From the School

Perched on a scenic hilltop where three states meet, Briar Cliff University is a private, Catholic Franciscan institution that attracts students who dream about making a difference in the world.

As one of the country’s most service and outreach-oriented universities, Briar Cliff was founded in 1930 by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque, with a mission to educate students in the Franciscan tradition of service, caring and openness to all.

More than three-quarters of classes at Briar Cliff are taught by full-time faculty — not adjunct instructors or graduate assistants — meaning students are able to form lasting relationships with their professors; working side-by-side on research, internship placements and networking opportunities. Briar Cliff faculty members are renowned and recognized in their field. They have published extensively, been recognized as Fulbright Scholars, worked on the global Human Genome Project and performed at Carnegie Hall. But more importantly, they take the most pride in the success of their students.

Briar Cliff’s students find success after graduation, with 95% of 2015’s graduates finding employment or continuing their education (74.2% finding employment and 20.7% pursuing graduate education). Of those finding employment, 78% found employment that was directly related to their major. Outside of the classroom, our students are also recognized for their efforts in giving back to the community, contributing over 10,000 hours of service to the region annually.

Beyond the classroom, Briar Cliff is nationally recognized for its community outreach as a member of the President’s National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for six consecutive years. Briar Cliff students spend 10,000 hours annually spearheading service projects across the community, the region, the nation and the world. Often times, the service relates directly to the students’ chosen field of study: Education majors tutor children in after-school programs; nursing students help with Red Cross disaster relief; accounting majors help low-income families file their taxes; kinesiology majors develop exercise workouts for local senior centers; and biology majors work to restore natural habitat at our local parks and nature centers.

The University has garnered national attention for its innovative “Learning Communities” initiative. The program places first-year students who have similar interests into academically themed learning groups which enroll in similar classes, team up on service projects and adjust to college life together. The result for the Fall 2015 incoming cohort was a retention rate of 78.9 percent.

Briar Cliff is also viewed as a forward-thinking institution when it comes to non-traditional college students. With its online degree completion offerings and highly respected night-and-weekend adult study program, the University provides convenient and high quality education to students in all stages of life. Briar Cliff is ranked among the nation’s top 10 Catholic online institutions (, its online Bachelor of Social Work program is ranked in the top 10 nationally ( and BCU is listed as the second best online college in the state of Iowa (

Office of Admissions:
(800) 662-3303


From The School

  1. Complete an application for admission (
  2. Submit high school transcripts and test scores to Briar Cliff.
  3. Schedule a visit to Briar Cliff’s campus.
  4. Complete a housing application, if you plan to live on campus.
  5. Submit an enrollment deposit to save your housing spot.
  6. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  7. Sign up for a New Student Registration Day in Spring or Summer 2017.


Acceptance Rate
Average HS GPA

GPA Breakdown

Over 3.75
3.50 - 3.74
3.25 - 3.49
3.00 - 3.24
2.50 - 2.99
2.00 - 2.49

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SAT Reading
25th-75th percentile
(enrolled students)
420 - 490
SAT Math
25th-75th percentile
(enrolled students)
440 - 540

ACT Composite
25th-75th percentile (enrolled students)
18 - 24

Testing Policies

ACT Writing Policy
ACT with or without Writing accepted

SAT Essay Policy
SAT with or without Writing accepted

Other Admission Factors


Academic GPA
Standardized Test Scores

Selectivity Rating

Get a personalized plan for a competitive application from an admissions expert.

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From The School

Academic Programs

Students at Briar Cliff have the unique opportunity to perform undergraduate research, side-by-side with professors. As home to one of the region’s only educational cadaver labs; state-of-the-art biology, chemistry, nursing and kinesiology laboratories; the Siouxland Research Center which helps area non-profits perform research; and the nation’s largest urban tallgrass prairie, 150 acres of natural classroom in BCU’s own backyard — students in the natural and social sciences have ample opportunities to boost their résumés and applications to graduate school.

The Professional Development school is a collaboration with local elementary and high schools to give Briar Cliff education majors hands-on experience in local classrooms right away. The early exposure helps teaching candidates decide if they are choosing the right career field, and equips them with hundreds of hours of classroom experience before they ever start student-teaching.

Founded in 1989, the Briar Cliff Review is a nationally renowned literary and art magazine, published annually by students and faculty in the Department of Modern Languages at BCU. The Review is committed to nurturing emerging writers and artists and has helped cultivate the careers of several renowned authors, including New York Times and #1 international best-selling author Jenna Blum.

