a few. Future study abroad trips include destinations, like Berlin, Germany, Scotland and England, and Tanzania.

Former students, parents, and friends are encouraged to come and visit: the school has a guest house on campus that visitors can reserve. These guests are welcome to use the free WiFi in the house and can take their meals at the Howard Center Dining Room and Piasa Pub.

Principia College Accreditation

The Higher Learning Commission, which provides accreditation for a 19-state region in the US, is the body that provides accreditation for Principia College.

Principia College Application Requirements

Principia College’s application for incoming freshmen asks for most of the materials that other colleges do. However, there is one specific request that’s worth noting so that students don’t leave this out. The school asks students to submit two references from someone they know who is involved in Christian Science. This request speaks to the school’s overall mission of providing a place for Christian Scientists to get their educations in a setting that values their spiritual leanings.

The first reference must come from the student’s Sunday School teacher. The second one can come from another church member, a practitioner of Christian Science or a teacher. The school makes securing this reference easy: the school provides an online form that the student can send to their two references. Their reference fills out the form and submits it directly to the school.

Here’s what the college asks for from incoming freshmen:

  • Principia College’s Common Application form
  • Student test scores: SAT
  • High school transcripts
  • Two Christian Science references
  • One academic reference
  • One school guidance counselor reference

The requirements for transfer students are similar, though there are some differences due to the student’s prior experiences at another college. Principia College asks transfer students to submit all of the material above. However, instead of submitting a reference from their high school guidance counselor, the school asks that these students submit a work reference instead. The school will waive this request if the student spent the previous semester in college.

The school encourages international students to apply. They must also submit all of the documents in the Freshman list. The school additionally asks for them to submit their TOEFL score, which must be 80 or higher.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition plus room and board at Principia College cost $41,450 (as of this writing). Here’s how the expenses break down.

  • Tuition: $29,490 per year
  • Room: $5,570
  • Board: $6,290

However, as the school points out, the sticker price of Principia College usually isn’t what students actually pay. About 75% of the school’s students receive financial aid. Tuition plus room typically gets reduced down to nothing with the help of scholarships. That knocks over $35,000 off the price. (Note: This is need-based. It may vary somewhat depending on the student’s financial situation.) The school will then apply grants and loans based on the student’s need to cover the rest.

The school’s formula appears to work. Around 42% of its students will graduate with no debt. Those that do have to take out loans usually borrowing around $21,000, which is less than the national average of nearly $30,000.

In terms of scholarships, the school has a number of them that it offers to its students. Even transfer students are eligible to receive scholarships, like the Dean’s Academic Scholarship, the Veteran’s Scholarship, and the DiscoveryBound Scholarship to name a few. Academic merit scholarships are generous, with the highest of them paying out $25,000 and the lowest paying out $4,500. The Veteran’s Scholarship pays out $25,000.

In order to qualify for financial aid, Principia College asks students to fill out their College Scholarship Service (CSS) profile. The form is online.

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