The Academic Affairs Committee is a sub-group of the Faculty Council. The Committee is comprised of the Dean of the Seminary, the Director of the New York Campus, the Director of Field Education, the Director of the D.Min. Program, the Registrar, and one faculty-at-large. The Committee meets monthly during the academic semester. Petitions to the Academic Affairs Committee must be handed to the Registrar no later than the Wednesday of the scheduled meeting.
Academic Year (Master’s Level Only)
The academic year consists of two semesters (including a term A and term B each semester), each of 15 weeks duration. The fall semester typically runs from September through December, and the spring semester, typically runs from January through May. There are two periods of intensives: winter (during the month of January) and summer (during the months of June and July).
All enrolled students are given an NBTS e-mail account, a Canvas or Sakai account and a campus mailbox. All class communications will be sent to the student’s NBTS e-mail account (class information, class cancellations, additions to the syllabus, etc.). Students are expected to check their NBTS e-mail daily for messages from the Administration of the Seminary and Faculty. The Administration and the Faculty are not responsible for information sent via e-mail but not read by individual students. Please visit the NBTS website for instructions on how to access these accounts.
Full-Time / Part-Time Status
The minimum credit load necessary to maintain full-time status is 12 credits per semester. The minimum credit load necessary to maintain half-time status (for financial aid purposes) is six credits per semester.
Attendance, Enrollment & Cancellations
The Seminary assumes students will attend all assigned class periods, and in most classes, participation in class discussion serves as a basis for a professor’s evaluation of a student’s work. A student who does not attend two classes in any single term course or four classes in a full semester course may be dismissed from the class. The Dean of the Seminary will inform the student of the dismissal and the Registrar will record a failing grade for the course.
A student who exceeds the allowable number of absences due to circumstances beyond her/his control, such as serious illness, may petition the Academic Affairs Committee requesting permission to withdraw from the course without academic prejudice. (See policy on withdrawal from a class.) A student anticipating an absence should inform her/his professor in advance. An absence is defined as missing class for any reason including sickness, work related travel, church meetings, services, or other church related events.
Classes will ordinarily meet at the times reflected in the academic schedule and calendar. Individual faculty members may adjust the schedule for off-campus events that are part of the class. Faculty members may also schedule classes during the reading week in the event of class session cancellations.
The Seminary reserves the right to cancel a class when fewer than five students have registered for the class. In such an event, the student is not penalized financially. A class may be cancelled within the first two weeks of the semester due to low enrollment. A maximum number (CAP) of students is set for any given class. Once the maximum number of students has enrolled for a given class, students will be placed on a waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis. A student will not be added to a waiting list until his/her registration is processed, including payment. Students may not petition faculty for admission to a class with a waiting list. Students are admitted only from the waiting list. Students who expect to graduate and require this class for graduation may petition the Dean of the Seminary to be placed at the top of the waiting list, but this offers no guarantee of admission into a course.
Class Cancellations (General)
Occasionally, individual faculty members must cancel a class on an emergency basis. Students will be informed of such cancellations via e-mail with as much notice as possible.
Class Cancellations (Due to Inclement Weather)
If in a given course (whether a single-term course or a full-semester course) only a single class session is cancelled, the substance of that session may be absorbed into subsequent sessions; the session itself need not be rescheduled. If a second session is cancelled however, it must be rescheduled, and any further cancelled sessions likewise. In any event, no class cancellations should affect the course requirements as stated in the course syllabus; students remain responsible for all reading, writing, and other assignments.
Additional Course Options
Independent Study (Master’s Level Only)
A student may take an independent study course of one (1) to four (4) credits. An independent study course is usually allowed only under the direction of the regular faculty. A student who wishes to complete additional study in a particular area should discuss the course with the faculty member with the most expertise in that particular area. The student should present the faculty member with a proposal for the course, objectives for the course, and a preliminary reading list. The student must also have a GPA of 3.0 or better to be considered for this type of work. If the faculty member agrees to direct the study, the student must complete a “proposal for reading course or independent study” form, and then secure the signature of his/her academic advisor and the Dean of the Seminary. The readings and student-generated assignments for the course should be equivalent to those of regular classes.
Note the following limitations:
- Each degree program has specific requirements and limitations for independent study courses; see the individual degree requirements for more information;
- Students not fully matriculated in either the M.Div. or M.A. program cannot register for independent study courses;
- Required courses cannot be taken through independent study;
- Applying for more than two independent study courses, regardless of the amount of credit for each of the courses, needs the approval of the Academic Affairs Committee. This is done by writing a letter to the chairperson explaining, in detail, the reasons why the student believes he/she needs to be granted permission to take additional independent study credit hours along with the proposal for the course, objectives for the course, and a preliminary reading list. The chairperson of Academic Affairs Committee will notify the student in writing of the committee’s decision.
