School of Theology and Ministry
The Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (STM) is an international theological center that serves the Church’s mission in the world as part of a Catholic and Jesuit university. The school prepares its students for ministries that are as diverse as the composition of the student body—Jesuits and other candidates approved for ordination studies, women and men for lay ecclesial ministries and for service rooted in faith. The STM is committed to the Catholic theological tradition, rigorous academic inquiry, interdisciplinary study, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and the engagement of faith and culture. The STM offers graduate degrees, including civil and ecclesiastical degrees, and certificate programs in theology and ministry that integrate intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, and personal formation. The STM reaches out to larger theological and pastoral communities through the publication of New Testament Abstracts and through a variety of continuing education programs (online and on campus) that provide access to world-class theological and pastoral scholarship. For more information, visit the STM website at bc.edu/stm.
Admissions and Financial Aid
Applying to the School of Theology and Ministry is straightforward; however, each program has specific requirements. Be sure to review carefully the requirements for your program of study. Access to the online application can be found through the STM website at bc.edu/stmapply.
- Ph.D. and S.T.D.: January 15
- All other degrees: January 15 (for priority financial aid consideration)
- Post-Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation: April 15 (priority deadline)
- Intensive on the Nineteenth Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises: April 15 (priority deadline)
- M.A. and Non-Degree Programs: June 1 (for priority financial aid consideration)
Spring Admission (Except Ph.D. and S.T.D.)
- November 15 (for priority financial aid consideration)
Note: With the exception of the Ph.D. in Theology and Education and the S.T.D., applications are still considered after the priority deadline, as space allows.
The application form to STM must be completed online. In addition to demographic and academic information, applicants should upload their personal statement, resume, and transcripts at the time they submit their application forms.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their application materials as soon as possible and before the posted deadlines. You do not need to wait until you have gathered all of your supporting materials to submit the application form.
- Application Fee
A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for every degree and non-degree application submitted. Fee waivers are automatically granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, applicants currently completing a year of service or who are Pell Grant-eligible, veterans, and current STM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.
- Personal Statement
The personal statement must be uploaded as part of the Application Form. Your statement should be three pages double-spaced and address the following:
- The academic, professional, and personal development that has motivated you to apply to the STM. Include a sketch of your educational background and interests, any experience you have in ministry and/or religious education, and any other relevant professional and volunteer experience;
- Your understanding of theological education and/or ministry in the context of the Church’s mission;
- How you plan to apply your theological education;
- Given your experience, how you assess your principal strengths for theological education and/or ministry as well as your areas of needed development;
- For the Ph.D., S.T.D., S.T.L., and Th.M. programs, please provide information outlining your specific area and field of academic interest, a proposed topic(s) for your research and dissertation/thesis, how your previous academic, professional, and/or pastoral experience has prepared you for studies within that particular field, and the STM faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work;
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae
- Letters of Recommendation
Degree applicants are required to submit three recommendations using the online application system. Certificate applicants are required to submit at least one recommendation. Each recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s academic competence. For applicants who have been out of school for a significant amount of time, the recommenders should be familiar with the applicant’s professional competence. For M.Div. and M.A. applicants, one recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s ministerial potential and experience.
- GRE Scores
GRE scores are optional, but preferred if an applicant feels that their transcripts do not reflect their capacity for success in graduate studies, or if they do not have a background in the humanities. For students who send scores, they need to be received directly from ETS. Our GRE code is 2508. Please reach out to the admissions office if you have questions.
- Personal Interview
A personal interview is required of master’s applicants. The Admissions Office will contact applicants to set up an interview virtually.
- Writing Sample
A writing sample is required of Ph.D., S.T.D., and S.T.L. applicants only. The writing sample must be uploaded as part of the Application Form. The sample should be an academic paper, usually no less than 10 pages, not to exceed 25 pages. S.T.D. applicants are also required to submit a copy of their S.T.L. thesis upon its completion.
One copy of each transcript is required from all colleges, universities, seminaries, or theological schools that an applicant has attended. If a college or university will send official transcripts electronically, they can be emailed to email@example.com. Unofficial copies of transcripts may be uploaded by the applicant with the Application Form. If transcripts must be mailed, they can be sent to the address below. If an official transcript is not English, a translation should be provided with the official document. Please alert us if your transcript will be arriving with a different name than the one you are using on your application.
For supporting material sent by the U.S. Postal Service, please use the following address:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Simboli Hall 224
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
For applicants using FedEx or UPS, please use this address:
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Simboli Hall 224
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135-3841
Jesuit scholastic applicants must follow the instructions above. Jesuits requiring financial assistance should have their provincial be in touch with the Rector of the St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community as soon as possible, so he may submit names to the U.S. Jesuit Conference. The provincial will need to indicate an intent to mission the student to STM, request housing, and indicate if financial funding is needed. The rector will then let an applicant and his provincial know what steps need to be completed. All Jesuit scholastic applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee.
In addition, Jesuit applicants are asked to complete a FERPA release form as part of the application process. This form will be sent by the admissions office and allows us to communicate with the rector of the Saint Peter Faber Community and other religious superiors about your application and, potentially, academic and financial matters while you are a student at Boston College.
Non-Jesuit Religious Applicants
Religious applicants who are not Jesuits must also follow the instructions above. Religious applicants requiring scholarship and parish or convent housing assistance should apply by January 15 for the fall semester. All religious applicants are reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Lastly, if accepted, the Office of Admissions will work with the Office of International Students and Scholars to process all visa documentation for international applicants.
In addition, non-Jesuit religious applicants are asked to complete a FERPA release form as part of the application process. This form will be sent by the admissions office and allows us to communicate with your vocation director and/or other religious superiors about your application and, potentially, academic and financial matters while you are a student at Boston College.
No materials submitted as part of the application for admission can be returned or forwarded to a third party. The Admissions Committee will not consider an application until it is complete.
The Admissions Committee takes into account all of the material submitted with the application: grade point average (GPA), GRE or other standardized test scores (if applicable), TOEFL (for international students), letters of recommendation, work and/or volunteer experience, and personal statement—where we look for a high level of intellectual, social, and religious maturity.
Acceptance to an STM degree program is not guaranteed and is very competitive. Therefore, estimates of the likelihood of acceptance cannot be given to any applicant.
Scholarship and Grant Funding
As an international theological center providing outstanding academic resources and an intimate community for its members, we want to help you finance your studies and make it possible for you to join us. Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (STM) offers generous funding through several types of financial assistance. When you complete the STM Application, you are automatically considered for all financial assistance for which you may be eligible from the STM.
Tuition scholarships are based on considerations of academic achievement, potential for ministry, demonstrated leadership, and financial need. Funding is generally renewable at the same level in years following the student’s initial award year, assuming the student’s need and academic standing do not change markedly. Prospective students are encouraged to contact the admissions office for questions regarding the funding of their studies.
Federal Student Loans
In addition to scholarship and grant funding, the University participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program. Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, minus any funding they are receiving from the STM through the Direct Loan Program. To apply for the Stafford loan, you will need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and also complete and submit the Boston College Graduate Financial Aid Application/Validation. Information and forms are available through the Boston College Office of Student Services located in Lyons Hall. Go to bc.edu/gradaid or call 617-552-3300 for more information. Please note that Federal Stafford loans are only available for U.S. citizens and residents. Please also note that Federal loans are not available to S.T.B., S.T.L., or S.T.D. degree seeking students, certificate seeking students, or non-degree seeking students.
Notification of your funding will occur after a decision is made regarding your admission into the STM.
Please note that if you receive a scholarship after you receive your loan package, your loan package may have to be adjusted. Federal regulations limit the total amount of aid (including student loans) a student can receive. Contact the Boston College Office of Student Services if you have any questions about Federal loans.
International Student Admission Requirements
As an international theological center, STM represents the changing landscape of the Catholic Church on the global stage by training priests, lay ministers, and theologians from over forty nations. While we continue to attract and train students from North America and Europe, more and more, the future leadership of the Church is emerging from South America, Africa, India, and Asia. STM is a part of this movement, training some of the first indigenous professors of seminaries, universities, and theological centers in those regions.
We encourage clergy, religious men and women, and lay students from all countries to apply to our programs. Below is important information that you should consider before applying.
Applicants only start securing a visa after they have been accepted to a program. No work on the part of the international applicant needs to be done toward a visa until after they receive a letter of admission, have confirmed intent to enroll, and have proven financial ability for studies. (See next page.)
After Being Accepted
After being accepted, the Admissions Office will send you the Declaration and Certification of Finances form for the I-20 document. Filling out and returning these forms to the STM Admissions Office will start the process of obtaining an F-1, or student, visa to study in the United States, as long as you meet the financial and English language requirements.
