Recently Recommended School

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Rich Douglas, Oct 12, 2022.

  1. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Recently, a poster listed a few schools they recommended another poster check out. Since that first poster is affiliated with one of the recommended schools--without revealing their affiliation--I thought I'd check it out.

    The following are assertions regarding the school in question, Forge Theological Seminary. These assertions are based primarily on information available on the school's website (purposely not linked here).

    What this post does not contain is any assessments of the information, the school, nor the poster (whom I shall not mention by name) recommending it. That's for you to decide.

    The assertions I'm making are about the accreditation status of the school, the administration, the faculty, tuition, and the doctoral program.

    Accreditation. The school is not accredited by any agency recognized accrediting agency. Regarding quality, the school states, "In the case of FTS, the quality of our academics and degree programs is ensured by godly persons who possess a commitment to biblical fidelity and who are aware of what constitutes rigorous and effective curricula."

    Administration. One school administrator is listed. That person has their highest degree from Forge.

    Faculty. For faculty holding a doctoral degree, 43% hold that degree from Forge.

    Tuition. Tuition is charged monthly on a "subscription" basis. Students agree to have their forms of payment charged monthly while enrolled with the school. This is done through PayPal. Undergraduate and graduate students pay $60 per month. Doctoral students pay $100 per month. When a student wants to stop studying--or, presumably, graduates--they notify PayPal to stop the subscription.

    Doctoral Program. The doctoral program is described as a "48-credit-hour research-only program." Thus, the credit hours are not relevant (since they are not earned with coursework, nor are they paid for on a per-credit basis). It is unusual to offer a dissertation-only doctoral program in the United States. In the US system, the doctorate is "taught." That is, it consists of a body of coursework followed by the dissertation. It is not clear how this dissertation differs in a material way to make up the 48 credit hours.

    The main criterion stated for the dissertation is that it be at least 200 pages in length (excluding front and back matter). This kind of standard is not usually found in doctoral programs in the English-speaking world. Normally, when such limits are described, they are in word-count, not page count, and they are presented as maximums, not minimums. The other criteria described in the rubric for evaluating dissertations does not make clear distinctions regarding original contribution to the field of study, either in terms of scholarship or praxis.

    There is no viva. Instead, the supervisor convenes an ad hoc examining committee who examines the dissertation and renders judgment on it. At no point does the candidate meet with the committee to discuss/defend/explain the research.

    The grade awarded is numerical (1-100), converted to a letter grade. This is unusual; normally the candidate's dissertation would be considered on a pass/fail basis. In the grading rubric, both the dissertation and the examination are weighted for grading points. It is not clear how the student can be awarded a grade for the grading process itself. Also, the criteria for earning these scores is not explained.

    I didn't include a lot of things I didn't consider particularly unusual, like requiring a statement of doctrinal agreement, or the fact that one can apply for the master's without having a bachelor's. And I didn't discuss the pedagogy employed in earning credits towards degrees since the website didn't provide this information.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2022
  2. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    I have no problem "revealing my affiliation" with Forge Theological Seminary. You act as though I didn't imply an affiliation of some kind when I stated "I am certainly biased" in the relevant thread. In any event, thanks for taking the time for providing your reflections. Admittedly, I am not terribly interested in what you have to say regarding some aspects, given your professed unbelief.

    Here is the link, on purpose.

    This comment amounts to feigned objectivity. Repeatedly claiming this or that is "unusual" is an assessment.

    Yes, we are very clear that FTS is unaccredited. Not only is FTS not accredited by any recognized accreditor, it is not accredited by any unrecognized accreditor.

    We have three people in administration: A registrar; a finance/admissions manager; and myself. Additionally, we have a professor who serves in another partially administrative role, namely, the academic dean of research studies.

    Yes, and we are presently hiring.

    Mostly right.

    We have intentionally sought to emulate a European model of doctoral education. Our educational methodology (an internal document) states that explicitly. And as for your comment about word count vs page count, not only are you wrong (there are plenty of programs that specify a page count) it is an inconsequential bit of nitpicking. Regarding our rubric, we assess the significance of the contribution and uniqness of the research. The quest for mere originality has born much chicanery within theological studies.

    No, there is not a viva. Instead there is a recorded presentation which fields preconceived questions from the committee. Additionally, candidates generally receive a revision report wherein they interact directly with the comments of the committee.

    Gaining entry by exception into a graduate program is atypical but practiced by a legion of traditionally accredited institutions.
    MichaelGates likes this.
  3. MichaelGates

    MichaelGates Member

    I saw this thread start and wondered how long it would take Michael to reply as I knew exactly who it was about. I remembered he had said he might be "biased" when recommending the school in his post on another thread and that he lists his attending the school, at the bottom of every post. It was obvious what was going on. Forge Theological Seminary seems interesting and I might consider it myself in the future. I wouldn't worry too much about defending it.
  4. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Best way to serve graduates of any school is to provide good education and utility, recognition of the degree earned.
    Unaccredited degrees are ranging from bogus, substandard, to unknown quality etc.
    In some states the use of unaccredited degree can have bad consequences.

    I'm not saying that the school in question is bad etc.
    The fact that they are not claiming any unrecognized accreditation is good.
    But the school will serve the graduates better if they earn a recognized accreditation.

    The stereotype of unaccredited schools is that they are less then wonderful.
    There can be rare exceptions.

    And what Dr RD stated is informative to the readers, the school can view it as constructive criticism. In my opinion for informed readers there are multiple red flags.
    The better the person informed the better decisions that person will make.
    If FTS build upon the tread criticism they will see a greater blessing and a success of their graduates.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2022
  5. Vicki

    Vicki Active Member

    Forge has definitely sparked my interest. I don’t work in a church or anything and wouldn’t expect it to have any utility for a career, but I am interested in the subject matter. Not sure it it would go beyond the variety of classes my local church offers.

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