Whenever one encounters a school of higher learning, it is commonly asked: Is the school accredited? There is value in asking the question, but a simple yes or no answer may not suffice in giving the real picture of either a school’s or its degree’s worth. Accreditation is a standard of measure by which a school can justify its program of education before others – or in other words, accreditation equals validation. Accrediting agencies are private non-profit organizations, and there are numerous agencies – but, there is not a unified standard of acceptance/worth among all agencies. Therefore, it is neither a great thing nor a difficult thing for a school or seminary to become endorsed by an “accrediting agency” of some sort if it so wishes. But, not all accrediting agencies are of equal worth, nor does an agency’s endorsement of a school necessarily ensure a wide acceptance of the school’s credits and degrees. In the world of “accredited” degrees, a school’s accreditation is only as good as the acceptance of its credits and degrees at other schools as well as in the workplace.
However (though there are many accrediting bodies whose accreditations have little to no acceptance in the academic community, nor in the field/workplace [i.e., little validation]), there are six regional accrediting bodies which do hold a high standard of acceptance in both. Schools obtaining accreditation from any one of these six regional accrediting bodies have both their credits and degrees accepted by schools which are accredited by the remaining five. When people ask if a school is accredited, they are typically asking (whether they know it or not) if the school is accredited by one of these six regional accrediting bodies. Although there is no such thing as “Federal Accreditation” (accrediting bodies being private, non-profit organizations), the federal government grants federal loans to students attending a school having the endorsement of one of the six regionally-accredited bodies. This includes “Christian schools” which gain regional accreditation from one of these six private organizations – their students also become eligible for federal aid.1
Regional accreditation certainly has its place in the world of many different fields (the field of medicine for one). However, regional accreditation has not served the Church well at all. The dilapidated state of many such regionally accredited “Christian” universities and seminaries, and the multitude of theologically unsound professors/teachers who are deeply entrenched at them, clearly demonstrates this to every sober-minded Christian. Therefore, there are many Christian colleges, Bible schools and seminaries which have no interest at all in obtaining regional accreditation status, who do not desire to have any kind of a tie to the federal government. However, they are (academically speaking) just as committed to higher education in their field as any regionally accredited school – and no doubt, have even a higher standard in many cases. This fact is witnessed in the credits from many such schools having both their credits and degrees accepted at regionally accredited schools.2
Concerning theological training/discipleship, regional accreditation has clearly not been a friend of the Church – in fact, it has been detrimental to its health. Regional accreditation by its very design has a tendency to isolate itself from pastoral influence in the name of academic pursuit. Yet, these are the very ones whom the Holy Spirit has made overseers (i.e., pastoral influence), being those who are especially charged with shepherding the flock – yet pastoral influence is virtually non-existent in the world of regionally accredited Christian schools. The isolation from pastoral influence is a fatal flaw in “higher” Christian education which prizes “regionally accredited degrees.” There is of course valid reasons for a liberal arts school, Christian or otherwise, to gain a high acceptance of their degrees. But there is no compelling/worthy reason for a seminary to gain such. In fact, there are even compelling reasons for a strictly theological school to both avoid and fear any input or tie to the federal government. 3
School of the Called Seminary, being a strictly theological school (as well as being designed in a manner that it can be offered at little to no cost [i.e., no need for federal student loans]) has no desire or reason to seek after regional accreditation status. However, the seminary has been designed so that the credits and degrees it issues might be able to be accepted at higher institutions of learning – including schools holding regional accreditation. Careful attention has been taken in the design process of the seminary in order to enhance its validation (which is the true meaning of accreditation) in the eyes of other educational institutions. And, it is not by any stretch an unheard of practice that a non-regionally accredited school has its credits accepted by a regionally accredited school. However, there are many variables in the acceptance of a school’s credits/degrees, including how well the student may reveal his academic accomplishments. However, no school without regional accreditation can guarantee the acceptance of its degrees in either a school or in the workplace. However, School of the Called Seminary seeks to establish a high standard of validation for its degrees. This includes having all 300-courses and up being designed or approved by one who holds a degree which is at least one full degree higher than the course of study being taught (see related footnote below for more information).4
School of the Called Seminary holds Christian discipleship to be the responsibility of the Church in obedience to Her Lord, rather than pursuing the endorsement of a regionally accredited organization. When the evangelical community shows itself to be fascinated with gaining regional accreditation status in the field of theology and discipleship, “higher Christian education” must remain in a disastrous state.
