Messiah University, 12 miles southwest of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — and about a 30 minute drive from Hersheypark — was originally founded as a Bible school that included missionary training. Today, it’s a nondenominational evangelical university, based on Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions. It offers more than 80 majors and 12 master’s degree programs, as well as certificate, licensure and non-degree classes.

The strong academic focus is combined with an emphasis on service learning, as well as real-world experience. Students have abundant opportunities for off-campus learning through an impressive mix of specialized programs that include domestic study options in Chicago and Baltimore as well as overseas courses in places like Italy, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

Messiah students also have an array of selections in their method of study — the university offers dual-degree “3+” programs that speed up student transition toward a graduate degree, a high school dual enrollment program and three-year degree options.

Messiah’s evangelical focus includes required chapel attendance and adherence to the Community Covenant, an understanding “that life draws meaning from submission to Christ and service to others.” The school fields 22 Division III teams, and soccer is particularly popular.