Every young person is told that they will need a college degree to go further in life. But not every degree is the same. Some come from big name universities and others from local community colleges. Some schools are accredited and others find their niche outside of the traditional accreditation system. Knowing the role that accreditation actually plays when a graduate goes out into the world can go a long way in determining how to position your own internship, residency, or gap year program.
Your frontline ministry’s training program can operate independent of the traditional school system entirely. But this will limit your recruitment to candidates who do not want or need a traditional college degree. You may discover that you can attract higher quality candidates when they can earn college credit or even complete a college degree while attending your program. To accomplish this, your program will need to partner with a college or university to leverage the work students do in your program.
Here are a few of the most common questions we get asked on this topic:
When Does Accreditation Matter for the Student?
If a student plans to pursue a higher level of education beyond the college degree program they are currently working on, then earning an accredited degree will keep their options wide open. For example, a master’s program at a regionally accredited university may not recognize a bachelor’s degree that comes from another unaccredited school. If you are training students with plans for multiple degrees, then you may need an accredited university partner, or a pathway to complete an accredited college degree. The same goes for students who hope to land in the education field. If your target audience are students hoping to teach at a university somewhere, then seeking out accredited degree pathways for your students will be the best choice.
Will Employers Ask about Accreditation?
Outside of those scenarios, few employers ever directly ask if a college listed on a resume is accredited. Accreditation is not really what they are looking for. They are looking for a qualified candidate. Primarily, they will determine this by evaluating relevant work experience, completed college level degree programs, and certain intangibles they discover in the interview process. References and personal experience play a much bigger role in an employer’s evaluation process than university accreditation. If a school has a good reputation or the person doing the hiring has personal experience with a certain university, they are likely to prefer candidates from that school regardless of accreditation status.
How Do Credit Transfers Play into the Accreditation Question?
Regardless of how you get there, when a student receives a degree from an accredited institution, the entire degree is accredited. At the undergraduate level, the degree conferring school often only has to deliver 25% of the courses that make up the degree. Even at the graduate level, most schools only need to facilitate 50-75% of the course work that makes up a degree program. The rest of the classes can come from a number of sources and partnerships. Your program could be one of them, if you are positioned correctly.
Practically speaking, that means you could establish a partnership with an unaccredited college or university that is best positioned for what you are trying to accomplish and still offer college level accredited degree pathways for your students, provided there are preset transfer agreements into accredited universities.
Is there a difference between credit and accreditation?
Yes. Accreditation has to do with the school. It is a seal of approval, so to speak. Accreditation begins with an authoritative organization, the accreditor, who validates a school against a set of standards. If a college or university wants to achieve accreditation, then they have to demonstrate to that accreditor that they have what it takes to meet and maintain the standards they have set. Some schools find this a necessary part of their offering, while other schools find alternate ways to establish their value. Schools are the only entities that can get accredited by an accreditor recognized by the US Department of Education. It is not something that a church or ministry can have unless they decide to start a school and then that school seeks accreditation.
Credit has more to do with the individual classes a student takes. For example, a college level course might be worth three credit hours. This tells a school that a certain measure of work has been done by the student. That measure of work is then counted towards a total that the student needs to earn in order to earn a degree. A school may recognize work that is done in its own classes, but it may also recognize work that is done in partner programs. This is where your ministry may find its niche. You could provide a program that offers credit that is recognized by another school and counts towards certain degree outcomes. Achieving this can be complicated if you don’t have the right partner. But at Eleven:6 we have made this process smooth and simple for any organization wanting to elevate their program.
Still have questions about academic accreditation and your ministry training program? We answer more questions on this topic here.
If you have a training program and you want to know how to give your students degree pathways, as well, we can help you get there. Schedule a call and we will get you started in no time.