Connected Campus

3.4.6 Practices for Awarding Credit

 

The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery.

 

_X_  Compliance           ___  Partial Compliance          ___  Non-Compliance

 

Narrative

 

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS) ensures that credit awarded for all courses, regardless of format, is equivalent and the process for determining the amount and level of credit awarded is sound and acceptable. There are published policies for determining the level and amount of credit awarded and faculty are involved in reviewing academic credit awarded to students. These practices are in compliance with Federal Regulation 4.9 and the school observes published policies for determining the level and amount of credit awarded for undergraduate and graduate coursework delivered through distance learning technology.

 

Academic Credit Policies

 

MABTS utilizes general policies in determining a definition for credit hours, transferring of academic credit from other institutions, and granting of academic credit for previous non-academic experience and supervised field education projects. The institution clearly defines its policies on advanced standing, directed studies, and auditing courses. They delineate coursework credit policies (class assignments, examinations, incomplete work, and the grading scale), and policies relating to grading (course-related code designations, failure of a course, transcript records of grades, grade reports, quality points). The school also publishes policies concerning graduation, academic credit, and practical missions program requirements.

 

General Policies. The seminary follows commonly accepted higher education procedures for determining credit hours in a semester system by defining a credit hour as “one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit” [1]. This information is also considered in Federal Requirement 4.9 (Definition of Credit Hours).

 

MABTS’s use of the 50-minute clock hour as equivalent to one hour is in accordance with commonly accepted practice in higher education. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) [2] of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides the following definitions of contact (clock) hour and credit hour:

 

  • Contact Hour: “A unit of measure that represents an hour of scheduled instruction given to students. Also referred to as clock hour.”
     
  • Credit Hour: “A unit of measure representing the equivalent of an hour (50 minutes) of instruction per week over the entire term. It is applied toward the total number of credit hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.”

 

MABTS courses are worth three semester-hour units [3] based on the commonly accepted higher education semester calendar system: “A calendar system that consists of two sessions called semesters during the academic year with about 15 weeks for each semester of instruction. There may be an additional summer session” [4]. Traditionally delivered courses typically provide fifteen weeks of instruction and one week for the final examination, for a total of 47 contact hours, which then equates to three credit hours for each course [5]. Course credit in the Doctor of Ministry [6] and Doctor of Philosophy [7] programs is awarded on a different schedule. Courses offered in non-traditional formats, such as those scheduled during accelerated summer or winter mini-terms, must also meet minimum contact hour standards [8]. Credit awarded for distance education (distance learning technology) courses is determined in the same way as residential courses. MABTS does not award credit for courses or programs outside the commonly accepted practices in higher education. Total credit hours required for completion of respective degrees are published in the Catalog (pages 95-193).

 

Transfer of Academic Credit from Other Institutions. A student seeking to transfer academic credit from another seminary-level institution must complete a Transfer of Credit Form. Each request is evaluated by the Academic Records office, Academic Vice President, and the Master and Undergraduate Committee. Transfer credit may be granted for previous education in institutions providing similar courses with equivalent standards and requirements. Transfer credits may be accepted from institutions listed in the Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education [published by the American Council on Education (ACE) in consultation with the Council for Higher Education (CHEA)] as long as the transfer hours are pertinent to the courses offered at MABTS. No transfer credit is given for baccalaureate courses toward the requirements for the master degree programs. No transfer credit is granted for courses taken by correspondence, extension programs, or distance learning programs unless such courses are included on the official transcript of an accredited institution. Transfer credit is granted only for courses in which the grade is C or higher. No remedial courses will be accepted. The student is allowed to transfer only the amount of electives that are required for their specific program. The Transfer of Credit Form is not officially reviewed until student has been approved to attend MABTS. See the Academic Records office for the appropriate form.

 

Each degree program has a limit on the number of hours that can be transferred from another institution. Sixty-hour associate programs have a limit of thirty, the one hundred twenty-hour bachelor program can transfer in up to ninety, and master level ninety-hour programs are allowed to transfer as many as sixty hours. The last thirty hours of any degree program must be completed at MABTS [9].

 

Granting of Academic Credit for Previous Non-Academic Experience. No academic credit is granted for previous non-academic experiential learning activities or for related field experience toward the completion of requirements for any degree program at the seminary [10].

 

Granting of Academic Credit for Supervised Field Education Projects. Academic credit may be granted for supervised field education projects such as mission trips, archaeological studies, or hospital chaplaincy programs, provided that the student is enrolled at the seminary, the field project includes a substantial component of academic requirements, and the field project is supervised and evaluated by an authorized person designated by the seminary. Requests for specific field education projects for credit must be processed through the Dean of the Master and Undergraduate programs. Students should see the Academic Record office for the appropriate form [11].

