Wesley Seminary received approval for associate membership into the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) on Wednesday, June 20.
The Seminary was eligible for the associate membership for the first time since it began in 2009. According to Dr. Ken Schenk, dean of the Seminary, schools can only be accredited once they have at least one class that completed the Seminary's program.
ATS is comprised of over 250 graduate theological schools in both the U.S. and Canada. The wide spectrum of the organization spans across a range of denominations, including Roman Catholic and Jewish institutions.
Associate membership is the preliminary step to becoming a candidate for accredited membership with ATS. After a period of time, graduate theological programs that complete the process and fulfill the requirements attain official ATS membership.
"Membership ideally leads to accreditation as a theological school (we now begin this phase of the process). Although all the programs of IWU are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, ATS accreditation indicates that our Seminary programs are quality ministerial programs. It opens doors for our students in any number of venues. The M.Div. degree is currently the default degree for a minister to have and ATS accreditation says that our M.Div. degree is a quality degree," said Schenk.
Some opportunities made possible through full ATS membership include Wesley Seminary's eligibility for federal student loan programs, and their Master of Divinity degree meeting qualifications for the U.S. military chaplaincy.
Wesley Seminary, the first in The Wesleyan Church, began offering classes in 2009 and has more than 250 students. Master of ARts and master of Divinity degrees are offered online and onsite. The MDIV degree is offered in English and Spanish.
Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church, which has its world headquarters in Indianapolis. The University was founded in 1920, and is committed to liberal arts and professional education.
More than 3,200 students are enrolled in traditional programs on the University's main campus in Marion, Ind. Another 12,200 adult learners attend classes at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, and online.