International students, who are also Diocesan priests, must obtain priestly Faculties to serve as priests in the Boston Archdiocese. The student’s bishop or major superior must write to the Archbishop of Boston, requesting housing and facilities to function as a priest in the area. A copy of this letter should be sent to STM. Boston College can only issue an I-20, after such facilities have been secured.
All applicants for whom English is not their native language must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. This can be demonstrated by an acceptable score on the TOEFL or IELTS exams or by receiving a degree from a college or university at which English is the language of instruction.
Acceptable scores can be found below. Students cannot be accepted into any STM program without an acceptable score:
- TOEFL: 85. When taking the exam, include STM's institutional code—3971—so that your scores may be sent directly to the school.
- IELTS: 7.5 (band score)
These tests are not required if:
- You are a citizen of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean.
- You earned your prior college or university degree in the U.S. or one of the countries listed above.
- You are currently enrolled as a full-time student in a U.S. degree-granting program or at an American or English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above and will have completed two academic years of college/university work before beginning your studies at Boston College.
For those who choose to submit GRE scores, STM’s GRE code is 2508.
Educational Testing Service
P.O. Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541
Permission of Superior
All diocesan priests and members of religious orders must submit a letter of approval and financial support from their bishop or major superior. The letter must indicate complete knowledge and support for your studies indicating degree and semester of initial enrollment. The letter must be on official letterhead and signed by your superior or bishop. The letter should be addressed to the Associate Dean, Graduate Enrollment Management and must contain contact information.
The United States Government requires all international students to prove that they have the financial means to support themselves while studying in the United States. If you are a member of the clergy or a religious, you need to document by either a bank statement or letter of support from your bishop or congregation that you have funds to live and study in the U.S. The U.S. Embassy will not issue you a visa if you do not have the necessary funds. Any tuition costs not covered by STM scholarship funds must be documented.
Financial Aid Scholarships
The cost of higher education in the United States is high. STM awards partial tuition grants to international students, depending on availability, to help ease their financial burden. Students must be enrolled in a degree seeking program. Students must exhibit an exemplary academic record and personal potential. Students should be aware that, even if receiving a tuition grant, they still must obtain support to pay for their living expenses. Unfortunately, Federal loans are not available to those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
All international students must show that they have sufficient funds or resources to pay for their tuition and living expenses during the course of their studies, whether support comes in the form of scholarships, grants, or support from a religious order or personal bank account. Applicants do not need to supply evidence of sufficient resources with their applications. Once accepted, the admissions office will send a form where one can document resources. No additional funding will be available to international students once they arrive in the United States.
Boston College does not offer on-campus housing for graduate students. International lay students are encouraged to contact the STM admissions office and the Boston College’s Off-Campus Housing Office, if they are interested in learning more about resources to help them locate housing. International diocesan priests and members of religious orders usually find housing with area parishes or religious communities. International religious sisters are encouraged to contact the admissions office if they are in need of housing.
Graduate Degree Programs
The School of Theology and Ministry offers graduate students a number of degree-granting programs. Our degree programs prepare students for ministries that are as diverse as the composition of the student body—Jesuits and other candidates approved for ordination studies, women and men for lay ecclesial ministries and for service rooted in faith, and scholars preparing for a career in academia.
Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
The School’s most comprehensive program, the three-year M.Div. program offers a course of theological, pastoral, and spiritual formation to prepare students for ordained ministry, professional lay ecclesial ministry, or doctoral studies. M.Div. students at the STM have a demonstrated passion for ministry and service to the world, and often go on to careers in parish ministry, campus ministry, chaplaincy, teaching, and non-profit work.
Student Learning Outcomes for the M.Div. Program
Upon completion of the M.Div. Program, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the Catholic theological tradition.
- Bring the insights of the Catholic theological tradition into dialogue with contemporary social and religious issues.
- Integrate theological thinking and ministerial practice.
- Demonstrate capacities conducive to effective ministry.
Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry (M.A.)
The M.A. in Theology and Ministry prepares students for a wide variety of ministries. Designed for students of all ages and career backgrounds, this two-year program (48 credits in the academic year) combines theological study with the pastoral arts. Graduates of the program go on to careers in parish ministry and administration, ministry in Hispanic and/or multicultural communities, campus ministry, religious education, high school religion teaching, spiritual direction, faith-based social service, and hospital chaplaincy, among others.
For the most flexibility, students in the M.A. Theology and Ministry utilize their electives to explore theological and pastoral areas of interest. Those wishing to do so can choose a specific track in either Hispanic Ministry or Religious Education.
The M.A. in Theology and Ministry can also be completed in a hybrid mode through a combination of on-campus courses and online courses taken throughout the year. Students enrolled in the hybrid mode will be guided by our faculty advisors to craft the best program of study and sequence of courses for them. They can take advantage of our on-campus course offerings throughout the academic year, take online courses, and take courses over the summer sessions. Through an intensive program of study, it is possible to complete the program in 3 years. However, students have up to 5 years to complete the M.A. program.
In collaboration with other BC professional schools, the M.A. Theology and Ministry can be combined with an M.S.W., M.B.A., M.A. Counseling Psychology, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (through a partnership with Boston College’s Urban Catholic Teacher Corps).
Student Learning Outcomes for the M.A. in Theology and Ministry
Upon completion of the M.A. program, students should be able to:
- Bring informed theological, biblical, and pastoral resources to interpret and to enhance the life and ministry of faith-based communities and programs of service;
- Embody the pastoral and spiritual formation that is needed to provide leadership and empowerment to communities of faith through various functions of ministry and service;
- Develop effective programs of ministry and service that are well grounded in theological and pastoral studies and that enable persons and communities to integrate life and Christian faith in the context of their everyday lives.
Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
The two-year M.T.S. program (48 credits) offers a broad study of theology with the option to specialize in an area of particular interest. With a flexible curriculum and a special focus on scholarship, the M.T.S. is especially appropriate for students who intend to pursue doctoral studies in theology. The program is also appropriate for students seeking personal reflection and theological development.
Student Learning Outcomes for the M.T.S. program:
Upon completion of the M.T.S. program, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the Bible, its historical contexts and methods of interpretation;
- Articulate methodologies of moral reasoning in relation to Scripture, Tradition, and experience, demonstrated by literacy in a specific area of interest;
- Demonstrate knowledge of Christian tradition, articulated in systematic thought on Christology, ecclesiology, or fundamental theology;
- Demonstrate critical knowledge of the historical development of the Christian church, its institutions, practices and teachings; and
- Articulate methodologies of pastoral studies and practical theology, and demonstrate a capacity for interdisciplinary and contextual analysis for Christian discipleship.
Doctor of Philosophy, Theology and Education (Ph.D.)
The Ph.D. program educates scholars in the interdisciplinary field of religious education. Participants take courses in theology, education, and religious education; faculty members from each of these areas serve on both the comprehensive examination committee and on the dissertation committee. The program is offered in conjunction with the Boston College Theology Department and the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and the degree is awarded by the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.
Master of Theology (Th.M.)
The Th.M. is a one-year, post-master’s degree (24 credits) that is intended to deepen and focus a student’s foundational knowledge of theological disciplines and ministerial practice. Th.M. graduates come from various backgrounds and go on to use their experience in a diverse array of professions. Graduates take their Th.M. education and serve as teachers, administrators, medical doctors, advocates for refugees and human rights, and ecumenical ministers, as well as in numerous other capacities. Lay students who have already completed a master of divinity and who are interested in pursuing doctoral work, but believe they need additional course work, might also consider the master of theology.
Student Learning Outcomes for the Th.M. Program
Graduates of the Th.M. program will be able to demonstrate:
- At the completion of the Th.M. in Advanced Theological Study, a student will be able to demonstrate competence in a particular area of theological studies beyond the Master’s level (i.e. at the level of an advanced master’s degree). (THM-ATS)
- At the completion of the Th.M. in Ministerial Practice, a student will be able to articulate an advanced theological understanding of and demonstrate competence in a focused area of ministry. (THM-MP)
The ecclesiastical degrees are part of a three-degree cycle offered by an ecclesiastical faculty and granted in the name of the Holy See. The degrees provide training in advanced theological areas, preparing students to teach in a seminary or for religious and lay leadership positions in the Catholic Church.
The Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) is a first-level, three-year ecclesiastical degree granted in the name of the Holy See through the ecclesiastical faculty of the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) by virtue of its status as an Ecclesiastical Faculty accredited by the Vatican Congregation of Catholic Education. Admission to the S.T.B. Program requires two full years of coursework in philosophy (30 credit hours). The S.T.B Curriculum is fundamentally academic with an established curriculum of required courses determined by Veritatis Gaudium. Unlike the M.Div., it does not include electives or course work in Pastoral/Ministerial Studies, other than those courses specifically required for ordination. It prepares one to pursue the Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), a second-level, research-oriented ecclesiastical degree also offered by the STM.
The Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) is the second degree in a three-degree progression of ecclesiastical degrees. The S.T.L. enables students to build upon previous work and focus more on a particular subject or field within a Catholic context. An advanced degree, it provides students with two full years of work above and beyond the S.T.B. or M.Div. Students use the S.T.L. to continue work in Catholic theological studies, prepare for doctoral work, or teach or build competence for working within the Church. Officially, it is “the academic degree which enables one to teach in a major seminary or equivalent school.” The S.T.L. can open many doors for service in the Church, and in a number of official capacities within dioceses, religious communities, and institutions of higher learning.
Student Learning Outcome for the S.T.L. Program
At the completion of the degree requirements for the S.T.L., students will be able to demonstrate advanced mastery of a particular area of theological studies beyond the first cycle Ecclesiastical degree.
The Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) is the culminating step in the three-degree ecclesiastical program. The purpose of the S.T.D. program is to create scholars who combine broad knowledge of a certain area, a critical knowledge of theological methodology, and an ability to contribute original research in a chosen field of study. Most students who complete the S.T.D. go on to teach in university faculties, seminaries, and theological centers. They also contribute to Church administration and pastoral work, using their extensive study, training, and expertise as resources for their community. Students interested in the S.T.D. usually have discerned a vocation of working within the Catholic Church or a related environment. As with the S.T.L., the S.T.D. can open many doors for service in the Church, and in a number of official capacities within dioceses, religious communities, and institutions of higher learning.
Student Learning Outcomes for the S.T.D. Program
At the end of the S.T.D. program, students will be able to demonstrate the skills necessary
- To teach at the post-secondary level
- To engage in scholarly research in preparation for teaching and publication
- To demonstrate a sufficient level of mastery in a particular discipline, which corresponds to the expectations of the academy of the completion of a terminal degree
The School of Theology and Ministry is committed to providing the opportunity for professional development and ongoing formation for today’s Church. Every person interested in exploring the important issues of the Church today can find a workshop, lecture, or course to meet his or her interest—whether professional or personal. Our programs are designed to fit into a variety of schedules, with day, evening, weekend, and online programs during the academic year, as well as one- or three-week courses held during the summer at STM.
Academic Certificate Programs
Post-Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation
The Post-Master's Certificate prepares ministers with a prior master's degree in theology or a related field to be spiritual mentors for persons and Christian faith communities. This program highlights three themes—prayer and discernment, the art of spiritual direction, and working within faith communities.
Theology and Ministry Certificate
The Theology and Ministry Certificate is a flexible 18-credit program for individuals who wish to study either a specialized area of ministry or an expansive range of theological areas, but not enroll in a full master’s program.
Religious Education Certificate
The Religious Education Certificate is an 18-credit program for individuals who wish to study religious education, but not enroll in a full master’s program. Intended for educators in Catholic high schools and catechists in parishes who want to concentrate their knowledge, this certificate program is designed to adapt to student’s needs.
Hispanic Ministry Certificate
The Hispanic Ministry Certificate is an 18-credit program designed to prepare students, ministers, and educators who are already working or are interested in doing so in the context of Hispanic communities anywhere in the U.S.
Christian Spirituality Certificate
The Christian Spirituality Certificate is an 18-credit program that enables persons who are personally or professionally interested in the study of Christian spirituality to delve into historical and contemporary Christian spiritual traditions, themes, and practices with an eye toward effective spiritual leadership today. Teachers, pastors, ministers, and those drawn to spiritual formation work will benefit from this focused study of Christian Spirituality.
Ignatian Spirituality Certificate
The Ignatian Spirituality Certificate is an 18-credit program that prepares persons to assume leadership in specifically Ignatian spiritual formation. It makes possible careful study of a highly influential Christian spiritual tradition, giving sustained attention to Ignatian and Jesuit spiritual themes and practices, pedagogy and leadership.
Spiritual and Pastoral Care Certificate
The Spiritual and Pastoral Care Certificate is an 18-credit program that provides nurses, counselors, social workers, and parish pastoral care givers with an opportunity to explore the intersection of Spirituality Studies and Pastoral Care in ways that deepen their ministerial and faith-based service.
Summer at STM
The STM offers an array of courses that can be used toward a degree program or taken for personal or professional development. Students in the M.A. Hybrid program often complete much of their in-person coursework during the summer session.
Special Students at Boston College are those students wishing to take one or more classes in the academic year. As a Special Student at STM you may earn academic credit without enrolling in a degree program. Regular tuition applies and up to 12 credit hours may be taken. Should you later enroll in an STM degree program, the credits you earn will count toward your degree. Special Students may cross-register at other BTI schools, as long as they take one course at STM. Special Students are also allowed to take select courses for audit for one-half of the credit cost.
Boston College STM offers a special audit rate for those currently engaged in full-time ministry (ministers, lay ecclesial ministers, priests, rabbis, and others) who live in the vicinity and who hold a theological degree. Minister-in-the-Vicinity students can audit one course per semester at the rate of $100 per credit hour.
Academic Policies and Procedures
Academic Integrity at Boston College
Academic integrity is taken quite seriously at Boston College and by the dean and faculty of the School of Theology and Ministry in particular. STM abides by the University policy on academic integrity to be found in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog. The roles and responsibilities of students, faculty, and deans with regard to promoting academic integrity can be found there as well. STM students are strongly encouraged to become familiar with these policies and procedures, as they are held responsible for this knowledge. Students with questions regarding what constitutes a violation of Boston College’s Academic Integrity Policy, especially with regard to specific courses and assignments, are invited and encouraged to ask these questions of their professors and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
STM Academic Integrity Procedures and Tutorial
Each member of the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) community is responsible for supporting a teaching and learning environment that cultivates the necessary habits of heart and mind that are rooted in the Gospel. Because each violation of academic integrity—whether intentional or unintentional—harms our common goal to create an academic culture of honesty, all violations are taken seriously at the STM. Faculty members are responsible for promoting academic integrity in their courses by including a clear statement in their syllabi of the school’s policy and by discussing this policy in class at the beginning of the semester. Faculty are also responsible for promptly reporting violations of academic integrity as they occur. Consistent with the expectations set forth at Boston College, STM students are personally responsible for upholding academic honesty in all aspects of their work and should hold their peers accountable when they suspect that a questionable act of academic dishonesty has taken place, either by directly addressing the violation as it is happening or by informing the appropriate individuals (a trusted faculty member or dean).
Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to, plagiarism. Students are responsible for educating themselves about what constitutes plagiarism and the inappropriate use of sources in an academic context. Any reference to the ideas or insights of others, either in direct quotation or in paraphrase, should be given explicit and clear attribution; to fail to do so is intellectually dishonest. Other instances of academic dishonesty include:
- Unauthorized collaboration on papers, presentations, assignments, and exams
- Unauthorized use of materials and sources in assignments and examinations
- Collusion with the intent to deceive
- Knowingly allowing your work to be used by others in an academically dishonest way
- Submitting the same work for two different courses
- Misrepresenting work that has been purchased or written by someone else as your own
- Lying in order to secure an extension on an assignment, to reschedule an exam, or to manipulate an outcome of a course requirement
- Cheating or copying from another student
- Fabricating stories or otherwise misrepresenting data in conversations related to training in counseling, CPE, and spiritual direction
- Inappropriate use of confidential information and inappropriate use of privileged access to spaces or information
In order to cultivate an academic culture of honesty, faculty are asked to document all instances of academic dishonesty, even if the assignment itself is not graded or the violation did not result in a grading penalty. Violations of academic integrity are taken seriously because of the mission of the STM to prepare students for leadership in teaching and active ministry in the global Church where students will be expected to promote a culture of integrity after leaving the STM.
STM Review Process
Cases are reviewed by the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC), which is constituted by (usually four) members of the faculty, one student, and the associate dean for academic affairs (hereafter “academic dean”). The chair of the AIC is a faculty person appointed by the Dean of the STM. All cases are handled with strict confidentiality. When a faculty member determines that a student’s work violates the standards of academic integrity, that faculty member should discuss the violation with the student, ideally in person, or in writing. The violation should be described and documented in a letter and sent to the academic dean along with the following supporting documents:
- Course syllabus with the instructions for the assignment highlighted
- The student’s work
- Evidence that a violation has taken place (e.g., copy of the original publication)
Along with the supporting documentation, the faculty person should clearly state if the violation will or will not incur a grade penalty, and, if so, what the faculty member thinks that penalty should be.
