Summative Evaluation

All candidates for the M.A. degree are required to complete a Summative Evaluation exercise.

Students enrolled in the M.A. in Theology for the first time in fall 2019 or later must follow the process for the Summative Evaluation as described in this catalog.  They must enroll in ENG 890 Summative Evaluation: Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology) to prepare for, and take, the comprehensive exam, and to learn how to write a professional paper, which must be completed in the semester following enrollment in ENG 890. This course would replace one elective.  Exceptional students may write a thesis, which requires enrolling in ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing, followed by enrolling in the thesis itself, if the proposal was approved. These two courses would be in lieu of taking the two electives.

Students enrolled in the M.A. in Theology in the summer of 2019 and prior, can elect to switch to the process for the Summative Evaluation described above in this catalog, or the process in the catalog under which they first enrolled.

Summative Evaluation for M.A. in Theology students prior to Fall 2019 and for all M.A. in Philosophy students regardless of enrollment date can fulfill the summative evaluation by passing an M.A. comprehensive exam OR writing an M.A. thesis.  If writing a thesis, students will have no elective courses, otherwise there are two.

M.A. in Pastoral Studies students can fulfill the summative evaluation only by passing an M.A. comprehensive exam. Students will have two elective courses.

For fuller descriptions of the Summative Evaluation options, see: Guidelines for Comprehensive Exams; Thesis Guidelines for M.A. Students in Philosophy and Theology. These documents are available by clicking on the links above and in the “Shared” folder under “Files” in Populi.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive Examination Handbook

A.  Comprehensive Exam Process for M.A. in Theology students enrolled prior to Fall 2019, and for all M.A. in Philosophy students regardless of enrollment date.

a.  The Written Exam Process

  • The praeses of an examining board, who is appointed by the Academic Dean (for Theology) or, for online students, the Assistant Academic Dean of Online Learning (for Theology or Philosophy), selects a non-authoritative text from within a student’s area of concentration or emphasis and has it sent by the Graduate Student Advisor to the student’s testing monitor approved by the Institution.

A single question is asked of the student: “What is your critical assessment of this text?” The praeses has latitude to add questions he or she feels will assist the student in responding to the prompt.

  • The student is expected to read the text and give a critical theological or philosophical response that includes an explanation of the theological or philosophical habitus along with a demonstration of an ability to address the text wisely and in depth using the essential knowledge and methods of the program core alongside those of the relevant theological or philosophical.
  • Theology students are allowed to have an unmarked Bible but are not allowed to use notes or other materials.
  • Students have as many as three hours to complete the exam.
  • Each exam is read by the praeses and one other examiner appointed by the academic dean with preferred selection from among the full-time faculty.
    • If the examiners are satisfied with the results, the Dean, or for online students, the Assistant Dean of Online Learning, will schedule an oral exam led by the praeses and the second examiner. The oral exam will take place no sooner than two weeks following the successful completion of the written exam.
    • If the praeses and second examiner are dissatisfied with the results, they will mark the areas where the student demonstrated an inadequate response, and this assessment will be conveyed to the student for purposes of scheduling a second chance examination. A third and final chance can be scheduled at the discretion of the appropriate academic dean.

b.   The Oral Exam Process

The one-hour oral exam is done either on campus or via video conferencing with a webcam open on the student. The hour is parsed in this way:

  • The praeses of the examining board begins with brief prayer and proceeds to questions based on a list of core program topics along with topics in the student’s area of concentration or emphasis.
  • The praeses and second examiner may each question the student for up to 30 minutes, after which the student will be invited to leave the conference.
  • When the examiners have agreed on the results, the praeses will call the student back (into the room or into the conference call) and announce the results.
  • In case of failure, the praeses will tell the student which areas require further study and schedule a make-up exam. In case of failure in the make-up exam, a third and final chance may be scheduled at the discretion of the academic dean.
  • The praeses will communicate the results of the exam to the academic dean.

Guidelines for Faculty on Oral Exam Questions

  • The examiners will draw their oral examination questions from the program core and from the concentration or emphasis areas. Students will be responsible in the oral exam for demonstrating a working knowledge of all topics in the core and of all topics in their concentration areas.
  • Examiners may also ask questions concerning pastoral application consonant with our mission to cultivate Catholic leaders for evangelization.

