The Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities (APCU) was incorporated in 1995 as an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the support and advancement of colleges and universities that maintain a historical affiliation to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Over time, our 54 member institutions have found 54 distinct ways to build on their Presbyterian heritage as they seek to impact their students (and the world) in remarkable ways.
Stretching across the continental United States from St. Petersburg, Florida to Spokane, Washington, and around the world from the shores of Puerto Rico to the Korean peninsula, our colleges and universities currently serve nearly 150,000 students. Based on our commitment to make a college education available to all who seek it, over 90% of these students annually receive gift aid (grants and scholarships) to help offset their educational expenses. This generosity helps to keep the average cost of attendance across our schools well below $20,000 per-year.
In the past year, more than half of the students being served by APCU colleges and universities were first-generation college students. In fact, at a dozen of our schools more than 70% of their students are the first in their families to attend college. In addition, 36% of the students enrolled at APCU schools are from underrepresented minority groups and nearly half are from lower-income “Pell Grant-eligible” families. Six of our APCU member schools are considered “majority minority” institutions, meaning that over half of the students being served are students of color.
The social and faith climates at our member schools cut across the spectrum from very conservative to very progressive. The most common faith tradition cited by students attending APCU schools is “none”. On average, only 4% of the students on APCU campuses identify as Presbyterian. In addition to Roman Catholic students and those representing a range of Protestant denominations, many of our campuses serve a significant number of Jewish, Muslim and Hindus students.
On behalf of its membership, the APCU:
For more information about the APCU and the Presbyterian commitment to higher education in the United States, view or download our "Being Presbyterian-Related" publication.
Governance and Finance
The APCU is governed by a board of directors consisting of presidents from 12 member institutions, the president of the Presbyterian College Chaplains Association (PCCA), the executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and the executive director of the APCU. Board members serve three-year terms which can be extended for an additional three years. In 2016, the APCU expanded its membership to include chaplains who are members of the Presbyterian College Chaplains Association (PCCA). This was done to strengthen the relationship between the APCU and the PCUSA and to assist APCU members with the development of an appropriate spiritual/faith climate on their respective campuses. While the work being done by the PCCA is fairly independent from the work being done by the APCU, the chaplains and presidents meet every three years to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with our Presbyterian-relatedness and the role of spirituality and faith across our campuses.
The presidents of APCU member schools serve as institutional representatives and have the authority to vote on behalf of their respective schools at an annual Members’ Meeting. The Members’ Meeting takes place in the context of an annual Presidents’ Retreat which is usually held in March.
Covenant with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The APCU maintains a renewable covenant relationship with the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This covenant defines how the APCU and the PMA will support each other to further the mission of APCU-member institutions and the church’s historical commitment to higher education. For a copy of the covenant, contact the APCU office.
In addition, most APCU member institutions maintain independent covenants with an agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), such as a synod or presbytery, or with the APCU. These covenants, which express mutual support, vary widely and typically have a ten-year duration. One excellent example of such a covenant can be found on the Eckerd College website.