For instances where there is no grade penalty, either because the assignment itself is not graded or because it is a low-weighted assignment, faculty should submit the necessary documentation and a clear explanation for why no penalty was issued in a confidential sealed envelope addressed to the academic dean. The chair of the AIC and the academic dean will meet to determine whether or not a violation has taken place. For these instances where a violation does not incur a grading penalty, an individual meeting between the student and the academic dean may or may not be scheduled. The academic dean will issue a warning letter documenting the violation to the student and to the faculty member. All paperwork associated with the violation will be archived in the office of the academic dean in a confidential file until the student graduates, at which point it will be destroyed. Such instances are considered to be minor violations or warning violations.
If the faculty member decides that the violation is serious enough to warrant a grade penalty, the following procedure will be followed: The faculty person should meet with the student in person or explain the situation by email. This communication should discuss the nature of the academic integrity violation and also how to avoid such violations in the future. There should be a clear statement about the grade for the work without the violation and the additional penalty that is being imposed for the violation. The penalty for the academic integrity violation should take into account the severity of the violation, the complexity of the assignment, and the weight of the assignment. Grade penalties for students found guilty of academic integrity violations should also consider the degree of premeditation involved. If violations of academic integrity occur towards the end of the semester, faculty should issue the final course grade of “I” until the AIC review process has been completed. The faculty person should document, in a letter addressed to the AIC, the meeting with the student, and the grade and grade penalty for the assignment, and forward this letter and all supporting documentation to the academic dean in a confidential file.
Every violation that incurs a grade penalty will fall under full review by the AIC and the academic dean. Upon receiving a report of an academic integrity violation, the academic dean will notify the student of the allegation and set up a meeting with him or her. The student will receive the report of the academic integrity violation report that has been submitted by the faculty member and the grade penalty for the violation. The student will have the chance to respond to the faculty member’s report in an individual meeting with the academic dean, and also be invited to submit his or her response in writing, so that it can be reviewed by the AIC. While a case is pending, the student may not withdraw from the course or program or change status in a course. The academic dean will serve as a non-voting member of and administrative resource for the AIC, acting as a liaison between the student and the AIC and maintaining the committee's record of notifications and relevant materials. In cases involving students from more than one school or students enrolled in joint or dual degree programs, the academic dean will coordinate the relevant academic integrity committees to participate in the review process.
The academic dean will notify the faculty member who reported the violation and the student(s) that the case is under full review by the AIC. Members of the AIC are held to strict confidentiality and may not discuss any case that is under review, even with the student(s) involved. At its discretion, the AIC as a whole may interview any individual, including the student, with knowledge pertinent to the case.
The AIC will review all cases involving a grade penalty. First, the AIC will determine whether or not a violation of academic integrity has taken place by a simple majority vote. Then, the AIC will assess the reasonableness of the penalty that has been given by the faculty member and either approve or reject the grade penalty. The AIC always reserves the right to make its own recommendation for a grade penalty based on the confidential information that it has about the student’s previous record of violations. Because academic integrity is a serious matter at the STM, instances of multiple violations are handled severely and may even result in dismissal from the School. The AIC may recommend a different grading penalty and/or impose additional administrative penalties, such as university probation, suspension, or expulsion, all of which become part of a student’s academic record and will be reported to graduate/professional schools and outside agencies. The academic dean is responsible for communicating the decisions of the AIC in writing to both the student and the faculty member.
The academic dean is also responsible for tracking all violations of academic integrity. A complete file of each case will be kept in a confidential file in the academic dean’s office until the student leaves the school or graduates. Unless the penalties include an action which is by its nature public (see examples above), the case will not be reported to outside agencies or institutions.
Appeal of the committee’s decision may be made by written request to the Dean of the STM no later than ten days following notice of the committee’s decision. The Dean's decision will be final.
STM Academic Integrity Tutorial
This online tutorial, developed by STM faculty, students, and administrators (with assistance from offices across the University) reviews different instances where academic integrity is in question and introduces students to the academic culture at the STM. As well, the tutorial serves as an introduction to good research practices and resources in theology and ministry at the graduate level. The tutorial is required of all new STM degree and certificate students in their first semester or summer of study. Students who do not complete the tutorial by the deadline set each semester by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will not be able to register for courses for the following term. Information regarding the administration of the tutorial will be given at new student orientation and by e-mail from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
University Communication Policies and Student Responsibilities
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Absences for Religious Reasons
The STM follows the policy set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Students are free to form mentoring relationships with all STM faculty, including but not limited to their assigned advisors, and are encouraged to form these relationships particularly with those faculty working in the student’s area of academic or ministerial interest. STM faculty welcome the opportunity to mentor students.
All students are assigned a faculty advisor for the purpose of course selection upon entry into an STM degree program. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their advisors once per semester to choose courses for the following semester. Consulting the advisor ensures that when it comes time for graduation the student will have fulfilled the requirements of his or her program. Conversely, students who do not consult advisors risk not having fulfilled their requirements and then needing to take extra courses in order to do so before they graduate. Please consult the STM Academic Advising Student Resource Guide for course selection information, advising resources, and tips and tools to make the most out of your advising session.
Faculty advisors are assigned based on the student’s degree program and an equitable distribution of advising among the faculty. Because advising is so important to the student’s academic success, students should feel comfortable with their faculty advisors. Students who wish to change their advisor may do so by contacting the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, requesting and giving the reason for the change, and identifying the faculty person whom the student wishes to have as his or her advisor moving forward. The Associate Dean will handle the matter in a way that is respectful to all parties.
The Academic Grievance Policy of the School of Theology and Ministry provides a procedure for the constructive and timely resolution of serious academic grievances of students against faculty members. An academic grievance is defined as a complaint by a currently enrolled graduate student against a member of the faculty related to a serious academic matter that has had an adverse effect on the student’s learning or ability to perform to the best of his/her ability.
Ordinarily, questions related to a course grade are not considered cause for setting in motion an academic grievance, unless the disputed grade is judged to be evidence of a broader issue or concern related to instruction, communication, access, availability, accountability and/ or fairness on the part of the professor. If a student’s only issue is the grade itself, the matter should be addressed directly with the professor either in person or in writing. It is the professor’s prerogative to alter or uphold the grade. In this case, the decision of the professor is final. If a student wishes to dispute a grade based on one of the alleged broader issues named above, a student may use the Academic Grievance Process to do this. The decision-makers in the Academic Grievance Process will consider only how the broader issues affected the student’s grade; they will not abrogate the professor’s prerogative to evaluate the academic quality of the student’s work.
Resolution of grievances should involve all parties working cooperatively and respectfully to obtain resolutions acceptable to all parties involved. The grievance process first strives for mediated outcomes and only moves to directed outcomes when such efforts at mediation fail. All parties should seek resolutions at the lowest possible administrative level. The grievance should be initiated no later than the end of the sixth week of the semester immediately following the one in which the action giving rise to the complaint occurred—for example, a grievance arising from spring semester must be initiated before the end of the fall semester.
Any student who believes he or she has a grievance should communicate with the faculty member(s) immediately involved as soon as possible after the action being grieved, but by no later than the close of the fall or spring semester immediately following the term in which the action giving rise to the complaint occurred. If communication results in a mutually acceptable solution, the matter shall be considered closed. If either party wishes to have a written statement of the outcome, the parties shall put the solution in writing, sign it, and each retain a copy.
If, however, a resolution acceptable to all parties is not achieved, the student may present the matter in writing in a timely manner—ordinarily, “a timely manner” suggests no more than ten business days; in this case, that means ten business days from the date of the unsuccessful effort to achieve a negotiated resolution—to the chairperson of the department in which the faculty member(s) resides administratively. The written statement must clearly specify: (a) the nature of the complaint and (b) the remedy requested. The chairperson should proceed in the following manner. If the chairperson is a party to the grievance, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall act in his/her stead:
(A) After consultation with both the student and the faculty member(s) affected, the chairperson should proceed in a timely manner either to mediate the matter personally or assign it for mediation to one or more members of the department.
(B) The chairperson or designated faculty mediator(s) shall then meet formally with the faculty member(s) involved and obtain a written answer to the grievance with a full explanation of the faculty member(s)’ position. After a full investigation, the chairperson or assigned mediator(s) should meet again with the faculty member(s) and student involved, either separately, or jointly, or both, in order to work out a settlement of the problem. If the chairperson or assigned mediator(s) succeeds in resolving the grievance, he/she shall put the agreement in writing, obtain the signatures of all parties to the document, and provide copies of the agreement to all parties involved in the process.
