Ohio Christian University was founded in 1948 for the purpose of educating clergy for its sponsoring organization, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. In 1958 a Board of Trustees was established, and in 1961 the institution was incorporated by the State of Ohio. By the mid-1960s the institution had reached an enrollment of 150 and moved to forty acres on Route 22 east of Circleville.
In 1976 the institution received authorization from the Ohio Board of Regents and accreditation through the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Other programs were added such as counseling and music. In 1983 teacher education was initially offered for students interested in Christian school teaching. Later, the program was expanded through articulation agreements with other institutions to enable students to receive state licensure upon completion.
In the late 1990s the institution added a business program. The first nontraditional adult degree completion programs (AIM Adult Degree Program, now the College of Adult and Graduate Studies) accepted students in January 1999. In 1998 the institution began pursuing dual institutional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission and was granted HLC accreditation in 2005.
Following the Higher Learning Commission accreditation in 2005, the Board of Trustees began a search for a new president who would expand the outreach of the University. Under the new president’s leadership, the mission of the institution was clarified; new goals were envisioned; assessment plans updated, clarified, and implemented; and programs and partnerships expanded.
Ohio Christian University has remained true to its founders’ vision throughout its history. Since its first graduating class of five in 1952, the institution has continued to produce leaders for the church and society. Although the mission, structures, and processes have developed and expanded throughout six decades, the founding goal has remained—that men and women be taught "to value souls more than money and eternity more than time," producing Christian servant leaders to impact the world.