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Online Bible College USA, Christian Online Bible College

accreditation

I.    Where are We at Now?
Our position on accreditation is that we are interested in the possibility of it but there are several hurdles that must happen first; many of these issues hinge on fulfilling requirements which we are currently fulfilling. For example, we had a complete audit done (2014 for 2013) which shows that we are financially stable.   (see audit here)

What are the hurdles?  
Many of these accrediting bodies require a full time staff (Summit Bible College only uses adjunct professors), a full library (most of our students are on the internet and use libraries in their home towns or online), physical facilities and high fees and dues.  There are other accrediting agencies that have different requirements but all of them are high profile, government monitored agencies with specific secular, regulatory statutes.

What is Accreditation?
Accreditation originally was a process for making sure that institutions do what they say they will do.  It was a process designed so institutions could have a ‘watch dog’ agency review their integrity, finances and policies.  Certain institutions have never have had government accreditation because of their high quality programs and educational integrity.  Today accreditation usually is a legalistic, government controlled process that is very expensive. Also, as evidenced by California’s attempt to pass AB1126, governments want to impose their desires on accredited institutions. Many of those desires do not line up with biblical values, as in this case.

Summit’s goals are to do the high quality programs with God’s integrity. We want to put that first, at a low cost to the students.  We have ascribed to this through a Christian watch group the “ACEA” (see our website).

However, we are cautious about full accreditation until we are able to complete the full process.  For example, have you noticed the difference in costs between accredited and non-accredited institutions?  Summit Bible College’s goal is to keep the quality of an accredited college yet charge the costs of the non-accredited institution.   Our degrees have that quality, and our costs are low because we are saving money for you.  Because of the quality of our programs we have been accepted by most ministries and by many accredited colleges (Accredited universities such as Azusa Pacific in Los Angeles, Northern Michigan University, and many others, have accepted our degrees and/or credits.).

So, where does that leave us?  Summit is interested in full accreditation but the process must allow us to meet our goals while keeping us financially stable.  So, although accreditation can be valuable it is a secondary concern of the college.  Our goal is to do a quality job and provide a low cost plan for ministers to be equipped.  We will achieve full accreditation at the right time with the right doors open.

Most importantly, we are under standards to help guide us in doing the right thing for our students.  We have a board of directors, bylaws and a mission statement, and a constitution that keep us pointed to “Equipping Christian leaders to help those in need.”

According to California state law we have approval to issue Degrees in Theology, automatically, with the Bureau of Post Secondary Education because we are a registered Church organization.
This is under the Bureau’s law AB 48, see below.  Under this law we have the right to issue degrees in Theology.
The State no longer requires us to register with them, that is why we are not on their ‘approved’ list.

Please refer to the Bureau of Post Secondary Education website to verify the law AB 48.
http://www.bppe.ca.gov/
Click on these links:
Laws/Regs
Legislation
California Private Postsecondary Educaiton Act of 2009
Article 4 Exemptions
See section (e)
(e) (1) An institution owned, controlled, and operated and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation pursuant to Part 4 (commencing with Section 9110) of Division 2 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code, that meets all of the following requirements:
(A) The instruction is limited to the principles of that religious organization, or to courses offered pursuant to Section 2789 of Business and Professions Code.
(B) The diploma or degree is limited to evidence of completion of that education.
(2) An institution operating under this subdivision shall offer degrees and diplomas only in the beliefs and practices of the church, religious denomination, or religious organization.
(3) An institution operating under this subdivision shall not award degrees in any area of physical science.
(4) Any degree or diploma granted under this subdivision shall contain on its face, in the written description of the title of the degree being conferred, a reference to the theological or religious aspect of the degree’s subject area.
(5) A degree awarded under this subdivision shall reflect the nature of the degree title, such as “associate of religious studies,” “bachelor of religious studies,” “master of divinity,” or “doctor of divinity.”

http://www.bppe.ca.gov/lawsregs/ppe_act.shtml#94874

Final Statement on Degree granting
Summit Bible College is an IRS 501 c 3 non-profit religious organization.  As such, the state of California gives us the legal right to issue degrees in Theology.
See the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education law AB 48 section e at:  http://www.bppe.ca.gov/lawsregs/ppe_act.shtml#94874.

Right to Issue Degrees in Theology
The terminology has changed.
We DO have the right to issue degrees in Theology.
However, we are NOT licensed, we are EXEMPT from Licensing.

According to California state law we have approval to issue Degrees in Theology, automatically, with the Bureau of Post Secondary Education because we are a registered IRS non-profit Church organization.
This is under the Bureau’s law AB 48, see below.  Under this law we have the right to issue degrees in Theology, divinity, and ministry.
The State no longer requires us to register with them, that is why we are not on their ‘approved’ list.