Help note: If a student discovers he or she needs a course for completion of a degree that is not offered in the course schedule, the student should bring this issue to the attention of the Academic Advisor and the Dean of the Seminary immediately.
Hybrid Course Offerings
Some required and elective courses offerings are offered in a hybrid format. The term hybrid refers to a course in which some traditional face-to-face time in the classroom is replaced by online learning activities. The mix of face-to-face time and online work is designed to interact pedagogically by reinforcing and complementing one another. A hybrid course requires that the majority of instructor-led learning occurs face-to-face in a classroom setting in order for it to count toward the residency requirement in the degree program.
Auditing (Master Level Only)
All non-matriculated auditors must use the Limited Enrollment form for registration. A matriculated who wishes to audit a course should use the regular registration form. The Seminary permits the auditing of regularly scheduled classes with the instructor’s approval, or the Dean of the Seminary’s approval in the case of an adjunct. The audit fee is one half of the regular class fee times the number of credits plus a non-refundable registration fee. Payment is due upon registering. Audits will not be processed without payment. Only classes with space available below the cap will be opened to auditors. An auditor is not expected to complete class assignments, nor is a grade issued for the course. An individual auditing a course will not be permitted to change his or her audit status to a credit status. [St. John’s Department of Theology courses are not open to auditing students.]
Registration for Classes
All returning students must register for classes during the registration period listed in the academic calendar. All students are to make an appointment with their academic advisor to discuss their progress and their registration for the next semester. The registration form must be approved and signed by the academic advisor by the dates indicated. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor registration and add/drop forms, to check that they are given to the advisor for signature and date, prior to submission to the Bursar (Office of Finance & Administration) or the Registrar, and to make inquiry as to the progress, until payment and completion of the process. Students registering after the registration period closes will be assessed a late registration fee.
Adding Additional Classes
A student wishing to add a class must do so prior to the second meeting of the class. Once a student has registered, in order to add one or more courses, the student must complete an add/drop form, receive approval from his/her academic advisor, and submit the form to the Registrar. Tuition for the added course is due in full at the time of change, unless the deferred payment option has been approved. A class is not added to the student’s schedule until the Bursar (Office of Finance & Administration) gives approval.
A student needing to drop a class without academic penalty must do so prior to the third meeting of the class. Once a student has registered, in order to drop a course, the student must complete an add/drop form prior to the third meeting of the class, receive approval from his/her academic advisor, and submit the form to the Registrar. The schedule for tuition refunds is determined and administered by the Office of Finance & Administration and is printed in the “Tuition and Fees” section of this handbook. The advisor’s signature and date on the add/drop form notifies the Office of Finance & Administration of the official date for calculating tuition refunds, if any, for dropped courses. The student is liable for tuition even in the event of a failing grade. A student may request a refund of the credit balance on his/her account. All requests for refunds must be made in writing to the Office of Finance and Administration.
Students who do not drop officially, but simply absent themselves from class will not be considered dropped from the course, and will consequently be assigned a grade of “Fail” (F).”
Withdrawal from a Course
A student needing to withdraw from a course after the third meeting of the class must write a letter addressed to the Registrar who will present it to the Academic Affairs Committee. The letter must contain the reason for dropping the course and be accompanied by supporting documentation (physician’s letter, etc.).
The Academic Affairs Committee, in consultation with the instructor of the course, will determine if the student will be allowed to drop the course without academic penalty by receiving a “WP,” (withdraw passing). If the student is failing the course at the time of withdrawal, the Academic Affairs Committee may issue a “WF” (withdraw failing) depending on the circumstances. The chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee will notify the student in writing of the committee’s decision.
Failure to submit a letter to the Registrar in a timely manner will result in the student being issued an “F” for a course. If the request to withdraw is approved, the transcript will reflect the withdrawal as a either a “WP” or “WF”. Please see the grading system for details. Students who do not withdraw officially, but simply absent themselves from class will consequently be assigned a grade of “Fail” (F).”
(Adopted by the Faculty Council May 8, 2009)
Automatic academic withdrawal may be granted to new students in their first term who register but never attend any classes. Automatic academic withdrawal may also be granted to continuing students on an extreme basis such as may be caused by the sudden onset of illness that makes it impossible for the student to attend classes or complete the required paperwork to “drop” a class or classes. In such cases, students must provide appropriate documentation to the Academic Affairs Committee through the Registrar. The transcript will reflect the withdrawal as a “W.”
