astrology news

Kepler College Cancels Current Term, School Closing

Kepler CollegeToday the President of Kepler College, Enid Newberg, sent out an announcement effectively saying that the school will be closing down in the near future.

The announcement confirmed rumors that had been circulating around the astrological community recently when it was announced that they had canceled their current school term, which was supposed to have begun last week.

Kepler was authorized by Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington State to grant AA, BA and MA degrees based on their curriculum, which is primarily focused on astrology, although over the past several years the school has tried and failed to achieve full accreditation from a national accrediting board.

Without accreditation, diplomas from Kepler are generally not recognized by other colleges, and credits earned at Kepler are not transferable.  Additionally, as the announcement today says, after having tried and failed to gain accreditation for a certain period of time, eventually the ability to grant diplomas from the Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington State is revoked, which is apparently what is about to happen now with Kepler.

Thus while Kepler may continue on as some sort of trade school, any aspirations for creating a legitimate college – which was the goal all along – are effectively dead, and the school that once was is over.

The Announcement

I received the announcement today by email, although an abbreviated version was also posted on Kepler’s website and it can be read here.

The general synopsis is that times have been tough financially due to the economy, and since Kepler can neither finance its program nor gain accreditation, it is not going to be able to get reauthorized to issue degrees by the state board when the school has a reapply in March. Additionally, new laws require them to get a letter from the President of an accredited college stating that the majority of Kepler’s credits are transferable, which totally isn’t going to happen because they’re not.

The gist of the announcement boils down to this statement though:

At this point, Kepler College cannot meet either the financial or accreditation requirements of authorization. By Washington State law, this leaves us with two options for our degree program: petition for a teach-out and then closure or immediate closure now.

Or in other words, ‘either we close now, or we close in a couple of years once a few of our current students finish up the degree programs that they’ve already started’.  Obviously they have opted for the latter, although apparently they have to petition the state education board in order to be able to do even this, and its not clear what the odds of success are with that petition.

Death of Kepler College?

The announcement attempts to end on a positive note, claiming that this is not the death of the college:

Please know that we do not see this as the death of Kepler. The Board, Administration and Faculty are all committed to a brighter future for astrological studies within higher education and our mission of providing professional level education for astrologers. We are developing plans to morph Kepler into a different position within the field of astrological education. The Kepler Board has voted to develop a vocational program for the future that keeps the core of our undergraduate curriculum and mission alive as well as to explore making alliances with other accredited colleges.

What this appears to mean, in effect, is that the long term goal now is simply to turn Kepler into a “vocational program” (read ‘trade school’), since its clear that they will not be able to get the program accredited.

Kepler College logoI would beg to differ with the first sentence though. The original purpose of Kepler was to create an actual accredited college that incorporated astrology into its curriculum, so as to be able to award diplomas in astrological studies. That was the goal when plans for the school started being laid in the early 90’s, and that was still the stated goal when I began attending Kepler fresh out of high school in 2003.

But now it appears that the goal is no longer to award legitimate diplomas, and thus to attempt to legitimize astrology within the context of mainstream academia.

Hence, its not “Kepler College” anymore.   Rather, its becoming “Kepler Trade School”.

From this perspective it does indeed seem that Kepler is dead, for all intents and purposes, as it has failed to achieve the goal it was created for.

The Legacy of Kepler

Kepler was, and still is perhaps, the best school for astrology available in the world. I say that unabashedly, on the one hand as a previous student who spent several years studying there and gained much from the program, and on the other hand as as someone who left the school somewhat disgruntled and disappointed.

I would do it all over again though, and after speaking to a few other Kepler students today, that seems to be the general consensus amongst us.

In many ways Kepler was an experiment.  It was trying to bridge a gap between the more hands off academic approach to astrology as a sort of cultural oddity within the context of the history of science, and on the other hand the approach to it as a living practice that has a rather interesting historical, philosophical and conceptual lineage.

The faculty at Kepler were often stuck in a tough place, as the goal of the school was to create an academic program rather than a trade school.  This is problematic since their prospective students were primarily people from the astrological community who wanted to learn about the practice of astrology. So they were often torn in two different directions, with people on the one hand wanting more practical, hands on exposure to the material, and then another side that wanted to study astrology from more of a historical and cultural perspective. I found myself falling more into the latter camp by the end of my run there, which is one of the reasons I left, although most of the students I know tended to fall in the former category.

In many ways the experiment was a success because it demonstrated that it was possible to have a school where on the one hand the practice of astrology could be taught, and then on the other hand there could be classes on ancient languages, history, philosophy, statistics, etc., in a manner that was comparable to  other liberal arts colleges.

Ultimately while Kepler may have failed as a college, I think that it raised the standard significantly for what should constitute a serious astrological education. Its not sufficient anymore just to be good at delineating charts. If you want to be a serious astrologer you have to know where the subject comes from, how it developed, what its philosophical implications are, what the scientific and ethical issues are, etc. Most of the leading astrologers today, the ones who are doing the really interesting and important work, are people who are conversant in these issues.

