Summative Evaluation Process for Graduate students matriculating into the program after January 15, 2013.
Optional for students matriculating into the program before January 15, 2013. See below solid line for old comprehensive exam process still available for graduate students matriculating into the program before January 15, 2013.
The Written Exam Process
- The praeses of an examining board, who is appointed by the academic dean, selects a non-authoritative text from within a student’s area of concentration or emphasis and has it sent by the Coordinator of Distance Learning 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 concentration or philosophical emphasis.
- 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.
a) If the examiners are satisfied with the results, the Coordinator of Distance 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.
b) 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 academic dean.
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:
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 second examiner may each question the student for up to 30 minutes, after which the student will be invited to leave the conference.
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) 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.
5) 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 Director of Distance 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 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.