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Columbia Southern University is focused on helping students flourish in their personal and professional lives. To that end, students can start at CSU with an associate degree that lays the groundwork for an entry-level position. Once they've established themselves with a clear career focus, students can return to CSU's flexible online degree program and complete a bachelor's degree.

Overview of Columbia Southern University

Bachelor's degree options include criminal justice, emergency medical services, business, information technology/cyber security, and psychology, among others. There are also certificate options for those who don't have the time for a full degree program, or for those who are seeking additional credentials to start a new path. Certificate options include but are not limited to: cyber security, fire science, finance, public administration, project management, and sports management.

As for accreditation, CSU is a member of the American Council on Education and is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which is recognized by the US Department of Education. Furthermore, Columbia Southern is licensed by the State of Alabama in accordance with the Alabama Private School License Law.

On top of all that, CSU provides comprehensive support for its students. Each student can take advantage of CSU's Career Services. There, they can receive one-on-one counseling and other services including interview advice, tips for the job search, and more.

General Information

School Type Private for-profit
Campus Setting Town: Fringe
Campus Housing No
Student Faculty Ratio 41 to 1
Graduation Rate 22%%
Year Founded 1993

Student Enrollment

Total Students20,034


Undergraduate Student

Male 9,049
Female 5,315

Graduate Student

Male 3,572
Female 2,098

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CSU Acceptance Rate and Admissions


Male    NA
Female NA


Male    NA
Female NA

Acceptance RateNA

Male    NA
Female NA

Enrollment NA

Male    NA
Female NA
Application Fee N/A
High School GPA Recommended
High School Rank Neither required nor recommended
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Neither required nor recommended
Recommendations Required
SAT/ACT Neither required nor recommended
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) NA
Application Deadline NA
Common Application Accepted No

CSU Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

A Columbia Southern University education is a terrific value. The gross cost of a year of full-time courses including books, supplies, and fees is around $7,000. While each student must also cover living expenses, this figure is sure to be highly variable depending on where students live. After all, students might live in New York City and have a very high cost of living, or a town in Alabama where rent is relatively cheap. Regardless, CSU posts figures for living costs and they tally the total cost for a year of full-time study at $17,000.

However, once financial aid is factored in, CSU students pay a net price of $11,000. This price goes as low as $10,000 for lower income students and as high as $14,000 for the top income bracket. Some students may even be able to get their costs lower with additional grants or scholarships.

Average net price 2018-2019
Net Price $10,951
Average Total Aid $3,552
Students Receiving Financial Aid 94%
Room & Board $6,844

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $5,655
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $5,655
  • Books and Supplies - $704
  • Room & Board - $6,844
  • Other - $4,080


Columbia Southern University is an online institution that delivers a flexible, distance-learning experience for students worldwide. While the online education environment offers certain challenges for students, CSU is delivering excellent academic numbers. Their retention and graduation numbers rival many traditional campus institutions and their students find that their degrees translate into successful, high-earning careers.

One key number that demonstrates that CSU delivers top academics is its retention rate of 62% for full-time students and 42% for part-time students. This means that the majority of students who complete a year of college with CSU will return for a second year. Students are thus impressed with their classes and faculty, so they return for another year. Then, 22% of CSU students remain on the virtual campus and complete their bachelor's degrees. However, CSU offers a range of degrees and certificates, including associate degrees, which may not show up in these statistics.

To add to these strong numbers, CSU has an average student-to-faculty ratio of 41 to 1. This number might not sound very impressive, but each student in the online environment is able to email their instructor and engage in a dialogue as though they were one-on-one.

Student Population Total

Student Population 20,034

Evening Classes : No
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Business Majors 1,297 Total Graduates / 39%
Business Administration and Management, General 1,058 Graduates
Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General 153 Graduates
Organizational Leadership 86 Graduates
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services 772 Total Graduates / 23%
Fire Services Administration 384 Graduates
Criminal Justice/Police Science 294 Graduates
Homeland Security 70 Graduates
Fire Science/Fire-fighting 24 Graduates
All Engineering Majors 661 Total Graduates / 20%
Occupational Safety and Health Technology/Technician 661 Graduates
Health Professions and Related Programs 336 Total Graduates / 10%
Health/Health Care Administration/Management 195 Graduates
Psychiatric/Mental Health Services Technician 97 Graduates
Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic) 44 Graduates
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 166 Total Graduates / 5%
Information Technology 123 Graduates
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance 43 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 3%

Outcome & Salary

CSU students are looking at terrific outcomes for their degrees. Whether they go the full distance and complete a bachelor's degree or start a career with an associate degree, CSU degree holders earn good salaries. In fact, when assessing the top-earning alumni, one sees that the fire protection bachelor's degree is quite lucrative. Those graduates earn a median salary of $67,000. In fact, those with associate degree in fire protection earn only slightly less at $62,000. At the lower end, business administration students start their careers with a median income of $46,000. Ultimately, a CSU degree represents a sound educational investment.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary NA
College Grads Average Salary $69,197
College Grads Mid Career Salary NA
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $691,970
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential NA
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $43,804
10 Year Projected ROI $648,166
20 Year Projected ROI NA
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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