Make no mistake, this is disappointing news, and it is a sad day for the astrological community. For many people this is the end of a dream that started about 20 years ago, only coming to fruition 10 years ago with the first class of Kepler students starting in the summer of 2000, and then petering out just now at the start of a new decade.

But perhaps the legacy of Kepler – of what it tried to do – is something that will live on and inspire similar programs in the future.  If nothing else it created a small group of astrologers who will go on to influence the development of astrology over the coming decades, and in some way through them the effect of Kepler on the astrological community will still reverberate throughout history long after it has closed its doors.

Update: Kepler College is not closing, but is transitioning away from its accredited degree program, and is now in the process of reconstituting itself as an online school for astrology. See the Kepler College website for more information:

21 replies on “Kepler College Cancels Current Term, School Closing”

I am so very proud to be one of the first graduates of Kepler College. As a practicing astrologer for 30 years, I gained so much beyond the techniques of astrology. It is such a powerful thing to know your history and how astrology has always run through civilization. It is very sad that the struggle over the hegemony of knowledge is so capped by those who have no appreciation for an understanding of cosmology in relation to life. When the board of reviewers admitted to not even looking at Kepler’s proposal, how could we ever win?

I send out my highest gratitude to the founding group for their vision, hard work and brilliant movement to bring astrology out of the dark ages. The administration and the brilliant faculty, and every student who attended even one symposium have contributed to lifting astrology up to a higher level of expression. I love all of you.

Yes, Kepler was a good attempt – and on good intentions, I believe. The area of astrology has enough material already and perhaps its main need is none other than to be elevated into a more well-educated practice. To seek true standards – those that are naturally achieved through dialectic debates and intellectual fights among the various tendencies and ‘schools of thought’.

I’m not so sure though, whether astrology needs the ability of academic degrees. Academic-level studies yes, but as far as credibility is concerned, it is such the nature of this science or art (whichever you may prefer) that success equals credibility. I mean if you actually do predict and all, and you can do that most of the time, and there’s others like you in the field who also can… well, that’s what makes your practice credible.

Kepler College did not cancel classes primarily related to the issue of accredation as there were several more years to achieve that. It is a matter of economics. For the past five years at least, there have not been enough donations or scholarships to offer substantial financial aid to current students in the program or attract new ones so the student body has dwindled and become more part-time. Of course, the various economic crises of the past year added to Kepler’s ongoing financial problems.

In contemporary American society, unless we are talking about athletes or blue collar workers, to be considered “professional,” one is expected to have completed some specific academic training appropriate to a specific career area. The dream that became Kepler is not dead, only involved in a period of transformation.

If Kepler was accredited then students would be eligible for financial aid, and there would have been a larger student body. Hence, Kepler’s financial issues were largely the result of its failure to gain accreditation. So, either directly or indirectly I think that it does still boil down to the issue of accreditation.

Disappointing indeed for this spirited endeavour into the realms of higher learning to encounter such a setback. And I would like to offer heartfelt sympathies to all affected. Nonetheless, there is consolation that the stamp of a visionary legacy has been left on modern and ongoing astrological history. Particularly, as said in regard to Kepler raising “the standard significantly for what should constitute a serious astrological education”.

Agreed, it is certainly vital for any “serious astrologer” (and especially any claiming to teach the subject) to realise and transfer astrology’s heritage and multifacted related concerns such as the philosophic,cultural,social,etc. For this subject has been and continues to be such a lively and very real presence in the experience and history of humanity. Chris, you yourself are a fine example of the ‘Kepler legacy’ living on and it is heartening to watch the quality of your work continue to individuate and grow.

Dear Chris,

I do not think that Kepler has failed. Yes, we do need to close in our current incarnation as an academic college. The recession took its toll and we do not have the financial resources to continue to receive authorization. But I endorse your last paragraph. Kepler has proven that astrological studies and higher education are not incompatible, which is a powerful statement in itself. Our students and graduates have been and will be influential in the development of astrology’s future.

Although we are looking at reincarnating as a State-authorized vocational school, none of the faculty or the Board want to abandon our mix of liberal studies and cross-cultural and comparative astrological analysis. We have found that the richness that mix gives to any astrologer who wants to be a professional or for anyone interested in the general subject of astrology is profound. And, our long-term goal is to either develop an alliance with an accredited college or re-open as an academic college with the financial backing that requires (anyone have a million dollars to spare?).

I believe that for astrology’s future, we must develop an educational model that can be accepted by the culture in which we all live. There are many wonderful teachers and fine classes available. But, in our current culture, we must also have State authorized vocational schools such as Avalon, or programs in academic colleges. Plumbers, loggers or the daycare down the street have more education in their respective fields than many astrologers who call themselves professionals. Kepler’s dream was not just to bring astrology into higher education, but to make that bridge into the future by re-thinking astrological studies. And as you stated above, “I think that it raised the standard significantly for what should constitute a serious astrological education.”

Minor clarifications –

Our accreditation efforts were not turned down because of the quality of our programs, but, in essence, because two accrediting institutions were not willing to tackle the subject of astrology. Learning that lesson, we received a much warmer reception from the last organization we worked with by framing our program using academically oriented terminology, such as cultural cosmology or archeo-astronomy. Unfortunately, we did not have the finances to continue that effort.