Maximum Course Load (Master’s Level Only)
Ordinarily, students should not carry a credit load of more than 16 credits per semester. Students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better may apply for permission to carry a course load exceeding 18 credits per semester. To carry more than 18 credits in any semester, the student must submit a letter to the Registrar who will present it to the Academic Affairs Committee. The letter must contain the specific reasons why the committee should approve an exception. The committee will review the applicant’s academic history and reasons for the extra course load. The committee may also request a personal interview with the student. The Academic Affairs Committee will make a decision and inform the student making the request before the end of the add/drop period.
Temporary Withdrawal from Any Program in the Seminary
A student who must withdraw from the degree program is required to notify the Dean of the Seminary, in writing, within two weeks of his or her absence.
Dismissal from Any Program in the Seminary
A student can be dismissed for cause from the Seminary by a majority vote of the Faculty Council.
Readmission / Reinstatement in Any Program in the Seminary
(Revised and adopted July 2011 by the Faculty Council)
Any student seeking readmission to the Seminary after a withdrawal, dismissal, or after stopping out for two or more semesters must contact the Director of Admissions, on behalf of the Admissions Committee, in writing to request re-admission. The letter must explain how he/she has resolved the issues related to the withdrawal, stop out, or dismissal so the student can now successfully complete his/her work. The Admissions Committee may request additional information including new reference letters for students who apply for readmission one year (two consecutive semesters) after the last semester was completed. A full faculty vote for readmission may be required at the request of the Admissions Committee. [See policy on “Time Limit” for each program]
Students who request readmission three or more years after a withdrawal, stop out, or dismissal (six consecutive semesters) must re-apply to the seminary as a new student. Students with a financial balance from past semesters will be considered for re-admission only after all holds have been released by the Office of Finance and Administration. Students who are re-admitted must adhere to the current policies and degree requirements in the Catalog and Student Handbook. Non-traditional Master of Divinity students who withdraw or stop out for more than two consecutive semesters will be placed on the waiting list for re-admission.
Course Policies (Adherence to Individual)
Faculty members set the policies for submission of work in each course. Students are expected to read the syllabus and be governed by the policies given in it. Work not submitted within the guidelines specified in the syllabus does not have to be accepted by any instructor. Work submitted after a faculty member has turned in grades cannot be accepted unless an incomplete contract was completed on time and approved. The student may follow the process under appeals to the Academic Affairs Committee under extenuating circumstances for work not submitted within the individual class guidelines.
Submission of Coursework
Coursework must be submitted by the due date in the syllabus, unless the faculty member is contacted in advance. Late work without advanced contact (or a reasonable period of time in an emergency) does not have to be accepted by the faculty member. If late work is accepted, it may be penalized. Students who submit coursework that is not directly handed to the faculty member in written form are the responsible party in a dispute. Students should follow up on work submitted via mail or e-mail to assure that the faculty member received the work. A student cannot claim that coursework was mailed or e-mailed and arrived by the due date without written confirmation. Students who do not submit final coursework for a class and fail to request an extension via an incomplete contract will receive a permanent incomplete (I) grade for the course. Coursework cannot be submitted to a faculty member after a final grade has been issued. Students must appeal to the Academic Affairs Committee for a possible exception. Letters and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Registrar who will forward the information to the Committee. The Chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee will inform the student in writing of the decision of the Committee. If an exception is granted, the student may only then submit the late work to the faculty member for grading. Late grade penalties will not be waived in these cases.
Incomplete Work (Master’s Level Only)
A student who has not completed course requirements and wishes to apply for an extension of time must submit an incomplete contract to the instructor within one (1) week following the last class session or earlier if the faculty member so instructs in the class syllabus. If the extension is granted by the instructor, the contract is to be submitted to the Office of the Registrar with the term grade report sheet by the instructor. All incomplete work is due three months from the last day of the term for which the incomplete contract was approved. Forms are available from the Registrar’s Office and on the NBTS web page (www.nbts.edu). Please refer also to the policy on submission of coursework.
