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Online Learning in the Context of Community

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welcome to Ascent College

Earn your degree online while serving in the local church

Ascent College offers students a non-traditional, accredited, collegiate journey that innovatively blends the anywhere anytime accessibility of online studies with the extraordinary benefits of apprentice-style, hands-on application of coursework in real-life partner church environments.

Ascent’s non-classroom model improves the affordability of an accredited education with a per credit cost of only $300. The on-demand learning delivery also enables students to schedule their studies around family, employment, and other obligations.

Bachelor's Degree

Our 4-year Bachelor's Degree in Ministry Leadership offers students eight concentrations in Ministerial Leadership, Biblical Studies, Children's Ministry Leadership,  Christian Counseling with a Focus in Psychology, Christian Counseling with a Focus in Pastoral Ministry,  Intercultural Studies, Worship Leadership, and Youth Ministry Leadership.

Associate's Degree

Our 2-year Associate's Degree in Ministry Leadership provides students with limited time or funds an opportunity to get started in a new career.


Our 1-year Diploma in Ministry Leadership gives students a starting point for formal education in the church to later build on with additional studies.

Our Mission

To prepare Spirit-empowered ministers to be passionate, principled, and practical leaders who are…

  • Scripturally grounded and Spirit-empowered
  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Skillful and strong multipliers
  • Sowers of generosity
  • Sent and/or Senders into the world
  • Seekers of relational accountability

Ready to take the next step in your future?

Does This Excite You?

  • Attend a class.
  • Read a book.
  • Draft a paper.
  • Go to work for four hours.
  • Design the entirety of a church service in two weeks.
  • Plan community outreach strategies with the lead pastor.
  • Oh, and assist an elder with leading a grief counseling group!

Are Online Courses Right for You?

  • Do you have access to a computer?
  • Do you have reliable internet connection?
  • Are you comfortable navigating the internet?
  • Do you manage your time reasonably well?
  • Do you follow instructions reasonably well?
  • Do you feel comfortable communicating electronically?
  • Do you consider yourself to be an average or better reader?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are a prime candidate for online courses.


If you have any questions about whether online courses are right for you, please contact our recruiter at apiehl@ascent.edu.

What do you need for successful use of our Online Learning System, Populi?

Broadband Internet

A fast internet connection ensures that you can navigate through Populi quickly and efficiently. If you’re out and about, a mobile device with a
data connection (4G, 5G, or LTE) or your typical coffee shop wifi connection will usually do the trick.

A Modern, Updated Web Browser

Populi runs on up-to-date releases of popular web browsers. Most web browsers have some sort of auto-update function, so you may never even need to think about this part. And using a modern web browser won’t just benefit your Populi use-it’s one of the best things you can do for your overall internet security!

Here are the browsers we recommend for use with Populi. If a browser is not listed here, don’t use it for Populi! Again, always try to use the most recent version possible–as companies release newer versions of browsers, they usually drop support for older versions.

PC or Mac

*      Google Chrome is probably the best
option if you’re using Windows. It’s also very good for Mac users.

*      Mozilla Firefox is another good choice on Windows computers (works pretty okay on Macs, too).

*      Apple Safari is great on Macs. Not
so much on Windows.

*       Last and certainly least, Internet
Explorer. Mac users can’t even download it! If you’re using Windows 10, they’re encouraging you to use Microsoft Edge.

Mobile browsers:

*       iOS Safari does well, as does Google Chrome for iOS.

*       The stock Android browser works, as does Chrome for Android.

*       The Firefox browsers for both iOS and Android aren’t problematic.

*       Microsoft Edge (mentioned above) is baked-in to Windows 10 devices and works with Populi; the version of Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1 does alright, too.

If you’re the type that likes to tinker with your browser settings, make sure to enable Javascript and cookies. Ad-blockers don’t pose any problems for the most part, but if you do fiddle with those, just make sure to whitelist your school’s Populi site.

PC or Mac

This can be a laptop or desktop.

Other Common Applications

You can use Populi to export all kinds of files. The three most common are spreadsheets, PDFs, and word documents (note the lower-case w there). Most computers have the software you need to open these files, but in case yours doesn’t…

*      Open Office can open spreadsheets and
documents (Populi uses it to generate files for custom page layouts).

*      Adobe Acrobat reader handles PDFs. If, for some reason, you have to use an old
version, the oldest one that works is version 6.


Populi is easiest to use if your monitor is set at a minimum resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels.

Meet the College President
Dr. Rob Rhoden

  • Dr. Rob Rhoden is from Richmond, VA where he pastored for 28 years. His wife, Jennifer, is an elementary school principal in Richmond. They have two adult children.
  • Ordained in the Assemblies of God in 1995
  • DMin, Union Theological Seminary 
  • MDiv, Union Theological Seminary
  • Bachelors from Bethany Bible College
  • Executive Director of Education for the Potomac Ministry Network.  In that role, he is the Director of the Potomac School of Ministry and President of Ascent College.
  • Loves to teach/preach and write.  He considers himself a “Pastor-Scholar.”  His first book is entitled See with plans for more to come in the future.

Meet Us at an Upcoming Event

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Your Moment Is Now!


Head Office

PO Box 690, Gainesville, VA 20156-0690

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Ascent College's financial aid school code is 041538. It may display as Bethel College, the former name of Ascent College.


Ascent College admits students of any race, color, nationality, or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, handicap, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and other school-administered programs.