Midwestern maintains professional and academic accreditation with two accrediting associations: The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Associate membership with ATS began in December 1961. Full membership and accreditation were received in 1964. Degrees approved by the ATS include the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Theological Studies (MTS), Master of Arts (MA) in Christian Education, MA in Counseling, MA in Church Music, MA (Biblical Languages), MA (Biblical Archeology), Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Educational Ministry (DEdMin) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. ATS has granted exception to residency requirements for the DMin and DEdMin programs.
In June 2020, the ATS Board of Commissioners approved a five-year experiment allowing an exception to the Commission’s PhD residency requirement that “courses, seminars, and colloquia for research doctoral degrees shall normally be completed on the main campus” (Degree Program Standard J, section J.3.1.1). This experiment is limited to offering those courses through synchronous interactive video, not through asynchronous means.
Questions regarding ATS accreditation issues and/or matters needing outside mediation may be directed in writing to:
The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, 10 Summit Park Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1103, Phone 412-788-6510
Higher Learning Commission approval was granted in 1971, and accreditation by this diversified and comprehensive agency assists Midwestern in accomplishing its professional and academic objectives and commends its graduates to the larger academic and professional communities. The HLC has approved all degrees to be awarded at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels.
Questions regarding HLC accreditation and/or matters needing outside mediation may be directed in writing to the HLC at:
The Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500 Chicago, IL 60604, Phone 800-621-7440
Policy on Credit Assignment to Academic Courses
Purpose and Scope
This Credit Assignment policy establishes guidelines for assigning the number of credits earned through satisfactory completion of requirements for academic courses by students at Midwestern College and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This policy affirms Midwestern’s commitment to educational quality in terms that certify compliance with applicable government regulations and accreditation standards. The policy makes explicit the relationship between the credits assigned to an individual course and the expected work of a student completing that course.
Credit assignment should be based on course-related activities regardless of how or where they take place (including online), so long as they are required and contribute materially to achievement of course objectives or program learning outcomes. Credit assignments may also consider the intensity of engagement with the faculty or subject matter, student responsibility for learning outcomes, and course-related learning taking place outside the classroom, including online.
This policy articulates definitions that help to ensure a measure of consistency in the assignment of academic credit across all disciplines, while insisting that oversight of credit assignment rests with the faculty and academic administrators closest to instruction. The policy applies to all credit-bearing academic courses, regardless of course type, instructional format, mode of delivery, or length of the course.
Faculty Instruction: Teaching or supervision of teaching carried out in a credit-bearing course by faculty or other approved instructors or field supervisors under the supervision of authorized faculty.
Contact: Engagement of instructors with students to advance course objectives. Contact may take various forms: e.g., it may be face-to-face or online, synchronous or asynchronous, one-to-many or one-to-one, including faculty direction of students participating in for-credit internships, practicums, study tours, research, or scholarship.
Scheduled contact hour: One weekly, required hour (50 minutes) or equivalent of faculty contact. In addition to class meetings reflected in the Undergraduate, Graduate or Doctoral Class Schedule, other required course activities or combinations of activities may count as scheduled contact for the purpose of assigning credit.
Examples include faculty-student conferences, course related events with faculty, skill modules such as MET teams, and participation in online forums, congregational visits, music program rehearsals and performances, etc. All such scheduled contact must be specified as required in course syllabuses and must contribute to a student’s grade or achievement of course objectives.
Instructors also require students to complete work outside of scheduled contact hours to fulfill course objectives. Outside work must normally include, but need not be limited to, two hours of regular weekly class preparation for each credit earned. Where expectations for the quantity and/or intellectual challenges of outside work exceed this minimum and materially increase overall student effort, the number of credits assigned to a particular course may be greater than the number of its scheduled contact hours.
Examples include courses that entail extensive and/or intensive reading, writing, interviews, research, open-ended problem solving, practice-based assignments, or student responsibility for class meetings.
The following course types are covered by this policy and are aligned in the chart below with credit assignment guidelines.
- Classroom-based: Scheduled contact occurs primarily face-to-face in a classroom setting.
- Faculty-directed independent learning: Scheduled contact occurs via faculty supervision of students pursuing directed study for credit involving such activities as capstone projects, independent work for distinction, or graduate thesis and dissertation requirements.
