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Welch College in Gallatin, Tennessee, has been the official college of the Free Will Baptist Denomination since 1942. To find out more information about the school, visit

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Welch College Ranks Eighth by U.S. News & World Report

Welch College was recently ranked eighth among “Best Regional Colleges–South” in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of America’s Best Colleges, according to President Matt Pinson. This also included a ranking of #1 for “Top Performers on Social Mobility” in the Regional Colleges–South category, which comprises 92 other colleges and universities in the South.

“We’re so pleased Welch is moving up in the rankings,” President Pinson said. “We’d hoped to get into the top ten in our category in the next five to seven years. So, this is welcome news. This respected national study confirms the college’s academic programs are recognized not only by our supporters but also by the broader academic community. It’s also another reminder to prospective students and their parents Welch College remains a top-quality institution of higher learning that delivers its educational promise.”


“We’re delighted that, for the first time, we were ranked #1 in ‘Top Performers on Social Mobility’ for our category,” Pinson continued. “This ranking measures how well colleges and universities do at graduating students from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds. We are especially thankful for this distinction.”

The “Best Regional Colleges–South” category where Welch College is ranked includes institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of degree programs in the liberal arts and in professional fields such as business, nursing, and education. Most of these institutions award fewer than 50 graduate degrees annually.

Provost Matthew McAffee said, “To be among the top ten institutions in our category is remarkable. This accomplishment is a testimony to the hard work of our faculty and staff over the years and its cumulative effect on our institutional success. Our rise to eighth place indicates measurable success. It demonstrates to our constituents Welch College is increasingly being recognized by the broader educational community as a quality institution of higher learning.”

U.S. News rankings judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence in higher education: what peer institutions think of the institution, how many freshmen return their sophomore year, how many of them go on to graduate, student-faculty ratio, faculty quality, financial resources, alumni giving, and more.

“To put our ranking in perspective,” Pinson said, “the other institutions in the top ten in our category have an average enrollment of 1,952—five times higher than Welch’s—and an average endowment of $77 million—17 times higher than Welch’s.”

U.S. News ranked the top ten institutions in the Regional Colleges–South category as follows:

  • High Point University (NC)

  • Ouachita Baptist University (AR)

  • Florida Polytechnic University

  • Flagler College (FL) (tie) Maryville College (TN) and University of the Ozarks (AR)

  • Claflin University (SC) (tie) Catawba College (NC) and Welch College (TN)

  • LaGrange College (GA)

Welch received especially high marks in several strategic areas, ranking as follows:

  • 1st in student-faculty ratio

  • 1st in classes under 50 students (tied)

  • 3rd in graduation rate

  • 5th in classes under 20 students

  • 8th in freshman-to-sophomore retention

  • 8th in alumni giving

For more information about the rankings, visit

For more information about Welch, visit



Welch Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree Program Approved by Accreditor

Earlier this summer, Welch College President Matt Pinson received official M.Div. implementation notification from Dr. Kevin Sightler, director of substantive change for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The letter stated the accreditor had “reviewed the materials seeking approval of the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program” and had voted “to approve the program and include it in the scope of the current accreditation.”

Pinson said, “The offering of an M.Div., the first offered by a Free Will Baptist institution, and the establishment of a divinity school attached to Welch College, is a dream come true for us. Free Will Baptists will no longer have to go outside our denomination for their M.Div. We have hoped and dreamed for an M.Div. program for many years.”

Partial funding for the conception and implementation of the program was provided by a generous grant of almost $500,000 from the Kern Family Foundation.

Welch College began offering the M.Div. this semester. The program will be offered in an accelerated B.A. to M.Div. five-year program. A high school graduate with at least 15 dual enrollment college credits can complete both a B.A. and an M.Div. degree in five years. The M.Div. will also be available to students who already have a bachelor’s degree.

Provost Matthew McAffee noted, “With this new program, it’s possible for students to begin at Welch and complete a B.A. and a regionally accredited M.Div. in five years—something that normally takes seven. But people who already have a bachelor’s degree, even if it’s not in a theological field, are eligible to study for and complete this M.Div. We’ve been hearing from more and more people in our denomination who feel the need for further ministry education in our increasingly secular society.”

The M.Div. degree is composed of 85 credit-hours and makes use of 25 hours of existing undergraduate ministry courses augmented to the graduate level. It will be a full on-campus program in a traditional format. The M.A. degree in Theology and Ministry will now be able to be earned on-campus or completely online.

Now that accreditor approval has been received, Welch College is currently processing admissions and enrolling students in the M.Div. program. Applications are being accepted for the next course for both the M.Div. and M.A., which began in October.

For more information about the Master of Divinity program in either its accelerated B.A.-M.Div. or traditional framework, or the M.A., contact the director of administration for Welch Divinity School, Dr. Martin Sheldon at

*SACSCOC is the primary accrediting body for colleges and universities in the Southeast. It provides the highest level of accreditation that an educational institution can receive. Welch College has been accredited by SACSCOC since 1994. To gain or maintain accreditation with the Commission on Colleges, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges. The Commission on Colleges applies the requirements of its principles to all applicant, candidate, and member institutions, regardless of type of institution (public, private for-profit, private not-for-profit).


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists