Unaccredited Religious degree

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Randell1234, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    I know there have been threads on this before but the material is somewhat old. When looking at religious degrees, how much does accreditation matter if your goal is not to teach? If the goal is to perform duties at a church and you have a secular degree, does an accredited religious degree matter very much?

    This online MDiv is something like $30K and it is not accredited - Unity Institute

    I have seen this one for $900 - Graduate | Andersonville Theological Seminary

    I have seen others that fall in the middle. Of course, NationsU is $100 a year.

    I am sure there are other like Louisiana Bapist (or something like that)

    In the end, does it matter much?
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    I think it totally depends on the needs/interests of the student. If it's purely for personal interest/enrichment, I wouldn't think accreditation would matter much.

    If they want to enter the ministry, the denomination they hope to serve is going to be the arbiter of accreditation; my particular church requires an M.Div. from a school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), and the last 4 ministers have come from either Andover-Newton or Gordon-Conwell.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2011
  3. AdjunctInstructor

    AdjunctInstructor New Member


    Most unaccredited religious degrees have very little utility within most Christian denominations. Large Churches will not bring in a pastor that does not have an accredited degree. There are rare exceptions. The mainline denominations are strict, the Southern Baptist are rapidly becoming just as strict, as to what academic qualification a pastor must have.
  4. emmzee

    emmzee New Member

    Yup, if you want to enter into ministry, it depends on the church / denomination. IMHO a person should always get an accredited degree if at all possible, if only to keep their options open. Plus, pastors and other church workers often unfairly (and sometimes fairly) become lightning rods for criticism, and having an unaccredited degree is one source of attack.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. My pastor was ordained last year in the C&MA denomination, and he holds no theology degrees at all. (He has his masters & PhD in psychology from regionally accredited (well, Canadian equivalent) secular schools.)
  5. DailyNews

    DailyNews New Member

    I'd bank on Nations. They are probably going to be acrcredited in the next year or so. Will definitely look good on a resume to have an accredited Master's weather it is in secular or a non-secular capacity.
    The real challenge is to find a tuition free school that offers Master's in anything other than religion!!
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I agree that Nations is a VERY fine school. Dunno about a timetable for accreditation, though. This is only speculation that I've heard elsewhere, but some think that Nations will likely have to change its "free or $100" model somewhat, if it expects to maintain the financial position which accreditation would require. Most, if not all, recognized accreditors have strict financial condition rules, which can be difficult to adapt to in a non-traditional environment like Nations, where faculty members work on a volunteer basis etc.

    I've read (and again, this is speculative) that one solution might be to raise the U.S. tuition considerably from the current $100 per year, so that the programs could be kept free or very low-cost in countries where they need to be.

    BTW - nothing personal, I assure you, and no accusations, but I wonder. Should Nations U. degrees really be referred to as bargains that "look good on a resume?" Sure, they might -- but they're 'WAY better than that. Resume-dressing is immaterial in this instance, as I see it. I think people should undertake study at Nations with sincerity of religious purpose, or not at all. Wouldn't doubt that Nations probably feels the same way.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2012
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    We had a thread on a tuition-free MBA program from Sweden, taught in English. A tuition-free M. Ed. was discussed too. The MBA was tuition-free, but not entirely "expense-free" and there was a necessity for one short trip to Sweden. Entry was competitive. Here it is: http://www.degreeinfo.com/general-distance-learning-discussions/25340-free-mba-sweden-english.html

  8. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I'm not trying to be argumentative (OK, maybe I am a little bit argumentative) but what do you base this on? "Nations is a VERY fine school" Based on what? Personal experience? Certainly not accreditation. I can see if you said it's an adequate school. Or maybe even that it's an average school. But a" VERY fine school?" How do you come to this conclusion?
  9. Messdiener

    Messdiener Active Member

  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    It was mentioned in the thread I cited - by poster Stanislav. Here's the quote:

    "Well, the "International MA in Adult Education and Global Change" from Linkopings University is certainly real and certainly free."

    Sorry - I guess it's an MA, not an M.Ed.

  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Accreditation has to do with a school's degree-granting authority - not its quality. Sure, for legit accreditation, one would hope a certain degree of quality would go with it. Nations has quality - in spades; I'm convinced of that. Quality's not the problem. Why do I think so?

    I haven't studied at Nations myself. That would require sincere religious conviction, something I lack completely. However, I've known several people who hold degrees from Nations as well as secular degrees, earned in mainstream North American schools or respected European ones. They're all pretty smart people, as I see it - and not mere horn-blowers or credential-collectors of types we're all familiar with. They were unanimous in their praise of the rigor and content of their Nations programs.

    I've also read quite a few reviews by enthusiastic Nations students and grads, who were glad to find their program "tough as nails" (yeah, that's a quote) and who rated their Nations studies at least equal in required effort to anything they'd experienced in the RA world.

