Historical photo of the old entrance to School of the Ozarks campus

History of the College


College of the Ozarks is a fully accredited, Christian, liberal arts college located just outside Branson, Missouri. Founded in 1906 by Presbyterian minister Reverend James Forsythe as a high school called The School of the Ozarks, the institution became a junior college in 1956 before becoming a four-year bachelor’s program in 1965. It has been called College of the Ozarks since 1990.

The institution provides the opportunity for full-time students to work at one of more than 100 campus jobs or industries to help pay for part of their cost of education. The remaining portion of the students’ expenses is covered through scholarships provided by gifts and contributions from donors who believe in and support the programs and policies of the College. These student work programs and donor contributions allow C of O to operate as a no-tuition college. 

In 2012, College of the Ozarks reopened School of the Ozarks, a classical laboratory high school. The addition of School of the Ozarks was followed soon after with the full implementation of a lower school in the fall of 2015, completing the K-college format.





Quick Facts

Current Enrollment: 1,512 students
More than 50 Degree Programs
Graduation Rate: 63%; <br />Acceptance Rate: 8-12%<br />




Amy Grant holding up Hard Work U sweatshirt during a visit to College of the Ozarks

Famous Visitors


Every year, College of the Ozarks hosts world-renowned speakers on campus through both the Spring Forum Series and the Leonard and Edith B. Gittinger Community Convocation Series. Famous guests include world leaders such as President George W. Bush, Governor Sarah Palin, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher, and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Students, staff and community members have enjoyed visits from Chick-fil-A Founder and Chairman S. Truett Cathy, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Dr. Franklin Graham, General Colin Powell, and others.

For more information, see Convocations and Forums.