Briar Cliff offers a selective honors program to provide motivated students with a platform to pursue their passion to the greatest extent possible. More than simply taking classes, the honors program provides for more active learning collaborations that transform Briar Cliff students, their community and our world. This is done through seminars, individual research projects, internships, community outreach, travel opportunities and even foreign study.

With the goal of giving all students a support system to be confident and successful, both inside and outside of the classroom, Briar Cliff has created a student mentor system — students helping other college students, on anything from honing study skills to dealing with homesickness to adjusting to college life in general. This support system includes peer mentors, course mentors, writing mentors, social mentors, tech mentors and research mentors.

Majors and Degrees Offered

With more than 30 undergraduate degrees, several online degree completion programs for working adults and a host of graduate degrees, Briar Cliff supports students in all stages of higher education. To find available majors, visit

Faculty and Class Information

Total Faculty
with Terminal Degree


Most frequent class size
2 - 9
Most frequent lab / sub section size
10 - 19

Graduation Rates

Graduate in 4 years
Graduate in 5 years
Graduate in 6 years


  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences

  • Biology/Biological Sciences, General

  • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services

  • Accounting and Related Services
  • Business Administration and Management, General
  • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
  • Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General
  • Management Information Systems, General
  • Marketing/Marketing Management, General
  • Operations Management and Supervision

  • Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs

  • Mass Communication/Media Studies

  • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services

  • Computer Science

  • Education

  • Art Teacher Education
  • Education, General
  • Elementary Education and Teaching
  • Music Teacher Education
  • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching
  • Secondary Education and Teaching
  • Special Education and Teaching, General

  • English Language and Literature/Letters

  • English Language and Literature, General
  • Writing, General

  • Foreign languages, literatures, and Linguistics

  • Spanish Language and Literature

  • Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences

  • Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist
  • Family Practice Nurse/Nursing
  • Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist
  • Nursing Education
  • Physical Therapy/Therapist
  • Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse

  • History

  • History, General

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies

  • Mathematics and Statistics

  • Mathematics, General

  • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other

  • Natural Resources and Conservation

  • Environmental Science

  • Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies

  • Health and Physical Education, General
  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Sport and Fitness Administration/Management

  • Physical Sciences

  • Chemistry, General

  • Psychology

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Psychology, General

  • Public Administration and Social Service Professions

  • Social Work

  • Social Sciences

  • Criminology
  • Political Science and Government, General
  • Sociology

  • Theology and Religious Vocations

  • Theology/Theological Studies

  • Visual and Performing Arts

  • Art/Art Studies, General
  • Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General
  • Graphic Design
  • Music, General

Students Say

Perched atop a hill ("The Cliff") in Sioux City, Iowa, Briar Cliff University operates within a Catholic liberal arts perspective, and teaches those who attend to embody four Franciscan values: service, caring for all, reverence of creation, and peacemaking. The university provides a broad education on top of field-specific programs, thus "creating well-rounded individuals ready for the work force." Students can choose from more than thirty majors (or even combine majors) and benefit from a 12:1 faculty-to-student ratio that "allows you to really focus on the coursework and becoming a professional." At the end of four years, Briar Cliff students will have completed a quality, one-on-one education that allows them "to grow through diversity, cultural opportunities, and by giving back to the community." Professors here are dynamic and make classes interactive, and they are usually very good at explaining material on a level the student can understand "while still pushing the student to grasp new concepts and dive deeper into concepts that are already understood." "Time flies by in every class because even the topics that I would usually find boring become interesting thanks to the professors," says one student. There is "an abundance of support to help...students to succeed," and all here are treated as "individuals rather than numbers." Students have the ability to talk to their professors "essentially whenever you have time" and value "not having to go through TAs and graduate students."


Post-Bachelor's certificate
Post-Master's certificate

Career Services

On-Campus Job Interviews Available

Career Services

Alumni Services
Interest Inventory
Opportunities at School


Notable Faculty

Prominent Alumni

Timothy Wente
Dir. of IT International, Boeing Co

Dale Monroe
Superintendent of Anamosa Community Schools

James Berry
President, Mount Marty College

James Jensen
CEO, Great West Casualty

Ray Cole
President, Citadel Communications

Richard Anderson
President, ViraQuest, Inc.

Cole Wright
NFL Network

Graduation Rates

Graduate in 4 years
Graduate in 5 years
Graduate in 6 years

Career Services

On-Campus Job Interviews Available

Career Services

Alumni Services
Interest Inventory
Opportunities at School


ROI & Outcomes


From The School

Tuition, Room, Board and Fees

Annual undergraduate tuition and fees for 2017-18 is $29,606, while standard room and board is $8,640 at our private institution.