Orientation Course for Students Preparing to take the Comprehensive Exam

  • A zero-credit orientation course, facilitated by the Graduate Student Advisor, will provide students with a sample non-authoritative document drawn from each program.
  • Students are to register in the orientation class at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to take the exams. Only those students enrolled in the orientation class each term are eligible to take their exams during that term.
  • The orientation course is a SELF-STUDY COURSE. It will include a list of topics given to the students at the start of their studies. These topics are drawn from the core and from the concentration or emphasis areas. Students are responsible in the oral exam for demonstrating a working knowledge of all topics in the core and of all topics in their concentration areas.

B.        Comprehensive Exam Process for students in M.A. in Pastoral Studies regardless of enrollment date.

a. The Written Exam Process

  • The praeses of an examining board, who is appointed by the Assistant Academic Dean of Online Learning, selects a several case studies from within a student’s area of concentration or emphasis and has it sent by the Graduate Student Advisor to the student’s testing monitor approved by the institution.
  • The student is expected to thoroughly address the case studies. The student must give a pastoral response that includes an explanation of the pastoral studies habitus along with a demonstration of an ability to address the text wisely and in depth using the essential knowledge and methods of the program core alongside those of the relevant pastoral studies concentration.
  • Pastoral Studies students are allowed to have an unmarked Bible but are not allowed to use notes or other materials.
  • Students have as many as three hours to complete the exam.
  • Each exam is read by the praeses and one other examiner appointed by the Assistant Academic Dean of Online Learning with preferred selection from among the full-time faculty.
  • If the examiners are satisfied with the results, the Assistant Dean of Online Learning, will schedule an oral exam led by the praeses and the second examiner. The oral exam will take place no sooner than two weeks following the successful completion of the written exam.
  • If the praeses and second examiner are dissatisfied with the results, they will mark the areas where the student demonstrated an inadequate response, and this assessment will be conveyed to the student for purposes of scheduling a second chance examination. A third and final chance can be scheduled at the discretion of the appropriate academic dean.

b. The Oral Exam Process

The one-hour oral exam is done either on campus or via video conferencing with a webcam open on the student. The hour is parsed in this way:

  • The praeses of the examining board begins with brief prayer and proceeds to questions based on a list of core program topics along with topics in the student’s area of concentration or emphasis.
  • The praeses and second examiner may each question the student for up to 30 minutes, after which the student will be invited to leave the conference.
  • When the examiners have agreed on the results, the praeses will call the student back (into the room or into the conference call) and announce the results.
  • In case of failure, the praeses will tell the student which areas require further study and schedule a make-up exam. In case of failure in the make-up exam, a third and final chance may be scheduled at the discretion of the academic dean.
  • The praeses will communicate the results of the exam to the academic dean.

Guidelines for Faculty on Oral Exam Questions

  • The examiners will draw their oral examination questions from the program core and from the concentration or emphasis areas. Students will be responsible in the oral exam for demonstrating a working knowledge of all topics in the core and of all topics in their concentration areas.
  • Examiners may also ask questions concerning pastoral application consonant with our mission to cultivate Catholic leaders for evangelization.

Orientation Course for Students Preparing to take the Comprehensive Exam

  • A zero-credit orientation course, facilitated by the Associate Dean of Online Learning or another member of the faculty assigned to oversee it, will provide students with a sample non-authoritative document drawn from each program.
  • Students are to register in the orientation class at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to take the exams. Only those students enrolled in the orientation class each term are eligible to take their exams during that term.
  • The orientation course is a SELF-STUDY COURSE. It will include a list of topics given to the students at the start of their studies. These topics are drawn from the core and from the concentration or emphasis areas. Students are responsible in the oral exam for demonstrating a working knowledge of all topics in the core and of all topics in their concentration areas.
Thesis

Thesis Guidelines
Thesis or Special Project Application

(For all M.A. in Theology students enrolled prior to Fall 2019, or M.A. in Philosophy students regardless of date enrolled. Exceptional M.A. in Theology students enrolled in Fall 2019 or later, can write a thesis is approved by the appropriate academic dean.)

Statement of Purpose

Students who aspire to continue for more advanced degrees (e.g., a licentiate, Ph.D., or S.T.D.) may choose to write an M.A. thesis, a major research paper of approximately 50-60 pages, in fulfillment of their summative evaluation project, and it will be noted on their transcripts.

The Master of Arts thesis indicates scholarly competence in a topic in the student’s area of concentration. For that reason, students may elect to receive 3 credits for writing it so that it will count toward completion of the degree requirement of 36 credit hours.

Requirements for M.A. Thesis Direction

(Managed by the Academic Dean, or for online students, by the Assistant Academic Dean of Online Learning.)

