Kearley Graduate School of Theology of Faulkner University was recently accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools this month and ATS lauded the program as a potential model for other graduate schools.
A successful accreditation site visit was conducted in April on Faulkner’s campus and the full accreditation was made official this week.
The following degree programs have been approved by the Commission on Accrediting: Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies, Master of Arts (Biblical Studies), and Master of Arts in Christian Ministry.
In June 2018, the ATS Board of Commissioners approved a four-year experimental Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies degree, permitting the degree program to be completed in a synchronous distance education format.
“The Kearley Graduate School of Theology Ph.D. is a strong program and could be a model for other seminaries and graduate schools of theology who are exploring alternative delivery models for advance theological education,” according to the ATS On-site Evaluation Committee’s summary report to the Commission.
Accreditation by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools is a prestigious honor and is one that Faulkner now shares with Harvard Divinity, Yale Divinity and others. Faulkner’s Kearley Graduate School of Theology is the only ATS accredited biblical studies Ph.D. program, which is not to be confused with the D.Min. or Doctor of Ministry degree, among the churches of Christ.
To receive the ATS accreditation was a dream of Scott Gleaves, Ph.D., dean of the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies and the Kearley Graduate School of Theology, when he came to the school in 2011.
The College of Biblical Studies began the accreditation process three years later.
“ATS accreditation represents an institution’s alignment with the highest standards in academic excellence and scholarship in theological studies among theological institutions,” Gleaves said. “Achieving ATS accreditation is no small undertaking. We went through an arduous four year self-evaluation of our programs in order to assess our alignment with the high educational and effectiveness standards of ATS.
“ATS accreditation is a public verification and recognition that the Kearley Graduate School of Theology continues on the path of academic and ministerial excellence. Students of the KGST can be confident that they are receiving and experiencing the best in theological education.”
During that time, the Kearley Graduate School of Theology developed a fully online Ph.D. biblical studies program. The school also offers the Master of Arts (Biblical Studies) and the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry which can be completed online.
The ATS accreditation is one that is very appealing among those looking for an official position in the ministry field, said Randall Bailey, Ph.D., the director of the Kearley Graduate School of Theology and a professor of Bible at the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies.
“Many religious groups require their graduates to possess a degree from an ATS accredited school before they can work in an official position,” Bailey said. “While not all do, this accreditation will give us opportunity to serve many others, hitherto prohibited with studying with us prior to our accreditation.”
“Since our emphasis is on biblical studies many of these individuals find our degrees very refreshing and their online delivery most convenient.”
In addition, Faulkner University’s undergraduate and graduate Bible programs have been accredited by SACSCOC since 1984.
The Kearley Graduate School of Theology seeks to emulate Christ in attitude and behavior, thereby equipping its students to become effective Christian communicators and servants in both the church and the world. Students who choose to enter the Kearley Graduate School of Theology will find a spiritually oriented faculty who seek excellence in both scholarship and Christian service.
The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) provides a collective voice to the more than 270 graduate schools of theology that make up its membership and only graduate programs. Through its innovative programming, the Association provides leadership development and networking opportunities to the administrators and faculty of member schools. The related Commission on Accrediting (COA) affords a system of accountability through peer evaluations in the accreditation process.
The body recognized as the accrediting agency for The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada is the Commission on Accrediting of ATS, which is related to but separate from ATS. The current Commission membership includes nearly 260 graduate theological schools in the United States and Canada who are Accredited Members or Candidates for Accredited Member status.
For more information, visit https://www.faulkner.