How to start a pagan or metaphysical accreditation agency.

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Pastor Lincoln, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. I find the subjects of seminary, religion, education and accreditation to be interesting topics.

    Now, how would someone start an accreditation commission for Neo-Pagan and Metaphysical seminaries? I know accredited schools have to make the board and academic standards have to be set. I just don't know the logistics of it all.
  2. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    And so, you're asking us to assist you in perpetrating a fraud? How, um, charming. That's like the numb-nuts around here who say, "Hey, kids, let's start a college!" If you don't know how to do it already, you shouldn't be doing it.

    As I recall, Lincoln, you stated in another thread that you are not degreed, but have a few certificates from the Christian Leadership Institute. If you don't have a doctorate already, you are in no position to start anything in higher education. And, like those who have started mickey-mouse so-called colleges or universities, whether in Colorado or Dominica, establishing anything in higher education is not a one or two-person show.

    Enjoy your fantasy world. It does sound better than the current television season.
  3. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    One of the biggest pagan gatherings in the US, PanTheaCon, happens over the Presidents Day weekend in San Jose. Lots of knowledgeable people there. It's held at a fancy hotel, where they used to (perhaps still do) put notices on the elevator entries saying, "Please remember that we are sharing this hotel with business travelers and families who may not understand our ways . . . so please do not enter the elevators sky clad."
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  5. No need for childish insults. I know I don't have a doctoral degree. I do have a goal of earning A doctoral degree. A reason I joined this was to learn.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Come on kids, play nice.

    You don't need a doctoral degree to start a seminary. Many fully legitimate, though denominationally specific, seminaries are run by clergy who possess only a Masters or sometimes only a Bachelors.

    The first question I think you should ask yourself is what training do you intend to offer? Then seek out the appropriate accreditor or certification body for that thing.

    For example...

    Want to offer chaplaincy training? There are two main bodies for certification of that training, ACPE being the larger and apparently more readily accepted one. So if you offer a chaplaincy program but it doesn't have ACPE accreditation it will be of extremely limited utility.

    If offering just theological education, I would strongly encourage you to avoid the temptation to offer degrees even if your state (or one nearby) offers an exemption to allow you to do that. I always wince when a seemingly well intentioned small denomination offers an M.Div. Recently, my brother joined a church as part of a 30 or so congregation denomination. They have their own training program for clergy, complete with a .edu extension for their seminary. Their M.Div. costs a cool $4k and for $2k you can top off with a D.Min. Offered as such a low price because they lack anything even remotely resembling accreditation. Their Dean earned his doctorate from a little outfit called Andersonville.

    If you are only offering certificates or diplomas, for me at least, it would imply a more honest desire to confer knowledge rather than sell vanity degrees. If your prices were low on top of that, it would further buttress that initial impression.

    If you wanted to, say, only offer certificates in theology or "pagan studies" or whatever, you may find the bar to regulatory approval is fairly low. I looked into once before and, in New York at the time of my research at least, offering non-professional religious only training (i.e. offering courses in the bible versus offering training as a minister) did not require registration with the Board of Regents. Naturally, that is a fine line to walk.

    Beyond that, you would need help in developing course content. I'd be very interested in a course on, say, Hellenic Paganism that was developed by someone with an absolutely unassailable doctorate in history or religious studies or classics etc. I'd be less interested in that same course written by some random guy who has no formal training. There is also something to be said about courses that have been developed with an actual instructional designer versus courses laid out by a pure academic. I've seen both and the former is almost always better.

    So if this is something you want to to, you can! Provided you start out small, slow and are committed to building quality. The problem, of course, is that fewer people are interested in rigorous study of paganism versus getting an easy "doctorate" for a few hundred or thousand bucks. So you need to avoid the temptation to just sell paper and hope to legitimize it later. It never happens.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  7. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I think the reason for the backlash is that the OP is trying to become an accrediting agency in an industry that he doesn't even have a degree in, which begs the question "what makes you an expert?" I think that separately and apart from this specific question, assessing an accreditor is valuable - we do it all the time here. Is a school legit? We first look to who they are accredited by. There are a ton of bogus or barely legal accreditors, so it's a thing. But, to start up as an accreditor, honestly, is a big ask, and I feel like you're asking the wrong audience. I might be off track, but the schools you hope to accredit have to see that what you're selling adds value and legitimacy to their institution. Does it? Just my two cents.
  8. No I was not trying to become an accreditation commission. It was a hypothetical idea for discussion.
  9. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    As Dana Carvey (as the Church Lady) said, "How conveeeeenient."

    Your wording in this thread's original post was, "Now, how would someone start an accreditation commission for Neo-Pagan and Metaphysical seminaries? I know accredited schools have to make the board and academic standards have to be set. I just don't know the logistics of it all."