Should the chairperson or assigned mediator not obtain a resolution, the chairperson, after conducting such further proceedings as he/ she may determine to be necessary or desirable in his/her sole discretion, shall prepare a written decision and provide a copy of it to the student and the faculty member(s) involved.
A student grievant may appeal a decision of the department chairperson to the Dean. The appeal must be made in writing within ten business days of the decision of the department chairperson and must specify clearly: (a) the nature of the grievance; (b) the remedy sought; and (c) the reason or reasons why the proposed resolution emanating from step (III) above is not acceptable. Upon receiving the written appeal, the Dean or the Dean’s designees must meet with the chairperson, faculty member(s) and student involved, separately or jointly, to seek a timely solution to the issues. If such procedures produce a resolution acceptable to all parties involved, it shall be put in writing and copies given to all of the parties.
If no resolution acceptable to all parties is achieved, the Dean or the Dean’s designees shall expeditiously gather all written statements and evidence accumulated up to that point and conduct such review or such further proceedings, including hearings, as the Dean or the Dean’s designees may determine in their sole discretion to be reasonably necessary to reaching an ultimate disposition of the issue(s). In the event of a hearing, the faculty member(s) and student shall each be entitled to bring, for consultative purposes only, an advisor from the School of Theology and Ministry or the wider Boston College community. If the above process achieves a resolution acceptable to all parties, the Dean or the Dean’s designee(s) must put the agreement in writing, obtain the signatures of all parties to the document, and provide copies of the agreement to all of the parties.
If the Dean or the Dean’s designee(s) does not achieve a resolution acceptable to all parties, the Dean shall in ten working days convey his/ her decision and report (or the report of his/her designee(s) as applicable) to the chairperson and the parties involved. The Dean’s decision shall be final.
Students are responsible for being familiar with and following the attendance policy in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog. In addition, each instructor has the right to specify their own, more stringent, attendance policy for a course, provided it is clearly defined in the syllabus.
In order to complete and achieve successfully the objectives of an STM course, students must attend the course meetings in order to engage the professor and fellow students in the teaching and learning dynamic. Unless other arrangements are made with the instructor, a student must withdraw from a course in which he or she has been absent for any reason for 25% or more of class meeting time. If a student with 25% or greater absence rate does not withdraw from the course, the student will be given a failing grade for the course.
Students enrolled in STM degree and certificate programs may audit courses and will be charged half the per-credit tuition rate. Students will not receive financial aid/tuition remission for audited courses and audited courses will not count toward degree programs (but may be counted toward certificate programs).
Students not enrolled in STM degree or certificate programs can apply through the Admissions Office to audit STM courses for half of the credit rate per course.
The STM has a reduced audit rate for Ministers-in-the-Vicinity. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information. The rate is limited.
Students cannot register to audit courses through their Agora accounts. Students should contact the STM Service Center or the Assistant Director for Financial Aid and Academic Services in order to register to audit a course.
For summer courses, students wishing to switch from credit to audit status must do so within one week of the start of the course.
Bias-Related Incidents: Reporting
As a graduate and professional school of Boston College, the School of Theology and Ministry rejects and condemns all forms of harassment, wrongful discrimination, and disrespect that occurs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, age, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, military status, or other legally protected status. In order to foster an open and respectful educational environment, the STM is committed to responding to any incident that impedes a student’s ability to learn, coexist peacefully, express ideas, or which impedes any other right listed in the Code of Student Conduct. This includes bias-related incidents that may occur between faculty or staff and students or between students themselves.
Students at the STM are encouraged to report bias-related incidents to Dr. Jennifer Bader, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs or Jacqueline Regan, Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Career Services. Students should also familiarize themselves with Boston College’s Hate Crimes and Bias-Related Incident Protocol for information on the different kinds of incidents, the process for reporting them, and the University’s responses to them. Students may also report bias-related incidents directly to the Office of Institutional Diversity using the Boston College Bias-Related Incident Report Form or through any of the other support resources at Boston College, such as University Counseling Services or the Office of Dean of Students. Students should also be aware that each member of the faculty and staff may have reporting obligations under our sexual misconduct policy.
For more information concerning the University’s policies surrounding harassment and incidents of bias, refer to the Boston College Notice of Nondiscrimination or visit the Policies and Compliance section of the Office of Institutional Diversity website.
Childbirth and Adoption Accommodation Policy
Boston College recognizes the importance of family issues to its graduate students. Eligibility requirements for this accommodation for students in the School of Theology and Ministry are as follows:
- The student must be the primary caregiver of a newborn child or an adoptive child under the age of 13 newly placed in the home.
- The student must be receiving a service stipend for work done at the School of Theology and Ministry.
- The student must be enrolled in courses full-time.
- The student must be in good academic standing.
- This student accommodation is not an employee medical leave or a leave of absence from the academic program.
- In connection with the birth of a child, a student is eligible for an accommodation extending for a period of up to eight consecutive weeks. A student who is the primary caregiver for an adoptive child under the age of 13 is eligible for an accommodation extending for a period of up to eight consecutive weeks immediately following the placement of the child in the home.
- During the accommodation period, the student will be relieved of the service requirements that accompany the student’s funding. During the remainder of the semester (before and/or after the accommodation period), the student’s supervisor will assign service duties consistent with the academic and/or administrative nature of the work for which the student was offered the stipend.
- During the accommodation period, the student may attend classes and work on course assignments to the extent possible. The student and the Associate Dean, Academic Affairs should work with the professors in these courses to adjust, to the extent reasonably possible, attendance requirements, assignment deadlines, and exam dates during the accommodation period. The Associate Dean and faculty instructors should work with the student to establish appropriate timetables for completing coursework and exams during the semester in which the accommodation is taken.
- Funding provided by the University, including funding for health insurance, if any, will continue during the accommodation period.
- The accommodation policy will not extend the total number of years of funding available to a student.
- For students with 9-month stipends, funding is for the academic year only.
- A student anticipating a childbirth or adoption accommodation must notify their faculty advisor and submit a written request to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Associate Dean for Finance and Administration. The Associate Dean will inform the other Associate Deans and the Dean of the STM of all such requests. Requests for accommodation should be made no less than three months before the expected start of the accommodation period in order to allow appropriate arrangements to be made to cover any administrative, teaching, TAing, or research responsibilities. The STM will work out specific arrangements with students, on a case-by-case basis, within the broad framework of this policy.
- Students funded by government grants or other external sources must follow the policies of their funding agency. If external funding is suspended or reduced during the accommodation period, the university will assume funding responsibility for the accommodation period. Details of the arrangement should be worked out in writing among the student and the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Finance and Administration, and reported to the Dean of the STM before the accommodation period begins.
Comprehensive and Synthesis Exams
Doctoral Students: S.T.D.
Consult the S.T.D. Handbook for more information about policies and procedures for comprehensive examinations. During the semesters in which a student is not registered for coursework but is preparing for and taking comprehensives, a student must be registered in TMST8528 S.T.D. Specialized Research. In accordance with the University policy on grading, comprehensive exams are graded Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.
Doctoral Students: Ph.D.
Consult the Ph.D. Prospectus for more information about policies and procedures for comprehensive examinations. During the semesters in which a student is not registered for coursework but is preparing for and taking comprehensives, a student must be registered in TMST9911 Doctoral Continuation. In accordance with the University policy on grading, comprehensive exams are graded Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.
M.Div. Students: Synthesis Exams
Synthesis exams are taken in the third (or for part-time students, the last) year of the M.Div. program. Consult the M.Div. Handbook and the M.Div. Program Director for more information about policies and procedures for the synthesis exams.
M.A. Students: Thesis Projects
For M.A. students, the Thesis Project serves as the comprehensive exam. Students wishing for more information about the Thesis Project should consult their faculty advisor and consult the Thesis Information Packet. In accordance with the University policy on grading comprehensive exams, Thesis Projects are graded Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.
M.Div. students may not enroll for more than fifteen (15) credits in any one semester. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will monitor compliance with this policy. Exceptions are given for M.Div. students wishing to register for a 1-credit module. Students should discuss the rationale for this choice and timing with their academic advisor prior to registering for the module.
For summer course loads, please see the policy on Summer Courses.
STM course numbers reveal two things about the course: the subject area and the level. The following is a key to STM Course Numbering:
- TMCE: Christian Ethics
- TMHC: History of Christianity
- TMNT: New Testament
- TMOT: Old Testament
- TMPS: Pastoral Studies
- TMPT: Practical Theology
- TMRE: Religious Education
- TMST: Systematic Theology
- TMTM: Courses that do not fit into a particular area listed above, (e.g., cross-listed courses and languages).
All courses offered at the BC STM are rigorous, graduate courses appropriate for students in graduate degree programs. They presuppose graduate level academic scholarly work. Students wishing to take a course, but having questions about whether the course will be taught at an appropriate level for their needs should contact the instructor of the course directly.