Please refer to the Bureau of Post Secondary Education website to verify the law AB 48.
http://www.bppe.ca.gov/
Click on these links:
Laws/Regs
Legislation
California Private Postsecondary Educaiton Act of 2009
Article 4 Exemptions
See section (e)
(e) (1) An institution owned, controlled, and operated and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation pursuant to Part 4 (commencing with Section 9110) of Division 2 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code, that meets all of the following requirements:
(A) The instruction is limited to the principles of that religious organization, or to courses offered pursuant to Section 2789 of Business and Professions Code.
(B) The diploma or degree is limited to evidence of completion of that education.
(2) An institution operating under this subdivision shall offer degrees and diplomas only in the beliefs and practices of the church, religious denomination, or religious organization.
(3) An institution operating under this subdivision shall not award degrees in any area of physical science.
(4) Any degree or diploma granted under this subdivision shall contain on its face, in the written description of the title of the degree being conferred, a reference to the theological or religious aspect of the degree’s subject area.
(5) A degree awarded under this subdivision shall reflect the nature of the degree title, such as “associate of religious studies,” “bachelor of religious studies,” “master of divinity,” or “doctor of divinity.”

II.    So, where are we going?
Accreditation is a lengthy project and takes up to 4-5 years for full accreditation.  We have considered teaming with other colleges and being accredited through them.  It is faster to form a “coalition” with another college but there are always caveats, because their goals are much more “corporate” and we don’t want to change the emphasis of Summit Bible College, such as: “stronger on the practical and less on the theory”, “a 1st century church emphasis”, “purely theological as the Lord would minister”, “equipping Christian leaders to help those in need”, and “quality curriculum at a reasonable price”.  Another future possibility could be to separate the college into two separate institutions: 1. Undergraduate “Summit Bible College”, staying as it is today, and 2. A graduate “Summit Theological Seminary” going with the Association of Theological Seminaries (ATS) accrediting for our graduate degrees.

What is keeping us from proceeding right now?
To actually begin the process is really a matter of financing. This involves several factors: issues ranging from core curriculum classes to full time professors.

This large vision of a $30 million dollar building project would be a better time to include full accreditation.  So, full accreditation could begin at any time with the right funding.

III.    Direct Costs of Accreditation
One fact to understand about accreditation is that its ‘direct costs’ can be an expensive process.  It costs about $5-10,000 per year, or more, just for the process.   Plus there are restrictive aspects about what you teach, resources, make up of the corporation and its employees.  Right now, Summit operates on a very tight budget, making sure that we stay strong fiscally, so that we can offer the lowest prices possible.  Also, we want the freedom to teach Theology as the Lord directs, and not as another organization dictates.  Once we do have full accreditation our prices will have to increase.  We want to keep them low, so raising funds for the difference in costs will be necessary.  If you have a desire to contribute funds to the accreditation process, your donation will be marked for that and kept separate in a special account.

IV.    Is there “Grandfathering” of My Degree
There is no ‘grandfathering’ of a degree. Once accreditation is achieved by an institution, it only includes the degrees that go through once the institution is accredited.  Even degrees that are partially completed during that time may have a requirement of more hours or more work.  In other words, if you earn your degree before accreditation, you can’t say my degree is accredited.  However, that subject rarely comes up.  The more positive way to look at it is to understand that once Summit Bible College receives accreditation you can say your degree is from a college that is accredited.

V.    What About Approval of Your Degree
The most important point about accreditation is that we are in the business of helping Christian leaders prepare for the harvest of ministering to God’s people.  We have been given “approval” in this matter from many ministries, Christian Colleges and organizations that hire Christian ministers.  They have approved of what we are doing, by hiring the people we graduate or by accepting their degree to another college: all to the glory of God.  It is better that we have this kind of approval than “man’s” approval, in our estimation.  Many of our students are ministering at churches, rehabilitation centers, rest homes, food banks, counseling centers, shelters and churches.  This is why we do what we do.  We are an IRS 501 c 3 non profit organization and as a “faith based” organization we want to help the community by preparing workers to help other people.

VI.    When is Accreditation Necessary?
Accreditation may be a need for some people, if they want credits for a promotion at work (like teachers) or for some government programs or loans; the accreditation, such as the ABHE, gives approval because the US Dept of Education recognizes them.  Accreditation normally isn’t necessary for someone seeking to receive a degree and do the work of the Lord and earn approval from Christian organizations.
To date our degrees have not been turned down by ministries, and we know of several cases where people have transferred credits from SBC to other accredited colleges.  Remember, even accredited college degrees and credits do not necessarily transfer to other accredited colleges. It depends on the “receiving” college’s desire to accept the credits and several other factors such as the type of class, the requirements of the new program and the policy of the receiving college.  Some denominations require more course work to teach our graduates their doctrine.  Usually this is an additional class or two. Check with your denomination for their specific requirements.

VII.    About the Issue and Use of the Title of “Doctor”
If an individual earns a doctorate and it is from a college that has the legal right to issue degrees of that level (as we do in the State of California), then they have the right to be called “Doctor”.  Sadly, colleges called “paper mills” charge people for the degree just so they can have the title “Doctor”; this is an illegal practice.  Summit Bible College is not a paper mill and the quality of the work is proof of that.  Many have said that our work is challenging but spiritually and practically beneficial and that they have grown greatly from it. In this, we praise God!  See our testimonial page at:  https://www.summitbiblecollege.com/online/testimony.htm.  A person can add the DTh, DMin or DDiv at the end of their name, too, if they choose.

Bottom line: If you want a great education to prepare you for ministry, Summit Bible College is an excellent method to help you fulfill that need.

In His Work,

Dr. Jeff Victor
President
Summit Bible College
“Equipping Christian Leaders to Help Those in Need”
www.summitbiblecollege.com

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