St. Mary's Seminary & University

Policies & Procedures

Academic Policies

General Student Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the student to comply with the academic policies of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. In addition to timely registration and prompt payment of fees, it is especially imperative to complete the admission requirements and to inform the office in writing of any changes in registration, address, telephone numbers, or email addresses.

It is expected that students already have basic skills in library usage, critical reading, research, and writing term papers. Students are required to research, organize, and write their own papers, and to keep a copy of any work submitted in a course.

Attendance and Participation

Graduate theological education requires a high degree of involvement in the classroom and initiative outside the classroom. Regular attendance and informed participation are expected and evaluated in all classes. A necessary absence should be cleared in advance with the professor. More than one absence from a course may result in additional work or a lower grade, at the professor’s discretion. More than three absences may result in administrative withdrawal.

Auditors are required to attend more than 50 percent of a course’s class sessions in order to have the course audit appear on their transcripts.

Students are also expected to be on time for class and to deactivate cell phones and beepers. (Exceptions are made only for physicians, pastors, and other professionals who are on call, and for persons whose immediate family medical situation requires availability.) A detailed policy on attendance and related matters may be found in the Student Handbook.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

St. Mary’s is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. It is St. Mary’s policy that all such requests be made to the office of the Registrar. St. Mary’s requires supporting documentation for these requests.

The Registrar and Dean will review the request and the documentation, consult with the student and make a decision about the request. The Registrar will provide written notice of the approved accommodation to any faculty or staff member who may be directly involved in implementing the accommodation.

Unit of Credit

Most courses are designed to yield three graduate credits. Full-time study is normally nine (9) or more credits per semester. Most St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute students are part-time students taking one or two courses each semester. 

Name changes

St. Mary’s Seminary & University requires that all official records bear a student’s full and legal first, last, and middle (if applicable) name. If a student’s name has been changed because of marriage, divorce, legal action, etc., the student is required to provide documentation such as a driver’s license, passport, or social security card before the name can be changed in St. Mary’s records.

Grading System

Grades represent the evaluation by the professor of the results of class attendance and participation, papers or reports, and written or oral examinations. More specific guidelines about grades and grading are available in the Student Handbook. Any question concerning a grade must be resolved by the student and the professor within one month of the official notification of grades. Appeals beyond this are made first to the Dean and then to the Faculty, according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. The decision of the Faculty is final.

Grade Symbol Quality Points per Credit Hour Grade Description
A 4.0 Exceptional
A- 3.7 Excellent
B+ 3.3 Very Good
B 3.0 Good
B- 2.7 Acceptable
C+ 2.3 Inadequate
C 2.0 Deficient
C- 1.7 Poor
F 0.0 Failure
XF 0.0 Failure for Academic Dishonesty
W   Withdrawal
I   Incomplete

The grade of “I” is a temporary notation indicating that some course work has not been completed by the end of the term due to some circumstance beyond the student’s control and that the professor has approved an extension of time. An “I” is never automatically granted; a student must submit a written petition, available for download here and from the E.I. office, that requires the approval of both the professor and the Dean. Dates for the submission of all work to remove Incompletes are published each term by the Registrar’s office. Failure to submit outstanding work to the professor by this date will result in a grade of “F” being assigned by the Registrar.

Course Failures and Repeats

Course grades of F and XF earn no graduate credit. A student who fails a course is subject to probation or, in certain cases, dismissal. (For details, see the Student Handbook.) The grade of “F” is permanently inscribed on the student’s transcript. If a student is placed on probation and is permitted or required to repeat the course, the student may re-take the course one time, normally no more than two years following the term in which the “F” was received. If the student earns a better grade in the repeat course, the original “F” remains on the transcript but is no longer calculated in the student’s GPA, and the new grade both appears on the transcript and is calculated as part of the student’s GPA.

A student whose GPA falls below 2.7 is also placed on probation. A student on probation for this reason who wishes to repeat a course voluntarily, in order to improve his or her cumulative GPA, may petition the Dean for permission to do so. Permission is normally granted only if the course grade was less than C+ and if the Dean believes that repeating the course will improve not only the student’s GPA, but also his or her mastery of the subject. If the student earns a better grade in the repeat course, the original grade remains on the transcript but is no longer calculated in the student’s GPA, and the new grade both appears on the transcript and is calculated as part of the student’s GPA. Voluntary repeat courses must normally be taken no more than two years following the term in which the original course was taken.