By appeal to the Academic Affairs Committee, the contract may be approved to extend the time for up to an additional three months. The student must submit a letter to the Registrar who will present it to the Academic Affairs Committee. The letter must contain the reasons why the additional extension should be granted and any supporting documentation (e.g., a physician’s letter, letter of military service, etc.). The Academic Affairs Committee will consult the instructor and make a decision to allow or disallow the request. The chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee will notify the student in writing of the committee’s decision. All incomplete contracts shall be governed by the following:
- Grades earned for work completed after the end of term, and for which an incomplete contract was submitted, shall be reduced by one-third of a grade point for each month or portion thereof that completion of the work is delayed;
- Failure to submit work by the date specified on the incomplete contract or to request an extension before that date will result in a permanent Incomplete (“I”) for the course. If the course is a required course, students must repeat the course to complete the requirements for their program of study;
- Under no circumstance will an incomplete contract be allowed to extend beyond two terms. The summer session will be regarded in reference to incomplete contracts as a semester; the winter session will be regarded as a term.
Limits on Registration in Terms with Open Incomplete Contracts
Incomplete contracts will limit the number of courses for which a student can register in the term in which the contract(s) are in effect. A student may not have more than eight hours or three classes in incomplete status in a given semester without permission from the Dean of the Seminary. A student will be dropped from current classes until he/she meets with the Dean and presents a plan for completion of late coursework and current coursework. The Registrar will inform both the student and the Dean of the need for this action. Students with six or more hours of incomplete contracts in any one semester will be required to meet with their academic advisor within the first three weeks of the term in which the incomplete contracts were issued. The advisor and the student will discuss and develop a plan for the completion of the late coursework as well as evaluate if the current course load needs to be reduced for late work to be completed. The Registrar will inform both the student and the advisor the need for this action.
Inclusive Language Policy
New Brunswick Theological Seminary is a Christian community of men and women marked by racial, ethnic, and ecumenical diversity. The way we communicate in written and spoken language expresses our conviction that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek . . . slave nor free . . . male and female” (Galatians 3:28).
It is, therefore, the policy of New Brunswick Theological Seminary that in our written and spoken language—in coursework, worship leadership, and public and internal communication—the full diversity of the people of God be reflected. When speaking or writing about human beings, we do not use gender-specific, racist, or culturally exclusive language. When speaking or writing about God, we employ the full spectrum of biblical and theological imagery for God that includes and goes beyond gender-specific anthropomorphism.
Graduate theological study presupposes proficiency in the use of English. In the first year of study, all students for whom English is their first language must take an examination assessing proficiency in written English. When necessitated by test scores, a student will be required to enroll in a Theological Writing course. Failure to sit for the examination or failure to take the Theological Writing course may result in the student being moved to a Probationary or Limited Enrollment status. A student is not fully matriculated into any master’s program until this requirement has been fulfilled. Students who are not fully matriculated into a degree program are not eligible for scholarships and financial aid. The writing examination is normally given during orientation for new students. The Dean of the Seminary will inform incoming students of the date and time of the examination.
Use of English language dictionaries during in-class exams is permitted for a student for whom English is a second language. The dictionary must be presented to the professor before examination. There is no designated examination period for any classes at the Seminary. Individual faculty members will schedule examinations during regular class hours. Examination policies will be set by individual faculty members based on the syllabus provided for the course.
Papers and Theses
Student writing assignments should follow the standards established in the most recent edition of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, unless otherwise specified.
In speaking or writing, plagiarism is the act of representing someone else’s work as one’s own. In addition, plagiarism is defined as using the essential style and manner of expression of a source as if it were one’s own. Likewise, any statement, oral or written, claimed as one’s own that is not documented is subject to this plagiarism policy. If in doubt, please consult the professor.
Examples of plagiarism include but are not limited to:
- Submitting word-for-word passages of another’s work without proper acknowledgment;
- Paraphrasing another’s work containing specific information or ideas, which are not shown in quotation marks or are not properly acknowledged;
- Two or more submitted papers, which contain a resemblance to the student’s own work as previously submitted, or to another student’s work, decidedly beyond the bounds of reasonable coincidence;
- A paper, examination, or assignment that contains information or conclusions, which, upon questioning, a student cannot explain, support, or demonstrate direct knowledge.
Faculty members are responsible to determine whether or not a student’s work is plagiarized, to speak with the student about the plagiarism, and to assign an appropriate sanction. Ordinarily, at the very least, a paper that is plagiarized, in whole or in part, is subject to automatic failure. Further, students who commit plagiarism may be dismissed from the Seminary by a majority vote of the faculty.
In cases where the original source of the plagiarism has not been identified, but there are two distinctively different writing styles, such will be considered sufficient evidence of plagiarism. In cases where the original source of the plagiarism has been identified, the faculty member must report the plagiarism to the Dean of the Seminary by supplying a copy of the student’s paper and photocopies of at least sections of the work plagiarized. In cases where the original source has not been identified, the Dean of the Seminary will present the issue to the faculty for a confirming vote. All cases will be kept on file until the of the student’s graduation or departure from the Seminary. Disciplinary actions for plagiarism imposed by the faculty as a whole will remain as part of the student’s Seminary record.
