MLC and Accreditation

Parents and students who are considering attending Mount Liberty College often have questions about accreditation. Answering these questions individually isn’t always possible, so we will endeavor to address those questions here. We want everyone to understand why MLC has made the decision not to pursue accreditation.

Though Mount Liberty is licensed by the State of Utah to issue college degrees, we are not accredited. Mount Liberty College has chosen to stay intentionally unfettered from any source that will try to alter or modify the standards and goals of its curriculum and faculty. Consequently, MLC will not seek accreditation.

Background on accreditation.

Accreditation began innocently enough in the 1800’s. Colleges got together and formed accreditation agencies, at a time when information about colleges was harder to come by, to distinguish legitimate institutions from “diploma mills.” Beginning around 1952, with the organization of the United States Office (now Department) of Education, the federal government got involved and soon accreditation became almost mandatory.

Beginning with a 1965 federal education bill, student loans and government grants were tied to accreditation. Holding the purse strings enabled accreditation agencies to exert much more control over the various colleges, forcing colleges to conform to specific standards or face a loss of funding. In 1992, the federal government set up a committee to oversee all the accrediting agencies themselves, effectively placing the accrediting agencies under the control of the federal government. Not only did this give accreditation agencies even more power, it meant the federal government now had control of colleges and universities through these agencies, and could influence everything from hiring practices to course content.

A simplified description of how accreditation works.

To receive accreditation, a college must go through a multi-year process, costing many thousands of dollars. College personnel fill out the first round of forms outlining and evaluating their curriculum, financial statements, and graduation requirements, just to name a few. An accrediting body then sends a team to the school to look over everything, giving feedback and requiring more forms to be filled out the following year. This results in more scrutiny, and then more forms, etc. Their intent is to look at the way the school handles all the required areas to make sure that the college follows “best practices” or is improving towards those goals. After the accrediting body is satisfied (this usually takes 8-10 years), the school is rewarded with accredited status.

Given all the time and money involved, accreditation would still be worth it if families knew that the university their son or daughter attended had a clean bill of health. And it makes perfect sense for parents to look for a way to know which institutions to trust. But it turns out that accreditation is not quite what it purports to be. The Heritage Foundation, for example, has spent a lot of time researching accreditation agencies, and has come to a much different conclusion: “Accreditation is often a costly process for institutions, while offering little quality control, and it increasingly mandates ‘woke’ university policies.”

And therein lies one of the biggest problems: accreditation gives the sense of quality control but in reality, it does nothing of the sort. Accreditation agencies not only promoting but actually mandating ‘woke’ policies on campuses is the opposite of what parents are expecting. Accreditation agencies have become so powerful that there are many stories of them abusing their authority, forcing colleges to comply with these mandates or lose accreditation. And yet, the vast majority of parents assume they can tell if a college is good by the mere fact of whether the school is accredited or not. Sadly, this is just not true anymore.

The federal government’s control over colleges is akin to, or even greater than, their control over K-12 public schools through their overseeing all accreditation agencies and through their mandates which are attached to student loans and grants. With so little difference between these systems, we at Mount Liberty are surprised at parents who go to great efforts to keep their children out of the K-12 public school system, because of federal involvement, but willingly send them to colleges in the same situation – or even worse.

One common question: transferring credit between other colleges and MLC.

Mount Liberty College will always look at each student and their past college experience on an individual basis. However, most colleges have courses so different from MLC’s that the likelihood of our accepting transferred credit from an ordinary college is fairly slim. Our utilization of original sources and our practice of the Socratic method ensures Mount Liberty College’s unique education, which makes transferring in credit problematic.

Conversely, transferring MLC credit to another college may also prove difficult, though we do believe there are a few schools which would take our students and their MLC coursework if given the opportunity.

We recommend to prospective students that they should plan on starting and finishing their degree here at MLC. That will give them the best use of their time and studies and the best chance of success.

Additional accreditation myths.

There are three myths which circulate about colleges and accreditation:

  • Without a college degree, a young adult will never find a job that pays enough.
  • Accredited colleges are the only safe choice; others are scams or diploma mills.
  • Employers and graduate programs won’t accept degrees from unaccredited institutions.

Mount Liberty College administration has found that these are indeed myths. A little background into MLC’s education will clarify. Beyond the broad curriculum they study, Mount Liberty College students are also expected to learn eight very powerful, flexible, and transferable skills. These include

  • Learning and growing continually on a personal level,
  • Thinking critically and solving problems in creative ways,
  • Leading by example with courage and humility,
  • Interacting professionally and following the standards required in various situations,
  • Working well on a team and assisting in its success,
  • Being confident in who they are while interacting well with all others,
  • Communicating effectively in various ways, including speaking and writing,
  • Recognizing good, beauty, and true wisdom wherever it is found.

These eight skills are integrated into a student’s education through the reading of original sources and class Socratic discussions. Textbooks and lectures, methods used at most other colleges and universities, don’t engage these skills, and yet according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), these are the most highly sought-after skills in the employment marketplace today. Four years of a classical liberal arts education gives students the best opportunity to practice these skills in preparation for their anticipated career path. And with what we hear of jobs quickly becoming obsolete due to AI, these are the skills that will play a big role in the future job market.

An MLC graduate can use these eight highly transferrable skills in any number of career paths including entrepreneurial pursuits. For the new job market, a degree that prepares a student for one career path carries much more risk than a broad classical education. More information about the advantages of a classical liberal arts education can be found here.

MLC’s graduates, whom we consider to be our “proof of concept,” have been accepted into their first choice of master’s programs around the country. Other unaccredited colleges have sent students to major graduate programs as well. Many law schools also accept graduates of unaccredited colleges. MLC administrators have spoken with law school admission officers and been assured that what matters is the LSAT score. A student with a high LSAT will have his or her choice of law schools. The reading, writing, and thinking skills provided at Mount Liberty College are the best preparation there is for the LSAT and other professional qualifying exams.

There are some careers that require specific programs and degrees because of the requirements for the job; engineering is one of these, but there are really very few. The number of jobs not requiring a specific degree is rising along with jobs not requiring any college degree. One example is medical school: 47.7% of physical science students were accepted into med school while 46.4% of humanities students were. Those were the first and third top degrees in 2023 according to one source. Evidently, even medical school is a possibility for MLC students. Evidence on this point is scarce, but we have discovered no difference in compensation between those with accredited and those with unaccredited degrees.

With the exception of a few programs such as engineering, MLC graduates will be well-positioned for just about any career or advanced study program. Our experience is that even where accreditation appears completely necessary, as in teacher certification, there are solutions. After working with the Utah State Board of Education and state legislators, we discovered an alternate teacher certification method that our students can utilize with their unaccredited degrees. Even teacher certification is possible. And considering that charter school principals have already told us they would love our graduates to teach for them, we consider this a great accomplishment!

At the end of the day, a person is hired because of their experience, the people they know, and the way they present themselves during interviews. Employers realize that the much sought-after skills on NACE’s list come from a liberal arts education, meaning that the opportunities for MLC graduates will continue to grow, accelerated by their own creativity and hard work.