Policies And Procedures
The seminary has a non-discriminatory (race, sex, handicap) admissions policy. The school’s policy is to admit students to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities at the school and to make no discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or handicap in the administration of educational policies, applications for admission, scholarship or loan programs, and extracurricular programs. (There are a few restrictions for preaching labs. See M.Div. Design of the Curriculum, page 14.)
Applications for admission are reviewed for, and admission is granted into, specific programs of study offered by the seminary. Admission to one program of study does not imply admission is being granted to another program of the seminary.
Admission Requirements and Procedures
Applicants to programs of the seminary are evaluated on the basis of academic preparation and potential for ministry. Application for admission should be made at least three months prior to the date of enrollment. New students may enroll in the fall, winter, spring, or summer terms. Applications for admissions can be found at www.rts.edu.
The following materials should be addressed to the Director of Admissions:
- A completed application form.
- References from three individuals, including the applicant’s pastor.
- The application fee.
- A statement of Christian faith.
- A statement of reasons for wishing to pursue a particular degree.
- Official transcripts from all previous academic work (a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent with a 2.6 cumulative GPA is ordinarily required).
- A recent photograph.
Admission is normally granted on the basis of these credentials alone. However the seminary may require a personal interview with the applicant, an entrance exam, the Graduate Record Examination, or a psychological or aptitude test.
Any admitted student who defers enrollment more than one year beyond the initial entrance date must submit another completed application form, the application fee, and other material that may be requested by the Director of Admissions.
Upon acceptance to RTS, a non-refundable deposit is required, which will be credited toward the student’s first-semester tuition.
Degree Requirements for Admissions
For American baccalaureate degrees, RTS recognizes all schools accredited by “regional” accreditors (e.g., Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). For North American master’s level degrees, RTS recognizes all schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Concerning foreign equivalency and other “unaccredited” American schools, all degrees are considered on a case-by-case basis. In these cases, the primary criterion is general compatibility with the standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Theological Schools.
All international students must establish English language proficiency. RTS provides no testing to meet admission requirements in English language. All international students applying for admission to the M.A., M.Div., or D.Min. programs must submit at the time of application a score of not less than 550 on the paperbased Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or not less than 213 on the computer-based TOEFL. The test must include the writing section (TWE), which is included in the September, October, March, and May administrations.
- To register for the TOEFL/TWE test, applicants may contact TOEFL/TWE SERVICES, P. O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, USA; telephone: 609-771-7100; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://etsweb.ets.org.
- Applicants who score between 550 and 600 on the paper-based TOEFL, or between 213 and 250 on the computer-based TOEFL, may be required to take additional work in ESL or be limited in the number of hours they may take during any one term.
The Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) needed for obtaining a student visa for entry into the United States requires certification that the admitted student is proficient in English and has sufficient financial resources to provide for tuition and living expenses. This certification must be on the form I-20 at the time the student appears at the Embassy for a visa. The Admissions Office at the seminary will make certification of English language proficiency based on the scores reported for the TOEFL/TWE.
To demonstrate that the international student has sufficient financial resources, the admitted student must send the completed “Statement of Financial Resources” with attached documentation to the Admissions Office. This should be done as soon as possible after the applicant has been notified that his/her application for admission has been approved. The Admissions Office will make financial certification on the I-20 based on funds on deposit in the student’s account and on pledges of support by individuals, churches, foundations, etc.
An applicant may apply as a special student rather than applying to a degree program. Special student status allows a maximum of 18 semester hours of master’s-level courses.
All hours earned as a special student may be applied toward a degree. Therefore, it is important to consider carefully the possibility of entering a degree program during your course of study as a special student.
To apply as a special student, the following items should be sent to the Office of Admissions:
- A completed application form.
- The application fee.
- A completed Pastoral Reference form.
- A statement of Christian faith (see below).
- An official transcript indicating a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent.
- A recent photograph.
Concerning the above requirement of a statement of Christian faith, applicants who do not hold to historic and orthodox Christian doctrine may only be admitted as Special Students and may not be admitted to a degree program.
