Close this search box.

Our History

Cairn University enjoys a heritage that spans over one hundred years. Founded in 1913, it is the result of the merger of two separate institutions which formed Philadelphia Bible Institute (PBI) in 1951, a school which offered only three-year diplomas and focused primarily on the training of lay people.

1800 Arch St BuildingIn 1958, PBI became Philadelphia College of Bible (PCB) when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted the institution approval to offer a four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Bible degree. This established PCB as a school for training students for vocational ministry in the church and related organizations.

Strengthening its educational program by developing an academically rigorous core of biblical studies and liberal arts courses, PCB attained accreditation from the Middle States Association in 1967. In so doing, PCB became one of only a few Bible colleges in the nation to receive such regional accreditation. PCB then added the Bachelor of Music and the Bachelor of Social Work degrees, which began the development of a series of programs in various professional fields. This further distinguished PCB from traditional Bible colleges in America as graduates were being prepared for careers in fields other than vocational ministry within the church.

In 1979, the College relocated from Center City Philadelphia to the Bucks County suburb of Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Bachelor degrees in Education and Business Administration were developed as well as graduate level programs in Biblical Studies, Counseling, Education, Educational Leadership and Administration, Organizational Leadership, and a Master of Divinity. In 2000, the Commonwealth granted approval for university status and the institution changed its name to become Philadelphia Biblical University (PBU).

Manor Campus 1979

In 2012, the University’s Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the institution to Cairn University, in an effort to overcome the perception that the University’s educational offerings were limited and had a narrow vocational focus. The institution has had many names in its nearly 100-year history, but as PSOB, BIOP, PBI, PCB, PBU, and now as Cairn, the University’s central commitment to Christ and His Word remain.

Cairn campus

Today, with over 70 academic programs and specializations listed in the catalog and the approval of bodies such as the Council for Social Work Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Association of Christian Schools International, and the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Cairn is one of the most thoroughly accredited schools of its type.

Cairn undergraduate students have the opportunity to earn degrees in business, education, ministry, music, social work, and theology. Students in professional programs earn a minimum of 30 credits in Bible and theology in addition to the biblical integration that is a hallmark of Cairn’s academics. Graduate students earn master’s degrees that facilitate professional and intellectual development. Students also have the option of dual-level programs, earning a master’s degree at the same time as a bachelor’s degree. While its core commitments to preparing students for Christian service and teaching the Bible as a foundation for all of life and learning have remained central, Cairn has emerged a private Christian university with a reputation for academic excellence and an ability to prepare students for professional service in the church, society, and the world.

Learn more about Cairn