With 160 years of providing education in Tennessee, Bethel is full of tradition and history. But, it's not what has happened in the past, it's what is happening in the future that Bethel is about. Bethel is the first "IBM Thinkpad University" in the state of Tennessee and strives to stay with the leaders in computer training.
Every full time student in their traditional on-campus program walks into an environment that is oriented toward the future. When you arrive on campus a state-of the-art IBM laptop computer will be waiting for you, complete with your own e-mail address and access codes for Bethel's local area network and for unlimited access to the World Wide Web. Class work, research, and the whole scope of communications will be moved to another level - a level that reflects the future, not the past.
Bethel has 25 sports teams including Championship Football, Soccer, Bass Fishing, Shooting Sports, Golf, and In-line Hockey. For a full list of Bethel's sporting teams, please visit their website.
Bethel University was founded in 1842 in McLemoresville, Tenn., as Bethel Seminary operating under the fostering care of West Tennessee Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Bethel College was granted a charter by the State of Tennessee in 1847 and operated as Bethel College until 2009 when its trustees voted to change its name to Bethel University.
During the 20th century Bethel College made a name for itself as a solid church-affiliated school that produced many graduates headed for the clergy, for the classroom as educators and for many other career paths. Bethel had lean enrollment years and very prosperous ones as well with enrollment rising to around 800 in the 1960s and leveling off in the late 70s to around 500 students. The early 1990s were difficult years for the school with enrollment dipping to as little as 300 students. Innovative programs like Bethel’s Success Adult Degree program allowed the enrollment to rise again.
Since that time, other innovations have spurred a steady and consistent growth. The Renaissance Performing Arts Experience was developed and offered performing arts students scholarships patterned the same as athletics. This broadened the base of prospective students as did the introduction of a number of non-traditional athletics programs including inline roller hockey, bowling and bass fishing just to name a few. Master’s degree programs including a master of arts in education, a master of science in physician assistant studies, a master of business administration and a master of arts in conflict resolution have been added through the years as have options in learning platforms for the master’s degree where students can choose to learn face-to-face in the classroom, online or even via both platforms.
In 2009, the Bethel Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change Bethel College’s name to Bethel University to best reflect the momentum the school was experiencing. In 2016, there are 47 courses of study across all colleges at Bethel University, and enrollment is approximately 7,600. In addition to its main campus in McKenzie, Tenn., Bethel University has satellite campuses across Tennessee in Memphis, Nashville, Clarksville, Jackson, Paris, and Chattanooga.