    As I've said before (many, many times) I'm not religious, but I'm also not without interest in Biblical languages. I once had a good look at Nations' course-listings, requirements and expected outcomes in this regard - and I was favorably impressed. I'm sure their other departments maintain equally high standards. Folks continue telling me they do.

    And if you'll look at the longish history of Nations' continuing attempt at DETC accreditation, you'll probably come to the same conclusion as others -- it's not a question of quality, but Nations' unique mode of operation (free) that presents singular challenges for the school with any potential accreditor.

    I believe Nations has a lot going for it - regardless of what Dr. Steve Levicoff thinks. :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2012
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    PS - I LIKE Dr. Steve - and enjoy reading his comments, theatre reviews etc. I just disagree with him on Nations - all I'm sayin'.

  13. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    My impression of Nations has always been that it's a sincere effort and that it probably does have some academic value. (Unfortunately, I only know that from internet hearsay, which is part of the problem.) But I'm not really aware of any academic features that would make me want to call Nations 'very fine'.

    I think that many of the people who praise it on the discussion boards are attracted by its low price.
  14. AdjunctInstructor

    AdjunctInstructor New Member


    You are correct in most of what you say. I say this as a NU graduate and professor. However, there is still a few problem areas. One problem that is being addressed is the level of academic writing that is required in our programs. We are currently working on grading rubrics and overall writing standards. The other is general undergraduate course requirements. I can speak very honestly about this because honesty fosters growth and positive change. Three years ago NU offered very good course content but was lacking in writing requirements. However, there has been progress since. As a NU BRS/MRS graduate I applied to Liberty University (Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary) and was accepted. Moreover, NU's curriculum absolutely is as rigorous as LBTS's... and LBTS is rigorous. However, NU did not prepare a student for writing high quality academic papers. As a long time NU "insider" I can confidently say that NationsUniversity had quality in several areas but was not ready for accreditation. Working towards accreditation forces an honest and comprehensive evaluation of every department. It is a shame that some people considered NU a degree mill as that was not the case in that NU is a developing non-profit Christian University that stands a very good chance of being accredited.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2012
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  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    That's not exactly correct.

    Here in the United States, a state license/approval is usually necessary in order for a school to legally award degrees. The standards that schools must meet in order to award degrees are often quite minimal. It's even worse in the case of schools that teach religious subjects, since most states have clauses in their state laws that exempt religious education from most state approval requirements and government oversight.

    Once schools have legal status from which to operate, some (but not all) of these legal degree-grantors voluntarily choose to submit to the scrutiny of a whole variety of accrediting bodies.
  16. AdjunctInstructor

    AdjunctInstructor New Member

    You are absolutely correct. Many religious "schools" that have religious exemption should not be allowed to offer "degrees". In fact, it is these types that have cast a dark shadow over the marginally good to very good schools that do operate under religious exemption.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    OK. So let's boil that down a bit. You've got hearsay evidence from people with a built in bias. I'm willing to believe that this school is at least marginal, maybe even "lower tier" but "VERY fine?" Sorry Johann but you need to do better than that if you want to convince me (or anyone else) that Nations is a VERY fine school. By the way, Bill is correct. Accreditation has nothing to do with the ability to legally grant degrees and has a lot to do with the schools ability to continuously provide quality education. Aren't you the one who's always chasing down the degree mills (which are unaccredited by definition). You should just admit that you misspoke rather than try to defend an indefensible position.
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    (1) No - I won't. I gave the reader my opinion -which is unchanged.. If you say I'm wrong -- so be it. I couldn't care less about changing your mind, or changing my mind on your say-so. I prefer to listen to people who've been there, read about Nations' programs - and listen to myself.

    (2) If you say Bill is correct about accreditation and I'm not - so be it. You're entitled to your opinion and Bill to his. My opinion differs.

    (3) Yes, my mill-chasing involves unaccredited schools. But where did I say I believe all unaccredited schools are "bad." I've often stated the exact opposite. Besides, some accredited schools were pretty good schools for up to thirty years before becoming accredited. "Unaccredited is always bad" makes no sense at all.

    (4) I've nothing to sell - or defend. I'm just not playing.

    "I need to do better?" No, I don't think so. There's no qualifying exam here. Until there is, I'm doing just fine, thanks ---

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2012
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    E.G. - SCUPS (Cal. Southern U.)

    If it did make sense, how would Dr. Bear ever have sold all those books recommending and rating unaccredited and non-trad. schools? :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2012
  20. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Getting a little hot there Johann. For someone who says that you don't care what others think you're sounding more than a little tense. It's good that you're not trying to convince anyone to change their mind because you're not very convincing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2012

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