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About ATS

More than 270 graduate schools of theology in the United States and Canada form The Association of Theological Schools. Member schools 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. These schools differ from one another in deep and significant ways, but through their membership in ATS, they demonstrate a commitment to shared values about what constitutes good theological education. Collectively, ATS member schools enroll approximately 74,500 students and employ more than 7,200 faculty and administrators.

One mission

to promote the improvement and enhancement of theological schools to the benefit of communities of faith and the broader public

Two separate corporations

The Association provides a host of programs, services, research, and other resources to support the work of administrators and faculty at member schools.

The Commission on Accrediting of ATS accredits institutions and approves degree programs offered by accredited schools.

Three levels of membership

Membership is open to schools located in the United States and Canada that offer graduate theological degrees, are demonstrably engaged in educating professional leadership for communities of the Christian and Jewish faiths, and meet the standards and criteria for membership established by the Association. The current member schools, numbering more than 270, include Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox graduate schools of theology that reflect a broad spectrum of doctrinal, ecclesiastical, and theological perspectives.

  1. Schools initially join the Association as Associate members upon a vote by the membership at its Biennial Meeting in even-numbered years.
  2. Within five years, Associate members are expected to pursue Candidate for Accredited Membership through the Commission on Accrediting.
  3. Once a school has completed the requirements of the Commission on Accrediting, it is recognized with Accredited Membership.

To pursue Associate Membership, please visit Membership Process.

Organizations that do not qualify for membership may be considered for Affiliate status.
To pursue Affiliate status, please contact Eliza Smith Brown, director of communications and external relations.

Four core values

The Association seeks to implement its mission with attention to four key values:

Diversity. ATS values the different expressions of faith that are represented by member schools and seeks to respect the varying understandings of theology, polity, religious leadership, and social commitments.

Quality and Improvement. ATS schools value quality in the practice of ministry and in educational practices. Quality is always linked to improvement; even schools that have achieved a high degree of quality can improve. The Association encourages schools to advance in quality.

Collegiality. ATS values the contributions that schools make to one another. Regardless of differences in theological perspective, organizational complexity, or institutional size, ATS schools, as peer institutions, can learn from one another, cooperate on common tasks that benefit the broader community of theological schools, and hold themselves accountable to common practices and quality.

Leadership. ATS values leadership and considers it essential for schools to attain their missions. ATS is committed to developing the skills and capacities of administrators, faculties, and boards of member schools.

In addition to these core values, the Association values formal education for ministerial leadership and advocates on behalf of its benefits for religious leaders, religious institutions, and the work of religion in broader publics; values justice in society and institutions and seeks to embody justice in its organizational life; and values accountability for student learning.