Policies and Procedures

At Palmer Theological Seminary the following educational policies and procedures are important for satisfactory completion of a degree program. Additional policies and procedures may be found in the Student Handbook.

Transfer of Credit
Credit will be granted for work done at other accredited theological schools or cognate graduate programs, provided that:

  • The transfer credit requested has not been applied to an undergraduate degree already received,
  • The work for which credit is requested is appropriate for the degree program(s) being pursued at Palmer Theological Seminary,
  • A grade of 2.0 (C) or better was earned in the course for which transfer credit is requested, and
  • The Academic Dean and Registrar approve of the request, based on these and other transfer of credit policies.
  • Minimum Residence Requirements for Palmer Theological Seminary Degrees
  • Twenty-two course units (one third of the 66 units required) must be taken at Palmer Theological Seminary for the M.Div. degree. For the Master of Theological Studies, 16 course units (one half of the 32 units required) must be taken at the Seminary.

Advanced Standing
Credit for advanced standing may be granted under the following conditions:

  • Advanced standing may be granted for both core and elective courses, provided the subject matter is appropriate to the M.Div. or M.T.S. programs.
  • Entering students wishing to be admitted with advanced standing for undergraduate work must pass written and oral exams prior to the commencement of their classes at the Seminary.
  • Entering students must apply no later than August 1 or January 2 to take advanced standing exams.
  • The Academic Dean and a professor in the relevant area will screen applications.
  • All exams, written and oral, will be administered at the Seminary during the week before orientation in the fall and spring semesters.
  • The Registrar will schedule all written exams, notifying students of the date, time, and room in which exams will be administered. All written exams in any given subject area will be administered at the same time.
  • Written exams will be evaluated by appropriate Seminary professors, who will then schedule oral exams with each student.
  • All exams, written and oral, must be evaluated by the end of Fall or Spring orientation week and results reported to the Registrar.
  • Standards of evaluation will be coordinated within departments, using our Qualities of Palmer Theological Seminary Graduates and department goals as guidelines.
  • Adjunct professors will be involved as needed.
  • Students will be charged $40.00 per exam.
  • Students in the M.Div. degree program may receive up to 11 units of advanced standing and M.T.S. students may receive up to 5 units.

Waivers of Required Courses
When a student has taken undergraduate courses comparable to required Seminary courses, permission to waive such courses may be granted. The process for requesting waivers is outlined in the Student Handbook. Academic credit is not awarded for waived courses; students must complete other coursework (usually a higher level offering in the area of the waived course) to earn the number of units required for their degree.

Completion of Registration
Registration is completed only when the Business Office notifies the Registrar that all bills have been paid or arrangements made to meet financial obligations. Students whose accounts are in arrears will not be permitted to take classes or apply for transcripts.

Determination of Status To be enrolled as a full-time student, one must meet the following requirements:

  • be enrolled in a degree program.
  • take 16 units or more in the academic year from September through June OR take 8 units or more from September through January or January/February through June.

If a student does not fulfill either of these requirements, the student will be classified as part-time.

Independent Studies
Independent Study/Reading courses may be negotiated with individual professors. Special request forms for this purpose are available from the Registrar and must be approved by the Academic Dean. Normally, only students who have a 3.0 (B) average or better and have completed at least 22 units M.Div./16 units M.T.S. are permitted to register for an Independent Study. An Independent Study may not be substituted for a required course. The process for engaging in an Independent Study is outlined in the Student Handbook.

Pre-class and after-class assignments are required in all intensive courses. This includes West Virginia courses, travel courses, Friday-Saturday intensives during the regular semester, and all J-term courses except Hebrew and Greek language intensives. The proportion of pre- and after-class assignments is approximately 1/3 and 2/3 respectively. The deadline for submitting after-class assignments is normally one month after a 1-unit course, and two months after a 2-unit course. For full information on Intensive courses consult the Student Handbook.

Inclusive Language
The Seminary is committed to the belief that in Christ, and in the new order inaugurated in his life, death and resurrection, there can be no room for inferior and superior categories of human beings, either on the basis of gender, race, ethnic or national origin. Within this conviction, Scripture teaches that males and females alike respond to the calling of God into the ministries of Christ, that God's Spirit gifts both males and females for such ministry.

Our expression of this commitment is seen in the Seminary's "Policy on Inclusive Language," printed in the Student Handbook.

