The mission of College of the Ozarks - providing an intentionally Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means - has never changed. The College was founded with Jesus Christ and his kingdom at its center, and continues to this day to help students grow up fully into the Christian faith, not only in their intellectual life, but as whole persons (Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:1-2). Through a five-fold mission emphasizing academic, Christian, vocational, cultural, and patriotic growth, the College aims to “develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.” Student debt is openly discouraged, and all full-time students learn the discipline of hard work in the Work Education Program, as an integral part of their overall education experience. The core liberal arts education, fundamental to all degrees provided by the College’s dedicated and Christ-following faculty, is designed to broaden and strengthen each student’s heart, soul, and mind so they can love God and neighbor, and to help them develop an informed and biblically faithful understanding of the world (Matthew 22:36-40; Colossians 2:6-8). The major programs provide focused learning in specific areas to prepare students to serve Christ effectively and uphold the values of Christ’s kingdom in a wide variety of professions.
The faculty, administration, and staff of College of the Ozarks welcome young men and women who desire to grow up fully in Christ and provide leadership in our country and throughout the world into the 21st century.
The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.
Vision and Goals
The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.
To achieve this vision, the College has Academic, Vocational, Christian, Patriotic and Cultural goals. Even as College of the Ozarks has evolved through secondary and junior college stages to the present four-year liberal arts institution, the fundamental goals have remained the same.
To provide a sound education, based in the liberal arts.
To promote a strong work ethic, encouraging the development of good character and values.
To foster the Christian faith through the integration of faith with learning, living, and service.
To encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and willingness to defend it.
To cultivate an appreciation of the fine arts, an understanding of the world, and adherence to high personal standards.
Revised and approved by the Board of Trustees
October 28, 2008
Overview of College of the Ozarks
Type: Four-year private, liberal arts college
Size and Location: 1000-acre campus at Point Lookout, MO, 40 miles south of Springfield, near Branson and Hollister, MO
Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Missouri State Board of Nursing, American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission, Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
Student Body: Approximately 1,500 undergraduate students
Faculty: 98 full-time, 44 adjuncts, 60 percent hold a doctoral/terminal degree
Student-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Library: Over 100,000 volumes and 100 print periodicals. Electronic resources include periodical databases, e-books, and interlibrary loans. AV equipment, photocopiers, scanners, printers, and computers are available for student use.
Fields of Study: Accounting, Agriculture, Allied Health Science, Art, Biblical and Theological Studies, Biology, Biochemistry, Business Administration, Chemistry, Child Studies, Computer Sciences, Communication Arts, Conservation and Wildlife Management, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Education, Engineering, English, Exercise Science, Family Studies and Social Services, History, Hospitality Management, Mathematics and Physics, Military Science, Music, Nursing, Physical Education, Psychology, Recreation and Sports Management, Spanish, and Theatre. Preprofessional preparation in Law, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Physician’s Assistant.
Admissions: Upon receipt of the application for admission, the Office of Admissions will email instructions. Items required for the application process include ACT, high school transcript, reference forms, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and a personal interview. Transfer students must also submit college transcripts, and a transfer student form.
Costs and Financial Aid: Room and board (presently $3,950 per semester/$7,900 fall + spring) is paid by the student/family and/or campus summer Work Education Program scholarships, or other scholarships. Books, supplies and fees amount to approximately $1,560 per year and are paid by the student/family or eligible financial aid. The tuition of $19,500 for full-time students is covered by participation in the Work Education Program and other forms of financial aid.
Degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Calendar: The academic year is divided into fall, spring, and summer semesters.
Work Education Program: This feature of the College makes it unique. All full-time students work 15 hours per week and two 40-hour work weeks per year at assigned campus jobs as part of their education.
Campus Housing: Approximately 95 percent of the student body lives on campus in four men’s residence halls and five women’s residence halls.
Student Services: Financial aid, academic counseling, career counseling, placement, men’s and women’s varsity athletics, intramural activities, housing, food service, health service, social activities, campus publications, and other extra-curricular activities.
