2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 28, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Student Life

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Undergraduate (All Programs)


The undergraduate student enrollment of approximately 862 is distributed between men and women in a ratio of 46 percent to 54 percent. Fifty-four percent are resident students; 4 percent, married students; 26 percent, minority students; and 4 percent, international students. During the past five years, students have come from almost every state and approximately 40 foreign countries. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland have the largest representation.

Community Life Covenant

Cairn is an academic community of Christian students, faculty, and staff. As such, and in keeping with the mission and vision of the University, members of the Cairn community are to exhibit biblical wisdom and Christian maturity regarding their personal conduct and behavior toward others. They should be sensitive regarding the testimony of their personal lives in representing the Lord Jesus Christ, His Church, and the University. Members of the University community should live according to 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Christian community involves covenantal responsibility and mutual obligation to one another as members of one body living together before a righteous and holy God. Therefore, members of the University community are to be guided by biblical admonitions to demonstrate Christian love and concern for others, honesty, fairness, justice, kindness, forgiveness, mutual edification, self-control, deference, respect, and social responsibility toward one another and all people.

Because Christian community exists in social and cultural context, members must be careful to demonstrate civility and respect for those with whom they disagree, while exercising wisdom in evaluating the ideas and activities of others. Christians living in harmony share a deep concern for the Body of Christ, defer to one another, reason together, and express genuine Christian love, as outlined in Romans 14.

Additional specific standards of conduct for students, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees, as well as other institutional and governmental policies, can be found in the respective handbooks for each group.

Health Center

In addition to excellent community medical resources, including hospitals and doctors’ offices, the University has a student healthcare facility on campus. The Health Center has regular hours Monday through Friday. Emergency health situations during off-hours are handled by calling 911, the Office of Safety and Security, and/or the appropriate Cairn staff or faculty member.

In order to assist the Health Center and be in compliance with health regulations, all students are required to complete a health form documenting medical history and immunization records. Students are to report any changes in health information or newly prescribed medications to the nurse for inclusion in their health records. Students who have not completed the health form will not be permitted to attend classes or live in the residence halls.

For more information, please visit the Cairn Health Center website.

Pathway Center

Career counseling is available to undergraduate students through the Pathway Center. The Pathway Center provides care for all students through career development and leadership exploration to ensure each student’s readiness for life after post-secondary education. The Pathway Center utilizes in-person and virtual means to advise students to find their purpose, build networking connections, prepare for jobs and internships, and fulfill their calling as Christ-centered men and women of character.

All students are given access to Cairn Connect, the University’s own networking platform. Through this, students can connect with alumni and other friends of Cairn to find internships, land a job after graduation, and build a network of Cairn relationships within their industry.

Alumni Services

Cairn graduates and alumni have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of study and in their local churches for over 100 years. The Office of Alumni Relations considers it an honor to proudly represent alumni who continue to impact the world for Christ.

The Office of Alumni Relations exists to nurture community among the University’s alumni family by providing channels for communication, networking, fellowship, and growth. The Office of Alumni Relations works to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with all alumni of the institution through various events, gatherings, social networking opportunities, communiques, and Cairn magazine.

The primary alumni event each year is Homecoming. Each fall, Cairn invites alumni back to campus to reconnect with their former classmates, faculty members, and friends. Additionally, this event allows alumni to see firsthand how the University continues to grow and expand its scope. Alumni are invited to interact with current students, participate in professional development/networking workshops, watch sporting events, attend musical performances, and participate in other planned events. The weekend is packed with activities for alumni, their families, and guests of all ages.

Current information regarding activities, regional alumni gatherings, news of interest, and other alumni-related information is available on the Alumni section of the Cairn website (www.cairn.edu/alumni), through Cairn magazine, through monthly updates from the Vice President for Alumni and Community Affairs, and via periodic mailings to alumni. Alumni are encouraged to connect with each other through the Cairn Alumni Association Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CairnAlumni), the Cairn University Alumni LinkedIn page (LinkedIn), and the online edition of Cairn magazine (magazine.cairn.edu).

A complete list of alumni benefits can be found online (www.cairn.edu/alumni/#alumniservices).

Traditional Programs

This additional information is specific to the traditional undergraduate programs (including associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs). To obtain student life information common to all undergraduate programs, see above.

