Students enrolled in the M.A. in Theology program starting in the Fall 2019 semester and going forward must complete ENG 890 Summative Evaluation: Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology) as their only comprehensive exam option.
Students enrolled in the M.A. in Theology in the Summer 2019 semester and prior may take either ENG 890 or the Current Format Comprehensive Exam as their comprehensive exam option.
Students enrolled in the M.A. in Philosophy and the M.A. in Pastoral Studies may only take the Current Format Comprehensive Exam as their comprehensive exam.
Comprehensive Exam Process for M.A. in Theology students enrolled starting in the Fall 2019 semester and after.
a. ENG 890 Summative Evaluation:
Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology)
All M.A. in Theology students enrolled starting in the Fall 2019 semester and going forward must take ENG 890 Summative Evaluation: Comprehensive Exam and Professional Paper (Theology) as their Summative Evaluation unless granted permission to write a thesis (see below for the thesis process). ENG 890 is a two-semester process. During the first semester, the student prepares for and takes an oral exam on the theology core. The following semester the student writes a 10-page professional paper to peer-reviewed academic journal standards under the guidance of a faculty advisor on a topic in the student’s concentration area.
Students enroll in ENG 890 the semester before their last planned final semester. ENG 890 counts as a required 3-credit course for all concentrations in the M.A. in Theology. For students enrolled before the Fall 2019 semester who opt to take ENG 890, it counts as a 3-credit Theology elective.
b. ENG 890 Process
During the student’s first semester of the ENG 890 process, the student completes a series of instructor-led exercises to prepare for an oral exam on the theology core and to prepare for writing the professional paper. At the end of the semester, the student completes an oral exam on the theology core. The following semester, the student writes a 10-page professional paper to peer-reviewed academic journal standards under the guidance of a faculty advisor on a topic in the student’s concentration area. Once the faculty advisor approves the paper, a reader also reviews and must approve the paper. The paper is graded pass/fail.
c. Fee Structure
Since ENG 890 is a 3-credit course, the tuition fee is the same as the current 3-credit graduate course tuition fee. For the professional paper portion the following semester, the student must pay the current faculty advisor and reader fee, along with the graduation fee.
Current Format for Comprehensive Exam
All M.A. in Philosophy students and all M.A. in Pastoral Studies students must take the Current Format Comprehensive Exam unless granted permission to write a thesis (see below). M.A. in Theology students enrolled before the Fall 2019 semester may opt to take the Current Format Comp exam instead of ENG 890.
Students may take the Current Format Comprehensive Exam concurrently with the student’s final semester of coursework or within two semesters of completing all coursework.
The Current Format Comprehensive Exam is a non-credit. There is no instructor-led review. Students must apply knowledge learned throughout their course of studies. Therefore, students should review past course syllabi and notes as a refresher on important points and topics.
The fee for the Current Format Comprehensive exam pays the exam fee and graduation fee.
b. Format of the Exam
The Current Format Comprehensive Exam consists of two parts: a written exam and an oral exam. For the written exam, the student has 3 ½ hours to provide a critical assessment of a text related to the student’s concentration area. The intent of the written exam is for the student to apply knowledge learned through the course of the student’s masters-level program. Theology and Philosophy students can expect a reading expressing a position contrary to Catholic theology and/or Thomistic philosophy requiring a critical response. M.A. in Pastoral Studies students receive a scenario related to their concentration area to address critically. After passing the written exam, the student sits for a 1-hour online oral exam with two faculty members.
c. The Written Exam Process
1) All students taking the Current Format Comprehensive Exam are grouped as a semester cohort in the Comp Exam Resource in Populi. At the start of the semester, the Comp Exam Administrator will post the scheduled exam weekend. The exam weekend will normally be held approximately five weeks before the end of the semester. Unless granted an exception, all students taking the exam during the given semester will take in sometime during the exam weekend. The exam weekend runs from 12:01 am Eastern on Friday through 11:59 pm Eastern on Sunday. The student is free to choose any time during the exam weekend window to take the exam.
2) At the start of the exam weekend, the Comp Exam Administrator provides readings in the Comp Exam Resource for each program and concentration area of students taking the exam.
3) When the student is ready to take the exam, the student will open the appropriate exam reading in the Populi Comp Exam Resource. Opening the reading begins the student’s 3 ½ hour timelimit. The exam is open-book. Students must cite appropriate and relevant scholarly sources in their responses.