Campus Office Hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Summer hours (mid-May through mid-August): 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
College of the Ozarks began as a dream. In 1905, James Forsythe, a Presbyterian missionary, expressed this dream to the Missouri Synod of the Presbyterian Church when he wrote:
Once again I am petitioning the Synod for help to found a school here in the Ozarks. As I have pointed out previously, the need is present and it should be the mission of the church to undertake the task of providing the boys and girls of the Ozarks with an education. The primary object of such a school should be to offer the best intellectual training under the best possible moral and Christian auspices. It should be our hope to build a great school not only through the advantages gained by the location of the school in such a healthful climate, in the midst of such inspiring scenery and with such opportunities as are present here for outdoor-recreation, but most of all through advantages which could be offered to those of both sexes who are deserving, but yet financially unable to secure an education above the free school. The purpose should be to make the school a self-sustaining “family” by requiring all students to spend a portion of their time in the various duties assigned to them in the classroom building or on the campus and farm, such as kitchen, dining room and laundry work, or in securing fuel and provisions, improving property, etc.
Forsythe’s dream came true in 1906 when the Synod established The School of the Ozarks® and was granted a charter by the State of Missouri for the purpose of “providing Christian education for youth of both sexes especially those found worthy but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.” By the end of the first term, the enrollment at The School was 180, with 36 boarders.
Originally, the purpose of The School was to provide an opportunity for a pre-collegiate Christ-centered education for young people of the Ozarks plateau. This mission was pursued without significant change until 1956. By this time, improved transportation, better communications, and the increasing number of consolidated school districts had made a high school education readily accessible to most young people in the Ozarks area. Consequently, in 1956, The School of the Ozarks® added two years of junior college to the four-year high school program. The two-year program was initially accredited by the University of Missouri and in 1961 was accredited by the North Central Association. This format continued until 1964, when the Board of Trustees and the faculty voted to expand the two-year program into a four-year liberal arts program.
The four-year college program of The School of the Ozarks®, which began classes for juniors in September 1965, was given preliminary accreditation by the North Central Association that same year. Preliminary accreditation was continued in 1969. In August 1971, the North Central Association notified the College’s president, Dr. M. Graham Clark, that:
It is a pleasure to inform you officially that the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, at its meeting on July 30, 1971,voted to grant full accreditation to The School of the Ozarks® as a bachelor’s degree-granting institution. The action of the Association was based on the visiting team’s report and on subsequent discussions held by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
College of the Ozarks has continued its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and maintained its reputation for excellence. In 1994, the Missouri Department of Education awarded C of O a “#1” ranking-the only such ranking ever given by the Department-in recognition of the College’s commitment to Mission.
The transition from high school, to junior college, to four-year liberal arts college has brought about many changes. The years after 1967, when the last secondary school class and the first college class graduated, were a time of great expansion. Approximately ten new areas of study (majors) were developed, the faculty doubled, and the geographical range of the students broadened. Now that the College has passed its 100th anniversary, the goal is to build even greater quality into existing programs in order to fulfill James Forsythe’s dream of offering “the best intellectual training under the best possible moral and Christian auspices.”
In 1990, the Board of Trustees approved changing the operating name of The School of the Ozarks® to College of the Ozarks. The College earns numerous accolades yearly, including recent awards as the No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck by Washington Monthly and the Forbes Magazine 2019 Least Student Debt for America’s Best Value Colleges. In addition, U.S. News & World Report has ranked C of O a Top College in the Midwest since 1989, and in 2020, ranked the College No. 1 Most Innovative School in the Midwest. C of O has been listed among The Best 385 Colleges in the Nation by The Princeton Review, and has been recognized by numerous other national publications.
In 2012, the College reopened School of the Ozarks, a laboratory high school grades 9-12. Subsequently, the College opened grades K-6 in August 2014 and added grades 7-8 in August of 2015, completing the K-college model.