  • Student enrolled in M.A. program.
  • Student has completed at least 24 semester hours of coursework.
  • Student has maintained a 3.0 grade point average in his/her classes.
  • Student has written a thesis or dissertation using qualitative research methodologies in a prior graduate program or has successfully completed the three-credit course entitled ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing.

Guidelines

Upon a student’s completion of his or her thesis, he or she will engage in an oral defense of the work either on campus or via video conferencing software.

After obtaining the clearly expressed consent of both the Advisor and the Reader or Reviewer, the Student may invite one or more guests to attend the Oral Defense Session. If guests attend the Oral Defense Session, they must do so as silent auditors. Any guests along with the Student must be dismissed when the Advisor and the Reader or Reviewer confer regarding final evaluation of the Summative Evaluation. Guests are not to be readmitted when the Advisor informs the Student of the final evaluation.

Fee Structure

The cost of pursuing a thesis is the same as that for a three-credit course plus an additional reviewer fee. A continuation fee is added for each additional semester a student invests in producing his or her thesis. These fees are itemized in the Tuition and Fee Schedule.

 

Special Projects - MA in Pastoral Studies Students Only Enrolled Prior to Fall 2017

Beginning Fall 2017, All Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies students are required to take the Comprehensive Examination as their Summative Evaluation.* There is a six-year time limit from entry into the program for completion of the degree requirements.

* Students enrolled in the MAPS program prior to Fall 2017, may complete a thesis, special project, or comprehensive exam.

THE SPECIAL PROJECT – FOR MAPS STUDENTS ENROLLED PRIOR TO FALL 2017

Special Project Guidelines

The Special Project is the production within one’s ministerial area or apostolate of an artifact of sufficient scope to demonstrate that the student has achieved the program learning outcomes. More practically-oriented than the Thesis, the Special Project is designed by the student for application in a particular pastoral setting. The Special Project is developed under the supervision of a faculty Special Project Advisor and must also be approved by a faculty Reviewer. After the Advisor and Reviewer approve the final draft, the student presents and defends the Special Project in a one-hour oral session.

A student enrolled in the MAPS program may pursue a Special Project after completing at least 24 credits of coursework (including all co-requisite and core courses) and maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average. M.A. students in philosophy or theology who matriculated into their programs in spring 2015 or later may not pursue a Special Project. The student also must demonstrate the requisite skills at research and writing in one of two ways: (1) by submitting a “qualitative research” master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation written for a different program; or (2) by taking ENG 891: Academic Research, Design, and Writing (a 3-credit course).

A student who meets these prerequisites applies for the Special Project by submitting a Special Project Proposal (as described in the Guidelines) along with the Thesis or Special Project Application to the Assistant Dean of Online Learning.

Students who pursue a Special Project may receive 6 credits toward completion of their degree requirements by completing ENG 891 (3 credits) and the Special Project itself (3 credits).

 

Grandfathered in Special Projects
M.A. in Philosophy and Theology Students Who Matriculated before Summer 2013:  Students who matriculated prior to summer 2013 did not come into the program knowing that a Special Project could be an option. These students are encouraged NOT to pursue a Special Project for their Summative Evaluation requirement since comprehensive exams under the new format or a Master’s Thesis are better indications of their having fulfilled the program learning outcomes.
 
M.A. Students in Theology (not Philosophy) Who Matriculated from the Summer 2013 to Fall 2014:  Summer 2013 was the first semester in which a Special Project was possible. The Guidelines were created in April 2013 and piloted until Fall 2014. Theology students who matriculated during that time may produce Special Projects for their Summative Evaluation requirement. They are encouraged, however, to write theses instead. Note that Philosophy students were never intended to write Special Projects because Philosophy cannot be applied ministerially in a way that demonstrates fulfillment of the program learning outcomes.
 
M.A. Students in Theology and Philosophy Who Matriculated Spring 2015 or Later:  M.A. students in Theology and Philosophy who began in Spring 2015 or later may NOT produce Special Projects for their Summative Evaluation requirement. In the summer of 2014, the academic office assessed the ability of the Special Projects to provide an adequate demonstration of whether a student was meeting the program learning outcomes and found that a ministerial project was mismatched within the M.A. programs in Philosophy and Theology. After the new curriculum was approved by the Faculty Senate in November, 2014, the Senate ratified the decision of the Academic Office given that the Special Project does not serve the needs of the new curriculum in the M.A. programs in Theology and Philosophy. On the other hand, the Special Project serves the M.A. in Pastoral Studies, which is a ministerial degree program, quite well, however.

 

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