Andersonville Theological Seminary Respected Throughout the Christian World

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Garp, Jun 13, 2022.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Do you have any examples of non-recognized accreditors that you think are not mills?
  2. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Sure. To be clear, I understand the phrase "accreditation mill" to refer to an institution that has no academic recognition nor rigorous accrediting standards but seeks to grant credibility through its accreditation. The Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries or the Asia Theological Association are fine examples of legitimate and yet unrecognized accreditors. Moreover, I'd imagine accreditors must, not unlike schools, begin functioning as an accrediting institution prior to gaining recognition by the USDE or CHEA and, therefore, unless we want to categorize those institutions as mills, I think nuance is needed. This issue opens up a much broader debate regarding the ability of religious schools to operate with self-determination and with alternative forms of validation and accreditation. In my view, while many non-recognized accreditors are undoubtedly mills, there is a need for legitimate non-recognized accreditation in certain circumstances.
    Dustin likes this.
  3. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    The TRACS Board or Commission has a number of members. Most of them have accredited doctorates but not all. A couple of them have Masters degrees. Quite possible his having an unaccredited doctorate was not an issue. In other words, doesn't mean he was chosen with his Andersonville PhD in mind.

    In fact Dr. Joseph Paturi has a Doctorate from Temple Baptist Seminary (TRACS accredited) in addition to his Andersonville PhD.
  4. raindog308

    raindog308 New Member

    I think this review is spot on and mirrors my own experience, though I would set the stage slightly differently.

    I would like to draw a parallel between Andersonville and the long American tradition of local-church-sponsored Bible institutes. These are non-accredited and are focused solely on Biblical study. For example, I know of one institute that required a three-year program of Greek, a year of Hebrew, church history, apologetics, evangelism, theology, etc. In those three years, the student would also read through the Bible completely at least 24 times given the expected pace of daily reading and engage in a great deal of practical hands-on evangelism, ministry work, and apologetics. These institutes are essentially trade schools for independent Baptist pastors (and perhaps other denominations).

    Now, you can certainly critique these institutions as insufficiently academic, very narrow-focused, lacking a sufficiently broad exposure to competing voices, etc. (and I certainly would). However, I think it's fair to say that the students got what they expected. I've known several pastors from these sorts of schools and while I would never compare a Bible institute education to a true academic degree, the alumni I've known have been laser-sharp on scripture, church history, etc. In other words, they got what they paid for and the school was honest.

    Andersonville, as Michael aptly described, does not deliver anything like this.

    I was appalled when I got the first "packet" of four courses and when I got the second I realized the school was ridiculous. I do have a B.A. from a top twenty U.S. university and have attended other graduate and undergraduate programs, so I'm familiar with quality education. I didn't expect the same rigor at Andersonville...but I expected some.

    Let's start with the Bible. The tradition Andersonville comes from strongly emphasizes daily Bible reading. I've known many Christian lay people who've read through the Bible dozens of time over their life - a few pages a day adds up. Andersonville requires a "personal pledge" that you will read through the Bible completely once. Once! For a seminary! It'd be like a Catholic seminary saying "we want you to go to Mass at least once a year while you're here". It's one thing to say that the Bible will be emphasized and at the core and use that as a justification to spend more time on it than secular works...but then they don't actually emphasize or require it.

    As for the courses, I saw a total of 8 course syllabi. Of these, 7 involved listening to a series of lectures and answering multiple-choice, true/false, or short answer questions, sometimes with a brief (1-2 pages) paper. For some of these courses, I think many church-going Christians would easily pass the final exams without any studying. The entire material for these courses involved listening to lectures by Jimmy Hayes or Jim Gibson - typically 20 or so half hour lectures. I listened to their course on Judges and then listened to an YouTube series on the book and the latter had far more information...for free, and they weren't pretending to be an academic institution.

    Oddly, the 8th course was in Free Grace Soteriology and that required reading three books, listening to 24 lectures, and reviewing extensive commentary. Final exam was multiple choice and a 15-20 page paper was required. It's obvious that they engaged a new professor (J.B. Hixson) who took the assignment more seriously. I've heard anecdotally that there is a lot of unevenness - using the tapes from the 80s in one class, then completely fresh material in other. Even in this course, I enjoyed the books but it was hardly definitive. This is community college level. Many of the "professors" are ATS graduates.

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned in any Andersonville review: The student is in isolation. There is no community, which I found sad and frankly wrong. It's not 1980 and it's no longer a mail-order tape business. There's no forum to share fellowship with your fellow students. There are a couple Facebook groups but they're very sparsely attended, and the content is never about current courses or student life. In 2020, Andersonville claimed to have "over 7,000 students actively working to earn a degree". I know a bit about IT, and I can tell you that there are tons of hobbyists who can afford to run forums about their interests...we're talking under a $100 a month. Maybe Andersonville would need to spend a little more but c'mon - this is their core mission! Basic table stakes.