To upgrade from special student status to a master’s degree program, students must apply to a specific master’s degree and submit the remaining application requirements outlined on page 40.
For master’s level and doctoral level transfer of coursework, RTS recognizes all North American schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Concerning foreign equivalency, all degrees and coursework are considered on a case-by-case basis. Concerning other American schools not accredited by ATS, all coursework is considered on a case-by-case basis as advanced standing. (See “Advanced Standing” section for more information.) In these cases, the primary criterion is general compatibility with the standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Theological Schools. In all transfer of credit situations, RTS reserves the right to accept or decline credits in particular cases.
Students who desire to transfer credit from other graduate institutions should submit a transcript of their coursework and a catalog containing the course description. If courses apply to the RTS curriculum, credit may be granted for work completed. No credit will be given for work that received a grade below C (2.0). Normally, no credit will be given for work completed more than seven years prior to matriculation.
Gradepoint averages on RTS transcripts will be determined on the basis of work done only at Reformed Theological Seminary.
The maximum allowable transfer of credits is as follows:
- For D.Min., a maximum of 6 D.Min. credit hours (12 D.Min. credit hours are allowed from Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies)
- For M.Div., a maximum of 52 master’s credit hours
- For M.A./M.A.B.S./M.A.T.S., a maximum of 32 master’s credit hours
- For M.A.R., a maximum of 29 master’s credit hours
- For M.A.M. F.T.C. and M.A.C., normally few transfer credits are allowed due to the unique nature of these degrees.
Advanced Standing is distinct from transfer of credits and refers to decisions about a student’s competence when no accredited-graduate transcripts are presented. Advanced standing with credit reduces the number of hours required for the degree. Advanced standing without credit exempts a student from some courses but does not reduce the total number of credits required for a degree. RTS recognizes three main types of advanced standing with credit.
Advanced standing with credit may be given on the basis of oral or written assessment. The maximum of advanced standing for an M.A. student is 10 hours, and the maximum for an M.Div. student is 12 hours. These maximums include a combination of both advanced standing with and without credit.
Most often, this is related to the language exemption. A student may be exempted out of Greek 1 (3 hours), Greek 2 (3 hours), Hebrew 1 (3 hours), and Hebrew 2 (3 hours) by taking exemption exams for any one or all of these courses. The maximum advanced standing with credit that a student may receive is six hours for language exemptions. If the student was exempted out of more than six hours of language exemptions, the remainder of hours would be advanced standing without credit (up to four hours for an M.A. student and up to six hours for an M.Div. student).
RTS has a process to evaluate graduate schools that are not currently accredited by ATS to ensure graduate-level equivalency. Advanced standing with credit may be given for graduate courses taken at these “recognized” schools. If courses apply to the RTS curriculum, a maximum of 25% of the RTS degree-program hours may be given.
RTS has several agreements with well-known ministries wherein courses given by these ministries have been approved as equivalent to graduate-level coursework. A student may be given advanced standing with credit for this coursework, and the work may be applied to all M.A. and M.Div. degree programs, excepting counseling degrees. There is a maximum of 15 hours that may be given.
A student may receive advanced standing from more than one of the above categories, but in no case will more than 25% of the RTS degree-program hours be awarded as advanced standing.
In all situations, the primary equivalency criteria for advanced standing with credit is general compatibility with the standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Theological Schools. In addition, RTS reserves the right to give or decline advanced standing in particular cases.
Advanced standing without credit may be given based on either prior unaccredited academic work or significant ministerial and/or life experience.
A student may apply for advanced standing by contacting the local campus Registrar.
To ensure good educational quality, students are required to have a certain percentage of their credit hours taken at the same RTS degree-granting campus. These minimum requirements are as follows:
- For D.Min., a minimum of 12 credit hours plus the doctoral project must be taken at the same RTS .Min.-degree-granting campus.
- For M.Div., a minimum of 36 credit hours must be taken at the same RTS M.Div.-degree-granting campus.
