The National Association of Free Will Baptists founded the college as Free Will Baptist Bible College in 1942. The Board of Education of the National Association chose Nashville as an ideal site for the new college, centrally located among the major centers of the denominational population in the Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest.
In 2012 the college changed its name to Welch College to signify its development into a more comprehensive Christian college. The college is named for John L. Welch and his wife Mary. Welch was the leading figure in bringing together eastern and western Free Will Baptists to establish the National Association of Free Will Baptists in 1935, having served as the first moderator and secretary of education of that association. In addition to Dr. L. C. Johnson, Welch College has been led by four presidents: L. R. Ennis (1944-1947), Dr. Charles A. Thigpen (1979-1990), Dr. C. Thomas Malone (1990-2002), and Dr. J. Matthew Pinson (2002-present). Today the College enrolls over 400 students annually from approximately 25 states and several international countries.