Educational Effectiveness

To ensure that its educational programs fulfill the seminary’s mission, Columbia Theological Seminary (CTS) engages in regular practices of assessing the effectiveness of its programs. The institution’s mission is stated as: Columbia Theological Seminary exists to educate and nurture faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world.  In its expanded statement of mission, Columbia states its intention to offer graduate degrees that will develop personal and professional skills for lay and ordained ministries in the Church and the world, whether paid or volunteer.

One measure of student achievement is the rate at which students complete degrees over time. When displaying this information, the seminary lists the degree and then uses data that reflects graduation/retention for various entering classes. The data reported tracks at least the last four years in which students would have had the opportunity to graduate in light of the normal duration of the program.  Tracking for the last four years in which graduation would be possible in light of the time it takes to earn a degree can be seen here:


Master of Divinity
Graduated Continuing
Entering Class of 2015 55% 40%
Entering Class of 2014 81% 5%
Entering Class of 2013 89% 0%
Entering Class of 2012 80% 0%
Entering Class of 2011 88% 0%
Entering Class of 2010 90% 0%

Master of Arts (Theological Studies)

Entering Class of 2016 80% 0%
Entering Class of 2015 62% 0%
Entering Class of  2014 100% 0%
Entering Class of 2013 100% 0%
Entering Class of 2012 50% 25%

Master of Arts in Practical Theology

Entering Class of 2016 18% 65%
Entering Class of 2015 23% 62%
Entering Class of  2014 73% 5%
Entering Class of 2013 89% 0%
Entering Class of 2012 71% 0%
Entering Class of 2011 93% 0%
Entering Class of 2010 73% 0%

Master of Divinity/Master of Arts in Practical Theology

Entering Class of 2014 100% 0%
Entering Class of 2013 100% 0%
Entering Class of 2012 88% 0%
Entering Class of 2011 100% 0%
Entering Class of 2010 80% 0%

Master of Theology

Entering Class of 2017 83% 17%
Entering Class of 2016 100% 0%
Entering Class 2013 100% 0%

Doctor of Ministry

Entering Class of 2014 33% 53%
Entering Class of 2013 33% 61%
Entering Class of 2012 50% 20%
Entering Class of 2011 52% 15%
Entering Class of 2010 57% 19%

Doctor of Educational Ministry

Entering Class 2014 25% 50%
Entering Class 2012 82% 9%
Entering Class of 2010 46% 38%
Entering Class of 2008 77% 0%


In addition, Columbia compares it rates with those of other graduate theological institutions that are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.  Using a slightly different calculation that what Columbia uses internally, data submitted by CTS and other schools allow for a comparison of our graduation rates against national averages.




  Columbia All ATS schools Evangelical Schools Mainline Schools Orthodox/RC Schools
MDiv 83% 60% 52% 70% 62%
Professional MA 77% 49% 46% 56% 48%
Academic MA 100% 49% 42% 58% 52%
Advanced Professional 65% 49% 45% 56% 44%
ThM 100% 53% 45% 64% 50%


Placement rates:  Using the format of tracking placement from the Association of Theological Schools, Columbia tracks each graduate.  In light of its mission and its commitment to develop “preachers and teachers”, Columbia seeks to have 85% of its graduates across all degrees in some form of vocational placement or pursuing further study.

Vocational Tracking using ATS categories
Classes of 2017 2016 2015
Vocational 79% 82% 71%
Non-Vocational 2% 6% 4%
Further Study 7% 12% 8%
Seeking Placement 2% 0% 8%
Other 4% 0% 8%
Unknown 6% 0% 14%
Benchmark Met 86% Yes 94% Yes 79% No


In addition, Columbia monitors its rate as compared to all schools in the Association of Theological Schools, which uses a slightly different measure.  ATS measures the positive placement rate and compares CTS to all other schools in the association.  Columbia’s average placement rate in ATS calculations for 2018 was 89%.


All ATS Schools Evangelical Schools Mainline Schools Orthodox/RC Schools
89% 81% 77% 83%



Effectiveness in teaching skills and enabling student growth:  Using the Association of Theological Schools’ Graduating Student Questionnaire, Columbia tracks student ratings in the following key areas related to the institution’s mission and curriculum.  The questionnaire uses an average rating based on a 5-point scale: 1-Not at all effective, 2-Not very effective, 3-Somewhat effective, 4-Effective, 5-Very effective). Columbia’s benchmark is to be rated as effective in all areas, thus obtaining a rating of at least 4.0 in each measure


Effectiveness of skills ability and personal growth
Graduating Class of 2018 2017 2016
Ability to Interpret Scripture 4.4 4.5 4.1
Ability to think theologically 4.5 4.6 4.2
Ability to relate faith to social issues 4.5 4.2 4.1
Awareness & appreciation of the globalized context in which ministry is practiced 4.1 4.2 4.0
I have grown spiritually 4.1 4.2 4.2


External Exams: There are two external exams of which Columbia tracks passage rates.  The first is Presbyterian Church (USA) ordination exams. The written exams are in four areas: Biblical Exegesis, Theology, Polity, and Worship and Sacraments.  Columbia’s benchmark is 5% above the overall passage rate for all exams taken nationally.  This benchmark was reached last year and currently CTS is on track to meet this benchmark this year.  There is one more sitting for the exam (in April) for which passage rates will need to be added for this year.

Columbia also tracks passage of the state of Georgia’s Composite Board for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy licensure, which is taken by students in the ThD degree.  Currently Columbia students have an 100% passage rate.