General Academic Policies
The Academic year is divided into two semesters of 15 weeks. The fall semester usually begins the last week of August and ends in mid-December. The spring semester begins mid-January and ends in mid-May.
A 14-week summer term, primarily independent study, is offered to Doctor of Ministry and Master of Arts Students. An occasional elective course may be taught during this time to meet student needs.
Hours of Credit
Course hours of credit are based on the number of 50-minute class periods, or their equivalent. One credit is granted for approximately 14 class periods and one class period for examination and assessment. The specific hours of credit for each course are given with its description.
Class Attendance is expected at every meeting of the course(s) for which students are registered unless they are granted the privilege of optional class attendance. Normally, illness or other sufficiently serious circumstances are the only legitimate reasons for missing class.
In case of absence, the student is responsible for class work, assignments, and/or examinations.
Withdrawal and Credit/Audit Change
To withdraw from a course or to change registration from credit to audit (or the reverse) without penalty, a student must obtain the official form from the Academic Dean to present to the Registrar. Failure to attend class or merely giving notice to the instructor will not be regarded as official notice of withdrawal and students will lose any deposits. The last day to withdraw without financial penalty is indicated on the yearly academic calendar.
Students usually undergo evaluation in all subjects at the end of each term. These evaluations may take the form of oral or written examinations, performance presentations, and research/reflection papers. At times a mid-term assessment may be given or a mid-term project may be required at the discretion of the professor.
The Master of Divinity Portfolio Capstone Presentation is scheduled around the third week of November. Generally, the last four weeks at the end of each semester are designated for the Doctor of Ministry Colloquia and Master of Arts Symposia. These serve as summative and integrative evaluations for candidates enrolled in these programs.
Grade reports are given to the students at the end of each term. Term grades are based on oral and written class work and examinations. The grade received is an evaluation of actual performance and the degree of mastery the student has manifested to the instructor.
The following grading system is employed:
Grade Quality Points
NR Grade not reported
W Withdrew with permission
An incomplete (I) is given only for serious reasons, such as absence from a final examination because of illness, and course work must be made up within a designated time, usually one month, but no restriction is placed on the grade a student may receive.
Course work not completed during the extended time given for an Incomplete (I) results in a grade of “F”.
Should a student fail a required course, he/she must repeat the course. Any failing grade is computed in the cumulative grade average.
The following descriptions serve as an evaluative measure of the professor’s assessment of student work. The use of pluses and minuses in the grading scale allows for an accurate evaluation of the student’s performance within the range of each letter grade.
[A, A-] Degrees of Outstanding achievement: exceptional aptitude, interest and performance.
The student has demonstrated a number of the following characteristics: an exceptionally good grasp of the course material; evidence of self-initiated reading; cooperation in course activities; manifestation of exceptional capability and originality; a command of appropriate vocabulary and superior ability to integrate and make associations with other
[B+, B, B-] Good achievement: a significantly higher grasp of the course material, which goes beyond the required basic elements. The student has demonstrated a number of the following characteristics: a significantly more effective command of the material than is generally required; demonstrated ability to perceive applications of principles and relate them to other material; work distinctly above the average; investment in extra-curricular work on his own on course material; a personal grasp of principles so they can be discussed with ease.
[C+, C, C-] Satisfactory achievement: a grasp of the basic content, which enables the instructor to certify the required mastery of the material of the course. The following characteristics are usually present: a command of the basic course content and demonstrated ability to make generally correct applications of principles; demonstrated ability to express knowledge intelligibly; the standard performance expected.
[D] Poor achievement: a minimal grasp of course content and limited ability to apply principles learned. The following may further characterize this level: sub-standard achievement as related to graduation; the instructor believes the student would not profit materially by repeating the course; the student may advance to course or courses to which the given course is a prerequisite but with dubious prospects
[F] Failure: inability to meet minimal requirements as specified by the instructor. The student will need to repeat the course if he/she is enrolled in a degree program.
Students in the second, third, fourth and fifth year of theology whose cumulative point averages are 3.5 or above are classified as “honor students.”