As an alternative to regional accreditation, some Christian/Bible colleges and seminaries have looked to validate their credits and degrees through obtaining what is termed national accreditation. In the broader understanding of the academic community, national accreditation is not considered an equivalent to regional accreditation from one of the big six agencies—meaning, students with credits or degrees from a school holding national accreditation have no guarantee that either their credits or their degrees will be transferable to a regionally accredited school. Nationally accredited schools are typically for-profit schools which offer career, technical skills or religious education, whereas regionally accredited schools are primarily known as academically oriented schools, often being state owned as well as private for-profit schools. One of the perceived benefits from obtaining national accreditation from a reputable accrediting agency is that it enables attending students to become eligible for federal aid.
A multitude of reasons support our decision to not seek national accreditation either. Being a non-profit as opposed to a for-profit institution, we are opposed to our students incurring debt to attend (i.e., no need for student federal loans). The seminary has been uniquely designed (we know of no other quite like it) to offer many courses and materials at no cost to students. Although the seminary assigns a suggested cost for students for the higher level degree courses it offers (i.e., the Bachelor and Master Degrees in Theology), it is just that—a suggested cost. Inability to meet the suggested cost does not make one ineligible for enrollment (cf. Chapter 5, Financial Policy). As well, those who place great value on an accredited school typically mean regional accreditation—yet national accreditation is still not an equivalent to regional accreditation. We have determined that acquiring even national accreditation would only add needless cost which must be either passed along to students or borne by the seminary. Furthermore, students who are only interested in regional accreditation should be careful. Schools advertising that they are “fully accredited” may unintentionally mislead someone to think their credits and degrees will be guaranteed to transfer to regionally accredited institutions. 5
School of the Called Seminary is uniquely rooted in pastoral influence from local churches—for it is the lack of pastoral influence in “Christian universities and seminaries” which has devastated the usefulness of many institutions. More often than not, there is a great difference between the academic designs of regionally accredited institutions, and where the heart of faithful pastors reside. School of the Called Seminary has been prayerfully and carefully (and at times, painstakingly) designed in order to meet the requirements necessary to: Serve as a non-profit seminary in the TRUEST SENSE; be found in compliance with all requirements in order to be granted exempt status by the State of Oregon to offer theological occupational degrees (the state where the seminary’s headquarters reside); set in place that which gives true validation to the credits and degrees which the seminary offers—and, most importantly, to be true to the faith once for all delivered to the saints in setting forth a true Christian higher education/ discipleship designed to further the work of the kingdom through equipping those whom God has called to the ministry. And throughout the long and careful process the hand of God has been evidenced, for which we are truly grateful.6
1 The website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) states:
In the United States, accreditation is carried out by private, non-
profit organizations designed for this specific purpose. Institutions
and educational programs seek accredited status as a means of
demonstrating their academic quality to students and the public
and to become eligible for federal funds.” —https://www.chea.org
(accessed March 15, 2019).
2 Three such examples of schools that (although not holding regional accreditation themselves) have courses of study and issue credits and degrees which are recognized and accepted in even various regionally accredited schools include: International Seminary; Portland Bible School; and The North American Reformed Seminary.
There is a kindred spirit shared between School of the Called Seminary and T.N.A.R.S. concerning their website’s statements regarding both regional accreditation and the necessity of Christian education being the responsibility of the Church rather than a separate academic body:
We are an unaccredited institution that is exempt from state
regulation because of the religious nature of our programs. We
do not plan to ever seek regional accreditation. Instead of seeking
approval from outside organizations we believe in the biblical
principle of “by their fruits you shall know them.” Therefore, we
intend to garner a good reputation by the graduates that we produce.
We believe that the Church is the God-ordained institution for
educating its members. Though seminaries have replaced this
function of the Church for some time now, we seek to adhere to
the biblical principle of Church-centered education. Because of
this TNARS does not view itself as a separate institution from the
local church, but rather as a resource for the local church to use
in equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12).
TNARS does not desire to supplant, but rather to work alongside
local church leadership by providing curriculum and educational
support for equipping their members. – http://www.tnars.net
(accessed June 11, 2019).