4) After the comp exam weekend, the Comp Exam Administrator sends each response to an appropriate faculty member who serves as praeses. The praeses grades the written response. Upon the praeses passing the written response, the Comp Exam Administrator then sends the response to a second faculty member who serves as reader. If the reader passes the exam, the student is notified to select a day and time for the online oral exam with the praeses and reader. The written exam is graded HIGH PASS, PASS, or FAIL.
d. The Oral Exam Process
For online students, the one-hour oral exam uses an online conferencing number, which only requires the student to call a teleconference phone number. The student does not need to use a computer for the oral exam. On-campus students may take the oral exam on-campus if the faculty members are also located on-campus.
The hour is parsed in this way:
1) 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.
2) The praeses and reader may each question the student for up to 30 minutes, after which the student will be invited to leave the conference. The oral exam will discuss the student’s written response, along with general questions from the student’s program core (theology, philosophy, or MAPS) and the student’s concentration area.
3) 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.
4) The oral exam is graded HIGH PASS, PASS, or FAIL.
5) Upon successful completion of the oral exam, the Comp Exam Administrator will notify the student and appropriate administration members to record the student’s completion of the comprehensive exam.
6) If the praeses and reader are dissatisfied with the results of either the written exam or oral exam, they will provide the student with an explanation and feedback for improvement. The student may then re-take that portion of the exam. A third and final chance can be scheduled at the discretion of the appropriate academic dean.
Guidelines for Faculty on Oral Exam Questions
The examiners will draw their oral examination questions from the program core and from the student’s concentration area. During the oral exam, students must demonstrate a working knowledge of all topics in their program core and in their concentration area.
Examiners may also ask questions concerning pastoral application consonant with our mission to cultivate Catholic leaders for evangelization.
Master’s Thesis Process
NB: Only M.A. in Theology and M.A. in Philosophy students may request permission to write a master’s thesis. M.A. in Pastoral Studies students must take the comprehensive exam as their Summative Evaluation.
a. Statement of Purpose
Students who aspire to continue for more advanced degrees (e.g., a licentiate, Ph.D., or S.T.D.) may wish to write an M.A. thesis. The M. A. thesis is a major research paper of approximately 50-60 pages. If a student is granted permission to write an M.A. thesis, it serves as the student’s Summative Evaluation instead of the comprehensive exam. Completion of the M.A. thesis noted on student transcripts.
The Master of Arts thesis indicates scholarly competence in a topic in the student’s area of concentration. If approved to write an M.A. thesis, the Thesis Direct Study counts as a 3-credit elective toward completion of the 36 credit hours degree requirement.
b. Requirements for M.A. Thesis Direction
The comprehensive exam is the normative summative evaluation. Students wishing to write an M.A. thesis must receive approval based on the thesis application, proposal, and availability of appropriate faculty to serve as an advisor. Application to write a thesis is not a guarantee of being approved to write a thesis. Students not approved to write a thesis must complete a form of the comprehensive exam as outlined above as their Summative Evaluation.
Students must complete ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing before submitting a thesis application and proposal. ENG 891 is a 3-credit course that counts as a theology or philosophy elective. A student must complete at least 18 credits before enrolling in ENG 891. No special permission is required to take ENG 891 as an elective – any M.A. in Theology or M.A. in Philosophy student may ENG 891 as an elective. However, completion of ENG 891 does not guarantee permission to write a thesis. Students who completed a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation in the humanities may request a waiver of ENG 891. To request a waiver, the student must submit an electronic copy of the thesis or dissertation to the Summative Evaluation Administrator (currently the Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer).
A student must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA to submit a thesis application and proposal. The student must submit the thesis application and proposal the semester before when the student wants to begin the Thesis Directed Study. Since a master’s thesis is a capstone paper, the student may only enroll in the Thesis Directed Study concurrently with the student’s final semester of coursework or within two semesters of completing all coursework.
The student submits the thesis application and proposal to the Summative Evaluation Administrator (SEA). The SEA will inform the student if the application is approved or denied. If approved, the SEA will direct the Online Learning Office to enroll the student in the Thesis Directed Study with the faculty advisor.
The student has the initial semester of Thesis Directed Study plus up to three consecutive semesters of Thesis Directed Study Continuation to defend the thesis successfully. If the student does not defend the thesis by the end of the third Thesis Direct Study Continuation, the student must take the comprehensive exam the following semester instead.
For M.A. in Theology students enrolled in the Fall 2019 semester and after, if granted permission to write a thesis, the Thesis Directed Study replaces ENG 890.
Upon a student’s completion of the thesis, the student will engage in an oral defense of the work either on campus or via video conferencing software.
On-campus only, 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.
d. Fee Structure
The cost of the Thesis Directed Study 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 section of this catalog.
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 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