Einstein probably said it best when he stated, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."
Religion has long been a touchy subject when it comes to education and degree-granting privileges. If you’re planning to offer educational programs that are religious in nature and lead to religious professions, you might be interested in opening a religious-exempt school. If that’s the case, you’re in the perfect place. I’m here to help you understand the process and some of the hoops you’ll need to jump through.
The first step is choosing the state where you want to operate.
Currently in the U.S., 28 states exempt religious schools or bible colleges from their higher education licensing certification, or accreditation process. This means that those states in effect delegate their degree authorization powers to churches or other religious organizations that want to issue degrees. It's quite an impressive list, peppered across the country, stretching from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean.
Each of these states has a defined process for religious exempt schools. And it's essential to research the specific laws and regulations in the state where you plan to operate your school, as they can vary significantly.
In most cases, the religious organization needs to be registered as a nonprofit and will have obtained a 501c3 approval from the IRS, though there may be other requirements as well.
In these 28 states, your school can only grant degrees that are religious in nature and designed to be used within the religious community only.
The complexity of the application process varies between states. Some states require long lists of documents like California. While others like Florida, require as little as one short notarized document attesting to the religious nature of the programs.
Keep in mind that there are 22 other states in the US that do NOT allow exemptions for religious institutions and require all schools to go through the long demanding approval process.
Opening a religious exempt school can be a complex task, as the process will vary significantly from state to state. But know this, as you strive to share your faith, we willingly extend our hands to foster your mission's growth. To learn more about opening a religious-exempt school, explore our links. And be sure to check out our next video 'How Do I Keep My University License Active? 4 Key Steps”
As always, feel free to give me a call or Contact Us with any questions you may have. I’ve been helping clients establish universities in the US for over a decade, and I’m looking forward to helping you, too.