- Place-or practice-based: Scheduled contact occurs in non-classroom locations such as churches (internships), field supervised ministry (practicums) schools, or clinics.
- Blended: Scheduled contact is a defined mixture of face-to-face and distance/online interactions. Midwestern uses the term hybrid for most blended classes.
Online: Scheduled contact is mediated entirely online.
- For courses offered during a typical 15-week semester, the combination of scheduled contact and independent student effort must be equivalent to at least 3 hours per week per credit hour. The guidelines should be adjusted accordingly for shorter courses, a) as directed by external agencies such as specialized accreditors for CPE, or b) as warranted by the standards of the discipline.
Type of Course
|Classroom-based courses, such as lectures, seminars, intensives||Classroom-based courses. Typically, 1 credit per 1 scheduled contact hour, as defined above, per week. Each credit assigned includes an expectation of at least 2 hours of independent student effort for successful completion of the course.|
|Faculty-directed independent learning||1 credit per 3 hours of student effort per week.|
|Place- and Practice-based||1 credit per 3 to 5 hours of student effort per week per credit for practicums, internships, externships, and clinical placements.|
|Blended/Hybrid||See Table 1|
|Online||See Table 1|
Table 1: Suggested Credit Assignment Guidelines by Learning and Teaching Activity in Online and Blended Courses
Description / Technologies
Credit Assignment Guideline: Hours of Activity Per Week
(asynchronous, with interactive work)
|Online lecture materials of static text and graphics, enhanced with
|Live Online Classroom with Instructor
Consulting with small student groups/teams
|Video webinar with application sharing, Google Hangout or similar technology||1:1|
|Live Online Classroom with Facilitator||Video webinar with application sharing||1:1|
|Online Discussion Boards (asynchronous)
Related to questions on readings, lecture, homework, projects, or exams
Topical graded discussions
|Discussion Forums e.g., Blackboard canvas or Google Hangout||1:2|
|Online Lab Activities /Problem Solving Sessions (asynchronous with student interaction)
Videos with problem sets and solutions (in math & theory classes)
Video tutorials & work with application
|Recorded videos with whiteboards or slides presentations||1:2|
|Live Project Presentation Sessions, Conferences, Roundtables||Video webinar with application sharing, phone calls with professors and/or other students||1:1|
Midwestern faculty are responsible for assigning academic credit to individual courses, for ensuring that credit assignments meet policy guidelines, and for approving exceptions to the guidelines. Typically, this oversight will occur in the context of usual institutional processes for curriculum development and review, and within curriculum oversight bodies such as the appropriate academic policy committee (Undergraduate APC, Graduate APC, Online APC, Doctoral Studies Committee).
The Provost and Deans are responsible for ensuring implementation of the policy by all credit-granting units of Midwestern.
The Registrar oversees the course catalog and is responsible for reporting regularly on the status of courses vis-à-vis the Course Credit Assignment Policy to the Provost and Deans.
Policy Guiding Influences:
In addition to the DOE and Accrediting guidelines, the following institutional understandings were used to establish credit assignment guidelines.
- For the foreseeable future, the credit hour will remain the standard for awarding Midwestern credentials, reporting to external entities, and complying with federal and state regulations. Thus, the definition of a credit hour and the assignment of credit to courses must be consistent with external regulations and standards for accreditation. In addition, credit assignment policies and practices should meet or exceed the best practices at peer institutions. Midwestern is not seeking approval for Competency Based Education delivery at this time.
- Although the credit hour is a useful concept, its basis in face-to-face, lecture- based instruction in a classroom neither reflects the range of current practices nor acknowledges changing instructional practices, which extend beyond traditional lectures to include online and blended online or place-based courses; internships, clinical experience, and field placements; “flipped” classrooms; laboratories, and rehearsals. Thus, credit assignment guidelines must balance the need to stipulate guidance with the need for flexibility in its application to a wide range of pedagogies.
- Finally, the guidelines are intended to reflect the variety of pedagogies, learning outcomes, and expectations for academic effort and achievement present at Midwestern; and, to anticipate, to the extent possible, emerging pedagogies and technologies, as well as regulatory changes. In all cases, assignment of credit to courses rests with the faculty and relevant academic governance bodies, as does oversight of compliance with policy guidelines.