They may be granted, at the discretion of an individual professor, the privilege of optional class attendance so they may acquire a more thorough knowledge of a subject through independent study under scholarly direction.
When professors judge that an honor student would gain more by class attendance, they may require attendance for a particular lecture or exercise or the entire course. The student must be present for all announced tests and is held responsible for all class materials and major assignments.
Full-time, degree-seeking students may participate in an independent study under the supervision of faculty members with the approval of the Academic Dean. All students must first receive permission from the Academic Dean to approach a faculty member for an independent study. No student is permitted to take an independent study in a given area in a semester where an elective course in that area is offered, unless he/she has taken that elective course.
Gospel values and contemporary social consciousness urge us to recognize and change those attitudes and practices that are unjust. Christian tradition holds that all people are created in the image of God and that attitudes against anyone because of sex, age, race, or handicap diminish us all. Therefore, it is the policy of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology to foster the use of inclusive language in academic endeavors and to work to eliminate attitudes and customs that stereotype and unfairly separate persons one from another.
Students who wish transcripts of records to transfer to other schools or for other purposes should submit a signed request to the Registrar’s Office at least two weeks in advance of need. To protect students and alumni, no telephone requests for transcripts will be honored. Transcripts are issued only at the request of the student, and official transcripts are sent directly to the college or university to which transfer is desired. A fee of $7 is required for each transcript requested.
Official transcripts are sent directly to institutions or agencies. Transcripts sent or given to students are marked “unofficial,” are unsigned, and do not bear the Seminary seal. Transcripts are released only when all outstanding financial balances have been paid.
Transfer of Credit and Advanced Standing from Other Schools
St. Mary Seminary has the right to determine if it will accept graduate credits for work completed in other accredited schools. Not more than two-thirds of the credits previously earned can be accepted into our degree programs.
If advanced standing is granted on the basis of appropriate evaluation, not more than one-fourth of the total credits required for an ATS-approved degree may be granted for the D.Min., M.Div., or M.A. degrees. Advanced standing may be granted (1) without credit by exempting a student from some courses but not reducing the total number of academic credits required for the degree, or (2) with credit by reducing the number of credits required for the degree because appropriate assessment indicates the student’s knowledge, competence, or skills that would normally be provided by specific courses have been demonstrated.
Master of Divinity Degree
At the close of each term, a student is placed on academic probation if the cumulative grade point average is less than 2.00. The student is removed from probation that term in which the grade average rises to or above 2.00. Placement on retention, or removal from probation is noted on the semester grade report and on the permanent record.
The following rules govern a student on academic probation:
A student who remains on probation for three consecutive semesters will be required to withdraw for unsatisfactory academic performance.
A student who remains on probation for two consecutive semesters may choose:
- To continue the regular class-hour load and attempt to remove the probation the third semester, or
- To reduce the class-hour load and lengthen the time of the course of studies.
A student on probation:
- May be required to submit a progress report to the Academic Dean
- May have extra-curricular activities curtailed in the case of candidates for the priesthood
- May not be admitted to candidacy or receive ministries/orders during that semester
- May be asked to postpone the internship year to enroll in another semester of coursework to remove the probation
- Will not be permitted to hold school offices
- May be required to lengthen the time of course studies
Master of Arts and Doctor of Ministry Degrees
The following rules govern M.A. and D.Min. students on academic probation:
At the close of each semester, a student is placed on academic probation if the cumulative grade point average is less than 3.00. The student is removed from probation that semester in which the grade average rises to or above 3.00. Placement on, retention on, or removal from probation is noted on the term grade report and the permanent record.
A student who remains on probation after the completion of 15 semester hours will be required to withdraw for unsatisfactory academic performance.
Winter Weather Policy
St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology normally does not cancel classes since half of our students are resident students. In the case of severe weather, non-resident students may contact their professors and let them know they will not be able to attend class. The professor will not dock points or penalize the student. However, the student will be responsible to obtain class notes and complete assigned readings. If a non-resident professor has cancelled class, students may call the front desk, or they will receive an e-mail or call from the Registrar.