Standards of Conduct

The following standards, unless otherwise noted, apply to all University students while enrolled at Cairn University. These standards are established on the bases of state and federal laws, biblical teaching, and University policy and tradition. The administration is responsible to, and reserves the right to, exercise judgment in interpreting and enforcing these standards and all matters related to them based upon the totality of the circumstances.

  1. All Cairn students are subject to the responsibility of academic integrity which demands honesty and giving credit to the proper sources (Ex. 20:15; Prov. 12:22; Rom. 13:7).
  2. Hazing is classified as a crime by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the university will not allow this type of activity. Hazing is defined as any type of initiation process which includes actions that may potentially cause bodily harm, physical exhaustion, and personal embarrassment, loss of dignity, emotional trauma, or mental duress (Matt. 7:12; 1 Pet. 2:17).
  3. Harassment or discrimination against others on the basis of race, national origin, age, sex, or handicap is not tolerated. Intimidation and violence through words or action are prohibited. This includes but is not limited to threats, verbal attacks, vandalism, stalking, domestic violence, cyber bullying and other acts of hatred involving physical attack or sexual misconduct (Col 3:1-5; Col 3:11).
  4. All students are to be highly selective in their choices of entertainment and recreation, including television, videos, movies, theater, dancing, sports, reading materials, music, video games, web postings, and file downloads. Biblical standards and discernment, especially in reference to worldly values, profanity, violence, immorality, sexuality, and nudity, should serve as guidelines in making personal decisions in these areas. Pornographic materials, including electronic media, sexually explicit internet sites and chatrooms are not to be viewed, possessed, distributed, or transmitted on or away from campus. Students are to refrain from gambling, including sports gambling and attending casinos (Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:5; Phil. 4:8).
  5. Cairn University affirms the biblical teachings that a sexual relationship is intended only within a heterosexual marriage of husband and wife. All students are to abstain from any type of sexual activity or immoral relationship outside of the marriage of a man and a woman (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 1:27; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4).
  6. Undergraduate students under the legal age for alcohol consumption in Pennsylvania (21) may not possess, use, or distribute alcoholic beverages, on or away from campus. Cairn is an alcohol free campus. Students of legal age may consume alcohol in a responsible and appropriate way, but are not permitted to do so while on campus or participating in University sponsored activities. In keeping with Biblical prohibitions concerning the abuse of alcohol (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:21), students are to abstain from excessive consumption of alcohol. The University reserves the right to confront and sanction students who exhibit self-destructive patterns, excessive abuse or misuse of alcohol. Likewise, following Pauline principles of Christian discipleship, students are expected to be conscientious of, and show deference to, others in the Cairn community who are abstaining from alcohol (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8-18).
  7. Tobacco, marijuana, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or other recreational vaporizers, illegal drugs, including illegally obtained prescription drugs are prohibited on the Cairn campus. Students may not possess, use, or distribute, illegal drugs, including illegally obtained prescription drugs and similar elements, on or away from campus. All state and federal laws concerning these are to be strictly observed. Illegal drugs are those on the list of “controlled substances” published by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which includes, but is not limited to, such drugs as methamphetamine, crack, LSD, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), PCP, and heroin. For policy purposes, illegal drugs also include any medications which, while legal, are obtained without physician’s authorization and intended for recreational use or sale (Romans 13:1-2).

University Ministry Center

The University Ministry Center is home to many of the intentional spiritual formation pieces of the University. The Center integrates a variety of distinct avenues of spiritual growth to the student body with the intent of providing ministry that parallels the student’s academic education. These avenues of spiritual formation include student ministries, short-term mission projects, and other volunteer ministry opportunities. For more information, as well as chapel podcasts, please visit the University Ministry Center website.


Chapel exists to provide an expression of worship and identity as an academic community of believers with a deep commitment to Christ. The University student body comes together Monday, Friday, and selected Wednesdays for chapel services. In addition to the traditional chapel program, students also have the opportunity to attend elective chapels, which are events or programs outside of the traditional (MWF) chapel services for which students may receive chapel credit. Attendance at chapel is required for all students enrolled for nine or more credit hours.

