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Columbia Southern University

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LAST UPDATED: March 20th, 2020

Founded in 1993 and based in Alabama, Columbia Southern University is an online university which offers degrees and distance education to students at a competitive price. The school is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which is recognized by the Department of Education.

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The Good

  • Program Offerings
  • Educational Partners and Learning Partners
  • Low Cost Tuition
  • No Application Fees
  • Transfer Credits

Program Offerings

Columbia Southern University offers associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. CSU also offers continuing education and certificate programs for students looking to increase their desirability in the job market. Certificates are recorded on a student's transcript and require a minimum of 12 semester hours.

Columbia Southern University offers online degree programs in the following fields:

  • Business and Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Fire Science
  • General Studies
  • Health
  • Homeland Security
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology and Cyber Security
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Environmental Management
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration and Emergency Services Management

CSU offers the following undergraduate and graduate certificate programs:

  • Environmental Management Certificate
  • Finance Certificate
  • Fire Science Certificate
  • Health Care Management Certificate
  • Hospitality & Tourism Certificate
  • Human Resource Management Certificate
  • Information Technology Certificate
  • International Management Certificate
  • Management Certificate
  • Marketing Certificate
  • Occupational Safety & Health Certificate
  • Project Management Certificate
  • Public Administration Certificate
  • Sport Management Certificate

Educational Partners and Learning Partners

Columbia Southern University partners with other educational organizations. This allows for easier transfer-ability of credits between partners and a smooth transition for CSU graduates pursuing higher education.

Educational partners include Waldorf University, Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), Alabama Fire College, and The National Sheriff's Association Center for Public Safety. These institutions offer a variety of online programs, training, and/or certifications to succeed in a specific line of work.

CSU has over 2500 learning partners. Benefits for learning partners include a 10% discount on tuition, exclusive scholarship opportunities, and $0 in application costs. It is free for any organization or institution to become a learning partner with CSU. Partners simply sign a Non-Binding Agreement which allows CSU to offer a 10% tuition discount to employees and their spouses/children. The agreement is non-exclusive, which means that employees are not required to enroll in the online college, but rather, they are given a discount should they choose to pursue an education at Columbia Southern University.

Low-Cost Tuition

Columbia Southern University offers affordable rates compared to the national average and other colleges. Undergraduate courses cost $230 per credit hour, graduate courses cost $315 per credit hour, and doctoral courses cost $375 per credit hour. The 10% tuition discount applies to learning partners.

CSU also offers scholarships, financial aid, federal pell grants, and military discounts for those who qualify.

Specific cost information for online certificates is not mentioned on the company's website. For those who are interested in learning more about the certificate programs offered at CSU, there is an option to request information on the website.

No Application Fees

Many schools require an application fee for those interested in the program. Columbia Southern University does not require any fees to apply.

Transfer Credits

Columbia Southern University allows up to 75 percent of credits to be transfer for undergraduate degrees and 50 percent of credits for graduate degrees. Students interested in receiving transfer credit must fill out a Transcript Request Service Form before receiving approval.


The Bad

  • Student Fees
  • No Federal Student Aid for Certificate Programs
  • Online Only

Student Fees

The website lists several fees that students may be charged during their careers at CSU. Typical fees add up to $2585 and include costs for a DBA research project, DBA dissertation, petition to graduate, and online library fees.

There are multiple additional student fees which include, but are not limited to: bachelor's degree to associate's degree request fee, the degree to certificate request fee, registration fees, change of program fee, and Remote Proctor Now fees.

No Federal Student Aid for Certificate Programs

There is a wide variety of tuition assistance for online CSU programs. However, students who choose to pursue an online certificate program as opposed to an online degree program, are not eligible for Federal Student Aid or VA (Veterans Affairs) funding.

Online Only

Columbia Southern University offers only online classes, not any on-campus classes. Other institutions give students the option for on-campus or online classes.


The Bottom Line

If you are looking for an online education only, then Columbia Southern University could be the right fit for you. The online school offers a large variety of degrees at low costs per credit hour. The institution also offers a wide range of certificates that can help individuals advance their careers. If you are interested in the online certificate programs, it would be wise to request cost and additional information on the institution's website.

If you are currently employed and are interested in pursuing an education at Columbia Southern University, it would be worthwhile to have your employer look into becoming a learning partner with the university. It is free to become a partner, and employees of learning partners receive a 10% discount on an already competitively priced tuition.

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