Financial Aid

Each year, Briar Cliff awards over $20 million in financial aid to more than 1,300 students in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work study employment. Briar Cliff believes in the value of a Catholic education, and it is our mission to make higher education accessible and affordable. As such, all first-year students are awarded financial aid based on merit, talent, leadership and financial need. Financial aid is awarded annually and FAFSA applications are available on Oct. 1. Briar Cliff’s FAFSA code is 001846.


Application Deadlines
Notification Date
Feb 1

Required Forms

State Aid

Financial Aid Statistics

Average Freshman Total Need-Based Gift Aid

Average Undergraduate Total Need-Based Gift Aid

Average Need-Based Loan

Undergraduates who have borrowed through any loan program

Average amount of loan debt per graduate

Average amount of each freshman scholarship/grant package

Financial aid provided to international students

Expenses per Academic Year

Required Fees
Average Cost for Books and Supplies

Tuition / Fees Vary by Year of Study
Board for Commuters
Transportation for Commuters

On-Campus Room and Board
Comprehensive Fee

Available Aid

Financial Aid Methodology

Scholarships and Grants


Need-Based College/University Scholarship or Grant Aid from Institutional Funds
Need-Based Federal Pell
Need-Based Private Scholarships
Need-Based SEOG
Need-Based State Scholarships

Institutional non-need-based scholarship or grant aid is available

Federal Direct Student Loan Programs
Direct PLUS Loans
Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

Federal Family Education Loan Programs (FFEL)
Federal Perkins Loans

Is Institutional Employment Available (other than Federal Work Study)

Direct Lender


From The School

Represented by a 46.7-percent diversity rate in its most recent incoming class, the Briar Cliff student body comes from all backgrounds, cultures and corners of the world. Nearly half (44.8%) of BCU freshmen are first-generation college students. At Briar Cliff, students, faculty and staff deeply value diversity and are committed to a culture of respect and support. Though BCU is a Catholic, Franciscan institution; the university invites all faiths and perspectives into its community.

From cheering on the Charger athletic teams in the Blue Crew, to participating on BCU’s national-qualifying Enactus entrepreneurship team, to leading service projects with the social work club, Briar Cliff students place an emphasis on learning outside of the classroom. Students stay involved with more than 30 campus organizations — and the list is ever-evolving, because students launch several new clubs each year. Find more information at

With 18 intercollegiate sports, Briar Cliff draws student-athletes with the drive to succeed both in competition and the classroom. Briar Cliff is an NAIA Champions of Character institution — so Charger student-athletes develop life-shaping qualities that stick with you long after competition has ended.

Student Body Profile

Total Undergraduate Enrollment
Foreign Countries Represented


American Indian or Alaskan Native

56% female
44% male
40% are out of state
71% are full time
29% are part time

Students Say

Briar Cliff's small campus is "great, because you can get up for your 8:00 a.m. [class] at 7:45 and still be on time." It is rare to walk across campus "without having some kind of acquaintance greet you warmly and/or hold the door open for you." Speaking of which, "everyone leaves their doors open, and we all pass by and talk with each other and hang out." If you're an athlete (and most people here are), "life at Briar Cliff consists mostly of class and practice," but there is "also plenty of free time to do work or get away from school for awhile." With many hiking areas and other activities within walking distance, students are "constantly going out to eat with each other or doing something fun on and off campus." The vast majority of the student body also "keep a routine workout schedule." Though students are in love with the school, it is almost universally agreed that Briar Cliff "is lacking in the facilities department." Briar Cliff's 1,200 students keep thirty clubs and organizations humming along, and the school "works well with the local young professionals group" to provide experience. To maintain these numbers, the majority of students "are involved in two, three, or more activities" outside of their area of study. This interconnectivity "means that students know each other, making it feel like a small-town atmosphere."


From The School


Perched on a beautiful, 70-acre hilltop overlooking the downtown Sioux City, Iowa skyline on one side and natural, rolling prairieland on the other, our campus provides safety, scenery and a strong sense of community. Briar Cliff is ranked among the safest college campuses in the United States, and from the moment you set foot on campus, you’ll experience a genuine feeling of acceptance that will forever shape your life.

Ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the Best Places for Business and Careers, and twice named an All-American City by the National Civic League, Sioux City is a dynamic, metropolitan area of 140,000 friendly people. It is located on the shores of the mighty Missouri River and nestled between the rolling Loess Hills where three states meet. Our vibrant community is a four-hour drive away from Minneapolis to the north and Kansas City to the south. It’s the perfect blend of big city opportunity and small-town hospitality – and there’s no place like it in the world.