Adding and Dropping Courses
All changes in registration for courses must be made within the drop/add periods of a semester (or the comparable period of time for an intensive course) in order to receive credit. No course may be added after the add period.

Course Load
In order to complete an M.Div. degree program in three years, a student needs to average 22 units per year. An average of 16 units per year is required to complete an M.T.S. degree in two years. Because of their need to be employed while in Seminary, most students exceed these minimal time frames.

Withdrawing from Courses
When a student withdraws from a course, the following designations are entered into the permanent record, as appropriate:

"W"-withdraw, no grade
"WP"-withdraw, passing
"WF"-withdraw, failing

W designates all withdrawals between weeks 3 and 6 of a semester. WP or WF designates all withdrawals from weeks 7 through the end of the semester.

Note: The seminary discourages unjustified withdrawal from courses, and also encourages realistic assessment of the likelihood of completing a course satisfactorily. Therefore, a period of grace has been added to the first half of the semester, and the consequences of withdrawing during the second half of the semester have been clarified.

  • Weeks 1-2: Drop/Add, no grade, no financial penalty
  • Weeks 3-6: W, no grade, but financial penalty applies
  • Weeks 7-12: WP or WF indicated on transcript, financial penalty applies.

Through week six of each semester, any course may be dropped for any reason without WP or WF being indicated on the transcript. If a student should find it necessary to withdraw from a course (or to drop out of seminary for a semester after the drop period), it is the student's responsibility to notify the Registrar's Office. This can be accomplished by either completing and signing a Withdrawal Form, which is available in the Registrar's Office, or by sending a letter explaining the reason(s) for withdrawal.

Between weeks seven and the end of the semester, WP or WF will be assigned on the basis of work already graded, and faithfulness in fulfilling other course requirements such as reading assignments, attendance and participation. This policy does not take away the option of requesting a leave of absence for personal, family or medical reasons. (See Student Handbook under "Leave of Absence", "Medical Leave of Absence" and "Returning after Leave of Absence").

These designations are given at the discretion of the course professor in relation to a particular course and appropriate to the circumstances of each individual student.

Withdrawing from Intensive or Friday/Saturday Courses
A student may withdraw from a course on the first or second day/weekend of class with no academic penalty. Withdraw (W) appears on the transcript. If a student withdraws after the second day/weekend of class, the professor must determine on the basis of work already done whether the student has withdrawn passing or failing. Withdraw passing (WP) or withdraw failing (WF) appears on the transcript. In either case, the student is responsible for notifying the Registrar's Office. This can be done by completing and signing a Withdrawal Form, available in the Registrar's Office, or by sending a letter explaining the reason(s) for the withdrawal.

Requests for Extensions
The completion and submission of course work in accordance with the course syllabus is an important measure of dependability and ability to plan ahead, both of which are qualities important in ministry.

The Seminary's policy on extensions for course work is found in the Student Handbook.

Evaluation System
The evaluation of students' work and growth toward competence for ministry takes place at numerous places and levels, including personal faculty feedback, evaluative comments on papers and examinations, peer input in group experiences, theological field education and clinical pastoral supervisors' reports.

Evaluation by others should not be understood as external pressure toward performance and success, or as a system that encourages destructive competition among students. Rather, evaluation should be understood as an invitation to growth and the maximizing of one's potential.

The Seminary's evaluation process achieves this goal through a mixed grading system, in which foundational competencies are evaluated on the basis of a clearly defined grade point system, while non-required electives may be taken on a credit/no credit basis, unless the course syllabus states otherwise. Students who wish to take non-required elective courses on a credit/no credit basis must inform their instructor during the first class period.

Point Value of Grades:

A     4.0
A-    3.7
B+   3.3
B     3.0
B-    2.7
C+   2.0
C-    1.7
NC (No Credit) 0.0

A grade of A (4.0 to 3.7) represents: (1) Superior understanding of course material and substantial evidence of ability to analyze critically and synthesize creatively. (2) Excellent techniques of scholarship in all projects. (3) Creativity, imagination, sound judgment, and intellectual curiosity in relating the course material to experience, ministry, and other areas of intellectual investigation.

A grade of B (3.3 to 2.7) represents: (1) Good understanding of course material; evidence of ability to produce viable generalizations and insightful implications. (2) Competence in techniques of scholarship in all projects. (3) Sustained interest and the ability to communicate the ideas and concepts which are part of the subject matter of the course.