- For M.A./M.A.B.S./M.A.T.S., a minimum of 34 credit hours must be taken at the same RTS M.A./M.A.B.S./M.A.T.S-degree-granting campus.
- For M.A.R., a minimum of 31 credit hours must be taken at the same RTS M.A.R.-degree-granting campus.
- For M.A.M. F.T.C. and M.A.C., normally all credit hours must be taken at the same RTS M.A.M.F.T.C. or M.A.C.-degree-granting campus due to the unique nature of these degrees.
The above percentages apply to both RTS residential campuses and RTS Global Education students. RTS Global Education offers the M.A.B.S, M.A.T.S., and M.A.R. degrees through distance education.
In situations that involve transfer credits and advanced standing, the following additional minimums relate to the D.Min. and M.Div.:
- For D.Min., a minimum of 12 credit hours plus the doctoral project must be taken at the same RTS D.Min.-degree-granting campus and a total of 24 credit hours somewhere in the RTS system. (See Ligonier exception in “Transfer Credits” section.)
- For M.Div., a minimum of 36 credit hours must be taken at the same RTS M.Div.-degree-granting campus and a total of 54 credit hours somewhere in the RTS system.
Grade point averages on RTS transcripts will be determined on the basis of work done only at Reformed Theological Seminary.
The grade “I” indicates that the work required for the course was not completed. It is given only when special, extenuating circumstances (such as illness) prevent the student from completing the work or taking the examination.
A written request for an extension must be submitted prior to the due date of the work concerned. If the request is granted, it remains the responsibility of the student to complete all work for the course as soon as possible. In any case, an “I” grade must be removed within the extension time granted; otherwise it will be changed to “F.”
The grade “W” indicates that a student has withdrawn from a course after the drop deadline. This grade is granted by the academic dean only in extenuating circumstances.
The grade “P” is only used as a Pass/Fail option and is limited to the Field Education course.
A grade of C or better is required to continue in the sequence of language courses (does not apply to RTS-Charlotte).
If a course is retaken, the original grade remains on the transcript and is included in the GPA.
For all RTS courses that have exceeded standard degree time limits and are now ineligible to be applied to a degree, these courses will be shown on a separate transcript and will not be applied to the student’s GPA.
A normal course load is 12 to 18 credit hours for the fall and spring semesters and two to four credit hours for the winter session. The permission of the Academic Dean must be obtained prior to registering for 19 or more credit hours either for the fall or the spring.
Master’s students who take fewer than 12 credit hours of academic work in the fall or spring semester are classified as part-time students.
D.Min. students who take six credit hours of academic work in a calendar year are classified as full-time students. D.Min. students are also considered full-time while making progress in the doctoral project phase.
Concerning individual course expectations, normally each RTS course is designed for two hours of work outside of the classroom for every hour in the classroom.
Drop / Add Dates
Students are permitted to add courses after the first day of class if done so by the add date listed in the academic calendar of the respective campus. An add fee will be charged after the first day of class. Courses may be dropped without academic penalty if done so by the drop date listed in the academic calendar of the respective campus. A drop fee will be charged after the first day of class. No courses may be added or dropped after the deadlines. For refunds related to courses dropped, see the refund policy.
English Bible and Catechism Requirements
Successful completion of a comprehensive examination in biblical content is required prior to graduation for the M.Div., M.A., M.A.B.S., M.A.T.S. degrees. This examination may be repeated until it is passed. A grade of C is considered a passing grade.
All M.Div. students are required to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Testing is taken in several segments and each segment may be repeated until it is passed.
Directed Study Courses
Students may request permission to take an independent, directed study course under the supervision of a professor. For master’s courses, a directed study requires a minimum of 1,000 pages of reading per credit hour, a project/paper, and at least six substantive interactions between the professor and the student. All directed study courses must be approved by the professor and the Academic Dean. These courses must be completed within the semester in which they are started. The normal tuition rate is charged for all directed study courses.
Directed study courses usually are offered to cover subjects that are not included in the published curriculum. Regularly scheduled elective and required courses may be taken by directed study upon the discretion of the professor and Academic Dean only when a course is required for graduation and cannot be worked into a student’s schedule.