Grade Requirements

A student must maintain a “B-” average, i.e., a GPA of 2.7, in order to graduate from a degree program or receive a certificate. (GPAs are never “rounded up”; a 2.69 GPA does not qualify.) Unsatisfactory grades must be balanced by higher grades to maintain the 2.7 average. A required course yielding a failing grade must be repeated by matriculated certificate and degree candidates who are permitted to remain in the program. Only grades from courses taken at St. Mary’s are used to calculate the GPA.

Life of Credits

Because of the nature of theological research and study, students should have a command of the most recent information available when working toward a degree. Normally, credits earned at St. Mary’s or transferred from another accredited institution must have been earned within the past ten (10) years and completed with a grade of B or better to be eligible for application to a current degree. Use of these credits must be approved by the Dean and the Registrar. Grades for work in transfer courses are not calculated in the current program GPA.

Dean’s List

The annual Dean’s List recognizes as many as 20 fully matriculated degree candidates (M.A. Theol. or M.A. Ch. Min.) with the highest cumulative GPA. Minimum requirements for consideration for the Dean’s List are (1) matriculation in a degree program; (2) completion of 17 or more credits at the E.I., including a total of five or more credits within at least two of the three terms prior to the announcement of the Dean’s List (normally about July 1); (3) a cumulative GPA of 3.85 or better; and (4) no course grade below a B. Dean’s List students receive a partial scholarship for one course during the following academic year.

Academic Integrity

All course assignments are to be done with integrity. Written work is to be the student’s own, and care is to be taken to give full documentation for all material quoted or paraphrased from other sources. The standard for written work is Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th ed. (University of Chicago Press). Plagiarism and the submission of work other than one’s own are viewed as serious offenses and grounds for dismissal. A detailed policy on academic integrity and honesty may be found in the Student Handbook.

Grade Reports and Transcripts

Grade reports are issued at the end of each term. Grade reports will not be issued for any student who has outstanding financial or library obligations (items checked out of St. Mary’s library in the student’s name but not returned, plus any library fines).

Written, signed requests for transcripts (available for download here), which must include the student’s date of birth and years of attendance, should be addressed to the Registrar. Email messages are not acceptable as legal release of records. The charge for both official and unofficial transcripts is $5 per transcript. Transcripts will not be issued for any student who has failed to fulfill his or her financial or library obligations.

Concerns and Grievances

Student concerns about a course or grade may often be resolved directly with the professor. Unresolved issues should be addressed using the procedures described in the Student Handbook. The Student Handbook also contains policies for appeals concerning administrative withdrawal, probation, and dismissal.

Probation and Dismissal

Any student (matriculated or not) whose overall GPA falls below 2.7 will be placed on academic probation. The student must then bring his or her average back up to 2.7 within the next four courses (or the end of the program, whichever comes first) to avoid dismissal. Any student (matriculated or not) who fails a course or otherwise demonstrates an inability to meet the academic demands of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute will be placed on academic probation or dismissed. Degree candidates who fail the comprehensive exam, the Colloquium, the thesis project, or Ministry-in-Context are normally not permitted to enroll in future courses at St. Mary’s Ecumenical for credit, and may be dismissed. In addition, any student who is found guilty of academic dishonesty or other major violations of students’’ responsibilities, as indicated in St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute’s Community-Life Agreement and Community-Life Policies printed in the Student Handbook, will be subject to academic probation or dismissal. Further information is available in the Student Handbook.

Academic Planning and Advising

All students taking courses for credit are assigned an advisor. Certificate and degree candidates are assigned an advisor based on their specific area of study. All students are encouraged to seek academic assistance from their advisors, especially in the planning of their program and course selection. Students who need specialized counseling (e.g., regarding further graduate education) should consult also with the Dean.

The average St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute student takes one or two courses per term and is often somewhat confined, with respect to scheduling classes, by other commitments. The following guidelines are given with the understanding that some students cannot follow the “ideal” program.

All degree and certificate candidates, potential degree and certificate candidates, “seekers” exploring various programs, and students who need a general introduction to theological study should take TH601 during their first or second term. BS600 is also strongly recommended early on for actual or potential degree candidates, and is required for most other biblical studies courses. Students new to theological study may also begin with courses that are part of the Explorations in Theology program.