    I found the admin staff to be friendly but a bit disorganized. I applied and was sent a congratulatory note for the wrong program (a phone call fixed it). I asked if I could see the syllabus or at least a little more of a description for a course I hadn't taken yet. If you look in the catalog for most schools, they will list their courses and give you a few paragraphs explaining what you'll be studying. Sometimes even the books and major sources are listed. The Andersonville descriptions are often single-sentence summaries of the books of the Bible. For example, for "Survey of Exodus": "The course examines the three sections of Exodus: 1) the call of Moses; 2) the challenge to the gods of Egypt; and 3) the call to the congregation." Great, my Bible's introduction to the book tells me the same. My request swirled all over the admin team and finally I got an email from Hayes saying he didn't understand what I wanted and why I wanted it, and then he went silent.

    I agree with Michael that there is virtually no feedback. You get a letter grade and that's it. I very much doubt anyone reads the papers and I'm not sure anyone even grades the tests. It is a horrible feeling to be writing a paper with the loud voice in your head that no one is every going to read it or give you any feedback. If I'm studying entirely by myself, why do I need some organization to take money and stamp an A on it?

    Fundamentally, I found Andersonville dishonest, for these reasons:
    • They claim to be Bible-focused but require very little in terms of Biblical study.
    • The academic requirements lack all notion of rigor. It's likely 100% of students pass.
    • If they really have 7,000+ active students - we're talking $1m+ in tuition there - why is the material most old 80s cassette tape transcripts, why is there no virtual campus, why can't they engage true instructors, etc.? Are they really trying to provide the best education they can?
    • So they're a joke of an academic institution and they can't credibly claim to be a Bible institute so...what's the point?
    Rachel83az and tadj like this.
  5. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Allegedly, they have been improving course requirements (requiring stronger and longer research papers, adding faculty with accredited credentials, use of online technology, and adding video courses, etc).

    Let us say for the sake of argument that all of this is true. Based on Michael Burgos' post and raindog308, it was woefully substandard at one point (and for a significant amount of time). They have produced a significant number of graduates who may be so deluded or self deluded into believing they really have doctoral level theological education. The name of the school is linked to these people who would have great difficulty holding their own with a first year MDiv student.

    I believe similar concerns led an accreditor to require de-linkage from the old entity (Kennedy Western??). This would seem to be a wise course for the school on their own to demonstrate a before and now mode.

    Does anyone know if accredited schools accept their current graduates for transfer credit or entrance?
  6. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    On the other hand, for all of the alleged improvements they have "independent" accreditation from a hinky "accreditor" and brag about their NCCA accreditation/endorsement. NCCA has a long history (believe Levicoff had a write-up on them).

    So, if they are trying to reform the question is what is the purpose of these associations since it isn't to add genuine credibility?

    Does the Lord deserve better from those who profess a fundamentalist belief in the truth of scripture?
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
  7. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    I've heard Huntsville Bible College takes their grads for graduate admissions.
    Garp likes this.
  8. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Michael, are there any genuinely accredited schools that use the NCCA counseling curriculum and certification. When I see that I almost take it automatically to be a substandard school. It is like seeing ACI accreditation. Those who know know. But perhaps I am overstating and have just never seen the rare accredited school using it.
  9. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    No. There are no institutions that use the NCCA stuff and that have recognized accreditation.
    Garp likes this.
  10. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Did you settle on a doctoral program? I believe you were looking at a few accredited programs.
  11. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    I understand if you don't want to mention the name but maybe just the degree type and foreign or domestic. I hope you found something that will work out for you.
  12. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Yes. I am in the DMin at SBTS. It is accredited by ATS and SACSCOC.
    RoscoeB and Garp like this.
  13. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    That is a very well respected school. Congratulations on getting in and good luck with your studies. Eventually you will walk across that stage, shake Albert Mohler's hand and collect your doctoral degree.
    RoscoeB likes this.
  14. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I learned recently that the former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman is pursuing her DMin at Andersonville ( and as of 2020 claimed that she was ABD at Howard University for a doctorate in communications but "Carolyn M. Byerly, chairwoman of the university’s communications department, said that according to the university’s rules, the seven-year period for her to do that expired more than a decade ago." (
  15. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Perhaps Omarosa ought to try the new one textbook doctoral program at Andersonville if she is stuck in the other programs at Andersonville that require more work. Dr. Omarosa Manigault Newman has a nice ring.

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