 

Advanced Standing. Advanced standing refers to departmental authorization to substitute advanced courses in the place of certain survey courses normally required in an academic program. Applications for advanced standing based on previous academic training are approved through the departmental chairman. If advanced standing is approved, the student does not receive academic credit for the basic course from which he or she is exempted; however, the student does receive authorization to substitute for credit other advanced courses in the department.

 

Requirements for Advanced Standing. Students who have completed a parallel college course with a grade of B or better may apply for advanced standing on the basis of their college record. A proficiency examination may be required to demonstrate competency if deemed necessary by the chairman of the department. Students who have not completed a parallel academic course in college may nevertheless apply for advanced standing on the basis of equivalent personal study, but they must demonstrate competency by a proficiency examination.

 

Application Procedure for Advanced Standing. Students who seek advanced standing must make timely application in advance to allow for processing and approval by the department chairman. At the Cordova campus, application forms for advanced standing are obtained from the Registrar’s office. The application is submitted to the department chairman for evaluation and determination of conditions under which advanced standing may be granted (on the basis of previous academic record and/or proficiency examination). If advanced standing is granted, the department chairman will prescribe the courses that may be substituted in each individual circumstance. At the Northeast campus, applications for advanced standing are processed through the Director’s office.

 

Proficiency Examinations for Advanced Standing. The following proficiency examinations are offered by appointment on the Monday before the first day of registration for each semester:

 

Elementary Hebrew (HB 5401-5402)        

Elementary Greek (GR 5801–5802)

Old Testament Survey (OT 5101–5102)

New Testament Survey (NT 5601–5602)

History of Christianity (CH 6001)

 

In addition to the regularly scheduled proficiency examinations, individual proficiency examinations may be scheduled during the year by appointment with the department chairman. Students who qualify on these examinations must substitute for credit the advanced courses deemed appropriate by the department chairman.

 

Exemption from Beginning Greek, GR 5801–5802. A student who has completed two semesters of college Greek, with the approval of the chairman of the New Testament Department, may be permitted to be exempt from GR 5801–5802 and to enroll in Intermediate Greek, GR 5811.

 

A student whose transcript does not show acceptable college credit who nevertheless offers strong evidence of expertise in Beginning Greek, may request to take the Greek placement exam with the approval of the chairman of the New Testament Department. With adequate scoring, the student will be allowed to enroll in Intermediate Greek, GR 5811 [12].

 

Directed Study. After completing forty-five semester hours in the Master of Christian Education, Master of Divinity, Master of Missiology and Intercultural Studies programs or thirty hours in the Master of Arts in Christian Education program, a qualified student may petition the faculty for permission to take a directed study.

 

Directed studies are available for advanced research in specialized areas of academic pursuit. This program is not designed as an alternative approach for the completion of courses that are available in the curriculum offerings. Students therefore may not take a required course as a directed study. There will be no directed studies during the mini-terms.

 

The student must have at least a 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 and must submit a request to the dean of the master and undergraduate programs or the director’s office at the Northeast campus. The request must include a recommendation by the department chairman and the professor who will direct the research together with a course syllabus. Requests for directed studies must be approved by the dean of the master and undergraduate programs or, if the request does not meet Catalog policy, the Master and Undergraduate Committee. Directed Study Request forms are available from the Registrar.

 

The student will be guided in reading and assignments and will report their progress (related to the syllabus and any other assignments) to the professor weekly. An annotated bibliography will be required for reading that is done for non-language based directed studies in addition to the research paper [13].

 

Auditing Courses. Current students may request permission to audit elective courses for personal enrichment without receiving academic credit. Requests must first be approved by the course professor and processed through the office of the Dean of the Master and Undergraduate programs or the Director’s office at the Northeast campus for final approval. Students may not audit a non-required course which they intend to take for credit later. Students auditing a course are not required to take the tests in the audited course [14].

 

Class Assignments. Class assignments must be submitted on or before the due date announced by the professor. Late assignments may be reduced in grade or refused by the professor at his or her discretion. If the reason for the late work is excusable by seminary definition, it is the prerogative of the professor to determine the nature, extent, and due date of makeup work. If the reason for the late work is not excusable by seminary definition, there is no obligation for the professor to provide makeup opportunity. (See the General Academic Regulations section in the Catalog for the seminary's definition of excused) [15].

 

Examinations during the Semester. All regular examinations must be taken at the time announced by the professor. Makeup tests may be reduced in grade or refused by the professor at his or her discretion if the student’s absence from the scheduled test is unexcused by seminary definition. All makeup tests must be completed within two weeks at the time and place designated by the professor.

