Guide to Accredited Christian Colleges

Accreditation is one of the most important components of higher education, a distinction which even Christian colleges are concerned with. In addition to accreditation from governmentally approved organizations, several religiously affiliated groups also offer accreditation. With the rise of distance education, online Bible college accreditation also exists. The following guide breaks down secular and religious accreditations, provides advice to students on finding a school, and offers guidance for researching a prospective school's accreditation status.

Why Does Accreditation for Christian Colleges Matter?

Accreditation is one of the most important components of higher education.

Accreditation is a process whereby colleges and universities voluntarily submit to assessments, including peer review and self-study. The process exists to ensure colleges adequately prepare students, offer support services, and maintain an environment conducive to learning.

Students that do not attend an accredited school may not be able to transfer credits to a different school or receive licensure and/or certification. They may also have difficulty finding employment and receiving acceptance to a graduate program. Conversely, learners attending accredited schools need not worry about these issues as the school complies with all requirements to maintain accreditation.

General college accrediting agencies exist across the higher education spectrum and do not cater exclusively to Christian colleges. That being said, they accredit both religious and secular schools, so learners may come across the agencies listed below when researching institutions.

While mainstream accreditation agencies frequently approve faith-based institutions, several religious accrediting agencies exist to review the more nuanced aspects of providing a Christian education. The following section highlights some of the best accrediting associations and provides details on the requirements of each.

With the rise of online accredited Bible colleges and online accredited Christian colleges, many learners want to know whether distance learning programs undergo the same amount of scrutiny as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. In short, the answer is yes. The majority of Bible colleges, Christian colleges, and seminaries with online degree paths submit these programs to accreditation commissions while undergoing the process for traditional campus-based programs. In most cases, the online versions of brick-and-mortar degrees use the same curriculum and degree requirements, making it easy for accreditation advisory boards to evaluate efficacy while visiting the school.

In addition to standard accreditation by agencies approved through the Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) developed the Accreditation Protocol for Online Learning to ensure online faith-based programs function within best practices and standards. This new style of accreditation, first introduced during the 2015-2016 academic year, has accredited two fully online schools as of 2018. Schools looking to learn more about online accreditation can contact ACSI directly. At present, two other fully online schools are working through the accreditation process.

After learning about different paths to accreditation, current and future students may wish to research whether their school meets programmatic or institutional accreditation standards. Several accreditation bodies and oversight agencies provide searchable databases to make the research process easier.

The National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator allows users to search schools based on name, location, programs, level of education, and institutional type. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education provides the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs that allows visitors to search by school names. Students can also visit the websites of specific programmatic, faith-based, or career-focused accrediting agencies to see if their school is accredited.