Grace Theological Seminary’s competency-based theological education (CBTE) program, Deploy, was recently granted ongoing accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The program, delivered onsite at local churches, boasts 70 students enrolled this year, spanning from the Baltic states in Eastern Europe to the state of California. The new accreditation status means the innovative program has met ATS criteria and is here to stay.
“Competency-based theological education is an idea whose time has come,” said Dr. Freddy Cardoza, dean of Grace Theological Seminary. “Grace Theological Seminary had the foresight—before I even arrived as dean—to see that this type of innovative ministry training represents the ‘future of seminary.’ We are elated to receive word that our primary accrediting body, the gold-standard ATS, has granted Deploy ongoing accreditation approval. We’re excited to expand Deploy’s reach even further as we make this amazing program known.”
Deploy was first accredited by ATS under a five-year experimental status beginning in February of 2017. At the time, there were only two other institutions in North America that had ATS approval to offer CBTE programs: Northwest Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Grace’s program launched in January of 2018 with eleven students enrolled.
Now, the program is seeing its largest numbers yet, growing 536% since its inception and 45.8% since last fall.
According to Dr. Barbara Mutch, senior director of Accreditation at ATS, Deploy is a creative response to nationwide declining enrollment in residential programs. “Grace Theological Seminary has carefully designed, implemented, evaluated and revised non-residency, competency-based programs and demonstrated that these programs meet appropriate expectations and standards of educational quality,” said Mutch.
For Grace, the value is being able to offer seminary education to students in a pathway that is most accessible and useful to them. Seeking to offer biblically-faithful, spiritually-holistic and relevant education in ways that serve students in a variety of settings, Deploy has positioned Grace Seminary to be more responsive to the needs of students and their churches.
“God has generously blessed Grace Theological Seminary in granting the Deploy program accreditation,” said Gabe Tribbett, director of Deploy. “As the Deploy program finishes its fifth year of existence, we praise God for how he has used it to transform and equip students and strengthen and encourage their churches. We remain committed to offering innovative programs that are accredited, yet responsive to the most pressing needs of churches. We are grateful to ATS, the Higher Learning Commission and all of our partner churches who make that possible.”
Grace Seminary offers residential, online and competency-based models of education and looks to continue to expand its modalities in the future. To learn more about Grace Theological Seminary, visit seminary.grace.edu.