A grade of C (2.3 to 1.7) represents: (1) Basic understanding of course material demonstrated by few errors in fact and judgment when discussing the materials. (2) Understanding of the techniques of scholarship. (3) Satisfaction of the minimum stated requirements for the course in preparation, outside reading, and class participation.

A grade of NC (0.0) represents: (1) Failure to understand course material demonstrated by substantial errors in fact and judgment when discussing the material. (2) Inability to use satisfactory techniques of scholarship. (3) Failure to fulfill the requirements of the course.

[Though we no longer assign D as a final grade, the following guidelines were approved for use of D as a grade for single assignments.]

With reference to single assignments, a grade of D represents: (1) Unsatisfactory understanding of the assignment demonstrated by numerous errors in fact and judgment when discussing the material. (2) Very little competence in the techniques of scholarship. (3) Satisfaction of less than the minimum standard of requirements for the assignment in preparation, outside reading, and class participation.

Credit/No Credit Grades

  1. To receive credit (CR):
  • a student must complete the basic course requirements within the allotted time, including attendance, participation in class and assignments, and
  • the quality of the work must be congruent with graduate work standards, given the criteria specified for the course.
  1. Receipt of no credit (NC), indicates that:
  • the student has failed to complete the course requirements as outlined above and/or
  • quality of work is not congruent with graduate work standards listed above.

Unless the course syllabus states otherwise, any non-required elective may be taken credit/ no credit if requested by the student during the first class period. A grade must be given for any course taken as a required core course or as a required elective.

M.Div. Theological Research and Writing Course
This course is open to all M.Div. students. The Seminary strongly encourages all students to take advantage of this opportunity. During orientation all M.Div. students are required to take a diagnostic test. Some students will be required to take the course based on the results of their writing test.

  • Students required to take the course must complete the course successfully by the time they complete 10 units.
  • The course will be listed on transcripts of students required to take the course. The transcript will show "0 Credit" until the course is passed. At that time the notation will change to "Pass."
  • If a student is required to take the writing course, it must be successfully completed in order to meet graduation requirements.

Assessments I & II
Effective ministry in today's complex world requires spiritual and psychological wholeness, academic competence and professional skills in ministry. Palmer Theological Seminary has articulated its distinctive perspectives on these qualities in its Mission Statement and document on Qualities of M.Div. Graduates.

To assure adequate monitoring and evaluation of student progress toward the following purposes, the Seminary requires all M.Div. students to register for Assessments I and II (INT 510 and INT 512). The satisfactory completion of Assessment I is a prerequisite for registration for second semester, as well as for Assessment II. For a complete description of the Assessment programs please refer to the Student Handbook.

Assessment I. The purpose of this assessment is to evaluate the M.Div. student's potential for effective ministry by: (1) identifying strengths and weaknesses for ministry; (2) determining whether the student has the potential to complete a graduate degree program; (3) addressing potential academic and ministry deficiencies; and (4) when necessary, initiating either appropriate remedial measures or termination procedures.

Assessment II. The purpose of this assessment is to monitor and evaluate readiness for ministry at about the two-thirds point of a student's M.Div. program. More specifically, the function of this assessment is (1) to diagnose strengths and needed growth in preparation for ministry; (2) to affirm strengths; (3) to analyze needed growth areas; and (4) to initiate appropriate measures to address needed growth areas.

The Review and Guidance Committee considers students' academic, personal and relational growth important. When a student experiences serious difficulties in any of these areas, he/she may be placed on probation.

Any one of the following circumstances will result in a student being placed on probation:

  • the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) is less than 2.0, or
  • the semester GPA is less than 2.0;
  • there are serious problems in moving toward readiness for ministry.

See further details in the Student Handbook.

Leave of Absence
If a student in good standing has personal, family or medical reasons to believe that enrollment in a minimum of one course is impossible, he/she must secure a Leave of Absence. Complete details may be obtained from the Registrar's Office and are included in the Student Handbook.

Grade point averages are computed on a numerical basis according to the value of grades as described above. CR (credit) designations in credit/no credit courses are not averaged into the GPA; NC (no credit) designations become part of the GPA.

Other designations on the transcript-I (incomplete) and IP (in process)-are removed when course work has been completed.

Following graduation, each student receives one transcript of credits. Additional transcripts are issued at the rate of $10.00 each.

Change of Degree Program
A student changing from one degree program (e.g. from M.T.S. to M.Div.) must abide by the course requirements of the catalog at the time of transfer. See Student Handbook for further details.