WCIU provides innovative distance education programs to enhance the effectiveness of scholar practitioners as they serve with others to develop transformational solutions to the roots of human problems around the world.  


William Carey International University (WCIU) in Pasadena, CA is a private faith-based university, incorporated in February 1977, and licensed by the State of California to grant degrees. The University was founded under the leadership of Dr. Ralph D. Winter who led the effort to purchase the 15-acre campus and housing, of the former Nazarene College. WCIU was established to provide balanced, research-based educational programs leading to the improvement and furtherance of international development practices.

Dr. Winter, envisioned delivery of a holistic curricula that integrated history with social sciences. The educational offerings would focus exclusively on international development with an emphasis on practical, field-based experimentation leading to breakthroughs. The University would employ a diverse, experienced, and dispersed faculty using a mentored approach to education. The University would work closely with non-governmental voluntary agencies worldwide. In 1978, the State of California granted WCIU institutional approval to offer a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in International Development. The University was based on the education by extension model without residency requirements.

Initially, WCIU granted only the Doctor of Philosophy degree in International Development, empowering cross-cultural workers earning PhD degrees to recruit and mentor students for collaborative research on issues of importance based on their affiliated non-profit organizations. By 1994, the University had nine graduates.

Shortly after the PhD program was started, WCIU began offering a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in International Development with specializations in Intercultural Communications, Intercultural Studies, Community Development, Applied Linguistics, and TESOL.

Between 1994 and 2006, WCIU Faculty focused on developing, implementing, and revising its patented World Christian Foundations (WCF) curriculum with the intention, as Dr. Winter explained, to re-engineer the liberal arts and seminary curricula into an integrated framework that looks at God’s global purposes throughout history. Insights gained by these studies would allow graduates to effectively address the challenges faced by their organizations. This course became the foundation of WCIU’s Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree programs.


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In 2009 WCIU’s founder, Ralph D. Winter, passed away. As the primary conceptual and most influential university leader, his absence is still greatly felt. In 2010, Dr. Beth Snodderly was appointed full-time president and served until January 2016. Prior to that, the various presidents had concurrently held major roles in other institutions. Having a full-time president led to unprecedented growth for the University.

In 2013, the University decided to focus its efforts on graduate programs and ceased enrollments in the Bachelor of Arts in International Development degree program. In a further effort to refine the University’s mission, the Doctor of Philosophy degree program entered into a teach-out phase and ceased enrollments in 2015. Students have been notified they have until July 2020 to finish their PhD degree program. The University continues to focus on offering a quality distance education Master of Arts in International Development degree program.

In 2016, the University’s Board of Directors adopted its current mission statement: WCIU provides innovative, distance education programs to equip professionals serving with agencies, development organizations, and educational institutions as they address the multi-faceted challenges of societies around the globe.

The University is focused on continuous improvement as it seeks to expand its enrollment in the Master of Arts in International Development and provide the resources students need. In May of 2017, Dr. Kevin Higgins was appointed to serve as the President of WCIU.

Institutional Objectives

WCIU strives to generate the following competencies in its students:

1. The ability to apply insights gained from the understanding and integration of biblical, cultural, historical, and applied research in addressing the social challenges they face as part of an agency, organization, or institution working in a particular social context.

2. The ability to generate collaborative grass-roots efforts in addressing pervasive problems facing societies in their specific field and context.

3. The ability to use applied research methods in the assessment of needs, and the formulation of programs that effectively address the needs and challenges of specific socio/cultural groups and contexts where they work.

4. To be responsible for their own learning by organizing and administrating self-generated research and learning programs using primary and secondary resources available to them in the context where they serve.

5. The ability to communicate the results of their research and programs in effective ways to a variety of audiences, including other scholars, supporting constituencies, and the people they work with which may include non-literate populations.

Core Commitments

1. WCIU's programs are Faith-based but Non-sectarian:

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WCIU's underlying core value is a belief in a divine Creator who can be known through the physical universe and the sacred collection of writings commonly known as the Bible, portions or the whole of which are accepted as authoritative by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, and widely respected by other religions. We are also followers of Jesus, whose teachings have been instrumental in inspiring and motivating social reformers, scientists, and development practitioners over the past 2,000 years. WCIU's reason for equipping students for development work is based on in two biblical commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second most important commandment is this: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Jesus, the Bible, Mark 12:31-32). We welcome persons of every socio-religious background to engage with us in understanding this biblical perspective and to pursue the sacred ideal of biblical shalom — the mutual pursuit of right relationship with God, with self, and with others that leads to peace, health, and well-being for all.

2. WCIU’s Educational Programs are Holistic and Integral:

WCIU is committed to reflection and critical thinking that integrates personal faith-generated commitments with practical service. Core courses integrate an understanding of history and the social sciences with the biblical narrative and worldview. This approach aims at generating the holistic growth and personal development of our students as they work with others to address the social challenges of their field contexts, employing their professional services with the goal of transformation.

3. WCIU’s Educational Programs are Mentored:

Although WCIU offers field-based extension programs, we are committed to providing our students virtual contact with experienced scholar-practitioners who comprise our faculty. We also recognize the immense value to professional growth of peer mentoring and as often as possible, organize our students into cohort groups. This lessens the sense of isolation distance learning can produce, and provides a stimulating learning experience in which students can share their insights related to their work, their community engagement, and their personal development with others involved in similar work around the world.

4. WCIU’s Educational Programs are Flexible:

WCIU’s programs are designed for working adults serving with international development organizations in a variety of global contexts, or preparing to do so. Our part-time, field-based approach allows students to work toward a degree while actively serving with their organization almost anywhere in the world. We seek to encourage a healthy balance of the student's time commitment by encouraging synergistic integration of study and research with their work.

5. WCIU's Educational Programs are Collaborative:

WCIU recognizes the value of working with organizations, both educational and service oriented, who share the same fundamental values and perspective. We work at creating viable partnerships with these organizations in order to generate the best environment and context for learning to take place for students, employees and volunteers. We recognize that these relationships will not always be formal academic partnerships, but rather collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening the hand of those serving to address pervasive problems and challenges faced by the peoples of developing nations. This also means a commitment to providing courses and materials in various languages of instruction.

 William Carey's Philosophy of International Development