Student Ministry and Service

Undergraduate students are required to participate in student ministry and service opportunities during their enrollment. This program is designed to integrate class experiences with church-related and professional experience. The ministry and service requirement exists to provide students an opportunity to grow personally, spiritually, and professionally through practical experiences. The University Ministry Center coordinates this program and assists students in record keeping and can assist with suggested churches and organizations.

Student Ministry and Service Criteria

A student must have a mentor or advisor (non-student) to oversee the ministry/service experience and adhere to the guidelines of the ministry/service covenant.

A student’s ministry/service must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Serving in a church setting.
  • Serving in an organization that supports the church.
  • Serving in an organization that meets the needs of people in a local community (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, Choice One, nursing home).
  • Participating on a mission trip team (at least three days long).
  • Volunteering in a professional setting that utilizes and enhances what students are learning in their curricular program.
  • Participating in Cairn University organizations, activities, office settings, leadership capacities in which the student serves the community at Cairn and/or potentially the community at large, by utilizing a combination of professional skills, spiritual gifts, and modeling the Christian faith.

Student Ministry Requirements

  • Full-time undergraduate students must satisfactorily register and complete six (6) ministry/service experiences and receive a satisfactory evaluation from a mentor in order to graduate from Cairn. 
  • Transfer and part-time students will have the number of required ministry/service credits reduced in coordination with course credits transferred into Cairn.
    Credit hours transferred into Cairn Student Ministry credit reduction
    12-18 1
    19-36 2
    37-52+ 3
  • A minimum of two (2) ministry/service credits are to be completed in a local church setting. Exceptions to this expectation are rare and are only granted when extenuating circumstances prevented some aspect of ministry to a local church.
  • Students may be involved in ministry/service experiences during the fall, spring, or summer term.
  • A Ministry/Service Registration Form and a Mentor Evaluation Form must be submitted by the due date for each ministry experience in order to receive a satisfactory grade and credit.
  • All students will be required to participate in mandatory training on the protection of minors. This is done during the freshman year as part of the yearlong first year orientation curriculum. Students who are not at the orientation session will be required to make up that training. Many organizations outside of Cairn will require additional clearances and screenings before allowing students to work with minors. The cost of those clearances are the responsibility of the student.

Reporting Procedures

  • Student Ministry/Service experiences are arranged through and approved by the University Ministry Center.
  • Students will submit a signed Registration Form in the fall and spring by the due date assigned by the University Ministry Center (September 30 and February 15).
  • A $25 late fee will be assessed by the registrar for seniors in their graduating semester who hand in late paperwork for previously accomplished ministries.
  • Students will submit a signed Registration Form by May 30 for a summer ministry.
  • Registration Forms will not be accepted after the due dates for each term.

Grading Procedures

  • Students will be assessed by their ministry/service mentor and a grade of S or U will be recorded on the student’s academic transcript.
  • No grade will be recorded if the mentor’s evaluation of the student’s ministry/service is not returned. This grade will be changed when the Mentor Evaluation Form is received.
  • Updates will be provided for students to keep track of how many ministry/service experiences they have successfully completed.
  • Students may not graduate until all six (6) ministry/service experiences are successfully completed. (Exceptions will be made for transfer and part-time students that do not have six (6) full-time semesters at Cairn.)

Participation in a Local Church

Cairn University is committed to the local church. Involvement in a local church is an integral element of the University’s academic vision and central to accomplishing the mission of the University.

The local church is a body of professing believers organized to do the work of God. It is the local manifestation of the universal church of which Christ is the Head and Builder. To be involved with a local church is to be involved in God’s work on earth. The local church is the ideal place for personal spiritual growth and equipping for ministry. Ephesians 4:11-16 outlines a biblical philosophy of ministry that includes leaders who equip others for “the work of service” and “the building up of the body of Christ.” Every person in this body has a unique and vital role which contributes to the growth and health of the whole body. How God works through the diversity and uniqueness of the body parts is developed in 1 Corinthians 12. In a local church, each member has an opportunity to exercise his/her “divine design” (personality, spiritual and natural gifts, passions, etc.) to help that local body grow. This involvement also results in personal spiritual growth as individual members minister to each other. The gathering of believers for the purpose of stimulation and encouragement is a command of God.

Therefore, Cairn is committed to the importance of the local church as God’s provision for personal and spiritual formation. Students are expected to attend a local church worship service each week.