    Someone does not "start" an accrediting commission, or any type of institution of higher education, on their own. These things are started by established educators, administrators, legislators, lawyers out the wazoo, and other people with both high-level credentials and experience. It's not a one-person show. And, as a general rule, if one person attempts to start such an entity, you end up with a degree mill, diploma mill, accreditation mill, or credential mill.

    DegreeInfo has always had a dual mission, for lack of better term: helping people move in the right direction for their own education, and protecting educational consumers from the various mills. We're delighted to help you find the right direction for your academic and professional development. But don't expect our guidance in helping you establish a sham.
  10. I did NOT once say I intended to start a scam. I was merely curious on the subject. I do like the idea of entering the field of educational administration.
  11. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Why? In some eyes ATS is fairly pagan. In all seriousness, a pagan seminary could probably be accredited by a Regional Accreditor if they could come up with an acceptable curriculum and qualified faculty. DETC could probably accredit a Pagan seminary. It would take A LOT of work to get a real Pagan Seminary up to speed.

    Pretty niche market (though increasing numbers of Wiccans).
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  12. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    My guess is that it would not be worth the effort to start a Pagan Accreditor for a small number of educational efforts needing accreditation. University of Sedona would need massive amounts of improvement to be able to meet real accreditation. Have you looked at some of the doctoral dissertations? Are these small "educational" entities not served as well by Religious Exemption. Often the degrees are substandard, not useful and not taken seriously.
  13. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Oh. Ok, I misunderstood your question.

    I went to the US Department of Education Accreditation database and found exactly ZERO schools (which would include schools/colleges within a larger university) that were accredited with the word "pagan" or "metaphysical" in the title. As such, there are no hypothetical or legitimate accreditors already in this space. (Regional or National or otherwise)

    You can draw your own conclusions about the pagan or metaphysical accreditors that don't appear in that database but are still in business, but for me, I'm of the opinion that it's a scam.
  14. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    I do too.

    That's a good question. I'm not a Christian and have kind of been following this issue of where small non-Christian seminaries can go for accreditation.

    I guess that technically, anyone can start an accreditor. There aren't any specified qualifications. But in order for the accreditation to mean anything, it has to be recognized by the relevant public as meaning something. What 'relevant public' means can vary, ranging from state educational or licensing bodies, or the academic community as a whole, through specialized professional communities, to individual religious denominations.

    Here on Degreeinfo, recognition by the US Department of Education is treated as if it were kind of sacred.

    One way that accreditors can start is as associations of colleges and universities. Then the association invents criteria that prospective members have to meet in order to join. The regional accreditors started that way. (Universities Canada, formally AUCC, started that way too, I believe.) In all these cases, many of the universities already existed and already has reputations, and the associations benefited from that.

    So, in the case of "neo-pagan and metaphysical seminaries" are there enough of these to create an association? Would any of its members have any kind of wider academic recognition?

    Another way accreditors can start is through professional organizations. The paradigmatic example of that are American Bar Association accreditation of law schools, or American Psychological Association accreditation of psych schools. This seems to be the way that some of the specialized accreditors start.

    So are there any neo-pagan or "metaphysical" organizations that have the requisite clout and gravitas?

    And in the case of religious schools, there are the religious denominations themselves. RA or no RA, I'd say that the best way to judge the credibility of an ostensibly Catholic seminary might be to see what the Catholic church thinks of it.

    But this only works with the larger and more formally organized denominations. I doubt if neo-pagans and their "metaphysical" brethren have that kind of denominational organization.

    I'm kind of motivating myself to go study the histories of some of the existing accreditors to determine precisely how they started.

    Bottom line, I'm inclined to think that the best way for "neo-pagan and metaphysical seminaries" to approach accreditation is through one of the existing accreditors. TRACS and ABHE are obviously out. ATS has a bigger tent, but it's still not appropriate. DEAC is a possibility. Several "metaphysical-ish" schools have successfully sought DEAC accreditation. (University of Philosophical Research, Holmes Institute, etc.) But DEAC kind of presupposes a DL delivery methodology.

    ACICS might be a possibility, though it seems to emphasize career schools.

    And there's RA. University of the West (a small Buddhist school near LA) is RA. Dharma Realm Buddhist University in Mendocino became RA last summer. And the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley is currently an RA candidate. Naropa in Colorado is RA as is the Won Institute in PA. The Islamic Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley is RA too. And there's CIIS in San Francisco which is very "metaphysical-ish". I'm sure there are more examples.

    I can imagine the small Buddhist schools eventually forming a membership organization with membership requirements intended to ensure that they are credible dharma schools. At first that wouldn't substitute for conventional institutional accreditation, but it might have some influence among Buddhists. Maybe at some future point it could apply to the US Dept of Education or to CHEA for recognition.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019

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