Our Story

Over 90 years ago, we began as a private, liberal-arts, two-year college for women. Today, we are still a private, liberal-arts institution — but we have grown into a University that offers award-winning educational programs, with all levels of certifications and degrees, to any individual wanting to pursue higher education.

Briar Cliff was founded on September 18, 1930 by the Catholic Franciscan order known as the Sisters of St. Francis. While the order is based in Dubuque, IA, the Sister's went to the area of greatest need when they sought to establish a higher education institution focused on students and centered on values.  

Originally a river town on the intersection of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota, Sioux City is a natural hub for business and industry. Briar Cliff's infamous 70-acre clifftop campus offers students a unique 360 degrees of inspiring views overlooking the Loess Hills' protected prairies and the City of Sioux City. This location allows our students both big city opportunities and a safe, secure atmosphere in which to live and learn.

Throughout the years, Briar Cliff University has remained faithful to both our religious and intellectual traditions. This commitment remains as strong today as the day that we were founded. We are proud to be the only Catholic university in the Diocese of Sioux City

 We aim to ensure that Briar Cliff's mission, vision, and values inform our every endeavor.

Awards and Recognitions

At Briar Cliff University, we are proud to receive awards and recognitions from respected organizations, demonstrating our commitment to giving every student a quality education. 

U.S. News & World Report | Best College
null In 2019, Briar Cliff University was proud to receive the #29th ranking among the Best Regional Colleges Midwest from U.S. News & World Report.
VIQTORY | Top Military Friendly School
nullVIQTORY named Briar Cliff University among the nation’s top schools for veterans and their families. 
Great Value Colleges |  Ranked for Affordability
nullCurrently #37, Great Value Colleges consistently ranks Briar Cliff University as one of the most affordable online Christian colleges.  
Nationally Ranked Programs

Every year, Briar Cliff University has been honored to receive awards and recognitions for our outstanding programs. 

  • Top RN-BSN Online Programs in Iowa | Ranking: #3 | toprntobsn.com
  • Online Business Administration | Ranked among the top 20 programs nationwide | Business-Management-Degree.net
  • Master of Management | Ranking: #7 | OnlineU, an SR Education Group product
  • Master of Management: Sports Management | Ranking: #10 | OnlineU, an SR Education Group product
  • Master of Management: Human Resources | Ranking: #3 | OnlineU, an SR Education Group product
  • Master of Health Administration | Ranking: #3 | OnlineU, an SR Education Group product
  • Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) | Ranking: #25 | BestColleges, a HigherEducation.com partner
  • Master in Healthcare Administration | Ranking: #1 | Intelligent.com
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) | Ranking: #11 | Intelligent.com
  • Master of Science in Nursing  (MSN) | Ranking: #34 | Intelligent.com
  • Accounting | Ranking: #36 | Intelligent.com
  • Social Work | Ranking: #28 | Intelligent.com 
  • Social Work | Ranking: #6 | Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Social Work Degrees
  • Social Work| Ranking: #8|  Best Bachelor’s Social Work Degrees in Iowa
  • Social Work | Ranking: #21 | Best Online Bachelor’s Social Work Degrees| Socialworkdegree.org