Accreditations & Educational Effectiveness

All academic programs of Seattle Pacific University are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Seattle Pacific Seminary is accredited with the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

Fulfilling Denominational Requirements

The Seminary works with students from all denominations, as well as nondenominational students, in order to assist them with their ordination requirements and any other expectations.

Three faculty members and one staff member of Seattle Pacific Seminary are ordained elders in the Free Methodist Church, and several others attend a Free Methodist church.

Seattle Pacific Seminary is approved as one of six recognized seminaries affiliated with the John Wesley Seminary Foundation for educating Free Methodist students for ordination. This approval means that Free Methodist students who are certified by their annual conference Ministerial Education and Guidance Board are eligible for a significant scholarship to be applied toward their tuition.

The Seminary also offers the courses that are required for Free Methodist ordination. The denominational liaison, Dr. Doug Koskela, an elder in the Free Methodist Church, works with students who are interested in ordination within the FMC.

Seattle Pacific Seminary is approved by the United Methodist University Senate. Four faculty members of Seattle Pacific Seminary are members of the United Methodist Church, three of whom are ordained in the denomination. The Seminary offers the courses required for denominational ordination as a deacon or elder in the United Methodist Church, including “UM Doctrine,” “UM History,” “UM Polity,” and “Evangelism.” The current denominational liaison, Dr. Matt Sigler, works with students who are interested in the candidacy process within the Pacific Northwest Conference or any other United Methodist annual conference. View the guidelines for how UM course requirements can be fulfilled through SPS (PDF).

Four Seattle Pacific Seminary faculty members are ordained to Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and several others attend a Presbyterian church.

The Seminary has been validated by regional presbyteries, and it adheres to the standards of the PC (USA) Office of Theology, Worship, and Education for approved educational institutions in preparing students for ministry. The curriculum for all students under care in the PC (USA) is structured around the specific concerns and collaborative direction of the student’s committee for preparation on ministry, and in the context of the five key content areas outlined in G-2.0607 of the PC (USA) Book of Order.

We suggest that all PC (USA) inquirers and candidates take the Bible Content Examination in their first year of seminary. In preparation for the other four examinations, PC (USA) students take a denominational distinctive course ("Reformed Polity and Worship"), which Seattle Pacific Seminary offers in alternating years, and which is ordinarily taken by inquirers or candidates after completion of two full years of theological education. The denominational liaison, Dr. Jeff Keuss, who is ordained to Word and Sacrament in the PC (USA), works with students who are interested in ordination within the PC (USA).

Four Seattle Pacific Seminary faculty members are members of the Evangelical Covenant Church, and one of them is ordained in the denomination. The Seminary will assist ECC students who need to take the four Covenant Orientation Studies courses (“History of the ECC,” “Theology of the ECC,” “Mission and Ministry,” and “Sustaining Vocational Excellence”). The courses will be taken either at North Park Seminary or at another venue. The History and Theology courses will be transferable to Seattle Pacific Seminary. The denominational liaison, Dr. Bob Drovdahl, works with students who are interested in licensing and ordination within the ECC.

The faculty and students of Seattle Pacific Seminary represent a range of churches in addition to the denominations listed above, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Church of the Nazarene, the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), and various Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational churches.


Educational Effectiveness

Seattle Pacific Seminary regularly assesses the educational effectiveness of student learning in each degree program for the purpose of evaluating and improving student learning, and to fulfill our accreditation requirements with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

Educational effectiveness is assessed annually at Seattle Pacific Seminary using the following steps:

1. School of Theology (SOT) faculty adopt Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for SPS curriculum as a whole; determine curriculum for each degree; assign relevant SLOs to each course; include the SLOs in the course syllabus; choose assignments to measure the SLOs; and approve and implement curricular revisions and instructional improvements as needed.

2. Students submit graded work and course evaluations.  Graduating students undergo exit interview; results aggregated and submitted to Dean of SOT and the Graduate Curriculum Committee (GCC).

3. Instructors grade student work; select sample artifacts of student work for assessment.  SOT faculty and Seminary Advisory Board (SAB) assess artifacts from courses; Dean and GCC propose curriculum revisions and instructional improvements; report to SOT faculty.

 

The SOT faculty determine the learning outcomes and objectives for each degree program, establish a suitable curriculum for that program, and set the learning outcomes for each course in that curriculum.  The instructor of each course selects the assignments suitable both to the topic of that course and to the learning outcomes set for it, and establishes suitable grading rubrics for each assignment. Once the course has been completed, the instructor makes necessary changes to the course in light of online course evaluations and other feedback, and submits sample graded artifacts for subsequent assessment of curriculum as a whole.  The SOT and SAB review the sample artifacts from all Seminary courses, aggregate the data, assess the extent to which the students in each degree program are meeting the learning outcomes set for that program, and propose curriculum revisions and instructional improvements as necessary.  These proposals are reviewed by the GCC, which regularly assesses the educational effectiveness of each degree program, reviews proposals for curricular revisions and instructional improvements, operationalizes the needed changes, and monitors progress. In addition to assessment of student work, the SOT measures effectiveness through student input gathered through the ATS ESQ, GSQ, and our own Exit Interview process.

The ATS requires its member schools to publish an evaluative summary of the educational effectiveness of each degree program offered.  Three important indicators of effectiveness include: student retention, degree completion rates, and professional placements of graduates. Seattle Pacific Seminary opened its doors in 2009 and has since graduated 140 students. The Seminary currently has 66 students actively pursuing degrees. Our most recently reported 6-year graduation rate for MDiv students is 54.55%.  Our most recently reported 4-year graduation rate for MA students is 75%. Of our 140 graduates, 74 students have earned a Master of Divinity degree, 63 students have earned a Master of Arts degree, and 3 students have completed the Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies. 16 of our 18 graduates from the class of 2022 have gone on to vocational placements in various ministry settings. (Updated January 2023)

MDiv

57 graduates

Pastoral Ministry (Church or Parachurch)

49%

Administrative Roles in Churches

7%

Administrative Role (General)

7%

Chaplaincy (Army, Navy, Hospital)

7%

Business Field

10%

Writer

2%

Ph.D Student

2%

Teacher

2%

Ministry Consultant

5%

SPU Adjunct Professor

2%

MA

46 graduates

Pastoral Ministry (Church or Parachurch)

28%

Ph.D Students

9%

Administrative Roles

7%

Business Field

15%

Missionary

2%

Professor at SPU

4%

SPU Administration

13%

Therapist

2%

Chaplaincy

4%

For a detailed breakdown of students who have enrolled, discontinued, in process, and graduated by program, please see this report.

In addition, Seattle Pacific Seminary completes exit interviews with our graduates to qualitatively assess the educational effectiveness of the Seminary’s curriculum and resources from the student’s perspective. These reports are conducted by our Assessments Coordinator, Dr. Sara Koenig (skoenig@spu.edu), and can be made available by request. 

Unique Model of Seminary Education
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Our Unique Model of Seminary Education

The interplay of scholarship, spiritual edification, and service defines Seattle Pacific Seminary’s vision for educating students. Learn more by watching this video.

“[P]aradox cannot be resolved 'on paper,' that is on purely exegetical and dogmatic grounds. It can only be resolved in the living of the Christian life, where gratitude for undeserved mercies merge with a commitment to public service.”
Rick Steele, SPU Professor of Moral and Historical Theology
I’ve Been Wondering: Conversations with Youth Theologians, p. 76