3 Given the June 26, 2015 ruling in favor of “homosexual marriage,” the following “Proviso” from the Warner Pacific College (now, University) catalog (a liberal arts college holding regional accreditation) gives reason for grave concern concerning what this may require some day:
"Warner Pacific College is an equal opportunity employer, which seeks
faculty and staff who have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and
to the educational mission of the college as a Christian liberal arts
institution. Warner Pacific College does not discriminate in its student
admission and employment practices and provides equal opportunity
for all students, applicants and employees regardless of race, color, sex,
national origin, disability, age, veteran status and any other status
protected by laws and regulations." Proviso, Warner Pacific Catalog,
2017-2018, page 3, https://www.warner pacific.edu(accessed March 15,
2019) (bold/underlining emphasis added).
4 Certainly the vast majority of persons who obtain a theological degree through a non-regionally accredited seminary never encounter a problem concerning its acceptance, for such are not seeking to penetrate the regionally accredited world—most laboring within church related structures. Yet, no school without accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies can guarantee that its credits/degrees will find acceptance elsewhere (whether an educational institution or in the workplace), including School of the Called Seminary. However, it has been both the seminary’s design and expectation that the credits/degrees it issues will find acceptance at other institutions, including some regionally accredited institutions. Beyond the carefulness taken to meet the requirements in order to grant higher degrees, a feature believed to increase the validation of our credits and degrees in the evaluation of other institutions can even be found in our choice not to offer a Doctoral Degree—for regarding our higher level courses and degrees which we offer (300-500-level), they have been designed or approved by one who holds at least a full earned degree higher in a related field (i.e., Bachelor courses by one holding at least a Master’s Degree, and Master courses by one holding a Doctorate Degree). Another feature which it is believed will serve in its validation is the use of resident faculty members who serve as the first teachers, and as the normal channel of admissions to the higher level courses. This genuine student-teacher contact and evaluation is a feature not found in many strictly online schools, and it is a process which we believe sends quality students into the higher degree programs.
In the final analysis, a seminary’s reputation is the greatest validation/ accreditation for its credits/degrees. This is the experience which a longstanding seminary has found, that of International Seminary in Florida (another seminary without regional accreditation, but which has reported a wide acceptance of its degrees). International Seminary’s catalog states the following prime example concerning the acceptance of its chaplaincy program:
[M]ilitary chaplains are required to have a Master of Divinity degree
or the equivalent, from a regionally accredited seminary, or from
a seminary whose credits and degrees are accepted by regionally-
accredited colleges. Since International Seminary’s credits have
been accepted in regionally accredited colleges, a number of our
graduates have received appointments as military chaplains.
—International Seminary Catalog, revised 2015.
http://www.internationalseminary.com (accessed June 11, 2019).
5 The fact is, most who receive degrees from Bible colleges and institutions are not interested in entering the sphere of regionally accredited schools. However, if at some point a student desires to transfer to a regionally accredited institution, we will be happy to present a defense of our credits and degrees on the student’s behalf for the institution’s evaluation. However, institutions not holding regional accreditation should not be assumed to be able to guarantee acceptance of its credits or degrees in regionally accredited schools. Every institution has the right to accept or refuse credits according to their own individual standard and evaluation of them. Even though the acceptance of credits and degrees from non-regionally accredited schools by regionally accredited schools is not an unheard of practice, it would be unwise for one whose goal was to penetrate the regionally accredited world to build his academic transcript with credits from non-regionally accredited institutions.
6 A higher Christian education should not be the exposure to every new theological fad boasting academic support. A higher discipleship must be rooted in and grow out of the elementary principles of Christ. For a fragmented collection of academic courses at institutions of “higher Christian learning” leaves terrible holes in the educational understanding of even basic theology. The lack of focus upon the great doctrines of the faith in many such schools not only produces an inadequate foundation, but helps to deceive those with such an education that “they have arrived.”
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Nondiscriminatory Policy: School of the Called Seminary, whether in reference to qualified faculty or students, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin. This policy concerns all rights, privileges, programs, activities, admission policies, scholarships, positions and all else associated with the seminary. The seminary’s unshakable conviction is that there is only one human race, fallen in Adam, for which our Lord Jesus Christ came to save.