Accreditation Status: Granted
The Augustine Institute is an accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools (www.ats.edu), an independent body that accredits programs in graduate theological education across the United States.
In February 2016, the Board of Commissioners of the Commission on Accrediting of ATS granted full accreditation to the Augustine Institute for a period of five years until the next comprehensive visit.
The accreditation granted to the Augustine Institute gives approval for both of its Master of Arts degree programs, including its distance education M.A. Theology program.
On October 22, 2018, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education voted to renew authorization for Augustine Institute as a Religious Training Institution/Seminary in Colorado.
This authorization is defined as a bona fide religious postsecondary educational institution that is operating or maintaining a place of business in the state of Colorado, that is exempt from property taxation under the laws of this state, and that offers baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees or diplomas, the content of which are limited to the principles of the church or denomination with which it is affiliated. Under this authorization, seminaries and religious training institutions are prohibited from offering or awarding degrees: in 1) any area of physical science or medicine; 2) appropriate only for academic institutions, such as but not limited to, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts or Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy or other degrees typically offered by academic institutions, regardless of curriculum or course content, unless the degree title includes the religious field of study; or 3) degrees associated with specific professional fields or endeavors not clearly and directly related to religious studies or occupations. Any seminary or religious training institution that offers instruction outside of this area must apply for authorization as a private college or university and must hold institutional accreditation from a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional or national accrediting agency.
Statement of Institutional Effectiveness (October 2017)
The Graduate School of Theology of the Augustine Institute closely monitors the academic progress of its students toward the Master of Arts degree and also regularly surveys its students and alumni about their vocation and career placement and goals.
A recent survey of the 41 M.A. graduates who completed the program between Summer 2015 and Spring 2016 gained 35 responses (85% response rate). Of the 35 respondents, 27 are currently employed full-time in ministry (77%), 4 hold volunteer ministry positions together with non-ministerial full-time work (11%), 3 are full-time students (9%), and 1 is retired (3%).
A recent survey of the 60 M.A. graduates who completed the program between Summer 2016 and Spring 2017 has gained 45 responses (75% response rate). Of the 45 respondents, 34 are currently employed full-time in ministry (76% of respondents), 8 hold volunteer ministry positions together with non-ministerial full-time work (18%), 2 are full-time students (4%), and 1 is not currently in ministry (2%).
The ministerial work of Augustine Institute graduates covers the full spectrum of service to the Body of Christ, including: Priest, Religious Sister, Permanent Deacon, Lay Missionary, Lay Apostolic work, Diocesan official, Parish ministry (many kinds), Teaching, Hospital chaplaincy and other ministries involving the corporal works of mercy.
3 in 4 current students are studying part-time, as they balance the demands of family and career with their studies. As a result, leaves of absence are common and withdrawals from the program not uncommon. The rate of completion of the Master of Arts program, accordingly, is approximately 50%.
As part of its ongoing efforts to improve its program, the Institute’s annual plan for academic assessment is approved by its Board of Trustees each autumn, with the assessment cycle being completed by the faculty in the month of May.
The Academic Assessment Memorandum for the 2016-17 academic year included a discussion of the School’s programmatic goals in Sacred Scripture and Catechesis & Pastoral Care.
The goal for the Institute’s instruction in Sacred Scripture is that graduates should be able “to articulate the narrative of salvation history, to interpret the Scriptures in light of the Catholic tradition, and to substantiate the reliability of Sacred Scripture.” Having considered data from student surveys, essays submitted to Pauline Literature, and comprehensive exam essays, faculty noted that students are able to articulate the narrative of salvation history in light of the Catholic tradition and demonstrate an awareness that Sacred Scripture is a living and active force for interior and communal renewal and concluded that the Institute’s instruction in Sacred Scripture is highly effective.
The goal for the Institute’s instruction in Catechesis and Pastoral Care is that students will “demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles of catechesis and pastoral care and the ability to develop, to implement, and to assess effective catechetical and pastoral initiatives in an ecclesial setting.” Having considered exit surveys submitted by students in the M.A. Leadership program, essays from the course Pastoral Care and Ecclesial Life, and a representative sample of the integrative summaries of the students completing their second year in the M.A. Leadership program, the faculty concurred that the students’ grasp of the essential Church documents governing evangelization and catechesis is good, perhaps even excellent. Where students seem to be falling short is in the task of incorporating those principles into their own self-understanding as lay apostles and teachers. It was agreed that this programmatic goal should be assessed again next year and that an ad hoc committee should be assembled to assist the Director of the M.A. in Leadership with the work of thinking through how the students can be invited to a deeper personal integration of theological principles with lived experience.