In October 2016, the College’s Board of Trustees affirmed its historic Christian faith commitment by entering into a covenant relationship with the Presbytery of Mid-America, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, so that they together can bring glory to God by carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
As a distinctively Christian institution, College of the Ozarks affirms the creation of man and woman in the image of the triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one being (unity) in three persons (difference), eternally submitting to one another in loving relationship. The creation of humans as male and female reflects this divine community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - men and women together are to embody and reflect God’s nature of unity in difference.
This understanding of God and humankind has implications for the way the College understands its mission. First, because each human being bears the image of God, we seek to treat all as equally valuable, without respect to age, ethnicity, race, and sex. Second, we grieve humankind’s fall into sin, which led to mistrust and enmity among people. Rather than delight in godly unity, humans now compete for recognition and divide themselves based on many factors, including age, ethnicity, race, and sex. The fall resulted in a fracturing of human relationships so that they no longer embody the divine community, but rather emphasize division. Third, we celebrate the reality that in Jesus Christ God has not only redeemed humankind but also broken down the barriers of division. God calls his redeemed people to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). For “[Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). In light of this redemption, the College pursues the vision of the new creation, characterized by a unity among people and with the created order, as envisioned by John the Apostle: “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
Contemporary American culture is fragmented by divisions. For this reason, College of the Ozarks chooses to focus on a unity that reflects God’s nature and intentions for humanity. This unity will include men and women, young and old, and people of different races and ethnicities. The College will continue to seek students from its primary recruiting area, which is the Ozarks plateau region. Within this region the College will recruit all kinds of students who qualify academically and financially and seek an education compatible with the College’s mission, vision, and goals. The College will continue to advertise faculty positions nationally and hire faculty members from a variety of regions around the country, without respect to age, ethnicity, race, and sex. As with students, the College will hire faculty and staff who seek a work environment compatible with its mission, vision, and goals. With Jesus Christ at the center, the College will seek within its community a unity of different people that reflects the divine community.
Founded in 1997, The Keeter Center for Character Education at College of the Ozarks was created to provide programs and activities to enhance the development of character and good citizenship. In so doing, the Center reflects the principle upon which the College was established: that character in young people is best developed from an education of the head, the heart, and the hands.
The Center serves as the programmatic arm of The Keeter Center facility on campus. Both students and community members benefit from the wide variety of programs. The Gittinger Community Convocation Series has brought noted speakers to campus including Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Franklin Graham, Benjamin Netanyahu, Sarah Palin, Laura Bush, Dave Ramsey, Ben Carson, Charles Krauthammer, Tim Tebow, and Amy Grant.
The Center hosts a forum each year with a theme that rotates among the topics of character, citizenship, and the work ethic. In addition to a group of the College’s students and those of visiting colleges and universities, cadets and staff from each of the U.S. Military Academies benefit from small group discussions and a question and answer session with each distinguished speaker. Forum speakers have included Tommy Franks, Bob Dole, J. C. Watts, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, Louis Zamperini, Harris Faulkner, and Steve Forbes.
The S. Truett Cathy Poverty Summit provides an opportunity for the College and the greater community to learn about the issue of poverty and gain valuable tools for helping people in poverty learn how to transition effectively into the middle class.
The Center also oversees the THRIVE initiative, which is a four-year character development and leadership program available to all students at the College. THRIVE provides a framework for a variety of initiatives and activities, as well as academic coursework, that foster character development and also provide an e-portfolio as a way to capture feedback and artifacts that demonstrate growth for each student.
As a department of the College, School of the Ozarks plays an important role in the mission of the College of the Ozarks. As a classical Christian school, it exists to encourage excellence and creativity with a distinctly Christian worldview in a K-12 setting. As a member of the International Association of Laboratory Schools and the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, the School seeks to be a leader and an example of what is best for American education. Lab schools are affiliated with a college or university for specific purposes that go beyond the scope of traditional public and private institutions.
Operating under The Keeter Center for Character Education, the School provides numerous opportunities for faculty and students from various departments across campus to interface with the School on a regular basis. The mission, vision, and five goals of the College - academic, Christian, vocational, cultural, and patriotic - are embedded in the curriculum and programs of School of the Ozarks, providing a well-rounded educational experience for each student.