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. Current PhD students must complete the program within 10 years from the date they started the program (i.e., within the maximum length of the program). The University continues to focus on offering a quality distance education Master of Arts in International Development degree program.

In May of 2017, Dr. Kevin Higgins was appointed to serve as the President of WCIU.

In 2018, the University’s Board of Directors adopted its current mission statement: 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.

The Board of Directors of William Carey International University (WCIU, www.wciu.edu) has announced the completion of the sale of our campus to EF Education First (EF, www.ef.edu), the world’s largest international education company. A portion of Frontier Ventures’ property was also a part of the final arrangement. Both WCIU and Frontier Ventures retain property in Pasadena for offices and housing for staff.

The completed sale positions WCIU for a new chapter in its research and preparation of men and women to work at the roots of human problems. WCIU will retain a significant presence adjacent to the near-15-acre site in Pasadena, California.

The unique approach to international development promoted through WCIU's academic programs equips scholar activists globally. WCIU is also fostering a growing network of associated schools, which use WCIU's core curriculum as a key component in their own programs.

In light of increasing globalization and the strategic decision to align its programs closer to the action in the Global South, the leaders of WCIU felt the time had come to sell the property and use the funds to better further their work around the world in more decentralized ways.

WCIU is a distance University, and is now more effectively poised to strengthen our various global programs, increase enrollment, and continue to add to our growing number of Institutes and initiatives.

Institutional Objectives

WCIU strives to generate the following competencies in its students, enabling them to:

1. Develop strategies for self-directed learning.

2. Model critical and discerning thinking.

3. Conduct competent research and report and apply their findings. 

4. Articulate the implications of the biblical meta-narrative for international development.

5. Employ sound biblical study methods and hermeneutical principles to explain what the Bible says about God’s purposes in history. 

6. Describe, compare, and contrast societies, cultures, worldviews, and religious systems.

7. Integrate theories, principles, and practices of international development. 

8. Address the challenges and opportunities students face as they pursue international development goals in the context of their work.

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