Educational Effectiveness

Accountability of Mission and Ongoing Assessment


To assess its primary mission, the Seminary is committed to ongoing evaluation of its priestly formation program (M.Div. degree program) in view of the changing demands of diocesan and parish ministry as well as the varying intellectual and emotional needs of succeeding generations of seminarians. Assessment takes place on a yearly basis through such instruments as course and instructor evaluation, faculty and peer reviews of student formational growth, exit interviews and bi-semester committee meetings to discuss and review policy and programmatic structures. In addition, an Institutional Assessment Committee was established in 2005 to collect data and facilitate discussion among the faculty and students for the ongoing review of degree programs and their relationship to the mission of the Seminary. This committee guides the faculty in assessing institutional outcomes and convictions. Such supervision includes the development of syllabi and rubrics that correspond to degree outcomes, the monitoring of criteria used in student assessment, and the coordination of faculty assessment workshops. The committee also reviews degree programs, monitors the M.Div. Portfolio that provides data for yearly seminarian evaluations, reviews with the Academic Dean the course evaluations, and synthesizes data for the Fall and Spring faculty workshops. Every year graduates complete an exit interview and every five years are mailed questionnaires to provide feedback from the field in order to update and enhance constituent needs.

With regard to the accountability of leadership and mission, every three years the Board of Trustees reviews the President-Rector and evaluates its own work as a board. The Seminary also conducts focus groups with pastors who have worked with our recent graduates in the field of ministry to assess how the Seminary might continue to address the needs of the local Church.


Institutional Outcomes as the basis of Program Assessment


These valued traits cultivated with our learning community define our reflective identity and serve as desired outcomes across all three degree programs.

Christian Discipleship — We value the transformation of each person into the image of Christ in response to the word of God and the Church’s tradition.

Formation — We value the renewal of the mind and heart for personal, professional and ecclesiastical growth.

Theological Thinking — We value the ability to think with the Church through the skills of analysis and critical reflection.

Communication — We value the ability to articulate theological ideas.

Collaboration — We value the development and use of personal and interpersonal skills, shared gifts in ministry, for the service of community building.


Statement of Educational Effectiveness (updated 6/1/2015)


The mission of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology–priestly formation and advanced theological education for ecclesial service–cannot be seen merely in terms of academic programs, as valuable as they are.  All aspects of Saint Mary Seminary–the fraternal community, the rigorous intellectual programs and resources, the rich spiritual and liturgical grounding, the challenging experiences in pastoral ministries, the stable financial and physical resources–challenge the students to bear fruit, to grow in Christian discipleship, to allow themselves to be formed by the Word they have heard, to plumb the depths of the Catholic intellectual tradition, and to be equipped to communicate that Word in collaboration with others in the mission of the New Evangelization. Assessment results are a time-lapsed record and one measure of institutional effectiveness.

Institutional outcomes are regularly assessed using multiple strategies that include both direct and indirect measures of student learning. The assessment program indicates that Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology degree programs produce their intended outcomes and that they are educationally effective.

Within the past six years, 88% of those enrolled in the Master of Divinity program and eligible to graduate received degrees with an average GPA of 3.41. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of those who graduated were given assignments in parish ministry by the Diocese, and 11% were appointed to ministry in a religious congregation.

Seventy percent (70%) of those enrolled in the Master of Arts Degree program are part-time students (1 or 2 courses per semester) and generally complete the program in an average of five to seven years.  Over the past ten years 77% of those eligible to graduate completed the program and were awarded degrees with an average GPA of 3.62.. In the last three years, however, the completion rate was 97%.  Most lay MA students who enroll in the program already have ministerial positions within the Diocese: Nineteen percent (19%) served in educational ministries; and 71% in parish, diocesan or pastoral ministries. Graduates either had positions at the time of graduation, or obtained ministerial positions within a year after graduation.

Within the past ten years years, 86% of those enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program were awarded the degree with an average GPA of 3.81. The DMin degree program requires that applicants are in full-time ministry for at least three years prior to admission. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of the graduates serve in ordained ministries, 23% in educational ministries, and 38% in parish, diocesan, and pastoral ministries.

The effectiveness of an institution cannot be easily quantified. It must ultimately be measured in the generous, competent, committed lives of its graduates. The statistics given here seem to indicate that over the course of each degree program students grow personally and professionally. Further, they are eagerly welcomed as colleagues into the broader ministries of the Diocese of Cleveland. A 168-year tradition is a confirmation of the effectiveness of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology and a commitment to its future.

To learn more about the assessment plan and the effectiveness of the degree programs, contact Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, Director of Institutional Assessment.