Statement of Educational Effectiveness – November 2017
Atlantic School of Theology, a Canadian public university, is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, and by the Province of Nova Scotia. It is further recognized by the Anglican Church of Canada, the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, and The United Church of Canada. All of these bodies contribute to the university’s self-understanding, shape its curriculum, and provide lines of accountability.
Each year, the university conducts research about student experience and satisfaction. Questionnaires are sent to current students, graduating students, and alumni/ae. Data from questionnaires that have been returned in the last five years is reflected below.
AST students tend to give high marks to their experience and opinion of the university, its programs, courses, and faculty. There are imperfections and areas of growth for the university, but most provide positive rankings. For example, 89% of graduating students rank AST at 4 or 5 out of 5 in terms of their overall experience, and 89% would choose AST again if they were to recommence theological studies. 87% gave the faculty a score or 4 or 5 out of 5.
Approximately two-thirds of graduates who are seeking work have a position in their chosen field immediately upon graduation. After six months, this number rises to 80%.
Students and graduates report that studying at AST provides them with significant learning opportunities:
- “AST gave me confidence in myself as a leader.”
- “I noticed a big change from when I started to when I graduated in my ability to engage theological material critically.”
- “The greatest strength of AST ... is preparing priests and ministers for the pastoral challenges we may face.”
- “The ecumenical character of AST is a significant aspect that can nourish healthy interreligious dialogue, bridging time and tradition.”
- “I obtained valuable skills I carried forward into ministry.”
- “Many times I was forced through my learning experiences to work outside my comfort zone and this proved to be invaluable for ministerial and public leadership.”
- “I have learned amazing things from amazing faculty.”
- “The AST experience has made me more loving and more hopeful.”
Respondents further identified denominational formation programs, field education, and supervised ministry experiences as places of significant learning and integration.
Areas for Improvement
AST is eager to continuously improve its programming and the student experience, yet also aware that we cannot (and often do not) meet every student’s needs perfectly. In their questionnaires, students and graduates indicated their interest in greater opportunities at AST to study rural ministry, leadership (including change management), contemporary worship, denomination-specific courses, evangelism, and interfaith understanding. They have expressed a desire for more paracurricular opportunities for spiritual formation and media awareness.
AST is a place that encourages and nurtures the habits of lifelong learning. Students and graduates become aware of this and integrate this as they progress through their studies:
- “I came to AST because I needed a degree to be ordained. My time at AST has given birth to a love of further learning and exploration that extends far beyond the requirements of my denomination. I never imagined when I began that I would discover such passion for my studies and continued learning.”
- “The fear of higher education kept me from answering my call for a long time, but the AST experience has ignited a love of theological study and reflection that I will continue to pursue long after graduation.”