Petitions and Notifications
The new Policies and Procedures, adopted by the membership in June 2020 and effective July 2020, introduce several revisions affecting how accredited members implement changes, including these:
- Many changes that formerly required a petition to the Board of Commissioners now require only a notification to Commission staff. Notifications can be submitted any time using the forms listed below, and your staff liaison will typically respond within 30 days—much quicker than previous responses to petitions.
- Changes that still require petitions to and action by the Board no longer require any fee nor any paper copies. All petitions are to be submitted online using the Petition forms listed below. The length of time for approval on most petitions is now also often briefer.
- All forms (Petitions and Notifications) are to be sent electronically by hitting the “Submit” button at the end of an online form. If you are not designated as the ALO (or CAO or CEO) of your school, then please type their email(s) when prompted onscreen. Kindly use hyperlinks to reference any supporting documentation—ensuring first that any such links are accessible outside of your institution (e.g., provide any password necessary) and that the link(s) will not be changed or broken during the Commission review period (i.e., between initial submission and final action). Although hyperlinks are preferred over appendix/exhibit files, there will also be an upload option to attach such a file to a form. Note that a number of forms have up to three sections, which adapt based on user input. Because these forms display only one section at a time, sample PDF versions that display the entire form upfront (including all conditional options) can be reviewed ahead of time by selecting the corresponding “PDF Sample” links below.
- The Board has adopted the following new guidelines to supplement the new Standards of Accreditation and the new Policies and Procedures:
- Guidelines for Reduced-Credit Master’s Degrees (see Standard 3.13)
- Guidelines for Competency-Based Theological Education (see Standard 3.10)
- Guidelines for Achieving Initial Accreditation (see Policies and Procedures II.A.1)
- Guidelines for Understanding Finances (see Standard 10.3)
Chapter IV of the Policies and Procedures describes various substantive changes that require petitions to the Board of Commissioners. The most common types of petitions are listed below, with submission deadlines. There will be an upload option to attach an appendix/exhibits file to the online form (JotForm), although hyperlinks are preferred over appendices. Because the JotForm to be submitted can be viewed only one section at a time, the “PDF Sample … Petition” for each provides a way to view that entire form. Please allow 2-3 months between the time of submission and action by the ATS Board of Commissioners (per Note 1 below, petitions for new doctoral programs may take up to ten months if a focused visit is required before approval).
The following petitions may be submitted April 1, July 1, September 1, or November 1:
- Petition for Substantively New Degree Program [Note 1; PDF Sample New Degree Petition]
- Petition Related to Additional Location [Note 2; PDF Sample Additional Location Petition]
- Petition for Comprehensive Distance Education Approval [Note 3; PDF Sample Distance Education Petition]
- Petition for Closing a School or Relocating the Main Campus [PDF Sample Closing or Relocating School Petition]
The following petitions may be submitted April 1 or November 1:
- Petition for Educational Experiment [Note 4; PDF Sample Experiment Petition]
- Petition for Change in Control or Legal Status [PDF Sample Change in Control Petition]
Please email email@example.com with any questions.
Section VI.A.6 of the Policies and Procedures describes various changes that require notifications to Commission staff, not petitions to the Board of Commissioners. All those types of changes are combined into three separate notification forms listed below. There will be an upload option to attach an appendix/exhibits file to the online form (JotForm), although hyperlinks are preferred over appendices. Because the JotForm to be submitted can be viewed only one section at a time, the “PDF Sample … Notification” for each provides a way to view that entire form.
Notifications may be submitted anytime throughout the year, though at least 30 days prior to the anticipated change (60 days prior if adding a new degree). Your staff liaison will typically email you an acknowledgement within 30 days of receipt of the notification, which means you may then implement the change.
- Notification Related to Degree Program [Note 1; PDF Sample Degree Notification]
- Notification Related to Additional Location [Note 2; PDF Sample Location Notification]
- Notification Related to School Listing [Note 5; PDF Sample School Listing Notification]
 Adding a new degree requires a petition if it is in a new degree category (the degree categories are: MDiv, MA, ThM, DMin, Other Professional Doctorate, or PhD) or represents a significant departure from the school’s currently approved degrees regarding new facilities, finances, or faculty (see Policies and Procedures IV.D); otherwise, adding a new degree requires a notification to Commission staff. As noted in Policies and Procedures IV.D.1, “offering a doctoral degree in a new category may require a focused visit before approval, especially new PhD degrees (see III.D.1).” That means the approval process for a new doctoral degree could take up to ten months from the time a petition is submitted because the Board may need to meet twice—once to authorize a focused visit and again to review the report from that visit before making a final decision on approval.
 Adding, closing, relocating, or expanding an additional location (formerly called an extension site) requires a petition if the location offers at least half of a degree (see Policies and Procedures IV.E). If the location involves at least one-fourth but less than one-half of a degree, a notification to Commission staff is required. If the location offers less than one-fourth of a degree, no petition nor notification is required.
 Offering enough courses online to constitute half or more of any degree requires a petition for comprehensive distance education approval (see Policies and Procedures IV.F). This approval is needed only once (see also Note 4).
 Implementing an educational experiment requires a petition; common types of experiments include offering more than half of a PhD degree online or offering any part of a degree through competency-based education not based on courses or credits (see Policies and Procedures IV.G).
 Changing the name by which a school is listed in the ATS membership directory requires a notification to Commission staff, not a petition to the Board. Changing the mailing address of an approved location (including its main campus) requires a notification as well, unless the change also involves a change in physical location of a site that offers at least half of a degree, in which case a petition is required.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.