Elder Grove Seminary is an institute of higher learning for those who follow a nature-centered spiritual path. All of our programs may be completed entirely online, but most include experiential exercises students complete at home, in nature, in service of a Grove, or under the guidance of a mentor. As we grow, that may change. It is the vision of our Board of Trustees to one day have a sustainable, off-the-grid campus where students may come and learn first-hand in nature.
Although there are several accreditation agencies in the United States for religious or spiritual institutes of higher learning, there is currently not one for specifically nature-centered seminaries. Even though Elder Grove Seminary welcomes Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox Jews, Hindus, and people of any spiritual path willing to adhere to the Four Sacred Pillars of the Order of the Elder Grove, accrediting agencies tend to be of a less ecumenical nature. Accrediting agencies for theological seminaries in the United States at present only grant accreditation to exclusively Christian schools.
Until there is an accrediting agency exclusively for nature-centered religions and spiritual paths, we have decided to forego the accreditation process for now. That may change in the future, but for the moment we are not actively pursuing accreditation.
The Accreditation Process
The process of accreditation is done under guidelines established and maintained by the United States Department of Education. It is a lengthy and expensive process. Additionally, submitting Elder Grove Seminary to the accreditation process would subject us to rules and regulations dictated by the Department of Education. They would have the final say on what programs we could offer, and what programs we could not. Since the process is so expensive (in the tens of thousands of dollars range), we would have to have a substantial increase in our tuition rates in order to defray the costs. Since any programs offered would then also be dictated by the Department of Education, we would lose a great deal of freedom in determining which courses to offer that would best meet the needs of students Pagan and nature-centered spiritual paths.
Given the history of religious discrimination in the United States against non-Christian spiritual paths, this could be a precarious position for Elder Grove Seminary. For now we would rather have the freedom and flexibility of keeping costs low while offering programs that meet the needs of our students rather than the needs of the Department of Education, while still offering educational programs that teach marketable, practical skills.
The Value of an Unaccredited Degree
Unfortunately, in today’s society a diploma is far too often merely a ticket to a job. In many cases, experience, knowledge and wisdom don’t count for as much as a piece of paper. Students often pay huge amounts to purchase this ticket. But there was a time when a diploma meant something else. It meant that you had accumulated a great deal of knowledge in a specialty. The diploma was a symbol of the wisdom that was gained through hard work and experiential knowledge.
At Elder Grove Seminary we wish to return to that time. That is why our degree programs offer practical and valuable skills. If you wish to learn the nuts and bolts of running a Grove, Circle or Coven, our programs will teach you valuable leadership skills, group management, nonprofit management, and people skills. If your ministry lies in helping to restore the earth, our programs will teach you marketable skills in appropriate technology, permaculture, sustainability and deep ecology. If your ministry lies in the arts, you will learn the lore of the Celtic peoples, and sharpen your musical skills. If your ministry lies in education, we will teach you how to meet the educational challenges particular to the Pagan community. If your interest lies in the environment and sustainability, we teach you valuable consulting and education skills to help promote a greener lifestyle. If your calling lies in the fields of appropriate technology or natural building, our programs will give you practical, hands-on experience in these fields as well.
Look over our list of programs offered and see for yourself that a degree from Elder Grove Seminary will teach you valuable, practical skills that will serve you well in your ministry.
Is Elder Grove Seminary a Diploma Mill?
A Master’s Degree in Divinity or Ministry from Elder Grove Seminary requires 72-74 semester hours to complete. A Doctor of Ministry or Divinity degree from Elder Grove Seminary requires another 72-74 credit hours, plus a doctoral dissertation. A graduate degree from Elder Grove requires 2-4 years to complete. You will study under experienced professionals who are experts in their chosen fields. Although we are not an accredited school, you will find that the time you spend with Elder Grove Seminary teaches you practical and marketable skills. Graduates of Elder Grove earn their diplomas through hard work, experiential activities in nature, and study.
We advise all prospective students, when choosing an institution to pursue their studies and/or degree, to dialog with their advisors prior to enrolling. We think that you will find that Elder Grove is an affordable alternative to other institutes of higher learning. Since we are not currently pursuing accreditation, we can offer degree programs at a much lower cost than some other Pagan and nature-centered schools. We are not a high-pressure school. We are always willing to answer questions you may have about our programs before enrolling, and we will not bombard you with spam soliciting your enrollment.
We also offer employment assistance to graduates of our programs. As Paganism continues to grow as a world religion and spiritual path, the need for qualified clergy and ministers will only increase. Unlike other Pagan seminaries, Elder Grove offers courses in ministry in fields like leadership, deep ecology, natural building, sustainability and music.
It is our belief that you will find Elder Grove Seminary to be an affordable, rewarding experience on your educational path.
Letter of Exemption
In South Carolina, where our primary seminary offices are based, religious and spiritual institutes and seminaries are granted an exemption from accreditation requirements from the State Department of Education.