Ministry Education Designed by Ministers for Ministers
Accreditation matters as an important measure of institutional quality. In fact, it may matter most if
the goal of the student is to earn a degree for the purpose of entering a profession, or gaining employment promotion.
However, when it comes to
nondenominational Christian ministry education for mature ministers and laypersons, many adult learners base their school selection solely on accreditation. Often it is due to a misreading of
the purpose of accreditation which is to serve as a type of standard assessment factor, and gatekeeper for government funding of education through student loans and grants. That is a necessary
thing for the majority of institutions of higher learning.
On the other hand, certain
types of theological schools actually do not need accreditation. Namely, those specializing in affordable programs for practicing ministers, and laypersons. For these institutions,
accreditation adds layers of extraneous compliance, and thereby raises the cost of tuition and fees out of reach for the average person serving in Christian ministry.
If you are a minister or
layperson considering Master's, you should be encouraged by knowing that America's premier evangelical accrediting association, the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), offers Affiliate
Membership to credible institutions of Biblical higher education as an alternative to the standard accreditation track.
Since 2006, Master's has
been an ABHE Affiliate member. Affiliate membership is not to be confused with
accreditation, but it does make an important statement about institutional
"Affiliate status is available to credible institutions of biblical higher education
that do not hold accreditation by a USDE- or CHEA-recognized accrediting agency. Affiliate members must affirm ABHE’s Tenets of Faith, be licensed (or exempted) by the appropriate state or provincial
higher education authority, conform to disclosure restrictions relative to non-recognized accreditation, and be vouched for by an accredited ABHE Commission on Accreditation member institution.
Affiliate status is not to be confused with accreditation or understood in any way so as to imply such. This affiliate relationship is only available to institutions within the scope of ABHE’s
service, namely Canada, the United States and related territories." 1
Criteria for ABHE Affiliate Eligibility
- Agreement with the ABHE Tenets of Faith
- Evidence that the institution is operating legally within the parameters of the particular province/state relative to faith-based post secondary institutions
- Recognition (corporate identity) as a non-profit organization
- Presence of a publicly stated/board approved mission statement that has a biblical/ministry formation focus
- Commitment to offer education at a post secondary level
- Curricular offerings, degrees, and institutional nomenclature consistent with North American higher educational norms as well as with institutional human, educational, and
- Minimum of a two-year history with an identifiable board, administration, faculty, and student body
- A letter of reference from an administrator/faculty member of an ABHE accredited institution affirming the institution’s integrity, credibility, and compatibility with ABHE’s
purpose and values
- Commitment to accurate disclosure of accredited status, according to the following stipulations:
- An affiliate institution must not portray itself, verbally or in print, as an accredited member of ABHE;
- An affiliate institution must not claim accreditation through an agency lacking recognition by the US Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher
- Affiliate institutions must use the following disclosure statement:
[Institution Name] is an affiliate institution of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. As such, it participates in and contributes to collegial and professional
development activities of the association. Affiliate status does not, however, constitute, imply, or presume ABHE accredited status at present or in the future.
- Affiliate institutions must notify the ABHE office promptly regarding
any changes in directory information (i.e., website, mailing address, instructional location(s), leadership)
- Submission of annual affiliate dues; institutions whose annual dues are more than 30 days delinquent will be dropped from
the affiliate roster.
- Institutions that have been dropped from affiliate status may seek reinstatement after 3 years. 2
1, 2 Source: https://www.abhe.org/affiliation/
The integrity of our programs is documented in our history, and reflected in our
recognition. We aim to assure that our admission policies, curriculum, and completion requirements are similar to those of other credible institutions of Biblical higher education; and that our
policies and processes remain open to public scrutiny, and outside peer review.
DISCLAIMER: No school can guarantee credit or degree transferability. All schools reserve the right to accept or decline credit or degree transfer
(whether accredited or unaccredited). There are situations where only a degree from a
traditionally accredited school will meet certain requirements (such as serving in the Chaplaincy of the U.S. Armed Forces, ordination in some denominations, and various institutional
positions). However, in most other circumstances, a degree from a high quality credible institution such as Master's may be an ideal option.