- NP = No Prerequisites Required (course numbers 7000–7999)
This course is appropriate for students taking their first graduate course in a theological (sub) discipline or with topics or sources that are new to the students. No Prerequisites are required.
- P = Prerequisites Required (course numbers 8000–8499)
This course is appropriate for students seeking further study in a theological (sub) discipline or with theological topics or sources. The course has prerequisites, either in terms of general background (e.g., “a year of graduate studies in theology”) and/or course work (e.g., “one course in Christology” or “fundamental moral theology”). The prerequisites are indicated by the professor.
- D = Doctoral Seminar (course numbers 8500 and above)
This course is a doctoral level seminar. It may also be appropriate for S.T.L. and Th.M. students. Other advanced graduate students may apply. Department permission required.
In consultation with their faculty advisors, STM students may cross-register into courses at other universities and schools of theology through the following consortia: the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium (BTI), the Consortium, and Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality. More information is available in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog. Students can register for courses at BTI institutions by visiting the BTI website: bostontheological.org. Note that 50% of coursework required for a Boston College degree must be taken at Boston College, and that 50% of coursework for an ecclesiastical degree (S.T.B., S.T.L., S.T.D.) must be taken with the Ecclesiastical Faculty of the STM.
A student seeking to change degree programs should consult with their academic advisor and the degree program directors, if appropriate, and then make an appointment to discuss the matter with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Please download and follow the steps as indicated on the Degree Switch Checklist.
Directed Readings and Research
Directed readings and research may be pursued on a specialized topic not currently covered in the course offerings in the same year, depending on the availability of faculty to work with a student. Ordinarily, only one such project may be undertaken in the course of a master’s program. Subject matter and requirements must be worked out with the professor. The agreement must be put in writing on a Readings and Research form, obtainable online or through the STM Service Center, signed by both the student and faculty member, and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Doctoral Candidacy and Continuation
The STM follows the policy set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog. To register for doctoral continuation, Ph.D. students register for TMST991101 and S.T.D. students register for TMST852801.
Doctoral Dissertation Submission
In order to graduate, your graduation date must match your graduation date listed in Agora. If not, you must contact STM’s Assistant Director for Financial Aid and Academic Services to have this corrected. To qualify for graduation, you must deposit your completed dissertation with the University by the date indicated on the University Academic Calendar.
Submitting your Ph.D. Dissertation
Ph.D. students should consult the office or the website of the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences for further instructions on how to submit their dissertation and for policies related to Open Access and embargoes.
Submitting your S.T.D. Dissertation
Please review the S.T.D. Handbook for instructions on formatting and submitting your dissertation. Additional information on how to submit your dissertation is available at the Electronic Theses and Dissertations web page.
Open Access Policy for S.T.D. Dissertations
Upon submission of a completed S.T.D. dissertation in the School of Theology and Ministry, a student may request an embargo for not more than two years without special permission. To request an extension beyond two years, but for no more than five years, a student must submit a written rationale to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Requests for more than five years will be granted only for extraordinary reasons.
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Graduate full-time enrollment is as follows:
School of Theology and Ministry—9 or more credits
All students are considered half-time with 6 credits.
Students completing degree requirements in their final semester may be given exceptions to the school’s minimum credit standard for full-time status by their academic dean.
The credits amounts listed above are used to determine a student’s enrollment status for loan deferments, immunizations, medical insurance requirements, and verifications requested by other organizations.
Graduate students in the School of Theology and Ministry are full-time if enrolled in TMST8053, TMST8054, TMST8101, TMST8526, TMST8528, TMST8529, TMST8530, TMST8543, TMST8546, TMST9901, or TMST9911. MTS students can enroll in TMST8053 (MTS Thesis) in the last semester and should be considered full-time. Doctoral students are considered full-time if they are Graduate Assistants for academic departments, Teaching Fellows, or Research Assistants.
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Policies include information regarding the following:
- Exam schedules
- Students' responsibilities
- Obtaining permission for alternate arrangements if granted permission to do so
Foreign Language Requirements
Students should consult individual degree program handbooks/prospectuses for program-specific requirements.
See also the section below, Pass/Fail Policy: Language Courses Offered Through the STM.
A student in one or more of the following situations is considered under academic review:
- The student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below 3.0;
- The student receives a grade of “incomplete” for one-half or more of the courses taken in a single semester;
- The student has any incompletes that are not resolved by the end of the semester following the one in which the incomplete was obtained; and/or
- The student has two or more grades that are below what is considered “Passing” for his or her degree program.
If a student is under academic review, the student will be notified in writing by the associate dean for academic affairs. The student will have until the end of semester in which she or he receives this notice in writing to bring his/her GPA up to 3.0, to complete all incompletes, and/or to develop a plan to make up the work not passed. If a student does not do these things, the student loses good academic standing. The associate dean will engage the student’s faculty course selection advisor, the relevant department chair, and the associate dean for student affairs in a discussion as to whether and under what conditions the student may continue in his or her degree or certificate program.
The associate dean for academic affairs will also notify the associate dean for enrollment management of the names of all students who have lost good academic standing. As a result of these conversations, the student may be prevented from enrolling in further coursework, lose his or her financial aid, be dismissed from the University, or be given further conditions to meet in order to remain enrolled in the STM. The associate dean for academic affairs will communicate this information to the student in writing as soon as possible after the meeting.
Grades in the STM reflect the Academic Policies of Boston College for Graduate Courses as outlined in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog. In addition, the STM faculty has adopted the following grading guidelines:
The STM’s policy is articulated in relation to individual assignments; the principles, however, apply to the overall grade for a course.
- A (4.0) (94–100)
This is the highest grade awarded for individual assignments, and for a course as a whole. “A” indicates that a student’s work not only meets, but exceeds the requirements specified for an assignment, and does so in an exemplary manner. As such it should be rare and granted for exemplary work. The outstanding quality of the work includes, but is not limited to, evidence of breadth and depth in reading, insightful engagement with primary and secondary sources, and a well-constructed argument that is creative in its analysis and, where appropriate, underscores the pastoral implications of a topic. To receive an “A,” the assignment would be written in a way that is concise and compelling, while also conforming to accepted academic methodologies for the citation of sources.
- A- (3.67) (90–93)
This grade indicates that the work significantly exceeds the standards for a “B.” The professor’s comments will identify the area/s in which the assignment significantly exceeds the standards, such as its argument, methodology, range of reading, or its structure/expression.
- B+ (3.33) (87–89)
This grade indicates that the work exceeds the standards for a “B.” The professor’s comments will identify both what aspect/-s of the paper went beyond “B” and what would have enhanced the paper’s argument or presentation.
- B (3.0) (84–86)
This grade indicates that the assignment satisfies requirements specified for the particular task and does so in a competent manner; as such, the work meets expectations at the graduate level. As such it should be seen as the standard grade for satisfactory completion. “B” confirms that an assignment demonstrates a sound understanding of relevant material, is constructed coherently, and communicates ideas in a clear and accessible manner, while also being properly attentive to the norms governing the citation of references. While the B grade recognizes competency in the area covered by the assignment, the grade also suggests that greater breadth or depth was possible in fulfilling the assignment; this implies, for example, the need for wider or deeper reading, a better sequencing of ideas, or greater attentiveness to written expression in order to enhance clarity.
- B- (2.67) (80–83)
This grade indicates that the work approaches the standards for a “B,” but does not fulfill all the requirements of that grade. The professor’s comments will indicate whether the deficit resides in one particular aspect of the paper—ideas, methodology, works consulted, or its structure/expression—or whether more than one aspect of the paper fell below the standard for a higher grade.
- C+ (2.33) (77–79)
This grade indicates that the work significantly fails to meet the standards for a B,” but is more than marginally acceptable. The professor’s comments will identify both what aspect/-s of the paper were insufficient and what would have enhanced the paper’s argument or presentation.
- C (2.0) (74–76)
This grade applies to work that is no more than marginally acceptable at the graduate level. The grade makes clear that the work does not rise to the level of competency in the topic covered by the assignment; the deficits could be in any or all of the work’s ideas, research, methodology, or structure/expression. “C” indicates that satisfactory completion of the course will require significant improvement in the areas specified by the professor’s comments.
- F (0.0)
An assignment that receives this grade is unsatisfactory in all of the areas that demonstrate competency for a graduate student. There are no other gradations between C and F. All work below C is unsatisfactory.
