Choosing a reputable online Christian college
Online Christian colleges and universities have helped thousands of people achieve their personal and career goals. Returning to education as an adult can be a life-changing decision, and is certainly not to be taken lightly, but so is selecting a suitable institution. For people of faith, prayer and careful consideration should go into choosing an online Christian college, but what can individuals who are planning on returning to education do to avoid enrolling at a less-reputable school?
Although not a hard-and-fast rule, the size of an online Christian university can be an indication of how reputable an institution may be. Larger colleges such as Liberty University, Moody Theological Seminary and Regent University have large student populations, ties with their local communities and a good reputation within both the religious and academic communities. In addition to offering individuals the opportunity to become part of a substantial student body with similar beliefs, larger online Christian colleges and universities have the resources to offer a greater number of degree programs.
Accreditation can be another way for people of faith to determine the legitimacy of online Christian universities. Many reliable, trustworthy institutions will be accredited either on a national or state level. Prospective students should be aware that, although the Department of Education does not accredit schools itself, it does maintain a database of accrediting organizations across the country. This helpful website allows users to search by name for schools across the U.S., and provides links to any organizations that have accredited individual schools.
As is to be expected, many online Christian colleges and universities are accredited by specialized organizations. The kinds of academic programs offered by religious schools can make certification by secular governing bodies difficult, irrelevant or simply inappropriate.
Fortunately, there are several trustworthy accrediting bodies that handle certification of religious schools. These include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which specializes in academic institutions throughout the Southern states; and the Association of Theological Schools, which certifies larger institutions including Moody Theological Seminary.
When choosing an online Christian university, there is no substitute for actually contacting an institution and asking them about their credentials. Even if a student intends to enroll in a degree program offered exclusively online, a school’s campus and mission statement can be equally important. Individuals considering enrolling in online Christian colleges and universities should contact their prospective schools with a list of questions about the school, their degree programs, any career services the college may offer, and the values and ethics of the institution’s community.