Frequently Asked Questions
Who is ABHE?
Incorporated in the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation, the Association is exempt from income tax under the provisions of section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. ABHE is governed by its member institutions through a delegate assembly which elects members of both a Board of Directors and a Commission on Accreditation at an annual business meeting. The Commission on Accreditation exercises sole discretion over accreditation policy and decisions. The Association’s public accountability is underscored by the requirement that both the Board of Directors and the Commission on Accreditation must include public representatives among its members. The Commission is administered by a full-time Director with the support of additional Association and Commission professional and support staff. The Association is administered by a full-time President and supported by a corps of professional staff.
What Kinds of Institutions Does ABHE Serve?
It is conservatively estimated that there are more than 1,000 “Bible institutes,” “Bible colleges” or institutions of biblical higher education of some description in Canada, the United States, and related territories. And the number appears to be growing rather than shrinking. Admittedly, some of these institutions fall short of their claims in terms of postsecondary educational quality. Some are little more than degree or diploma mills. But the majority—including ABHE member colleges—are credible institutions of postsecondary education, serious about both education and ministry formation. Most institutions of biblical higher education offer programs of study in such areas as biblical studies, pastoral ministry, Christian education, cross-cultural ministry, and music. Increasing numbers also provide programs in elementary and perhaps secondary education, youth ministries, urban ministries and business administration. Others offer specialized programs in such areas as deaf ministries, social work, aviation, and other technology-oriented fields. A growing number of ABHE institutions offer curricular programs across the entire spectrum of academic and professional disciplines. Thus, you might say today’s biblical higher education institutions offer programs of study not necessarily leading exclusively to church occupations but in all cases intended to foster gospel pre-occupation regardless of one’s future vocation.
Is ABHE Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education?
Official recognition of United States accrediting agencies began in the 1950s when the US government decided to designate accrediting agencies as “gatekeepers” relative to student financial aid eligibility. The Association for Biblical Higher Education in Canada and the United States (ABHE) has held such recognition since its inception. Today, ABHE is also listed by the United States Department of Education as a recognized institutional “gatekeeper” accrediting agency. USDE recognition extends as well to ABHE’s candidate (pre-accredited) institutions. The Commission’s accredited and pre-accredited member institutions are also recognized by the Department of Justice, the Veteran’s Administration, and other relevant federal agencies in the United States. USDE recognition is currently limited to undergraduate education (including both traditional and distance education modalities). The Commission is working with USDE staff to achieve formal USDE recognition of its expanded scope (graduate accreditation).
Is ABHE Recognized By Professional Peers?
ABHE has also earned recognition as a national, faith-based accrediting agency by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the successor of the Council on Postsecondary Education (COPA), and subsequently the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary accreditation (CORPA). ABHE’s scope of CHEA recognition includes institutions and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels through traditional and distance education modalities.
How Is ABHE Recognized Internationally?
ABHE is recognized by the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE), the theological education affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance. The Council is a global community sponsored by eight continental/regional associations of theological schools.