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
For graduation policies and procedures, please visit the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Walking in the STM Diploma Ceremony: Students who have completed all their requirements for their degrees on or before the Wednesday just prior to May graduation may participate in the STM diploma ceremony, even if they have not met the university deadlines for graduation (and, thus won’t be actually receiving diplomas). Students who have not completed their requirements by the Wednesday before graduation may not participate in the STM diploma ceremony. Exceptions to this policy are rare and are granted solely at the discretion of the dean of the STM.
A student may, with adequate reason and at the discretion of the instructor, take an incomplete in a course. A formal request form must be obtained at the STM Service Center and signed by the professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. For approval to be granted, a date for completion must be agreed upon between the student and the professor. Except in extraordinary cases, all such "I" grades will automatically be changed to "F" according to the following University-dictated schedule:
- Spring: August 1
- Fall: March 1
- Summer: October 1
See the STM Good Standing policy for the number of incompletes a student may take in a given semester or summer and remain in good academic standing.
Language Courses for Master's Students
With their advisor's approval, STM will cover up to 6-credits of language coursework (at the rate of the student's STM scholarship) for M.T.S., M.Div., and M.A. students if taken at Boston College. This would be in addition to the degree requirements (i.e. an M.T.S. student's financial aid would apply to the 48 credits of the M.T.S. degree in addition to 6 credits of language coursework). Students who wish to complete language coursework within their degree credits are still welcome to do so. After receiving their advisor's approval, a student should email the associate dean for graduate enrollment management and copy their advisor.
Leave of Absence and Readmission after a Leave of Absence
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Students are not eligible for STM financial aid or funding while on leave. When they return to the STM, students continue to receive the tuition remission that they were granted upon entrance into their degree program.
Students wishing to take courses at theological institutions outside of Boston College and the BTI while on leave of absence from Boston College are strongly advised to discuss this plan with their faculty advisor, the relevant department chair and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to make sure that the courses they are planning to take will transfer into and be counted toward their STM degree program. Please see the Transfer of Credit policy for more information.
In some cases, the Associate Dean may require that the student work out a plan of study for the following semester or for the completion of the degree as a condition of re-admission after a leave of absence.
All M.A. students are required to complete a non-credit thesis in or prior to the last semester of their programs. Students seeking more information about the thesis should consult the Thesis Project Guidelines, as found on the M.A. program page of the STM website.
M.T.S. students have the option of using one of their electives to do a 3-credit thesis. Students seeking more information about the thesis should consult the M.T.S. Handbook and/or consult the M.T.S. Program Director. Students should be registered for TMST8053 M.T.S. Thesis.
Th.M. in Advanced Theological Studies students enroll in a 6-credit thesis course during their final semester; these 6 credits are part of the 24 required for the degree. Students seeking more information about the thesis should consult the Th.M. Program Director.
Students wishing to take online courses should note the following degree-specific policies:
- M.A.T.M. students doing the M.A. in hybrid mode may take up to 7 courses online toward their degrees (not including Contextual Education). M.A. students not doing the degree in hybrid mode may take up to 4 courses online.
- M.T.S. students may take up to two online courses toward their degree.
- M.Div. students may take up to three online courses toward their degree.
- Th.M. and S.T.L. students may ordinarily not take online courses toward their degrees. By way of exception, the program director may grant permission to those students with a concentration in Spirituality Studies for 1 online course offered in conjunction with the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies.
- S.T.D. students may not take online courses toward their degree.
- Ph.D. students wanting to take a particular online course should consult their faculty advisors about whether and under what circumstances that course would be appropriate for their degree.
Pass/Fail: Degree Limits and Student Election Policies
Pass/Fail courses come in two types: those that a professor designates as P/F and those a student elects to take P/F. Whenever a student elects to take a course P/F, the procedure is as follows.
Students may elect to take a graded course Pass/Fail. Degree limits on student-elected P/F courses are listed below. Requests must be made with the approval of the faculty member teaching the course, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. STM-specific P/F form can be found here.
Student requests to designate a course P/F normally happen during the add/drop period. Requests made after the add/drop period must be submitted to the faculty instructor of the course by the dates listed below.
- Fall Semester: November 1
- Spring Semester: April 1
- STM Summer Session: the deadlines for submission of P/F requests to the instructor of the course must be made according to the Summer Registration Calendar published by the University.
Please note: Generally, STM Summer Language Courses and the STM asynchronous online course starting in May are considered university Summer Term 1. Generally, the first session of STM summer is considered university Summer Term 5, and the second session of STM summer is considered university Summer Term 6. Please check the dates and inquire at the service center if you have any questions.
In order to receive a grade of Pass, a student must complete all assignments in the course, is subject to the same attendance policy as all other students in the course, and must earn a final grade in the course of C or above. A Pass will then be entered as the grade for the course instead of a letter grade.
- M.A. students may elect to take 2 courses P/F beyond those designated as such.
- M.Div. students may elect to take 3 courses P/F beyond those designated as such.
- M.T.S. students may elect to take 2 courses P/F beyond those designated as such.
- Th.M., S.T.L., and S.T.D. students may not elect to take any courses P/F.
- Ph.D. students should consult the Dean’s Office of the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.
Note: Some STM courses are designated as Pass/Fail by the faculty and do not fall under the degree limits stated above.
See also: Pass/Fail Policy for Language Courses Offered through the STM.
Pass/Fail Policy: Language Courses Offered Through the STM
All language courses offered through the STM are, by default, Pass/Fail. With the permission of the instructor, students have the option to take the course for a letter grade. Students should make this request via an e-mail to the Associate Dean, Academic Affairs by the end of the add/drop period (please note that for summer courses, the add/drop period ends the second day of class).
Please note that language courses offered through any other department or school at Boston College do not fall under this policy; students are responsible for inquiring about the grading policies of those courses with the sponsoring department (e.g., Romance Languages and Literature department for FREN106501 Intensive Reading in French). If you don’t know whether a language course is offered by the STM or not, please contact the Assistant Director, Financial Aid and Academic Services.
TMST7081 Writing and Research for Theology and Ministry: International students with little or no background in writing graduate-level papers in the U.S. education system and/or students for whom English is a second language, the Admissions Committee may decide to recommend or require TMST7081 Writing and Research for Theology and Ministry as a condition of admission into a master’s or certificate program. TMST7081 is taken in addition to the credit hours required for the degree, and the cost is covered at the student’s tuition remission rate.
M.Div. students who have not met the degree's prerequisite for philosophy studies should enroll in two 3-credit philosophy courses, ordinarily within their first year of studies. One of these 3-credit courses should be TMST7215 Philosophy for Theological Studies, offered at the STM. The other course should be chosen, in consultation with their academic advisor, from among a recommended selection of Boston College Philosophy courses.
Professional Ethics in Ministry Workshop
STM's Professional Ethics in Ministry Workshop, required for all STM students, is intended for students as they begin their programs at STM. The workshop considers ministerial ethics in theological, pastoral, and legal perspectives and invites students into an ongoing, school-wide conversation and reflection on the nature of ministerial roles and the power dynamics and ethics that attend them. Students in ministerial degree programs with a field education requirement (Contextual Education or Supervised Ministry) must fulfill this requirement before they begin their placements. All other students must complete the requirement before they graduate. Information about when the Professional Ethics in Ministry Workshop is offered is distributed with admission materials. Students who have not fulfilled the requirement in their first year of study will be notified of the next available date to fulfill the requirement by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Readmission after a Lapse in Enrollment
All students are required to keep their University status current. If a student does not do so, s/he must seek approval from the STM to be re-admitted to the degree program.
Each degree has a term limit—a number of years from the date of matriculation into the degree program by which a student must finish the degree. These term limits are the following:
- M.A.: 5 years
- M.T.S.: 4 years
- M.Div.: 6 years
- Th.M.: 2 years
- S.T.L.: 4 years
If a student seeks readmission before the term limit expires, s/he must write the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to request re-admittance before the start of the semester in which the student wishes to return. If granted, all courses taken towards the degree thus far will count toward the degree.
If a student seeks readmission after the term limit has expired, the student must reapply through the Office of Admissions. To begin this process, the student should e-mail the Associate Dean for Enrollment Management. If the student is readmitted to the program, a decision will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs as to (1) which and how many courses already taken will count toward the degree; and (2) any changes in requirements for graduation with the degree. The decision to re-admit a student will be based on a consideration of the best interests of both the student and the University.
S.T.L. Thesis Submission
A template for formatting your thesis can be found on the STM Doctoral Student Resources webpage of the TML website. Please follow the guidelines within that template to format your thesis, including the title page, copyright page, abstract, table of contents, and bibliography. Additional Information can be found in the S.T.L. Handbook. For instructions on submitting your dissertation to the BC Libraries, please follow the guidelines as stated in the S.T.L. handbook.
