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, which is scheduled for September 2020.
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 (September 2019)
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 survey of the 8 graduates of the M.A. in Leadership for the New Evangelization who finished the program in May 2018 showed that 7 of the 8 were placed in positions for which the degree program prepared them, regardless of whether those positions are compensated or volunteer. One placement is considered “other,” falling outside the vocational placement parameters.
A survey of 50 MA Theology graduates who completed the program between Summer 2017 and Spring 2018 showed that 44 were placed in positions for which the degree prepared them. 4 have not responded to survey, and 2 are in continuing education.
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. In addition, 75% of distance education students are concurrently active in the work of evangelization and catechesis, either as full-time employees of the Church or in a volunteer or vocational capacity. Given these important commitments, our students often require a semester or more of leave from the program during their tenure. The rate of completion of the Master of Arts program is approximately 65%.
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. A summary of the School’s Academic Assessment Memorandum for the 2018-19 academic year follows:
I. Sacred Scripture. The faculty considered survey responses from some 200 students and alumni to questions about the learning outcomes of the academic programs. The responses about Sacred Scripture were overwhelmingly positive. Faculty consideration of samples of student work in Scripture classes also confirmed that students are meeting the educational outcomes. A healthy discussion on the centrality of the Church’s tradition of Scriptural exegesis—from the Fathers and Scholastic writers through more recent commentators—led to the sharing of several fruitful ideas for making that tradition more available to students.
II. Catechesis. The data from surveys and faculty evaluation of student examination papers show strong performance in this area as well; the faculty were unanimous in their approval of student performance in this area.
III. Spiritual Maturity. The faculty considered survey data, external mentor evaluations from student internships during the past year, and representative “integrative summaries” of the Leadership students’ experience in their internships. Although the data were generally positive, some elements were inconclusive. The faculty agreed, accordingly, that it would be well to evaluate the programmatic goal for Spiritual Maturity again next academic year and request that the instruction for the integrative summaries be amended by the addition of a question such as, “Describe a face-to-face encounter with a person from your ministry experience from which you learned an important lesson. Are you able to discern the role of grace in that encounter and lesson?”
IV. Prior Learning Assessments. The faculty considered the various items available on the Canvas pages for the Prior Learning Assessments for FOCUS, CCO, and Christ in the City. It was agreed that the work, surveys, quizzes, and testimonials together testify to a quality and depth of lived-experience that is commensurate with the credits being granted.
V. M.A. Thesis. Although the faculty surveys on the M.A. thesis did not testify to a consensus, the ensuing conversation soon arrived at one, at least so far as two aspects of the thesis are concerned. The first decision was to limit eligibility to the thesis to students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.70. The second was to provide standard expectations for timely work during the thesis semester. The relevant details are found in the current Graduate Bulletin.