Just recently I had a conversation with a prospective student who was interested in pursuing a graduate degree from Northwest Nazarene University’s School of Theology & Christian Ministries. The problem was he had started his studies at an unaccredited institution. He presumed all his credits would transfer to NNU and he was, understandably, very upset. I felt badly for him, but unfortunately there was little I could do.
Sadly, this young man is learning a painful lesson. If you’re pursuing a master’s degree, don’t choose a cheaper, unaccredited institution. In the end, that lower price tag just doesn’t pay off.
NNU has long understood the value of accreditation. Since 1930, we have been accredited continuously by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. NNU is also the first institution offering fully online Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees to be granted associate membership status by The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the accrediting body for seminaries and divinity schools in the U.S. and Canada. This is the first step seminaries take to becoming a full member of ATS.
So what’s the big deal about accreditation? It offers an external stamp of approval saying students get their money’s worth for their education. In other words, it validates that what an educational institution says it’s going to do—give students an education that can lead to a career—actually happens.
Achieving accreditation isn’t easy. That’s why quite a few institutions out there are not accredited. In the end, however, it’s worth it—both for institutions like NNU and for our students.
Getting a cheap education might not matter if you’re going to sell widgets. But when you’re talking about dealing with the mysteries of the God of the universe, this calls for a level of preparation that goes far beyond the bare minimum.
We live in a complicated age today with numerous complex ethical and cultural questions. When you’re a pastor sitting across from a young couple who has just lost a child to an incurable disease, you better have more to offer them than, “God’s choir needed another angel.” That won’t cut it. One way to come prepared to answer these challenging questions is to study under thoughtful, thought-full professors at institutions like NNU, which have a proven track record validated by external accreditors.
We understand the urgency so many students feel about getting through their studies and “into the action” of ministry. That’s why our programs are designed to compress the gap between theory and practice. But as our denominational founder Phineas F. Bresee was often attributed for saying, “If I knew that I had but ten years to live and serve, I would take five for preparation, and do more in the remaining five than in the whole ten years.”
Don’t risk your ministry by skimping on your preparation. In education, as in so many other arenas today, you get what you pay for. Your ministry is worth the investment.
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