Open Access Policy for S.T.L. Theses
Upon submission of a completed S.T.L. Thesis in the School of Theology and Ministry, a student may request an embargo for not more than two years without special permission. To request an extension beyond two years, but for no more than five years, a student must submit a written rationale to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Requests for more than five years will be granted only for extraordinary reasons.
STM Style Guide
The STM faculty has unanimously adopted the STM Style Guide for all written assignments.
M.A. students as well as students enrolled in Certificate studies may take summer courses at any time during their studies. Enrollment policies are as follows:
- Students who have not completed a semester or summer at the STM may take up to two on-campus courses (6 credits) per summer, with a maximum of one course (3 credits) per summer session.
- In subsequent summers, students who have and maintain a 3.5 GPA may take up to two on-campus courses (6 credits) per session. This is an intensive schedule and not recommended for all students. Students wanting to take more than one course a session should check with their advisors before registering.
- For Hybrid MA students Spiritual Formation and Contextual Education may be taken in addition to the guidelines set above.
Ph.D. students should consult with their academic advisor before enrolling in summer courses.
M.Div. and M.T.S. students are eligible to take summer courses after at least one semester of study during the Academic Year.* Currently enrolled M.Div. and M.T.S. students may take up to two courses (6 credits) per summer, with a maximum of one course (3 credits) per summer session. With permission, M.Div. students may take a 1-credit module, in addition to one or two other summer courses in the same summer. Students should discuss the rationale for this choice and timing with their academic advisor prior to registering for the module.
For Th.M., S.T.L., S.T.D. students, permission of the program director is required before enrolling in summer courses.
*With permission of the program director, incoming biblical studies students have the option of beginning their language courses in the summer term prior to their first semester, not to exceed a total of 6 credits during that summer term.
For students in all STM degree programs, summer courses in languages are acceptable if they conform to the requirements of the degree program to which they are to be applied; the student should contact the relevant program director to determine such suitability before enrolling in a summer language course.
Summer Course Registration
All students must be registered for class before the class begins. Please note: all tuition and housing charges must be paid prior to the first class. Students who have not paid their tuition and housing charges will not be admitted to class until the charges are paid. Persons with questions about this policy should contact the STM’s associate dean for academic affairs.
Supervised Ministry: Criteria for Enrollment
Upon beginning their ministerial studies at the STM, students are responsible for knowing and following the guidelines for their respective degree programs regarding supervised ministry requirements. Cultivating a positive working relationship with the appropriate faculty director of supervised ministry is essential to the dynamic and interrelated processes of conscientious self-assessment, enrollment in the supervised ministry course, the appropriate selection of sites and supervisors, the development and implementation of learning goals and objectives, and rigorous, constructive and formative evaluations.
Mindful of the fact that students admitted to ministerial degree programs at the STM are expected to manifest the faith and religious commitment, the personal responsibility, the emotional maturity, the capacity for collaboration and perspective-taking, and the resiliency, resourcefulness and integrity that a program of preparation for professional ministry presupposes, the faculty members and administrators of the STM take extremely seriously their collective institutional responsibility for guaranteeing that these expectations, among others, are met and verified before any student’s enrollment in a supervised ministry course is approved. Associated with such responsibility is ongoing accountability to those supervised ministry sites and supervisors with whom the STM works in partnership.
In the light of such responsibility, when a faculty director of supervised ministry and/or the associate dean for academic affairs is provided with substantive evidence indicative of a student’s lack of readiness or suitability for undertaking supervised ministry in general or a specialized supervised ministry in particular, it is the responsibility of the directors for supervised ministry and the associate dean for academic affairs to delay or deny enrollment in the supervised ministry course. In obtaining and evaluating such evidence, the faculty directors and the associate dean may consult with other Boston College personnel, who may reveal relevant information as permitted by law. In addition, the appropriate faculty director and/or the associate dean are responsible for providing the student with adequate feedback regarding the reasons for the decision as well as support and guidance regarding subsequent steps. Such advice may include referring the student to appropriate avenues of personal and professional development, inviting the student to apply for supervised ministry at a future time, encouraging the student to consider a change of degree program, or recommending (or in some cases mandating) a leave of absence or withdrawal from the STM.
Syllabi: STM Policies and Student Information
While students should be familiar with all of the STM academic policies and procedures, and where to find them, faculty are asked to highlight the following information on every syllabus, usually by providing a link to the STM Syllabi: STM Policies and Student Information document.
- Academic integrity
- Bias-neutral and inclusive language
- Grading policy
- Recording class sessions in online synchronous courses
- Students with disabilities
- Writing Companions Corner (WCC) for writing assistance
Taping of Lectures and Presentations
Except in cases where a student has a documented disability that requires an accommodation, presentations and lectures given by faculty, students, or others in the classroom cannot be recorded or distributed for any purpose (including use by enrolled students) without the presenter’s permission. If a class is being recorded, the instructor must inform the class that the class is being recorded (without breaking the confidentiality of a student with a disability).
Students who wish to record a lecture or presentation must ask for and receive the permission of the presenter prior to recording. Recording of lectures of class presentations made with the presenter’s advance consent is authorized solely for the purposes of individual or group study with students enrolled in the same class unless the instructor has explicit written consent for other uses. The recording may not be reproduced or distributed in any manner, including the Internet, without the instructor’s explicit prior written consent.
Time-to-Degree Completion and Extensions
Each degree has its own time limit for graduation from the date of matriculation into the degree program.
- M.A.: 5 years
- M.T.S.: 4 years
- M.Div.: 6 years
- Th.M.: 2 years
- S.T.B.: 6 years
- S.T.L.: 4 years
- S.T.D.: 5 years, with one year extension possible
Students must petition the STM for an extension if they will not complete the degree in the time frame indicated above. Normally, only one extension will be granted per student. Students should send a letter by U.S. mail or e-mail to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, detailing (1) the reason the extension is needed and (2) giving a completion date for the degree. The Associate Dean will circulate the petition for extension to the student’s faculty advisor and program director for approval before making a final decision on an extension. The Associate Dean will notify the student as to whether the petition has been approved and the student’s new graduation term.
Transcripts and Transcripts/Diploma Holds
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
Transfer of Credit
All STM degree students, with the exception of M.Div. students, may transfer a total of six graduate credits from another regionally accredited or ATS accredited university or school of theology, subject to the following criteria:
- At the date of the student’s graduation, his or her transfer credits may be no more than five years old;
- Transfer credits must have been obtained for graduate-level coursework;
- Each transfer course must have been taken for a letter grade and a minimum grade of “B” must have been earned;
- Credit must not have been used in obtaining any other degree; and
- Coursework must be relevant to the student’s degree program.
M.Div. students may transfer in 18 credits to their degree program. All of the above criteria must be met, except that transfer credits may be no more than six years old.
Students may transfer up to 12 credits taken at the STM prior to degree matriculation into an STM degree program. After admission into the degree program, students wishing to do this should contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Jesuit scholastics transferring in courses from First Studies will receive a letter from the Director of Jesuit Studies in the spring or summer prior to their arrival at STM with instructions on how to transfer in those credits.
All other students (including Jesuits transferring courses from sources other than First Studies prior to enrollment) should follow the procedure outlined below to transfer credits to STM degrees. In order to transfer credits into your STM degree program, you will need to submit the following materials to the academic services specialist:
- Transcript containing the courses you wish to transfer in (if you submitted the transcript with your admissions application, stop by the admissions office and ask that it be printed out for you; if you did not submit it already, then contact the institution and have them send an official transcript to Karen Smith, Academic Services Specialist, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467).
- Syllabi of the courses you wish to transfer.
- An up-to-date program of study/course tracking sheet indicating the courses you’ve taken so far at STM, the courses you are hoping to transfer into the degree, and the requirements that you are proposing that all those courses fulfill (blank forms can be printed from the STM website).
- A completed Transfer of Credits form (to be obtained from the academic services specialist).
Please deliver all of the above documents to the academic services specialist, who will circulate all information for approval to the student’s advisor, department chair, and the associate dean for academic affairs (for Jesuit Scholastics, it will also go to the director of Jesuit Studies). The associate dean will send approved credit transfers to University Student Services, who will complete the transfer process. If courses do not show up in your Agora course history within two weeks, please contact the academic services specialist.
Withdrawal from a Course
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.
If you decide to drop a course after the posted add/drop period, you will be responsible for paying whatever portion of the course is not refunded based on the withdrawal date and according to the University’s tuition refund schedule. Please note, if you are receiving tuition remission funding, it will be cancelled for the dropped course and you will be responsible for the payment.
Withdrawal from Boston College
The STM follows the policies set forth in the Policies and Procedures section of this Catalog.