Oasis Counseling Services

Every effort is made to support students while at Cairn. Students are offered opportunity to secure guidance concerning their personal, spiritual, and academic lives. Resident assistants offer support and encouragement in the dormitories for resident students. The professional departments provide the added help of academic or vocational counseling. The Oasis Counseling Center offers individual counseling for students who feel they would like to talk with someone about personal issues. Oasis counselors are prepared to help students work through a wide range of issues, including anxiety, depression, body image, eating disorders, relationship counseling, premarital counseling, family conflict, adjustment to college, and other issues. Students who are interested in obtaining personal counseling or participating in a support group can find more information about these services, along with the fees, if any, on the Oasis website.


Commuters make up a significant percentage of the student body. A concentrated effort is made to include these students in the activities and programs of the University. A Commuter President is selected from the commuter population to represent their interests within the University structure and provide engaging commuter-specific activities. Commuters have access to the student lounge in the Smith Administration Building. This lounge has tables, sofas, chairs, vending machines, and microwave ovens.

Resident Life

Resident life at Cairn is a vibrant and dynamic part of the University experience designed to challenge and support students in their academic pursuits. Each residence hall is a unique learning environment where students have the opportunity to become constructive members of their community, build lifelong friendships, and learn from the diverse student population at Cairn. Focused on fostering student growth, a team of student leaders and a full-time resident director provide programs and services in each residential community that ensure a safe and engaging environment conducive to academic success.

The Resident Life team at Cairn seeks to provide, within each residential facility, a living and learning environment where residents are encouraged to mature spiritually, intellectually, culturally, and socially.

Campus Events

At the University, students enjoy friendships that become lifelong. To complement class and club activities, Student Life plans social functions for the entire University family. Some of the most celebrated events at Cairn include the Hoedown, Starry Night: A Christmas Celebration, the Garden Party, Gala, Upcoming Artists, Coffee Houses, and various residence hall events. Other events include musical programs by various artists and ensembles. More information about on campus events and activities is available on the University Event Calendar or through the Office of Student Life (studentlife@cairn.edu).


The University has an intercollegiate athletic program for both men and women. Cairn is affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as an active member of Division III and with the National Christian College Athletic Association as a Division II associate member. More information is available on the Cairn Athletics website.

Sports for men include soccer, basketball, baseball, golf, cross country, tennis, and volleyball. Women’s sports include soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball, and cross country.

An intramural program provides opportunity for students to experience athletic competition in a recreational environment and profit from physical exercise. There are a wide variety of individual and team intramural sports for men and women, including flag football, indoor soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, broomball, dodgeball, softball, tennis, volleyball, powder-puff football, Ping-Pong, and billiards tournaments.

Recreational facilities include a fitness center with varied exercise equipment, as well as a gymnasium and field space. Six lighted tennis courts are available for play as weather permits.

Academic Fellowship

Most academic programs have student organizations which meet several times a semester. These groups stimulate interaction among students and encourage relationships with professionals in the same field.

Student Organizations

Extracurricular activities at Cairn are designed to broaden the student’s education and enrich his/her personal experience. Students preparing for vocational opportunities need skills in human relations, communications, leadership, and task accomplishment. Such abilities are often developed through cocurricular activities.

Benefits include fellowship with others, opportunities to accept responsibility and learn various skills, the satisfaction of achievement, and hours of enjoyment.

Student Publication

The Scroll

Cairn’s online student newspaper reports on campus and community-relevant news, ideas, and opinions. Creative student staff use journalistic writing, photography, and design skills to meet the deadlines of newspaper publication. This publication can be found on the Scroll website.



Ascend exists to provide Cairn outdoor recreation opportunities that promote adventure, growth, and fellowship, along with an appreciation and reverence for God’s creation. Activities may include ski trips, camping, caving, surfing, hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and mountain biking, among many others.

Commuter Council

Forty-one percent of the students at Cairn are commuters. The Commuter President represents their unique interests and needs, as well as assisting entering commuter students to get involved in University life.


The mission of Cairn Enactus is to glorify God by educating and empowering others to create economic opportunity through free enterprise. Founded by students in the School of Business, the Cairn chapter is one of 1,500 on university campuses around the world. The organization develops community service and ministry projects using business models to aid others and, at the end of the year, submits their projects in a national competition. In recent years, the team has been selected as a regional champion and advanced to become one of the top sixteen Enactus teams in the US. Members of Cairn Enactus are from all majors at the University.

