Bethel’s Concurrent Enrollment Programs Earn Top National Accreditation

In recent years, Bethel has bolstered its early college programs, offering high school students with pathways to start their college journeys early. By earning National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) accreditation, Bethel took a key step in affirming the quality and growth of its concurrent enrollment programs.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

June 16, 2023 | 12:15 p.m.

Bethel NACEP accreditation

Bethel's concurrent enrollment programs recently earned additional accreditation through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), the leading accreditor in the nation for such programs.

Bethel’s early college programs have seen significant growth in recent years, and the university recently took a key step toward affirming the program’s quality and growth. Bethel’s concurrent enrollment programs attained accreditation through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). “It’s just one more thing that says we’re doing everything we can to provide quality education,” says Mary Michener, assistant dean of early college.

While Bethel University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1959, the additional NACEP accreditation shows Bethel is meeting the highest national standards for concurrent enrollment programs—college courses offered directly in high schools through a partnership with a university. The state of Minnesota also requires all colleges and universities offering concurrent programs to be accredited by NACEP, the nation’s only accrediting body for concurrent educational partnerships.

Concurrent enrollment programs—sometimes called College in the Schools in Minnesota—are a win for all involved. For high school students, it’s easy and convenient. Students take college courses directly in their high schools through their regular registration. They don’t have to flex their schedules to get to campus. And as they take college courses, they’re able to adapt to college-level academics and save money. “It’s a huge advantage to students to be able to get some transcripted college credit while they’re in high school,” Michener says. “Every step they take in that direction saves them dollars and gets them accustomed to the rigor and what’s expected.” For high schools, it’s beneficial to be able to offer college-level courses to their students. And the high school instructors work closely with Bethel faculty members, as Bethel provides professional development and curriculum.

For Bethel, concurrent programs offer the university visibility and connections while allowing students to try out Bethel courses. Bethel attends open houses to help students and parents understand that students are earning college credit and what college they’re earning that credit from. “It’s visibility for Bethel,” Michener says. Bethel visits the high school and provides signage stating, “You’re in a Bethel University classroom.” Parents have told Michener they’re very glad Bethel is offering these courses as it gives them a pathway to start Bethel early and continue their education on campus as undergraduate students.


"It’s a huge advantage to students to be able to get some transcripted college credit while they’re in high school. Every step they take in that direction saves them dollars and gets them accustomed to the rigor and what’s expected.”

— Mary Michener, assistant dean of early college

Last year, Bethel taught 351 students through concurrent courses, and Michener expects about the same if not more next school year, though numbers won’t be finalized until later this summer. Concurrent enrollment programs are truly a partnership. Courses are taught directly in schools by high school teachers, who must meet the same qualifications as Bethel adjunct professors. Bethel’s concurrent course offerings have included Spanish, Intro to Bible—at private Christian schools—Environmental Science, General Chemistry, and Intro to Healthcare and Careers. Bethel is also looking to add physics courses in the next few years.

Concurrent enrollment programs are just part of Bethel’s early college offerings. Bethel’s options include high school partnerships taught by Bethel faculty directly at select schools. Options also include Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), where high school students can earn college credit for free while completing high school requirements either online, in person, or a combination of the two directly through Bethel. For high school students living outside of Minnesota, Bethel offers dual enrollment courses at a significantly discounted rate per credit. In all these programs, high school experience academically rigorous college-level courses that also introduce them to the transformational impact of a Bethel education.

Early college programs have seen significant growth in recent years—at Bethel and across the state. Before 2019, about 22% of Minnesota high school students took PSEO or college in high schools. Currently, it’s over 40%, according to Michener. “There’s been this huge increase across the state,” she says. Likewise, Bethel’s programs have seen growth in early college offerings. In recent years, Bethel has added online options for PSEO and expanded all offerings to high school juniors. Both changes led to an influx of students. “These students really appreciate flexibility,” Michener says. “Many of them are working or still participating in high school sports or activities, so it helps them stay engaged in their high school.”

To Michener, early college options are vitally important to making college available to students with diverse needs, Michener notes. Such courses offer students a way to experience college and see if they’re ready or need to wait, and they help students knock down the cost of college. “Every 15 credits—every semester—that they can wipe off of credits, is a significant savings, so it begins to open the door of higher education to students and families that didn’t think that door was open,” Michener says.

There's never been a better time to pursue early college options at Bethel, especially PSEO. Looking ahead to this fall, Bethel is set to break records for the number of PSEO students for the second straight year with over 410 students joining the Bethel community for the first time and 183 PSEO students returning for their second year of PSEO or as freshman students at Bethel.

Start your college journey early at Bethel.

At Bethel, early college isn’t just about saving money and earning college credits—it’s about having transformative educational experiences in a supportive community. Whether you study face to face, online, or some combination of the two, you’ll find valuable connections, helpful resources, and people who care about the person you’re becoming.

Learn more