In its charter, granted in 1840 by the Commonwealth of Virginia and recognized in 1863 by the newly organized state of West Virginia, the mission of Bethany College is defined as

the instruction of youth in the various branches of science and literature, the useful arts and the learned and foreign languages.

Alexander Campbell set the purpose of the College in the context of western religious tradition and the thinking of the American Enlightenment, interpreting it to imply that the goal of education is to prepare students to become useful and responsible members of society by liberating them from superstition and ignorance, the tyranny of others, and “vulgar prejudices .” Campbell envisioned that upon graduation, students would become their own teacher and pupil and continue their education throughout life .

Bethany College continues to accept the implications of its mission as understood by its founder . It continues to accept the responsibility for educating effective, honorable, humane, and intelligent citizens who believe in and will promote the creation of a world of worth and value, integrating critical reason with the convictions of faith, personal accomplishment with ethical responsibility, and individual development with service to others .