god's Word

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
(Luke 4:18-19, RSV)

God's promise to bless Abram and Israel
(Genesis 12:1-3, RSV)


Contact Us

Saint Martin's College and Seminary

P.O. Box 100410
Milwaukee, WI 53210

Phone or Fax: 414.247.1451

Accreditation and State Approval of Post secondary Institutions

Accreditation Status

A degree is valid because somebody says so.  It’s important at the outset to distinguish between degree granting power (which is necessary, and which is conferred by the government) and accreditation (which is optional, and which is conferred, if at all, by private associations of colleges and universities).
          Accreditation is a uniquely American invention.  The first university in the world that is still operating today is located in Africa!  It is Al-Azhar University (Egypt), which has degree granting power since 970 A.D.; it has never been accredited.  The venerable Universita degli Studi di Parma (Italy) has had degree grandting power since 1064; it has never been accredited.  The great Universite de Montpelier (France) has had degree granting power since 1181; it has never been accredited.  And if you meet a graduate of the prestigious University of Oxford (United Kingdom), which has been awarding degrees since 1214, you could say, “Oh, that’s just one of those unaccredited schools.”  Your statement would be technically correct, but irrelevant.  Oxford doesn’t need accreditation.  They’re Oxford.
          We’re Saint Martin’s (USA).  Our College & Seminary has had degree granting power from the State of Wisconsin since 1975; it has never been accredited.  Are we trying to achieve accreditation?  Yes.  It would be helpful to our institution if we had it.  However, accreditation only means demonstrating that we are approved by our peers.  A number of accredited colleges-and employers have accepted our credits and degrees at face value (this decision is always up to the receiving institution).  Other accredited colleges cooperate with us to make their courses available through St. Martin’s.  Thomas Edison State College, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, has granted us permission to use their portfolio program for our undergraduate experience-evaluation process.  We work closely with the International Council of Community Churches and are a charter member of the Electronic Bible Society.  Our Christian Education courses are approved by the Evangelical Teacher Training Association.  Our coursework leading to the Certified in Alcohol and Substance-Abuse Counseling is approved by the American College for Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the National Association for State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and the Project for Addiction Counselor Training, and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services.  And our articulation agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is convincing evidence that the educational community places value on the quality of our instruction and the ability of our graduates. 
          Why then, is accreditation taking so long?  Frankly, we haven’t made it a high priority.  Accreditation is a very costly and time consuming process, and our administration and trustees have more immediately pressing concerns to deal with.  The minority community has faced one crisis after another our realpolitik is incomprehensible to many Ivory Tower academics as they pedal their bicycles across their highly endowed, immaculately manicured, government subsidized campuses.
          An accredited college isn’t necessarily a good one, and a unaccreditated college isn’t a bad one.  Most accrediting agencies look only at inputs or resources such as an institutions financial statements, number of books in the library, square feet of physical plant, proportion of Ph.D.s on the faculty, and so on.  In fact this represents something of a “trade union” mentality on the part of already accredited colleges that find it in their interest to make it as expensive and difficult for new institutions to qualify (i.e., to compete for the same finite pool of students)-especially for new institutions that are dependent on tuition, contributions and other private sources of revenue in order to keep operating.
          We are fortunate to be working with an accrediting agency that looks at “outcomes” or “results” instead. (Their rules prohibit our mentioning their name until we are further along in this process, so we’ll just say that they’re awfully nice people and that we’ve benefited greatly from their advice.)  As to outcomes, St. Martin’s has firm expectations as to what a student should know, and be able to do, at each certificate and degree level; we are not particular about how, when, where or from whom he learned it.  Our graduates are competent, capable, and directly comparable with their counterparts from schools that charge far more tuition so as to provide more luxuries to their students.
          Saint Martin’s plans to continue pursing accreditation as long as we can do so without diverting scarce resources away from our primary mission.  Providing Christian Service to the community and making our institution accessible and affordable, will always be more important than collecting accolades from worldly judges and juries.

Private post secondary schools must be approved the EAB before they can conduct business in Wisconsin. Approval is both a license to operate and certification that an institute meets statutory requirements for operation. Non-profit institutions like Saint Martin's College and Seminary often focus on specialized forms of national and professional accreditation for specific programs in religious related professions. As these individual programs receive approval, regional and or accreditation groups recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are the next progressive step to recognition.