Academic Policies

Academic Policies

If you have any policy related questions, please contact Karen Smith, Academic Services Specialist (karen.smith.50@bc.edu) or Jennifer Bader, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (jennifer.bader@bc.edu).

INDEX

 

 

POLICIES


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 University Graduate Catalog.  The roles and responsibilities of students, faculty, and deans with regard to promoting academic integrity can also be found in the University Graduate Catalog.  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 email from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.


BC Communication Policies and Student Responsibilities

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.



Absences for Religious Reasons

The STM follows the policy set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.


Academic Advising

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 an 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.


Academic Grievances

I.  Preamble
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 toa ll parties involved.  The grievance process first strives for mediated outcomes and only moves to directed outcomes whens uch 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 hte complaint occurred - for example, a grievance arising from spring semester must be initiated before the end of the fall semester.

II.
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.

III.
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 chieve 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 Affiars 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.

IV.
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.


Attendance

University Policy
Students are responsible for being familiar with and following the attendance policy in the University Graduate 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.


STM Policy
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.


Audits

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 Non-Discrimination 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 procedurs for the synthesis exams.

M.A. and M.Ed. Students: Thesis Projects 
For M.A. and M.Ed. students, the Thesis Project serves as the comprehensive exam.  Students wishing more information about the Thesis Project should obtain a Thesis Information Packet from the STM Service Center.  In accordance with the University policy on grading comprehensive exams, Thesis Projects are graded Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.


Course Load

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.

For summer course loads, please see the policy on Summer Courses.

 


Course Numbering

 

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/Practical Theology
TMRE: Religious Education
TMST: Systematic Theology

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 STL and ThM students. Other advanced graduate students may apply. Department permission required.


Cross-Registration

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 Institute, the Consortium, and the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies.  More information is available in the University Policies and Procedures Graduate Catalog.  Students can register for courses at BTI institutions by visiting the BTI website: www.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.


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 University Graduate 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.  Follow the instructions below to ensure you have completed all requirements.

Submitting your Ph.D. Dissertation
Ph.D. Students should consult the website of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences www.bc.edu/gsas for further instructions on dissertation submission.

Submitting your S.T.D. Dissertation
Please review the S.T.D. Handbook for instructions on formatting your dissertation. Submit your dissertation electronically via eTD@BC.  See instructions here. Please review the Open Access Policy for S.T.D. Dissertations section below, detailed in the STM Academic Policies.


Enrollment Status

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.


Final Examinations

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.


Foreign Language Requirement

Students should consult individual degree program handbooks/prospectuses for program-specific requirements.


Good Standing

A student in one or more of the following situations is considered under academic review:

1.   the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below 3.0;

2.   the student receives a grade of “incomplete” for one-half or more of the courses taken in a single semester;

3. 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

4. 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 advisor, the relevant department chair, and the associate dean for student affairs in an Academic Review Board, which will discuss 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.


Grading

The Grades in the STM reflect the Academic Policies of Boston College for Graduate Courses as outlined  in the University Graduate 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.


Grade Changes

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.


Graduation

For graduation policies and procedures, please see the online University Graduate 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.

 


Incompletes

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.


Leave of Absence and Re-admission

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate 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.


Master's Theses

All M.A. and M.Ed. 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 MA 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 mor informaiton about the thesis should consult the Th.M. Program Director.


Online Courses

Students wishing to take online courses should note the following degree-specific policies:

  • MATM students doing the MA in hybrid mode may take up to 7 courses online toward their degrees (not including Contextual Education). MA students not doing the degree in hybrid mode may take up to 4 courses online.
  • MTS students may take up to two online courses toward their degree.
  • MDiv students may take up to three online courses toward their degree. 
  • ThM and STL 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. 
  • STD students may not take online courses toward their degree.
  • PhD 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. 

Open Access Policy for STD Dissertations

Upon submission of a completed STD 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.


Pass/Fail Option

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 in conversation with the student’s faculty advisor and with the approval of the faculty member teaching the course and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, normally during the registration period. Students should obtain a Pass/Fail form online or from the STM Service Center.

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 are indicated as such during the registration process. These courses do not fall under the degree limits stated above.


Prerequisites

For students with little or no background in writing research papers in the humanities, students for whom English is a second language, and others, 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 not a remedial course and is highly recommended for most students. It can be used for elective credit toward the degree by M.A. and M.Ed. students who have not been required to take it. If the student is required to take this course, however, it must be taken in addition to the credit hours required for the degree.

Four courses (12 credits) in philosophy are prerequisites for the MDiv degree. These courses can be taken on an undergraduate or graduate level, and they can be taken Pass/Fail. For students who do not have at least 12 credits of philosophy at the time of application to the MDiv program, these courses may be taken during the first year of the MDiv. All courses must be taken for credit and the courses themselves approved by the MDiv program director. As prerequisites for the degree, they do not count in the 84 credits required for the MDiv.


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 (except for summers-only degrees) 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.

For summers-only M.A. students, the material normally covered in the Professional Ethics in Ministry Workshop will be covered during the required Contextual Education course.


Re-admission 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. and M.Ed.: 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 email 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 Procedures

Before your defense, please consult the S.T.L. Handbook and follow the process outlined therein, including what to do with your signature page and instructions on how and where to submit your S.T.L. Thesis.


STM Style Guide

The STM faculty has unanimously adopted the STM Style Guide for all written assignments.


Summer Courses

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 students who are primarily ‘summers only’, 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.  

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 inter-related 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 co-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 co-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 co-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 co-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: Incorporated Texts

The following text is incorporated into every STM course syllabus, usually via a link:

For Students with Disabilities:
If you have a disability and will be requesting accommodations for this course, please register with  the Connors Family Learning Center (learning disabilities and ADHD) or the Disability Services Office (all other disabilities).  Advance notice and appropriate documentation are required for accommodations.

The STM Writing Companions Corner (WCC) offers students one-on-one help with writing research papers, exegeses, reflection papers, and other assignments frequently given by STM faculty. Please watch STM News for more information on signing up for an appointment in the WCC.

Academic Integrity Policy:
Plagiarism is the act of taking the words, ideas, data, illustrations, or statements of another person or source, and presenting them as one’s own. Penalties at Boston College range from a grade penalty to dismissal from the University. To avoid plagiarism, any use of another’s words or ideas must be fully cited. If in the original wording, quotation marks or blocked, indented quotations must be used.  For more information regarding plagiarism and other violations of academic integrity, please consult the STM website.

Bias Neutral and Inclusive Language:
Language is not fixed or static, but is constantly evolving and changing as society's attitudes and practices change. Be aware of the development of new forms of expression that endeavor to describe persons in non-discriminatory ways that are appropriate, respectful and just. In accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style and generally accepted contemporary canons of scholarship, the expectation is to use bias neutral language in academic writing.  In addition to gender inclusive language, conscientious effort should be made to use appropriate language with reference to race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, social status, etc.


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. and M.Ed.: 5 years
M.T.S.: 4 years
M.Div.: 6 years
Th.M.: 2 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 email 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 Transcript/Diploma Holds

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate 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 adminstrative assistant:

  1. 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 Administrative Assistant, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA  02467).
  2. Syllabi of the courses you wish to transfer.
  3. 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 those courses fulfill (blank forms can be printed from the STM website).
  4. A completed Transfer of Credits form (to be obtained from the academic administrative assistant).

Please deliver all of the above documents to the academic administrative assistant, 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 administrative assistant.


Withdrawal from a Course

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate 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.


Withdraw from BC

The STM follows the policies set forth in the University Graduate Catalog.