While I support *in principle* the idea of seminaries being exempt from accreditation, I still encourage potential students who ask me to look at those that are regionally and ATS accredited, both for utility and quality assurance. I’ve mentioned in the past that for theological education, ATS accreditation is the gateway for many denominations. Some ATS doctoral programs require that applicants hold an ATS masters. Some ATS schools require that faculty applicants hold an ATS doctorate. When I started looking at the world of theological education, I saw primarily the utility issue, and interpreted ATS as more of a marketing tool for schools. If there were non-ATS schools that could put their students through the ancient languages and get some of their grads into accredited doctoral programs, then what use was ATS? While I think the utility issue is legitimate in this world we live in, let’s talk instead about the quality under the ATS label providing the utility. I had the opportunity to take courses at six different seminaries (1 unaccredited, 1 regional only, and 4 RA/ATS) for my M.Div. and Th.M. I was curious about accreditation issues, having in my previous career been a trainer for a law enforcement agency under a somewhat similar certification process from the State. When I talked about accreditation with administrators and professors at the ATS schools, they groused about the fees and requirements of accreditation visits. However, they all attributed significant improvements in quality to the process and said it was definitely worthwhile. As an end user, I saw a qualitative difference that definitely favored the ATS-accredited schools. Now I realize that my (admittedly subjective) thoughts on this may seem disheartening to some seeking quality theological education, as ATS does not allow schools to offer completely online programs. However, there are two which I commend to the board, which are a) established programs with a reputation for high quality, and b) have well-regarded online components with classes which are actually equivalent to their on-campus classes. Reformed Theological Seminary’s Virtual Campus • 54 hrs towards the 60 hr M.A. can be taken online. • The remaining 6 hrs must be taken on campus through semester-long or modular courses at Jackson, Orlando, Charlotte, Washington D.C., or Atlanta campuses. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Semlink Program • 18 hrs towards the 60 hr M.A. and 30 semester hrs towards the 90 hr M.Div. can be taken through Semlink. • The remaining courses must be taken on campus through semester-long or modular courses at South Hamilton, Boston, Charlotte, or Jacksonville campuses. • GCTS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, so if you live in Massachusetts, you can take electives through any of the other B.T.I. member schools (Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, Episcopal Divinity School, Andover-Newton, St. Vladimir), although I’m not sure those would count toward the GCTS resident classes. Also, note that ATS is an American/Canadian accreditor. None of this is intended to promote a North American chauvinism, as there are excellent foreign schools with distance learning options which I have recommended here. Cheers!