Campus Facilities & Equipment

With more than 100,000 print and electronic resources available to students, along with mentoring services and the writing center for students who need academic help, the Bishop Mueller Library supports students and faculty at Briar Cliff. It also contains computer labs, conference small-group study rooms, and project collaboration spaces for students looking to study individually or with classmates.

The resplendent Chapel of Our Lady of Grace is the place of worship for the Briar Cliff community; and home to music recitals and ceremonies throughout the academic year. The chapel was designed by Barry Byrne, a renowned church architect who was the first American to design a Catholic church outside of the U.S. Adjacent to the chapel is a small courtyard and prayer and reflection garden dedicated to the Sisters of Saint Francis, Briar Cliff’s founding order.

The home to the majority of Briar Cliff’s academic departments and classrooms, Heelan Hall was recently renovated with the addition of cutting-edge classrooms, a revamped bookstore and state-of-the-art nursing, biology, chemistry and digital media laboratories. Its 8,150-square foot atrium and coffee shop have become a hub of student activity on campus. (or, a favorite stop for students between classes).

The Newman-Flanagan Center is Briar Cliff’s main athletic complex. The 39,000-square foot facility, which was built literally into “The Cliff” (three-quarters of the complex is underground), is home of Ray Nacke Court, an athletic training facility, and coaching offices for most of Briar Cliff’s 18 athletic programs. The building’s 2,500-seat arena is also home to the “Blue Crew,” the rowdy BCU student cheering section for the Chargers’ home basketball and volleyball games.

Students at Briar Cliff can often be found grabbing a latte at Java City, catching a nap in the Roth Atrium, playing foosball in the Stark Student Center, or curbing late-night study cravings with a run to The Fire Pit. There are also sand volleyball courts, outdoor movies on Heffernan Mall, and a nine-hole disc golf course that has been built around campus.

The majority of undergraduate students (65-70%) live in one of the four campus residence halls, which are a quick, scenic walk from classrooms, labs and the library. Each of the university’s residence halls comes with wireless networks, cable television service, dining services, study lounges, access to laundry and fitness facilities, and 24-hour, 7-day security and maintenance crews.

The hub of student activity on campus, the multi-functional Stark Student Center houses Briar Cliff’s cafeteria, conference and reception rooms, a pub and game area, student development offices, the university mail service, the Clausen Art Gallery, and is the site of a new, state-of-the-art fitness center.

Off-Campus Opportunities

Every year, Briar Cliff students spend thousands of hours leading service projects close to home, and embarking on mission trips around the world. These high-impact opportunities not only make a difference for those they help; they also equip students with lifelong skills and values they will retain long after they graduate.

Advisors and faculty members at Briar Cliff work with students to find regional and national internships that provide hands-on experience in the field. Recently, Briar Cliff students have interned with the U.S. Congress, NASA, American Red Cross,, Heritage Foundation, Mayo Foundation, Microsoft, the Iowa Department of Human Services and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Briar Cliff is committed to increasing student participation in high-impact national and international travel experiences. These are chances for students to immerse themselves in different countries and cultures, and broaden their perspective as they see the world. Recent study abroad opportunities have included France, Italy, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala and Honduras.

Campus Life

Undergrads living on campus
Help finding off-campus housing

First-Year Students living on campus

Campus Environment
Small Urban

Housing Options

Dorms Coed
Theme Housing

Students Say

The teachers and rest of the faculty are great, but the student body is truly one of a kind, says a Briar Cliff student. This the Franciscan Midwest, and "everyone is so nice." "You never pass anyone without a smile. There is always someone willing to lend a helping hand," says one student. Differences such as sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, major, and political affiliation "are recognized and encouraged." Most come to this tight-knit campus not knowing anyone, "yet after only a few, short weeks you feel as if you know everyone." It's "almost like a surrogate family for those that come from different states." "Some schools have cliques like the jocks or the nerds but at Briar Cliff the only clique is the whole student body," a student explains.

Special Needs Admissions

Program / Service Name
Student Support Services

Type of Program
For all students with disabilities

Brenda Parkhill

College Entrance Tests Required

Interview Required

Special Need Services Offered

Calculator allowed in exams

Dictionary allowed in exams

Computer allowed in exams

Spellchecker allowed in exams

Extended test time



Oral exams


Distraction-free environment

Accommodation for students with ADHD

Reading machine

Other assistive technology

Student Activities

Registered Student Organizations
Number of Honor Societies

Number of Social Sororities
Number of Religious Organizations


Athletic Division

9% participate in intramural sports
40% participate in intercollegiate sports

Men's Sports (Chargers)
10 Sports

Cross Country
Track Field Indoor
Track Field Outdoor
Women's Sports (Chargers)
8 Sports

Cross Country
Track Field Indoor
Track Field Outdoor

Student Services

LGBT Support Groups
Minority Support Groups
Army ROTC Offered



Campus Security Report

Campus Security Report

The Jeanne Clery Act requires colleges and universities to disclose their security policies, keep a public crime log, publish an annual crime report and provide timely warnings to students and campus employees about a crime posing an immediate or ongoing threat to students and campus employees.

