Time for Religious Seminary Mills to end...

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by b4cz28, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    At $90, why not? I paid thousands to my old church and all I ever got to be was a lowly deacon.
  2. Stanislav

    Stanislav Well-Known Member

    I believe you're right. I also believe that this is a perfectly valid reason for offering degrees. Perhaps in the future American Autocephalous Orthodox Church, St. Sophia can be a campus of St. Vlad's or get absorbed into Jordanville. In the meantime, if the Russians, the other Russians, and the Greeks can bestow academic degrees on their seminarians, so can we.
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That's not what my research showed. Even many (most?) HR managers don't know and don't care. The general public is even more unaware of diploma mills, accreditation, etc. That's why John Bear's excellent article on villains and victims rings so true to this day. Generally, I tend to fall on the "villain" paradigm--that people who tout their fake degrees know that those degrees are fake. (Use "fake" loosely.) But they still get away with using these fake credentials in many work and work-related situations. Just take the name of a popular diploma mill and run a search on LinkedIn to see what I'm talking about. In short, while I think those people on LinkedIn know what they're touting, the people reading those profiles (in the vast majority of cases, IMHO) do not.

    I have to think your profession--a centered gatekeeper if there ever was one--simply doesn't care. Oh, right. I'm an SPHR, so it's my profession, too. Okay, from the inside out, we don't know and don't care. But we should.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2016
  4. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    My statement was limited to individuals who may pursue a course of study at an unaccredited school. And while your research may show that people don't do their research that is different than not being able to do the research.

    A person can sit down at Google and piece together the accreditation pie. Or they can read the rant on the website about how the Lord Jesus Christ has dominion over the university and therefore accreditation has no place. Or you can ignore all of that and just sign up because the website "looks legit."

    That's all your choice. It's your money. You can give all of that money to the sketchiest of televangelists if you like. Again, you're choice. You can also not read your lease before signing it, not read your employment contract and not keep track of your checkbook. All choices.

    Now, if a school outright lies (i.e. says they are regionally accredited when they are not) well then, that's fraud. Different story. You still should have dug deeper but I get it if you didn't. You were defrauded.

    If you go onto a website that clearly states that the entity is unaccredited or is accredited by an accrediting agency that itself states is not recognized by USDOE, then you're making an informed choice.

    My experience has been the same. And, as I've mentioned before, if I see an obvious diploma mill my instinct is to assume it was done with the intent to deceive. My experience with the recipients of unaccredited religious degrees, however, has been that they tend to be "true believers" who simply didn't care about accreditation. I have a smattering of employees with degrees from unaccredited bible schools. However, those degrees are not the ones which qualified them for their jobs. If you're a welder with a B.Min. from Trinity, that's really of no consequence. If you start applying for jobs which require a bachelors and you try to use that, well, that's why we have a process in place for checking this sort of thing. But since I have yet to see a job posting calling for a Bachelor of Ministry, I think we'll be OK.

    Well, let me just start off by saying that I care. And I know you care as well. But should we, as a profession, care? I'd say that's actually a matter for debate. What we should be focusing on is putting qualified people into roles where they will succeed and bring our organization to new heights.

    While it's fine to lean toward villainy, I'd suspect that in reality there are a fair number of fully qualified people who rose to great heights without the benefit of a degree who, reaching that ceiling, took a shortcut. That guy might be the best tool designer in the world despite having a bogus degree. Perhaps what we, as a profession, need to do is revisit those job postings and start taking out the required degrees when what we really want is a skill which is demonstrable even in the absence of a degree.

    But that's a debate for another day. Right here, I'm addressing purely religious degrees at unaccredited schools. Are some of them mills? Sure. But some of them are also not mills. And many of them don't intend to clutter my inbox with fraud. Many of them simply want to hand their ministers the credential that their counterparts at another school would receive.