Degree Time Limits
Students enrolled in the master’s degree programs have seven years to complete the degree requirements. Students enrolled in the D.Min. degree program have six years to complete the degree requirements. After the maximum time limit has been reached for a degree program, the student may apply for an extension. For doctoral students, extension fees will apply. In cases where students have received transfer credits and/or degree extensions, all course credits applied toward degree requirements should be earned within ten years of completing the degree.
Students are considered inactive after a one-year absence from coursework and are normally required to submit reapplication materials before re-enrollment. This inactive period may be included in the degree time limits.
For a student who reenrolls after his courses have exceeded the standard degree time limits and are now ineligible to be applied to a degree, these courses will be shown on a separate transcript and will not be applied to the student’s GPA.
Unless required earlier by the professor, all course assignments, term papers, and reports must be submitted by the deadline listed in the academic calendar for each campus. Extensions will be granted only for causes deemed adequate. A written request is required and must be approved by both the professor and the Academic Dean.
A student planning to withdraw from the seminary should report this in writing to the Registrar. For re-admission, the student is required to submit re-application materials before re-enrollment. This inactive period may be included in the degree time limits.
Academic Probation / Dismissal
A student who has a GPA under 2.6 for the baccalaureate degree may be placed on academic probation upon admission. The student is permitted to take RTS courses for 15 credit hours. After 15 credit hours, if the average GPA is below 2.0, the student is dismissed. After a period of one year, a student dismissed for academic reasons may apply for re-admission.
An RTS student whose GPA falls below 2.0 after completing 18 credit hours of coursework is placed on academic probation. The student is permitted to continue studies for an additional 15 credit hours. If the cumulative GPA remains below 2.0, the student is dismissed. After a period of one year, a student dismissed for academic reasons may apply for re-admission.
The Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling curriculum includes clinical and ethical requirements. If the program directors judge that personal and/or ethical issues impair a student’s ability to function as a therapist, the student may be required to participate in psychological assessment or remedial therapy and/or may be dismissed from the program.
Transcripts are released only upon receipt of a signed transcript request from the student. Upon graduation, the student receives a copy of the final transcript free of charge provided all accounts at the seminary have been settled. Additional copies are available for a fee. Copies of transcripts may take up to six business days to process.
Normally, the coursework, credits, and degree earned at RTS are transferable to other institutions; however, it is technically at the sole discretion of the receiving institution as to which of these will be accepted.
Classroom attendance is for the glory of God and preparation for the gospel ministry. Students therefore are expected to attend class sessions. No student should absent himself from classes in order to fulfill requirements or responsibilities of other classes. Those with absences may be penalized at the discretion of the professor.
Privacy of Student Records
RTS maintains the security and confidentiality of student educational records. All student records are kept in locked rooms and in locked file cabinets. In addition, all transcripted information for current degree-seeking students is digitally “backed-up” at an off-site location.
Since RTS does not accept Title IV student loan monies, RTS is not bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). However, RTS’ confidentiality policies are generally consistent with FERPA. RTS policies are as follows:
A student may inspect and review his/her academic file and transcript after a written request has been made to the Registrar’s office. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The Registrar will be present during this inspection and review.
If a student believes his/her academic file and/or transcript are inaccurate or misleading, the student may request to amend the file and/or transcript. The student should write the Registrar, clearly identifying the portion of the record that the student wishes to change and specifying what is inaccurate or misleading. If RTS decides not to amend, the student may use the student appeal process.
RTS will not disclose, without the student’s consent, personally identifiable information found in the student’s academic file or transcript, excepting legitimate educational interests and directory information.
Directory information includes, but is not limited to, name, address, telephone number, email, date and place of birth, spouse’s name, home state, previous schools attended, denomination and presbytery affiliation, grade level, dates of attendance, photo and photo of spouse, degree program, enrollment type (full-time, part-time), and degrees with date of graduation.