Please visit The Princeton Review’s page on campus safety for additional resources:

The Princeton Review publishes links directly to each school's Campus Security Reports where available. Applicants can also access all school-specific campus safety information using the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool provided by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education:

Other Information

Campus-wide Internet Network

Email and Web Access Available

% of Classrooms with Wireless Internet

Number of Computer Labs / Classrooms

Average Number of PC's per Lab

Network Access in Dorm Rooms

Network Access in Dorm Lounges

Fee for Network Use

Student Web Pages Permitted

Student Web Pages Provided

Partnerships with Technology Companies

Online Class Registration Available

Personal computer included in tuition for each student

Require Undergraduates to Own Computers

Undergraduates that Own Computers

Discounts Available with Hardware Vendors


Webcasting, Digital Audio or Video-Streaming of Courses

Webcasting, Digital Audio or Video-Streaming of Campus Radio / TV Stations

Campus Visits Contact

Lana Johnson
Visit Coordinator

Admissions Office
Box 2100
Sioux City, IA 51104-0100



Experience College Life

Most Popular Places On Campus
Java City
Stark Student Center
Newman Flanagan Athletic Center
Bishop Mueller Library
Heelan Hall (Academics)
The McCoy Arnold Athletic Facility was completed in 2004. This multi-use athletic facility provides additional facilities for students to work on personal training and fitness.

Most Popular Places Off Campus
Tyson Events Center
Orpheum Theatre
Promenade and Carmike Theatres
Lakeport Commons and Southern Hills Mall
Historic 4th Street
There are many events going year round in Sioux City. Students are kept informed of special events which are happening by campus e-mail.

Campus Tours

Campus Tours
Appointment Required: Yes
Dates: Year-round
Times: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Average Length: 1 hour

On Campus Interview

Campus Interviews

Information Sessions

Campus visit dates are listed on the web site

Faculty and Coach Visits

Dates/Times Available

Contact Admissions Office

Advance Notice
1 week

Contact Email Address for Visit

Class Visits

Dates/Times Available
Academic Year

Contact Admissions Office

Overnight Dorm Stays

Overnight Dorm Stays

Contact Admissions Office


Types of Transportation Available to Campus
Sioux Gateway Airport is less than 12 miles from campus and offers taxi and rental car service to the campus. City buses make regular stops on campus.

Driving Instructions to Campus
I-29 - Exit #149 onto Hamilton Blvd. Drive approximately 2.5 miles and turn left onto Stone Park Blvd. Drive approximately 1 block and turn left onto W. Clifton Ave. Drive several blocks until the road ends a a "Y" and turn right to find the campus' north entrance. Hwy 20 West- Becomes Gordon Drive as it enters Sioux City. Turn right onto Nebraska Street. Drive approximately 2 miles and turn left onto 27th Street. Drive approximately 1 mile and cross Hamilton Blvd. After approximately one block turn left onto W. Clifton Ave. Drive several blocks until the road ends a "Y" and turn right to find the campus' north entrance. Hwy 75 South - Driving south on Highway 75 exit at Business 75 and then exit #99 onto Floyd Blvd./46th St. Hwy 75 North - Driving north on Highway 75, exit at Floyd Blvd./46th St. and then turn right toward Floyd Blvd. Drive approximately one block, turn left onto W. Clifton Ave. Drive several blocks until the road ends at a "Y" and turn right to find the campus' north entrance.

Local Accommodations
Mention that you're visiting Briar Cliff University and hotel rooms in the Sioux City area will range from approximately $50 to $85 per night. Hotels within about 10 minutes of campus include AmericInn (near the shopping malls on Business Hwy 75/S. Lewis Blvd.), Best Western - City Centre, Clarion Hotel (downtown), Country Inn and Suites (in Dakota Dunes, SD off I-29), Days Inn and Fairfield Inn (on Singing Hills Blvd., off I-29 close to the airport and shopping malls), Holiday Inn Downtown, Marina Inn (across the Missouri River, in South Sioux City, NE) and Quality Inn(on Zenith Drive off Hamilton Blvd at I-29).

Articles & Advice