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Children of church members were attending college, only to reject the faith of their parents.

Jones later recalled that in 1924, his friend William Jennings Bryan had leaned over to him at a Bible conference service in Winona Lake, Indiana, and said, "If schools and colleges do not quit teaching evolution as a fact, we are going to become a nation of atheists." While he himself was not a college graduate, Jones grew determined to found a college, and on September 12, 1927, he opened Bob Jones College in Panama City, with 88 students.

The university requires use of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible in its services and classrooms, but it does not hold that the KJV is the only acceptable English translation or that it has the same authority as the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

The King-James-Only Movement—or more correctly, movements, since it has many variations—became a divisive force in fundamentalism only as conservative modern Bible translations, such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the New International Version (NIV), began to appear in the 1970s.

More than a hundred concerts, recitals, and laboratory theater productions are also presented annually.

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 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.

The university's nursing major is approved by the South Carolina State Board of Nursing, and a BJU graduate with a BSN is eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse.

In 1944, Jones wrote to John Walvoord of Dallas Theological Seminary that while the university had "no objection to educational work highly standardized….