Kepler College graduates are in the same boat as many, many other students from colleges all across the United States who have degrees from State authorized, but not regionally or nationally accredited colleges. Accreditation used to be completely voluntary. It was simply a way for the federal government to verify quality before allowing a college to participate in federal financial aid, such as Title IV or Pell grants. It has only been in the last 7-8 years that accreditation has become mandatory in a growing number of states. The primary reason for this is the growth of Internet diploma mills and the abundance of schools that call themselves colleges and say they grant degrees – but do not even have State authorization.

This does not leave Kepler College students completely in the lurch. We have had several graduates accepted by accredited colleges, such as Pacifica and St. Johns. But transfer credits between colleges have never been guaranteed, regardless of accreditation status. And, unfortunately, accepting Kepler credits or degrees does not automatically translate into a willingness to publicly sign an affidavit that your college will do so.

As a side note, in the arcane world of higher education, accreditation itself can be a confusing term. Some states (such as Connecticut) use the word accreditation for their state authorization. That is why Glenn Perry can say that his program under The Graduate Institute is accredited. But this is not federally recognized accreditation, but only state-level accreditation which is the equivalent of what Kepler College received from the State of Washington.

Yes, accreditation is a prerequisite for a college being able to offer government loans to its students. However, a new college cannot gain accreditation without meeting specific characteristics including demonstration of a successful and appropriate-to-design academic program, a viable financial base plus the ability to pay the usual $40-50,000 costs charged by the accrediting agency. Accrediting bodies are private agencies, not governmental, are not required to consider every application and can refuse to accept an application for any reason including that of having no qualified person to evaluate its specific program/s.

Chris, thanks for a very informative and well-written article. With what seems to be the likely transformation of Kepler College (academic institution) to Kepler School (vocational institution), it is interesting to compare the two beyond the obvious difference of students receiving degrees versus diplomas or certificates, and the less stringent academic requirements of vocational schools: state authorization of a vocational school is generally easier and less expensive than authorization of an academic school. Accreditation, however, may be more difficult and, in fact, impossible. As curriculum director at Avalon, I have contacted dozens of accreditation agencies to find out if Avalon could be accredited and all of the accreditation agencies refused to accept an application from Avalon because they do not have expertise in astrology and there are not enough licensed vocational schools to make it financially worthwhile for them to develop this expertise to accredit the schools. It is extremely unlikely that vocational schools in any state will need to be accredited, but there is no opportunity for students to receive government grants and loans and to accept foreign students because accreditation is a prerequisite for this. Therefore, people can feel encouraged that they can start licensed schools in their local area in the USA (laws in other countries may be different) and use either Avalon or the future Kepler School as a basis or create them independently, without as much pressure or worry about ever being closed, but also most likely without the opportunity to become accredited in the foreseeable future.

I wrote Enid about my master’s thesis/project — a 90-slide power point presentation of the structure of an online 30 hour course in (American) astrohistory. This at U Chicago, its second founding by JD Rockefeller & WRHarper with the Pl/Ne conjunction of 1892. Of course its emblem the phoenix. I hope that the excellence of my project will be a force majeur in the accreditation of Kepler. If I do not hit too many snags, it could possibly be a fait accompli by May’s Ju/Sa opposition with its theoretical first online class out the Community Outreach Program.

Well, that is my intent.

Good regards,


You have maturity for a young professional indeed.

One question that lingers, either Simmonite or Lilly in their work somewhere suggest a way, in the discusssion of Hoary, of determining a birth time and date even though unknown. So if that is the case isnot all the problem about getting a correct time, etc. irrelevant?


I can not completely describe the sadness I feel for both the students and the faculty at Kepler. This news is just reaching me now. The torch for astrology carried by Kepler students I’m sure has not been snuffed out. I know that it is not this way with me as I had a great 1 term experience at Kepler in 2005.

As much as I wanted to return to Kepler and continue my studies, the greatest challenge was financing which kept that dream from manifesting. I hunger for advanced university-level degree in astrology.

I have continued to study on my own, exploring as many technical and academic texts as I could get my hands on. I am grateful to Lee, Enid, Carol, Dennis, Nick, and others with whom I got to rub elbows. They are our Fixed Stars. Alas, I never got me to Rob Hand; he was working on his doctoral dissertation at the time.

Kepler’s students are the new Rising Stars.

I still believe that Kepler will rise again from its ashes, just as Pluto helped me rise to new life, inculcating me in all the Ancient Wisdom Teachings (of which astrology plays a major role).

The whole community will have the opportunity to watch Kepler express as a new form.

Peace Inside.

Astrology is a passion of mine, I was introduced to the subject matter in 1996 and have not been able to shake it out of my every day life. On the simplest of terms. I was aware when Kepler open it’s doors, at the time I was finishing up my Associates inwhich I was always incorporated astrology in my assignments, especially in psychology, then I went on to the studies of Social Work. I had a dream that this kind of opportunity would be something I could attend. I am dissapointed for all who have worked so hard to make it a reality only to be turned down in recognizing the studies as credits. I wish you all luck in your future. How will a trade school be any different in recoginition.