Pass / Fail Grading (Master’s Level Only)
(Revised and adopted April 2012 by the Faculty Council)
A student may request pass/fail grading for general elective courses only. The decision to invoke the pass/fail option must be made prior to the third meeting of the class and must have the approval of the instructor(s). A passing grade (“P”) will be awarded for work at the level of grade “C” or better. “F” indicates a student failed to pass the course. Credit hours will be awarded for courses a student passes, but will have no effect on the calculation of the student’s GPA. A course given an “F” will not be awarded credit hours however will have an effect of the calculation of the student’s GPA.
Grade Point Average Requirements (Master’s Level Only)
(Revised and adopted April 2011 by the Faculty Council)
Computation of a student’s grade point average (GPA) to determine academic probation or eligibility for prizes will be based on the academic semester rather than a calendar semester. An academic semester consists of 16 credit hours of course work.
The minimum passing grade is a “D” (1.0). Courses graded less than a “D” may not be used toward the requirements of the Master of Divinity degree. A student whose grade point average for any given consecutive unit of 16 credit hours of graded coursework falls below 2.0 shall receive a letter of caution. After the receipt of two such cautions (not necessarily consecutive), the student will be placed on academic probation and will no longer be considered to be making satisfactory progress toward the M.Div. degree.
Grade Appeal Process
Students who believe they have received a mistaken grade should consult the professor who reported the grade, or in the case of adjunct faculty, the student must contact the Dean of the Seminary. If the professor agrees a mistake has been made, he/she will submit the new grade to the Registrar. Only the Dean of the Seminary can change a grade given by an adjunct faculty member. Final grades may not be changed by doing additional work, or appealing to a professor based on work other than what was submitted for the course.
If the professor does not agree to a grade change, a student may submit a request for a grade change to the Dean of the Seminary indicating the reasons for the request, and providing all supporting documentation. Based on this information, and in consultation with the professor, the Dean of the Seminary will either make a decision, or consult the Academic Affairs Committee and/or the Faculty Council. The student will be notified in writing of the Dean’s decision. The student can accept the Dean’s written decision or he/she may file an appeal with the secretary of the faculty who will bring the appeal before the Faculty Council. The secretary of the faculty will inform the student in writing of the decision of the Faculty Council. All decisions made by the Faculty Council are final.
Grading System (Master’s Level Only)
Academic grades are a permanent part of the student’s seminary record and are issued to students shortly after the close of each semester. Work is evaluated on the following grade and point scale:
|TF||TEMPORARY FAILURE||0.0||NO LONGER USED|
At the option of the professor, plus and minus grades may be issued, up to an A.
A plus (+) adds 0.3 to the grade point value (B+ = 3.3), while a minus (-) reduces the grade by the same amount (B- = 2.7). A student may receive an A+ on work completed within a class, but may not be granted an A+ for the course.
(Revised, Effective 5/2012)
(Revised, Effective 7/2007)
(Revised, Effective 7/2007)
Retaking Courses (Master’s Level Only)
A student desiring to retake an elective or required course to raise their GPA may do so. Both the original and the second grade will appear on the student’s transcript; and both will be used in the calculation of the student’s GPA. A student cannot retake a required course more than twice. A student may appeal to the Academic Affairs Committee to have a failing grade removed from his or her transcript. The student should submit the reasons for the grade removal and relevant documentation to the Registrar who will present it to the Academic Affairs Committee. The chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee will inform the student in writing of the Committee’s decision.
Limits on Required Courses (Master’s Level Only)
A student may only take a required course in his/her program two times. This includes students who failed or received an incomplete in a required course. Students who do not achieve a passing grade in a required course (“D” or better) after two attempts will be dismissed from the program. The student may appeal the dismissal by submitting a letter, with supporting documentation, to the Registrar who will present it to the Academic Affairs Committee. The chairperson of the Academic Affairs Committee will inform the student in writing of the Committee’s decision.
Help note: The seminary faculty realizes that students juggle a great number of responsibilities. If a student discovers, because of unexpected issues of employment or personal life, that he/she cannot complete assignments or a class on time, the student should immediately contact the faculty member and his or her Academic Advisor. The faculty member, the Dean of the Seminary, and the Academic Affairs Committee will work with a student to resolve any outstanding academic issues if brought to the appropriate persons in a timely manner. It is assumed by the faculty that the student will be proactive in resolving academic issues.