    To borrow St Sophia again, the graduates of that school go through a course of study that is nearly identical (but with a Ukrainian twist) to the other nearby Orthodox seminaries. Don't believe me? Then ask any of their faculty. Many of them are graduates of those neighboring seminaries. Two students go through the same program possibly with the same professors but the student at the unaccredited school should be forced to accept a diploma because we refuse to consider that a tiny school might be legitimate despite not shelling out megabucks to attain accreditation?

    That's not "gatekeeping" that's simply stifling innovation and ensuring that only the biggest and richest can thrive while the small and the poor, no matter how good their academics are, are simply screwed.
  5. b4cz28

    b4cz28 New Member

    So the same should be fine for any subject matter? I should be able to open a B school and apply your theory correct? I mean I'm just a small but legit medical school right? I'm just a small but legit School of Science. Who are these gate keepers to keep me out. Saving souls is no game, counseling family members when someone is dying is no joke. 99% of unaccredited schools have no business issuing D Mins or M DIVs. I see no way most religions could be compromised in gaining accreditation in the US. If you cant afford it, well sorry. Look what Nations did. Lots of people want to start schools but cost are a factor.
  6. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    What do you do about these seminaries. The member seminaries are all residential, Reformed, have issues with government recognized accreditors, and as I recall have generally well qualified faculty.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2016
  7. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2016
  8. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    What would you like to do?
  9. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Even many Christian schools have this problem. Christianity covers an extremely wide range of beliefs. There are young earth and old earth creationists (and endless variations thereof), divisive doctrines on the nature and extent of sin, extreme variations on election, the meaning/extent/scope of Jesus' sacrifice, the very nature of God, Catholocism, Mormonism, etc. The faith based accreditors require schools to subscribe to a basic belief system that may not fly with the seminary. While I agree that the bogus schools must end, it would be a mistake, and impossible, to require all religous schools to seek accreditation. There are substandard schools that are accredited. There are substandard schools that are unaccredited. It is what it is.
  10. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    While I can't dismiss the possibility, this is a statement that is rather hard to prove.
  11. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Really? I am certain many of us on this board who have taken courses at multiple schools, if being honest, would admit to experiences with substandard schools.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Clearly some schools are more difficult than others and within the same school some courses more difficult than others but if accreditation sets the (minimum) standard then an accredited school, by definition, can not be substandard. It may be "softer than some other school but that does not make it substandard. We are accustomed to talking about schools as being Tier 1, Tier 2, etc. A Tier 4 school may be at the bottom of the pile and so it may occupy a place in the spectrum of difficulty that is below average but "below average" is not the same as "substandard."
  13. scottae316

    scottae316 New Member

    First, I have some knowledge as I have attended 3 different seminaries, all of which are ATS accredited. I graduated from one that is one of the oldest seminaries for a particular denomination. Columbia because it is set up like a European school cannot gain accreditation from any of the US accreditors. Second, many reputable Christians have endorsed Columbia, because someone was listed and never utilized because the student body is small. With all due respect for Dr. Levicoff, he is certainly entitled to his opinion, it is his opinion. Dr. Levicoff is no longer active in academics, has done no current research, nor claims to be doing so. Is opinion should be listened to, but it is his opinion.
  14. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I feel like we might be playing with words here. If accreditation = standard, then perhaps I should revise my statement to suggest there are accredited schools that don't live up to the expectation that one should rightfully have of an accredited school. Another way of saying it is that accreditation is not synonymous with quality or rigor. Accreditation = utility, not necessarily quality.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2016
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Of course we are. Words are the only thing we have to work with in this situation. Accreditation sets a minimum standard. That's the meaning. Schools are not arbitrarily deemed to be accredited. They are judged to be so following examination. Now you may feel that the standards of quality/rigor set by the accreditors are too low or that some schools may be too quick or too happy to settle for the lowest tiers and that's fine, that's your opinion. But if they remain above the line, if they remain accredited, then, by definition they have met the standard and so can not be said to be substandard. This is, at least in part, what the various ranking systems hope to capture. Most people give their attention to the top of those lists when it's just as interesting, in my opinion, to look at the ends of those lists. No one is surprised when Harvard or Stanford appears at the top but if some little school, formerly in last place, moves up 20 spots, that is real drama. And if they slip off the list altogether it is a very dark day for many people.
  16. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    This is getting a bit tedious because I believe you know precisely what I am attempting to articulate. However, I will make one final attempt. I am suggesting there are schools and programs that routinely pass students without requiring them to have learned much, if anything at all, and do not require academic rigor above a high school level. If you are suggesting that this still meets the minimum requirements and expectations for accreditation then we agree. If that's the case we shouldn't be talking about requirng all schools to be accredited. We should be talking about how to change the process and minimum requirements for accreditation so that "accreditation" actually means something.

