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What is Seminary Accreditation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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Seminary accreditation is certification of a seminary by an independent third party, verifying the presence of basic educational and administrative standards. Worldwide, the approach to seminary accreditation varies. Some choose to pursue accreditation from agencies recognized by the government, while others may seek approval from religious organizations, including churches. Others may not be formally accredited at all. Prospective seminary students can get information about the accreditation status of an individual school from the admissions office. Any claims made about accreditation can be verified with the accrediting authority.

Accreditation is a lengthy process. Inspectors visit the campus to see what kinds of classes are offered and to determine their quality by sitting in, reviewing their curricula, and meeting with students. While evaluating the curriculum presented to seminary students, the inspectors also evaluate the school's administrative management. They review the seminary's policies and check for issues like how refunds are handled, what kinds of notices the school puts out, and how the office is organized. If the seminary meets their standards, it will receive accreditation. When the accreditation expires, the seminary will need to be evaluated again.

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Seminary accreditation is not as important as accreditation for secular educational institutions. People can attend schools without accreditation and receive an excellent education paired with job opportunities upon graduation. Many unaccredited seminaries are affiliated with specific denominations and people can apply their seminary training to practicing as religious officiants in their faith. The coursework is radically different from that offered in secular institutions, and the rigorous academic standards of secular accreditation authorities are not necessarily seen with seminary accreditation.

In many regions, official government agencies oversee seminary accreditation for seminaries offering training in individual religious faiths. Schools can seek accreditation from these authorities. They can also request evaluation by religious officiants and independent commissions established by members of their faith. People curious about the accreditation standards used during the review process can ask to see them to learn more about the evaluation methods the reviewers use.

When a government agency accredits a seminary, it is allowed to display the agency's seal and to claim an affiliation with the agency and other seminaries sharing the accreditation. People can confirm that the seminary is in good standing by contacting the accrediting authority and requesting information. Seminaries affiliated with independent religious organizations may also display information about them, including contact information for people who want to learn more.

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