Taking the Next Step

Pastors who encourage church members to participate in ministry often say “The best ability is availability.”

When regional accreditation is discussed, however, portability—the ability for credits to transfer between colleges—is certainly among its most compelling aspects.

Taking the Next StepThe National Survey of Student Engagement found that up to 50 percent of all students either transfer or take classes at another institution. Many students will also want to move on to graduate school and earn a degree that will allow them to enter their chosen career or ministry field or to advance professionally.

This is normally a simple process when both colleges are regionally accredited. When that isn’t the case, things can get sticky.

When transferring from one regionally accredited college to another, the only issue (normally) is whether parallel courses exist in both places. When attempting to transfer from an unaccredited or nationally accredited college to a regionally accredited one, however, there are a host of potential issues. In many cases, the student is gambling on whether a friendly previous relationship exists between the two schools.

“You may be able to get into a graduate school if it is in your school’s geographical area and its personnel know your school’s history,” said Dr. John Brock, Maranatha’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. “At least they’ve heard of your college. If they haven’t heard of it, accreditation is all they have to rely on. That’s why accreditation, in my opinion, is most helpful for a small college.”

Why are colleges more likely to accept work done at a regionally accredited institution?

U.S. News and World Report (2009), “5 Myths About Online Bachelor’s Degrees,” said, “… the first thing you need to know about any online school you’re considering is whether or not it is certified by one of the six national U.S. accrediting bodies. This is called regional accreditation, and it’s the highest form of accreditation a college or university can possess.”

Maranatha Registrar Steve Carlson noted, “Response to credits from a nationally accredited college may vary, but acceptance of credits from a regionally accredited college is very nearly unanimous.”

Boise State University makes this distinction crystal clear on the accreditation page for its online Educational Technology graduate degree:

“Here’s an example of how the system works. A year or so ago, a man with a bachelor’s degree from a midwest Bible college applied for admission to Boise State’s online master’s program in Educational Technology. We could not admit him because his degree was issued by an institution unrecognized by one of the regional accrediting agencies. The man’s alma mater was, in fact, accredited by a national association of Bible schools, [but that] is not a federally endorsed or commonly accepted measurement of academic instruction.”

Check similar pages at other graduate schools. You’ll find that portability can be a very valuable commodity.