Mu Kappa

Mu Kappa exists to provide students whose parents are missionaries, international students, and any interested students the shared opportunity to embrace their past, adjust to their present, and be equipped for their future. Students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to contribute to the University community.

Student Cultural Association

The Student Cultural Association is determined to provide opportunities for the students, faculty, and staff of Cairn to learn, engage, and appreciate the rich cultural and artistic diversity of the world we live in. This is accomplished through group meetings, discussion forums, art initiatives, community service, and chapel presentations to motivate lifestyles contributing toward cultural reconciliation.

Student Government Association (SGA)

The SGA exists to facilitate communication within the University and to serve the students by challenging them to leadership, service, and community involvement. The Senate cabinet is composed of elected representatives who serve as the student representative body and liaison between students and the administration and faculty of Cairn. They lead the Senate House of Representatives, which meets biweekly with the presidents and representatives from each student organization to give voice to student concerns and promote partnership in shared events of great value to the University.

Student Theological Society (STS)

The mission of STS is to advance the pursuit of God’s truth within the Cairn community by providing a student-led forum for the presentation, consideration, and collaborative discussion of theological issues pertaining to the formation and maintenance of a biblical worldview.


Alpha X Epsilon (Teacher Education Club)

Alpha X Epsilon exists to provide opportunities for students to be well-equipped intellectually, socially, and professionally for a positive and effective career in education.

Chi Beta Sigma (Social Work Club)

Chi Beta Sigma (signifying Christ, Bible, Society) is a student organization that plans activities and service opportunities for Social Work students. Chi Beta Sigma is a campus chapter of the International Justice Mission (IJM).

Health and Physical Education Club (HPEC)

This club provides Health and Physical Education majors a chance to enhance professional identity and community. It also provides student interaction with professionals outside of Cairn. Student leadership and service/ministry opportunities are afforded both to the Cairn community and the community at large through the programs offered.

Music Educators Association (CMENC)

This organization is open to all music education majors for the purpose of enhancing professional development and commitment through membership in the national association called NAfME.


Nontraditional Programs

This information is specific to the nontraditional programs offered in the Degree Completion department. To obtain student life information that is common to all undergraduate programs, see above.


Communication for the Degree Completion Program is distributed through Cairn student email accounts, providing official announcements, group news, and additions and/or changes to Degree Completion policy.

Faculty Counseling/Advising Services

Degree Completion faculty provide students with academic advisement to assist in their academic, professional, and personal decision-making.

Standards of Conduct

The following standards apply to all University students while enrolled in the Degree Completion program at Cairn. These standards are established on the bases of state and federal laws, biblical teaching, and University policy and tradition. The administration is responsible to, and reserves the right to, exercise judgment in interpreting and enforcing these standards and all matters related to them based upon the totality of the circumstances.

  1. University students are subject to the responsibility of academic integrity which demands honesty and giving credit to the proper sources.
  2. Hazing is classified as a crime by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the University will not allow this type of activity. Hazing is defined as any type of initiation process which includes actions that may potentially cause bodily harm, physical exhaustion, personal embarrassment, loss of dignity, emotional trauma, or mental duress.
  3. Harassment or discrimination against others on the basis of race, national origin, age, sex, or handicap is not tolerated. Intimidation and violence through words or action are prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, threats, verbal attacks, vandalism, stalking, domestic violence, cyber bullying and other acts of hatred, and physical attack.
  4. Students are to be highly selective in their choices of entertainment. Biblical standards and discernment should serve as guidelines in making personal decisions. Pornographic materials, including electronic media and sexually explicit internet sites and chat rooms, are not to be viewed, possessed, distributed, or transmitted on or away from campus.
  5. Cairn affirms the biblical teachings that a sexual relationship is intended only within a heterosexual marriage of husband and wife. Students are to abstain from any type of sexual activity or immoral relationship outside of the marriage of a man and a woman.
  6. Tobacco; alcohol; illegal drugs, including illegally obtained prescription drugs; and gambling are prohibited on the Cairn campus. All state and federal laws concerning these are to be strictly observed.