Research papers require borrowing other people’s ideas and words. However, the source of such borrowing must be acknowledged properly so that your ideas are clearly distinguished from ideas that you borrowed. If the source is not acknowledged properly, your work is plagiarism. For an excellent summary on what constitutes plagiarism, see Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (rev. by Wayne C. Booth, etc.; 7th ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 77-80 (section 7.9).
Plagiarism includes word-for-word copying, lifting terms, restatement of someone’s argument or line of thought, etc.–all without acknowledgment of source. Plagiarism also includes giving a source partial credit when more is taken from that source than indicated.
Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is very serious. All plagiarism cases are referred to the Academic Dean for resolution. Consequences may include some of the following:
- repeat the assignment and receive a maximum of a D on the assignment
- receive an F on the assignment
- receive an F in the course
- expulsion from the seminary
Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times as mature believers. Exemplary Christian conduct should control our words and our actions, both public and private. In today’s technological environment our words can include texting, emails, social networking and blogging, in addition to our speech. Godly behavior, expected of all Christians, is especially required of those who are preparing themselves to become ministers of the Word or servants in the church. Classroom manners should also reflect this maturity. Students should be respectful of professors, attend all class periods, and hand in assignments on time. Classroom etiquette also includes leaving cell phones turned off, refraining from surfing the Internet and laptop computer games and communicating to your neighbor during lectures.
Student conduct is under the supervision of the Dean of Students. The seminary reserves the right to dismiss any student whose conduct is found to be unsatisfactory on the basis of spiritual or moral principles found in the Scriptures. If desired, the student can appeal the dismissal according to the student appeals policy.
The seminary expects all members of its community to apply sanctified common sense and biblical principles to their relationships. It will not tolerate offensive or inappropriate sexual behavior and requires all faculty, staff and students to refrain from any action or conduct which could be viewed as sexual harassment. Any such harassment is contrary to and prohibited by seminary policy and will be considered grounds for disciplinary action. It should be noted that for academic purposes, some appropriate teaching and discussion of sexual information may occur, particularly in a counseling program; however, these discussions are necessary for the formation of a competent counselor or pastor and therefore does not constitute sexual harassment.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other offensive verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is expressly prohibited. Examples of prohibited conduct include but are not limited to lewd or sexually suggestive comments; off-color language or jokes of a sexual nature; verbal, graphic or physical conduct inappropriately relating to an individual’s gender; or any display of sexually explicit pictures, greeting cards, articles, books, magazines, photos, computer images or cartoons.
The seminary must have the cooperation of all faculty, staff and students in order to implement its sexual harassment policy. It is the individual’s responsibility to report immediately any incident which they believe to constitute sexual harassment. Even if they believe the act is isolated or infrequent, they should report it to the campus Dean of Students or President. The seminary will promptly investigate the situation and take whatever corrective action is necessary and appropriate. The seminary prohibits any retaliatory action against persons reporting conduct which is believed by the reporting individual to be in violation of this policy.
Student Complaints and Appeals Process
An appeals process exists to resolve any behavioral or academic problem that cannot otherwise be settled in a biblical manner and assures fairness to all parties concerned. This process is rarely needed and should only be used after all other means have been exhausted. For example, in academic matters that pertain to a class or a grade, the student should first work directly with the professor and/or Registrar. Concerning behavioral or community issues, the student should first consult with the Dean of Students.
If the matter cannot be resolved by the above means, the following appeals process exists:
- The student should submit a written appeal to the Academic Dean regarding the issue. Depending on the issue, the Academic Dean may request input from the Faculty. The Academic Dean will render a written decision.
- If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the Academic Dean, then the student may submit a subsequent written appeal to the campus President requesting a hearing. The campus President may or may not grant the request. If granted, the campus President will appoint an ad hoc committee that may consist of trustees, faculty, staff, and/or institutional officers to hear the case. This committee is authorized to meet with any or all concerned parties to resolve the issue and will render a written decision concerning the case.
- The decision of the President or the ad hoc committee is considered final, subject only to review by the Executive Committee of the Board to affirm the appeals process was properly observed.