What are the Different Types of Bible College Accreditation?
The practice of Bible college accreditation varies considerably according to jurisdiction. Bible colleges may be accredited by government agencies in some countries, or, as is typical in the United States, can be accredited by private third-party accreditors. Different Bible colleges may choose accreditation from different agencies dpending on their program and their accreditation goals.
Bible colleges are typically undergraduate institutions that offer certificate, associate's, and bachelor's degrees to their students. These degrees are typically ministry oriented, preparing students for direct entry into various types of Christian ministry jobs. Students may go on to receive a seminary education, but many denominations that recognize Bible college education do not require advanced or graduate degrees of those who apply for ministry credentials. There can be some considerable differences between the curriculum at Bible colleges versus that offered at liberal arts colleges, so Bible college accreditation often differs significantly from that which is offered to other types of schools.
In the United States, the government does not accredit schools, though the federal Department of Education does recognize certain accreditors. While it is possible for a Bible college to be accredited by one of the regional creditors in the United States, the administration of many Bible colleges instead chooses accreditation through a specialty accrediting agency. Both the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) as well as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) are recognized creditors of Bible colleges in the United States. It should be noted that some denominations sponsor their own Bible colleges and recognize the education received there as adequate qualification for ministry even if the Bible college does not hold outside accreditation.
Outside the United States, the process of Bible college accreditation may be very different. The school may be accredited by a government agency, or it may be affiliated with an accredited school that takes responsibility for the Bible colleges academic offerings. In such cases, any degrees or diplomas earned by students of the Bible college may actually be issued by the sponsoring accredited institution.
Getting Bible college accreditation is typically a long process in which the Bible college must submit the results of an extensive self-study that is then compared to the standards set by the accreditor. Typically the accrediting agency will send out representatives on field visits to determine whether the school offers a quality education. If the school is determined to be in line with the accreditor's standards, it can receive accreditation and its various benefits.
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