    Don't get me wrong, I believe in the concept of accreditation. I just think it's really broken.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2016
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry for the tedium. You can stop any time you like. You're right though, I do know what you mean. But then we simply bounce back to what I said in post #70 which is that it's difficult to prove. I certainly believe that there are courses that we have all taken, some English Lit 101 course for example, that is no more difficult than the one I took in High School. But I have never seen a school where the 400-500 level courses are the same as in High School. You can say that you have seen this but simply saying it is not convincing me. In any case, we can agree on the idea that the accreditation system in general is not what it should be and possibly it never was what it was supposed to be. As for removing the requirements for accreditation, technically they are not required to maintain accreditation. That's really just a financial aid thing. But again, I understand your point. If the standards are so low as to blur the distinction between college and High School then what good are those standards? Well first I'd say that we are quite fortunate that most schools work hard to exceed those standards and are really quite good. Secondly I'd say that you must think rather poorly of degrees coming out of the Big 3 where people routinely report that they test out of courses without any study at all. Or perhaps they cram for a few weeks, take the test and then forget it all afterwards. And finally I'd say that you must, like me, have a rather poor opinion of unaccredited schools who can show no proof of any sort to support the idea that their coursework is demanding or rigorous. So, as you guessed, our opinions are really not that different after all.
  18. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Well articulated post. I think we are in agreement for the most part. We may differ in that I have no problem with the Big 3. Assuming the tests actually measure the learning outcomes of the equivalent course, I have no issue at all. Also, where you have a poor opinion of unaccredited schools, I generally reserve judgement, albeit with some strong skeptism. I also reserve judgement, albeit with some positive leaning, toward accredited schools.
  19. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, I don't mind admitting that when it comes to unaccredited schools my attitude is "guilty until proven innocent." Sometimes that means I'm wrong but more often I'm right.
  20. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I respectfully disagree. It is really the faith of your belief that will dictate the religious education you want to pursue. I am not catholic nor a member of a traditional christian religion but yet wanted to educate my self in spiritual subjects and decided to pursue an interfaith non accredited program that served my needs. I currently serve in an interfaith church with this unaccredited degree. I registered with NationsU but dropped because I realized that this degree was not going to help me to reach my goal of serving in an interfaith church.
    The same can be said for other faiths.
    Religious education is mainly for non secular jobs that many times are non paid. Each church or denomination dictates what is accredited or not for their faith.
    NationsU program might be a great option for those interested in serving traditional christian churches but it won't work for christian spiritualist, metaphysical christian, jehovah witness, mormon, interfaith, etc.

    Also, many christian churches have their own programs. NationsU also will not work for some of the more traditional faiths that only accept TRACS accredited MDivs. The DETC accredited MDiv has also many limitations as not many churches will accept it and the ones that accept it might also accept degrees from unaccredited places.

    Yes, unaccredited degrees are not as rigorous as accredited degrees but when it comes to church positions, it is not the degree but your communications skills, ability to connect with people, charisma, etc that matters more than a piece of paper.
    Was Jesus a holder of an accredited degree?

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