Baker's Guide to Christian Online Learning

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Why Accreditation?

Having gone through accreditation and reaccreditation efforts as a university professor, I find them to be stressful, time-consuming, and expensive endeavors. So why should Christian colleges concern themselves with such difficulties? Well, to paraphrase Churchill, accreditation is the worst form of institutional quality control except all those other forms that have been tried. 


Accreditation is a voluntary process by which schools submit themselves to a peer review process to ensure quality and institutional integrity. Within higher education, the gold standard of accreditation in the United States is called regional accreditation, which means that an institution is accredited by one of the six geographically dispersed associations approved by both the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. There are also specialty accreditation that Christian universities and seminaries pursue in addition to (and sometimes instead of) regional accreditation including the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). A few even pursue accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). 

Many graduate programs and employers require an accredited degree as a prerequisite and simply disregard unaccredited schools. Additionally, for those interested in federal financial aid programs, recognized accreditation is a requirement for various loans and grants. Pursuing a degree is a significant investment of time and money and accreditation affects how that degree will be received in the marketplace. Therefore, from a student perspective, this is a stewardship issue to consider when comparing online degree programs. I also think it’s a stewardship perspective for institutions, but I do give credit to unaccredited schools that clearly communicate their status to prospective students. 

I do not think that accreditation is the only measure of educational quality and I do not think all unaccredited schools are bad. However, from a consumer perspective, I do believe that it's prudent to stick with properly accredited schools if you’re pursuing a degree to ensure that your credential is recognized in the marketplace. This is why the Baker's Guide Directory is limited to accredited Christian higher education institutions. Yes, there are unaccredited Christian K-12 and homeschooling programs listed and there are also some international programs which are outside the bounds of the US accreditation framework, but as a rule catalogs Christian online learning programs offered by accredited Christian colleges, universities, Bible colleges, and seminaries.

BTW, do you know of a Christian distance learning program that we're missing?  Please let us know!

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