Degree-seeking students should then normally continue with foundational courses in each of the core theological disciplines. There is no prescribed order, but the ideal sequence for the first four to six courses would be: (1) biblical core (taking Hebrew Bible before New Testament); (2) H601 Early and Medieval Church (for the M.A. Theol.); (3) ST601 Foundations of Systematic Theology; (4) MT600 Fundamentals of Theological Ethics. The required course in Spirituality may be taken at any time in the program. Additional required foundational courses (depending on the degree program) may be taken later in the program. Students may take courses only after they have completed the appropriate prerequisites.

Research and Writing Assistance

Students in need of research and/or writing assistance are urged, and in some cases required, to contact St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute’s writing specialist. Students whose performance on the Academic Skills Assessment or in-class work suggests the need for writing assistance may be required to work with the writing specialist and/or to take a non-credit remedial course in academic writing and reading to continue as a student.

Permanent Records Policy

1) In addition to biographical information (name, address, state or federally mandated demographic data), St. Mary’s keeps the following information on all students and it becomes part of a student’s permanent academic record:
a) admissions and other test scores
b) diocese information (for seminarians)
c) recommendations (when required for admission)
d) dates of application, acceptance, registration, matriculation, withdrawal
e) academic program(s) information at St. Mary’s
f) all coursework, with grades, status, dates and grade point averages
g) official transcripts from other institutions
h) courses transferred for credit
i) photograph of student if needed for admission process
j) information about other language(s) studied
k) correspondence with St. Mary’s faculty and administrators relating to student’s program
l) all information on theses
m) comprehensive examinations and examination scores
n) information on degree(s) conferred
o) other pertinent documents and information (withdrawal, transfer, leave of absence, financial documents that pertain to academic status, pastoral year, dismissal etc.)

2) Restrictions are placed on student records in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and to protect the privacy rights of individuals. These documents may be inspected only by those faculty members or administrators at St. Mary’s who have a legitimate educational interest in seeing them. Others may inspect these files or obtain copies of information in a student’s record only after the Registrar’s Office has received a signed written request or permission form from the student and the student has paid a nominal fee, or as otherwise permitted or required by law. No e-mail requests are accepted. Transcripts will not be issued to any student who has not fulfilled his or her financial and/or library obligation to the institution.

3) St. Mary’s does not designate any student information as “directory information” under FERPA and therefore does not release personally identifiable information from educational records without written authorization or as otherwise permitted or required by law.

4) Students are at liberty to inspect their own academic files by making an appointment with the Office of the University Registrar. By submitting a letter of application to the University Registrar, a student may 1) inspect and review his or her records, 2) petition to seek amendment of records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights. No part of any record may be inspected by the student without the express written consent of the University Registrar. Permission will be granted within a reasonable time and in no case more than forty‑five (45) days from the date of the receipt of a written request for inspection. Any suspected inaccuracies in any of St. Mary’s records should be reported at once to the Office of the University Registrar. Since each institution is responsible for the accuracy of its own files and for correcting them when necessary, St. Mary’s will not amend academic documents from other parties which may be in its possession nor forward such records to third parties. This includes documents such as transcripts from other institutions sent to St. Mary’s as part of the admissions process.

5) Only those St. Mary’s staff members who are directly responsible for students’ accounts or billing matters may examine financial documents that relate to a student’s stay at St. Mary’s.

Submission of Original Work and Retention of Copies

It is customary for students to submit exams, papers, theses and other projects to their instructors for evaluation during a course or as part of their culminating experience in a degree program. When work is submitted for evaluation, the student retains the intellectual property rights to that which has been created, but the original hand-written, typed, or word processing document (or, for a thesis, the original and one copy) or other medium of work (e.g., video tape, audio tape, electronic file) submitted becomes the property of St. Mary’s Seminary & University. In the case of course work, the instructor evaluates the submitted work and communicates the results of the evaluation to the student. The faculty member, at his or her discretion, may return the work to the student, retain the work, discard the work, or request that the administration retain the work or place the work in the student’s academic record. The administration of St. Mary’s also retains the right to request the original work from the instructor and may place it in the student’s academic record, store the work elsewhere (e.g., in the library or in a special collection of submitted projects), or discard the work if the student fails to retrieve it in a timely manner after being asked to do so.

It is St. Mary’s policy to retain all student work about which the instructor or administration has raised questions about its academic integrity.

It is the student’s responsibility to retain a copy of all work submitted for evaluation, including written materials, electronic files, and work submitted on other media such as audiotapes and video tapes.

Partnership Programs

Partner schools may have additional policies and procedures. MDiv students should see the website of Lancaster Theological Seminary.