Graduate seminary education requires a significant investment of time, effort, and resources. Choosing an accredited online seminary protects your investment and minimizes the possibility of ending up with a diploma that has little value.
What is accreditation?
Accreditation in higher education is a school and peer review process for the improvement of academic quality and public accountability of institutions and programs. The accreditation review and validation process occurs usually every 3-10 years depending on the accrediting agency.
I’ve seen the term “fully accredited.” What does that mean?
This is like asking if someone is fully pregnant. Either a school is accredited, or it is not. There are no levels of accreditation. It is pointless to put “fully” before accredited.
Who accredits schools of higher learning?
There are several different types of accrediting bodies. Most accreditation is institutional, meaning the entire school is accredited. This type of accreditation is given by either a national accreditation agency, such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or a regional accrediting agency such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission. Specialized or programmatic accreditation agencies accredit degrees or specialized types of education within universities or colleges. Examples of specialized accrediting agencies are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Association of Theological Schools. Schools may be accredited by more than one accrediting agency.
What makes an accrediting body legitimate?
In the United States, the responsibility for approving accreditation agencies rests on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. CHEA is an organization comprised of representatives from accredited colleges, universities, and schools of higher education. If a school says they are accredited, find out if CHEA recognizes the accrediting body.
Why choose an accredited online seminary?
There are 4 reasons to select an accredited online seminary.
- Accreditation ensures that the curriculum and the operation of the school meets certain standards. Standards cover such areas as: mission; educational program objectives; educational services; student support; student achievement and satisfaction; financial viability; qualification of owners, governing boards, staff, and faculty; admission practices; ethical practices in advertising and promotion, and financial responsibility.
- Accreditation assures employers, such as churches and ministry organizations, that the school’s graduates received a quality education. Ministry agencies, denominations, and chaplaincies often require their ministers to attend an accredited school.
- Credits from an online accredited seminary are more likely to be accepted at another accredited school. Keep in mind that the transfer of credit is not automatic, but is the prerogative of the receiving school. Acceptance of credit is related to many factors, including the requirements for the degree the person is seeking. Most accrediting bodies limit or prevent schools from accepting credit from non-accredited schools.
- Financial grants, scholarships, and loans are often predicated on the recipient attending an accredited institution.
For more information watch this short video on the value of accreditation.
About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.