ATS Seminary Accredited?

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by jnsy946, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. jnsy946

    jnsy946 New Member

    How important is having a ATS accredited degree to be able to teach in higher education? I am looking at applying for a doctorate from a couple different universities. One of the degrees is only regionally accredited and one is regionally and accredited by ATS. I would like to be able to adjunct some theology courses. I am heard that it is very difficult to even get noticed without a degree accredited from ATS.
  2. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    Answer is the aggravating it depends. Depends on what your actual goals are with having some adjunct courses. There are people teaching theology courses as adjuncts, who do not have doctorates. There are theology adjunct positions, that do not require ATS accredited degrees. There are people teaching theology courses, who don't even have degrees! Really depends on what your more specific goals are. I hope your interest in a doctorate is for more than the opportunity to teach a few adjunct courses.
  3. jnsy946

    jnsy946 New Member

    Ideally, I want to be a theology professor.
  4. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    As in a full-time primary source of livelihood? World of difference between an adjunct faculty member and a potentially tenture track faculty position.
  5. jnsy946

    jnsy946 New Member

    I would like to be full-time. I understand that those positions are quite rare, but I still want to have the credential.
  6. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    jnsy946 . . . I won’t even ask what inspired that name. But for the sake of ease, may I call you Jonesy? Good.

    Now, Jonesy, have a seat. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a Diet Dr. Pepper – unless you are a Mormon, which makes such drinks moot. Then psych up, because I’m about to hit you with some quick questions that will clarify what you are really looking for.

    But first, let me introduce myself. I am the forum’s resident gay-couple-unto-myself: both a prick and an asshole. Okay, it’s graphic, but few here would disagree with what I just said. But, unlike most of the morons on the forum who can intelligently discuss business or IT, few know anything about theology. And those who have an opinion of anything theological typically believe that they’re right to the exclusion of everyone else. But, unlike me, they never taught at ATS-accredited schools. (So there!)

    So let’s stick to what’s best for you. And, in order to determine that, we need some more specific information.

    First, what degree(s) do you already hold, and from where? Answer openly – you’ve already got them, so no one will blackmail you or expose you. And accurate information means everything. So, specifically, in what field did you earn your previous degrees, what are the specific degree titles, and from where did you earn them?

    Now, there’s a reason to establish your current scope of knowledge and your credentials. You’ll see that in a moment when we address the next question:
    Second, in what environment do you want to teach theology: university, liberal arts college, Bible college, divinity school or seminary? And what specific type of theology do you want to teach: systematic theology, Biblical or theological history, hermeneutics, homiletics, apologetics, pastoral or practical theology, ad infinitum, ad nauseam…

    To get to your first question, ATS accredits professional theological curricula. They strictly accredit theological seminaries or divinity schools that are university-based (think Harvard or Yale). They do not accredit undergraduate programs, which is the domain of ABHE.

    At both seminaries and divinity schools, the basics “first professional degree” is the Master of Divinity (M.Div.). Thus, if that’s the environment in which you wish to teach, you’ve gotta have an M.Div. If you don’t – that is, if you have an M.A. and Ph.D. but no M.Div. – you may be able to get an adjunct gig. But don’t expect to be hired on a full-time basis. With my M.A.and Ph.D., both of which are essentially in church-state-issues, I never had a problem getting adjunct gigs. But more than once I had seminaries tell me, “We’d love to have you full time, but you would need to get an M.Div.” Fortunately, I had no desire to either have an M.Div. nor go full time.

    Next, what is your denomination or belief system? As a general rule, if you want to teach at a seminary, you’ve got to be “one of them.” There’s some crossover – a Presbyterian might teach at a Baptist seminary – but neither would teach at a Catholic seminary. Want a true comedy? If you’re a Fundy, you’ll never be hired (even as an adjunct) by a Pentecostal seminary – unless you can tap dance in tongues.

    Yet another next, what type of doctorate are you seeking? Let’s toss out the Ed.D. – it’s a bullshit degree for teaching theology. You’ve got a choice between a Ph.D., Th.D., or D.Min. Keep in mind that the first two are academic and the latter is a professional doctorate that presupposes an M.Div. In other words, if you find a D.Min. program that doesn’t require a previously earned M.Div., chuck it away – it’s worthless. Even then, people who hold a Ph.D. or Th.D. tend to think of the D.Min. as a joke.

    Finally, back to your original question. If you are applying to teach at a school that has ATS accreditation, they will be more likely to want you to have an ATS degree. It’s your call. My degrees are all from secular universities, but you don’t find church-state specialists every day, so I never required an ATS degree to be engaged by ATS schools.

    Echoing what others have observed in this forum, a final consideration is ROI – return on investment. If you want to earn a doctorate, especially one that is RA and/or ATS, merely to teach as an adjunct, it will never pay for itself. If your goal is merely to be called doctor, you’re an egotistical ass. Just sayin,’ in light of some of the jokers we get around here. If you want to go so far as to get a doctorate, what might be your other goals? Are you a decent writer? When I got my Ph.D., I was suddenly in demand as an author for both Moody Press and Baker Book House. And would teach at the graduate school level for the next eight years. And ultimately find it all boring as hell, at which point I went out and learned how to drive a tractor-trailer, bopped around the country for the next 20 years, and never looked back.

    So think carefully, my son . . .
    Speed typed and not spell checked. So if y'all find some typos, ask me if I give a crap.
    RoscoeB likes this.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    "...both a prick and an asshole."

    Sorry Levicoff. Ya gotta pick one or the other. It's Union rule.
  8. AsianStew

    AsianStew Active Member

  9. calebwilds

    calebwilds New Member

    Sooo.... I got an MA and a DMin. While Levicoff is correct that my DMin isn’t at the same level as a PhD (and even then, PhD programs have various requirements—some more stringent than others, e.g. business doctorate v New Testament doctorate), my DMin definitely wasn’t a joke-degree. I was accepted to a PhD in an Organizational Psychology related major at Claremont Graduate University and they offered to reduce my PhD requirements because of my DMin).

    also, you don’t need a PhD to sign with a publisher... I don’t have one and I finished writing my 3rd book with Waterbrook Multnomah/Penguin Random House.

    Accreditation definitely matters, but ATS isn’t the end-all-be-all of accreditation.
  10. drewdarnell

    drewdarnell Member

    Where did you get your DMin?

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