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School of Theology and Ministry

Academic Policies

school of theology and ministry

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.

In the School of Theology and Ministry (STM), an Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) with both faculty and student members is to be constituted annually by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and chaired by one of the faculty members serving on the AIC.

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 and is encouraged (but not required) to notify the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in writing of the incident.  If the faculty member decides to impose a grading penalty, a letter of notification describing the incident and the grading penalty must be sent to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

On receipt of such a notification the Associate Dean will notify the student of the allegation and the grading penalty (if any) imposed by the faculty member.  The student will be given an opportunity to respond to the faculty member’s notification in writing.  While a case is pending, the student may not withdraw from or change status in the course.

Each reported violation of the standards of academic integrity will be reviewed by the STM AIC.  The Associate Dean will serve as a non-voting administrative resource, and will maintain the Committee's record of notifications and relevant materials.  In cases involving students from more than one school, or students in joint or dual degree programs, the Committees on Academic Integrity of the pertinent schools will cooperate in their review.

The Associate Dean will notify the faculty member bringing the accusation and the student that the case is under review by the AIC.  The AIC at its discretion may interview any individual with knowledge pertinent to the case.

The AIC will decide a case by simple majority vote, and the Associate Dean will convey to the faculty member and the student the committee’s findings as to responsibility and recommended sanctions.  The Associate Dean will compile a complete file of each case, to be kept confidential in the Dean's office.  Files on students found not responsible will be destroyed.

Penalties for students found responsible for violations will depend upon the seriousness and circumstances of the violation, the degree of premeditation involved, and the student’s previous record of violations.  The committee may simply affirm the faculty member’s penalty and issue the student a warning, which will be kept in a confidential file in the Dean’s Office until the student graduates and will not be reportable to professional schools or outside agencies; or it may recommend a different grading penalty and/or impose additional administrative penalties.  Such penalties may include university probation, suspension, or expulsion, all of which become part of a student’s academic record and are reportable to graduate/professional schools and outside agencies.

Appeal of the committee’s decision may be made by written request to the Dean of the school no later than ten days following notice of the committee’s decision, and the Dean's decision will be final.

STM Academic Integrity Tutorial

This online tutorial, developed by STM faculty, students, and administrators (with lots of help from offices across the University), is meant to help students better understand the importance of and policy regarding academic integrity at Boston College and to introduce them 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 until they complete the tutorial.  Information regarding the administration of the tutorial will be given at new student orientation and through email from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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/Historical Theology

STM courses are primarily classified into three levels.  These levels are not meant to restrict enrollment, but rather to guide students and advisors in choosing courses.  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.

Level 1: Course numbers 7000-7999: No prerequisites required
Level 2: Course numbers 8000-8499: Prerequisites required
Level 3: Course numbers 8500 and above: Doctoral seminar

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:  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 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 signed by both the student and faculty member, and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

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.

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 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.


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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. (Option A) 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.

STM degree students should consult their academic advisors as to whether online courses would be acceptable toward their degrees.

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.

Select courses are designated Pass/Fail.  All requests for Pass/Fail credit, beyond taking courses designated Pass/Fail, must be approved by the student's academic advisor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs during the registration period. Students should obtain a Pass/Fail form from the STM Service Center.

M.A. and M.Ed. students may take 2 courses P/F beyond those designated as such.

M.Div. students may take no more than 18 credits on a P/F basis.

M.T.S. students may take no more than 12 credits on a P/F basis.

Th.M., S.T.L., and S.T.D. students may not elect to take any courses P/F, with the exception of the Spiritual Direction Practicum.

Ph.D. students should consult the GSAS Dean’s Office.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Presentations and lectures given by faculty, students, or others in the classroom are the intellectual property of the presenter and cannot be recorded or distributed for any purpose (including use by enrolled students) without the presenter’s permission. 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 or 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 given 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.

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.

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.

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.

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