Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools is the accreditation organization that gives accreditation to member schools that provide post baccalaureate professional and academic theological degree education. Learn more about theology courses and the outcome of their accreditation.

TCM Staff

17th August 2020

 The commission organizes several events and resources to equip members with the identification of best practices, development of peer networks, research production, and data exploration.

What is Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS)?

Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) is an accrediting agency for more than 270 graduate schools that offer post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs for various roles in the Theology discipline.

Memberships are offered to schools in both Christian and Jewish faiths and are open to all Christianity denominations, including mainline Christianity, Protestant Christianity, Catholic traditions, Orthodox traditions, and more.


The members of the ATS currently enroll nearly 74,500 students and are an employment provider to more than 7,200 faculty and administrators.

The mission of the commission is to improve and enhance theology schools to increase the faith of the general public.

Two separate corporations work under the ATS. They include the Association and the Commission on Accrediting. The Association helps in improving the educational benefits of the faculty and administrators of the member schools. The Commission on Accrediting provides institutional and programmatic accreditation.

ATS levels of membership

There are three levels of memberships under the ATS. They include the following. 

  • The initial membership offers as Associate Membership for any school.

  • Commission offers a candidate for Accredited Membership on Accrediting within five years of receiving Associate Memberships.

  • The final stage in the membership journey is the granting of accredited memberships.

Core values of Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

The four core values of the commission are below.

  • Diversity – The different dimensions of theology, as per the interests of the various member institutions are respected. The same concept in theology can vary based on polity, religious leadership, and commitment.

  • Quality and improvement – Quality is practiced in ministry and educational practices. There is no pure limit for the class. For variety, a standard set should be broken in due course of time.

  • Collegiality – The organization helps in institutional networking that helps in improving the organizational growth by being mutually responsible for quality despite the differences in theological perspective, regulatory complexity, and institutional size.

  • Leadership - Leadership value is essential for schools to attain their mission. Skill development of faculty, administrators, and member-schools is another agenda behind the organization.

Eligibility requirements for ATS accreditation

The eligibility requirements for the colleges/universities to get accreditation are here. 

  • The school is situated in the United States or Canada, offers graduate, proficient philosophical degrees, and occupies with teachers skilled for communities of the Christian and Jewish religions.

  • The school has worked sufficiently long, generally at least three years, for no less than one gathering of undergraduates to have earned every single vital credit and to have graduated with the Master of Divinity degree or the primary religious degree offered by the school.

  • The school has a sufficient number of legitimately qualified teachers working all day at post-baccalaureate religious training.

  • The instructive program of the school comprises of graduate-level examinations in the full scope of the religious controls intended for planning for service.

  • The school leads an instructive program of value, steadiness, and changelessness by having satisfactory physical offices, a creative library, and adequate money related assets.

Steps in the membership process

There is a sequence of steps to be followed before receiving the initial accreditation. The steps are below.

  • The school should complete the Associate Membership Application.

  • The procedures related to membership should be read.

  • The application fee of $5,000 should be payable in two installments.

  • The application deadline is September 1st for any year. 

Decision-making bodies of ATS

The board of directors of American Theological Schools consists of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President ex-officio, three public members, and one commission representative.

The committees in the ATS include the following. 

  • Audit Committee

  • Faculty Development Advisory Committee

  • Committee on Race & Ethnicity in Theological Education

  • Research and Data Advisory Committee

  • Student Data and Resources Advisory Committee

  • Theological Education Advisory Board

  • Women in Leadership Advisory Committee

Universities with ATS accreditation

Some of the institutions that have received institutional accreditation are below.


The Association of Theological Schools is an organization that offers educational accreditation to member schools and colleges that provide programs in theology to the students. This organization gives certification to colleges and universities which offer post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs.

Being an organization that has accredited 270 schools, the ATS strives to enhance the quality of Theology programs irrespective of the different Christian denominations. By accreditation, ATS does not only mean to create competent professionals but also dedicated missionaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.Which are the agencies that have recognized the ATS?

    ATS has been recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

  • 2.Are Bible Colleges accredited by the Commission on Accreditation?

    The commission does not accredit Bible Colleges.

  • 3.How to find out if a program is accredited by the ATS?

    To know if a Theology program is accredited by the ATS check the member school pages of the ATS.

  • 4.Which are the few affiliate institutions of the ATS?

    Few affiliate institutions of the ATS include American Islamic College, American Library Association, Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Association for Doctor of Ministry Education, Association for Theological Field Education, Dharma Realm Buddhist University and many more.

  • 5.What are the fees incurred during the accreditation process?

    The application and processing fee for association membership is $5,000. For the initial evaluation visit, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has to be offered. Appeals cost $1,000. Petitions cost $250.

  • 6.Does ATS accredit only American institutions?

    No, ATS accredits Canadian institutions as well.

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