During the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s, Christian evangelist Bob Jones, Sr.
grew increasingly concerned about the secularization of higher education and the influence of religious liberalism in denominational colleges.
It has approximately 2,800 students, and it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Jones said that although he had been averse to naming the school after himself, his friends overcame his reluctance "with the argument that the school would be called by that name because of my connection with it, and to attempt to give it any other name would confuse the people." Bob Jones took no salary from the college and helped support the school with personal savings and income from his evangelistic campaigns. The Florida land boom had peaked in 1925, and a hurricane in September 1926 further reduced land values. Bob Jones College barely survived bankruptcy and its move to Cleveland, Tennessee in 1933.
In the same year, the college also ended participation in intercollegiate sports.
Enrollment quickly rebounded, and by 1970, there were 3300 students, approximately 60% more than in 1958.
In 1971, Bob Jones III became president at age 32, though his father, with the title of Chancellor, continued to exercise considerable administrative authority into the late 1990s.
We, however, cannot conscientiously let some group of educational experts or some committee of experts who may have a behavioristic or atheistic slant on education control or even influence the administrative policies of our college." Early in the history of the college, there had been some hesitancy on the part of other institutions to accept BJU credits at face value, but by the 1960s, BJU alumni were being accepted by most of the major graduate and professional schools in the United States.
Undoubtedly helpful was that some of the university's strongest programs were in the areas of music, speech, and art, disciplines in which ability could be measured by audition or portfolio rather than through paper qualifications.In the spring, a similar competition sponsored by the American Association of Christian Schools, and hosted by BJU since 1977, brings thousands of national finalists to the university from around the country.In 2005, 120 of the finalists from previous years returned to BJU as freshmen.In December 2011, in response to accusations of mishandling of student reports of sexual abuse (most of which had occurred in their home churches when the students were minors) and a concurrent reporting issue at a church pastored by a university board member, Released in December 2014, the GRACE report suggested that BJU had discouraged students from reporting past sexual abuse, and though the University declined to implement many of the report's recommendations, President Steve Pettit formally apologized "to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding, and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault." It is common for retiring professors to have served the university for thirty, forty, and even occasionally, fifty years, a circumstance that has contributed to the stability and conservatism of an institution of higher learning that has virtually no endowment and at which faculty salaries are "sacrificial".Many of these students go on to a seminary after completing their undergraduate degree.Nevertheless, by the early 2000s, the university quietly reexamined its position on accreditation as degree mills proliferated and various government bureaucracies, such as law enforcement agencies, began excluding BJU graduates on the grounds that the university did not appear on appropriate federal lists.