The Merger

SAGU has occupied its lovely 70-acre campus since 1943. Three Bible schools merged to form Southwestern Bible Institute. The first (Southwestern Bible School) was established at Enid, Oklahoma in 1927 under the leadership of Reverend P.C. Nelson.. The second (Shield of Faith Bible School – containing a Bible school, a grade school and a high school) began at Amarillo, Texas in 1931 under the direction of the Reverend Guy Shields. The third (Southern Bible Institute operating in conjunction with the Richey Evangelistic Temple) began at Goose Creek, Texas in 1931. It was started by Reverend J. T. Little in Trinity Tabernacle and later moved to Houston in 1933. Shield of Faith moved to Fort Worth in 1935 and the high school in 1936.

SBI Becomes Southwestern Bible College (SAGC)

Several districts of the Assemblies of God joined together in ownership of the school in 1954: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Texas, Oklahoma, South Texas and West Texas. In 1963 these districts authorized a change in name to Southwestern Assemblies of God College. From 1968 to 1987 the school also identified part of its curriculum as Southwestern Junior College of the Assemblies of God. During this period of time the Rocky Mountain District joined (1969) the owning districts and later withdrew (1980). The Mississippi District joined the owners in 1979. Also, during this period Southwestern achieved its regional accreditation in respect to the Junior College curriculum. In 1984 the School of Distance Education was established providing new educational opportunities for remote learning. In 1988 the College and the Junior College were united as Southwestern Assemblies of God College and by 1989 the entire college was regionally accredited.

SAGC Becomes Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU)

In the early nineties, Southwestern experienced phenomenal enrollment increases. From 596 students in the fall of 1991, the enrollment had grown to 1,492 students in 1997. Along with the enrollment increase, opportunities to expand the curriculum and programs developed. In December 1994, the Board of Regents unanimously approved the name change to Southwestern Assemblies of God University and authorized the institution to develop graduate programs. The graduate school went operational in 1996 and with this change, Southwestern more accurately reflected its purpose and mission as a university of theological and professional studies, anchored to Holy Scripture. The University accepted the challenges that come with the twenty-first century.

SAGU Creates and Aligns New Colleges

During the first fifteen years of the 21st century, SAGU’s rate of facility growth to service its student population took on amazing proportions. In 2004, the University restructured its academic organization to recognize two colleges under the University umbrella: the College of Bible and Church Ministries, and the College of Arts and Professions. In 2013 the University adjusted its college identities again, dividing into the College of Bible and Church Ministries, the College of Business and Education, and the College of Music and Communication Arts. In 2015, SAGU was approved by regional accreditation as a Level V institution with authorization to offer doctoral programs. The first earned doctorate was awarded in 2019.

SAGU Becomes Nelson University

SAGU is currently in the process of becoming Nelson University, in honor of founder, PC Nelson. The University’s vision of being a distinguished Christian university that equips Spirit-empowered leaders with career and ministry skills by providing affordable education, hands-on training opportunities, and innovative academic programs remains unchanged. This exciting announcement comes with a call to prayer for God’s continued guidance and favor as the University approaches its momentous and long-awaited transition this fall, officially moving into its next era of Kingdom work. For more information on the name change, please visit


Southwestern Assemblies of God University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Questions about the accreditation of Southwestern Assemblies of God University may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

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