- Theological Education
About this affiliate
The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) is a membership organization of more than 250 graduate schools that conduct post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs to educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines. The Commission on Accrediting of ATS accredits the schools and approves the degree programs they offer. Frank Yamada is the executive director.
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Eliza Smith Brown
Director, Communications and External Relations
Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) is a membership organization of more than 250 graduate schools that conduct post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs to educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines. The Commission on Accrediting of ATS accredits the schools and approves the degree programs they offer.
Membership is open to graduate schools of theology in the Christian and Jewish faiths. Arguably constituting the most ecumenical organization in North America, the current roster of ATS member schools represents mainstream Protestantism, evangelical Protestantism, and Catholic and Orthodox churches. Together they enroll approximately 80,000 students and employ more than 3,600 full-time faculty.
In addition, ATS grants affiliate status to organizations with a substantial interest in theological education but not involved in educational programs leading to a degree, as well as to institutions of higher education offering graduate theological degrees related to communities of faith other than the Christian or Jewish faiths. Under this large multifaith tent, ATS welcomes participation by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and others.
In service to its member schools, the Association maintains a website rich in statistical data and other resources. This information has also proven helpful to the general public, prospective students, media representatives, and researchers in theological education.
Data provided by member schools each fall are used to create Annual Data Tables, a collection of charts and graphs detailing institutional characteristics, enrollment, faculty composition and compensation, finances, and development. The tables and statistical reports generated from them—the Institutional Peer Profile Report and the Strategic Information Report—allow schools to benchmark themselves against their peer institutions, to follow industry trends, and to conduct informed strategic planning, institutional evaluation, and policy development.
The Association also maintains a database on student perceptions of their theological education (through the Entering and Graduating Student Questionnaires) and of students' development and formation as future pastors and priests (through the Profiles of Ministry program).
A Member Schools tab on the website leads to a comprehensive, indexed roster of schools with links to their individual websites. This resource is particularly useful to prospective students. In the interest of transparency, the directory also includes the accrediting status of each school.
ATS is a learning community, with as many as 900 theological administrators and faculty participating each year in leadership education programs designed to strengthen institutional effectiveness. Programs are tailored to the needs and interests of presidents, chief academic officers, development officers, finance officers, and student personnel administrators as well as racial/ethnic and women faculty and administrators. The website provides a schedule of events offered each academic year, online conference registration, and selected materials sharing conference content. In addition, some leadership education offerings are presented using online materials in webinar format.
The accrediting process is an ongoing system of peer review and accountability to mutually agreed-upon standards. The website facilitates the process by providing access to standards and procedures, self-study workshops, interactive new degree petitions, and a host of other resources.
Published twice a year, Colloquy tracks new developments, trends, and best practices in theological education, with insightful articles by individuals both within and outside the profession. Published in print, it is also available on the website in a searchable PDF format.
Theological Education, the journal of The Association of Theological Schools and The Commission on Accrediting of ATS, supports the mission of the Association and the Commission by providing administrators, faculty, and independent researchers with scholarly discourse and reports on issues and trends, research findings and resources, and models of critical analysis and effective practice in graduate theological education. Past issues of the journal—and a comprehensive index to them—are available on the website in searchable PDF format.
The Bulletin represents the official record of ATS membership and activities. Part 1, published biennially in print and online, includes the bylaws, procedures, standards, and policy statements of both the Association and the Commission on Accrediting. Part 2, published exclusively online, is a regularly updated membership directory. Part 3, also exclusively online, is a record of the Biennial Meeting of the Association and the Commission.
Speaking on behalf of its membership, ATS periodically provides data and insights to media sources interested in current trends in theological education. Recently added, the In the News tab presents links to selected articles in those print and online publications.
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