British degrees fall under strict quality assurance criteria, are internationally recognised and widely accepted globally. All degrees are awarded by State-recognised universities known as Recognised Bodies. By law, no other institution has legal powers to award UK degrees. Therefore, private schools and colleges must be in a formal partnership with a university to offer their own degree programme. This is the British equivalent of US regional accreditation.
All King's undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are validated by the University of Chester, which awards the final degree. In short, students who successfully complete a Higher Education programme at King's earn a University of Chester award. For more on British accreditation see further down the page.
BRITISH VS AMERICAN CREDIT SYSTEM
British credits differ from US college credits. Broadly speaking, 4 UK credits equal 1 US credit. Therefore, a British degree in Theology which consists of 360 UK credits is equivalent to 90-100 US credits, while a Master of Arts (Theology) degree of 180 UK credits equates to 45 or so US credits. Because so many US students now study in Europe as part of their degree, formulas for translating European credits and grades into their US college credit and GPA equivalents are now widespread in colleges and universities across North America.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN UK AND US THEOLOGY DEGREES
In the US Bible colleges tend to offer a Bachelor degree focusing on practical training and basic theology, unlike a British B.Th. which serves as a first degree in Theology pitched at seminary level and includes a research element. Moreover, US Bachelor degrees include general education requirements, whereas all the modules of a British B.Th. are Theology-related. Finally, in the UK a B.Th. serves as the necessary entrance requirement to do an M.A. in Theology, much like the M.Div. is a prerequisite to study for an M.A. Theology or Th.M. degree in the US. These features of the B.Th, then, together with a focus on specific knowledge and skills, are such that a British B.Th. is closer in scope and nature to an American Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree.
Concerning postgraduate programmes, the research element of British Masters degrees in Theology is comparable with US graduate degrees which also focus strongly upon a strong research element (eg the Th.M. degree). UK students are usually only permitted to enrol on an M.A. Theology programme if they already have a first degree in Theology. Thus the progression from B.Th. to M.A. (Theology) broadly echoes that of progression in the US from the M.Div. to Th.M.
EMPHASIS OF A UK EDUCATION
Both the American and British university systems are quite different in their aims across the entire range of degrees. For example, the US strongly emphasises wide education and knowledge-driven objectives, including at the Ph.D. level which contains a substantial taught element. The British system, however, focuses much more upon subject specialism and skills, evident in the strong research elements of both Bachelor and Master degrees, while British Ph.D. degrees consist of pure research with no taught element. Both systems yield distinct advantages and benefits, and as such command wide international respect. Therefore, choosing where to study ultimately depends on which system yields the specific aims and skills an applicant seeks.
The British Higher Education system is most suited to those seeking a strong emphasis on independent research, development of analytical and evaluative skills, course diversity and flexibility, and subject specialism. More generally, studying abroad provides graduates with a range of skills and experiences that help set them apart in a range of scenarios, for example, prospective employment, postgraduate studies, or teaching opportunities.
ACCREDITATION AND VALIDATION
Unlike the US where the degrees of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are accredited through regional accreditation bodies, in the UK only government-approved institutions (known as Recognised Bodies) which have been granted powers through a Royal Charter, Act of Parliament or the Privy Council to award degrees. Indeed, it is against the law for institutions without these powers to offer qualifications which are referred to as degrees. Thus, private colleges and institutions must work in formal partnership with a Recognised Body in order to develop and offer their own degree programmes. This process is known as validation, which is the British equivalent of US regional accreditation.
King's undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are validated (in the US: accredited) by the University of Chester, which means our courses have been formally assessed, approved and added to Chester's list of courses and are regularly monitored for quality assurance purposes (see our courses listed on Chester's website: B.Th., Graduate Diploma and M.A. Theology).
Moreover, because only a Recognised Body has powers to award a degree, King's students who successfully complete a programme earn a University of Chester degree, and indeed can take part in the university's graduation ceremony held each year at Chester Cathedral. The award indicates the name of the institution; it does not indicate course delivery via distance learning.
HOW DO I KNOW KING'S IS A PROPERLY-VALIDATED INSTITUTION?
The British Government provides a list of officially recognised academic institutions on its website. The guide explains the types of University and Higher Education Colleges that are genuine and properly accredited/validated in the UK. King's Evangelical Divinity School can be found in Section 3, together with other British theological institutions. The University of Chester, our validating university which awards the actual degree earned through King's, is listed in Section 2.
COMPARING EUROPEAN AND US CREDIT SYSTEMS
DIFFERENT MASTER'S LEVELS
In North America Master's degrees in Theology are pitched at different levels. So typically an M.A. in Theology is higher than the M.Div., while the Th.M. is a more advanced version of the M.A., with a stronger focus on research and typically taken by someone already holding an M.Div.