 

Final Examinations. A final examination is given in each class. Final examinations are to be taken at the time scheduled by the seminary. No test may be taken early, and a student absent because of illness or excusable emergency must make up the examination at the instructor’s discretion within two weeks. Take-home final examinations may be distributed at any point during the course by the professor and are due no later than the final day of the examination schedule. Final examinations may be rescheduled only by special petition to the Master and Undergraduate Committee [16].

 

Incomplete Work. All work required in a course is due by the end of the semester. Incomplete grades (I) are given only when emergencies or physical difficulties prevent students from completing their work. Any course work incomplete at the end of the semester may be made up only at the discretion of the professor and in accordance with his or her instructions. A grade penalty will be assessed even though the student is allowed to make up the work. Any grade of Incomplete (I) must be removed within thirty days after the end of the semester or the grade automatically becomes an F [17].

 

Grading Scale. Grade point averages are determined on a 12-point grading system. The grade point value of each letter grade is listed below:

 

A

97–100

    4.0 quality points per semester hour

A-

95–96

    3.8 quality points per semester hour

B+

93–94

    3.5 quality points per semester hour

B

90–92

3.0 quality points per semester hour

B-

87–89

2.7 quality points per semester hour

C+

84–86

2.3 quality points per semester hour

C

81–83

2.0 quality points per semester hour

C-

77–80

1.7 quality points per semester hour

D+

75–76

1.3 quality points per semester hour

D

72–74

1.0 quality points per semester hour

D-

70–71

0.7 quality points per semester hour

F

69 and below

0.0 quality points per semester hour

       

The 12-point grading system allows a student the possibility of graduating with a perfect 4.0 average. A cumulative grade point average of 2.0, however, will constitute the lowest passing average to graduate. A cumulative grade point average below 2.0 will be the basis for academic probation.

 

Course-Related Code Designations. Course-related code designations are as follows:

 

I          Incomplete; becomes an F if not removed within thirty days after the end of the semester

TR       Transfer credit accepted from another institution

WP      Withdrawal before twelve class hours; no penalty

WF      Failure due to withdrawal after twelve class hours

FA       Failure due to excessive absences

AU      Audit completed

AW      Withdrawal from an audited course; no penalty

AN      Audit not completed; no penalty

AS       Advanced standing granted in a required course; alternate prescribed elective course to be taken

P         Pass

EX       Exempt

CO      Course completed

 

Failure of a Course. A required course in which a grade of F is received must be repeated until a passing grade is achieved. If a grade of F is received in an elective course, the course may be repeated or another elective course may be attempted. In either event, the cumulative grade point average of a student must be maintained at the level of at least 2.0 on a scale of 4.0 in order for the student to continue working toward graduation without restriction.

 

Transcript Record of Grades. All grades are permanently recorded on the student’s academic transcript and become a part of his or her scholastic record. An unsatisfactory grade (D or F) in a course must remain on the transcript and is used in calculation of the student’s grade point average. If a student repeats a course due to an unsatisfactory grade, the new grade is also recorded on the transcript. The last grade earned in the course is the grade used to calculate the student’s grade point average. Students cannot repeat a course to raise a grade of B or C.

 

Grade Reports. Grade reports are available to the student through SonisWeb, the academic software used by the school. Grades are generally posted approximately three weeks after final examinations.

 

Quality Points. Quality points are recorded as follows:

 

 A         4.0 quality points per semester hour

            A-        3.8 quality points per semester hour

            B+       3.5 quality points per semester hour

            B         3.0 quality points per semester hour

            B-        2.7 quality points per semester hour

            C+       2.3 quality points per semester hour

            C         2.0 quality points per semester hour

            C-        1.7 quality points per semester hour

            D+       1.3 quality points per semester hour

            D         1.0 quality points per semester hour

            D-        0.7 quality points per semester hour

            F          0.0 quality points per semester hour

 

The total number of quality points earned in each course is recorded on the student’s transcript along with the record of the course grade and the student’s cumulative grade point average. The grade point average is calculated by adding the total number of quality points earned and dividing by the total number of academic hours attempted [18].

 

General Requirements for Graduation. In order to qualify for graduation from the seminary, students must fulfill the specific program requirements stipulated in the Catalog with regard to their degree. In addition, each student must satisfy general requirements for graduation.

 

Academic Credit Requirements. Of the total number of credit hours required for graduation in the student’s degree program, he or she must complete the last thirty semester hours at MABTS, with the exception of the on-field completion of the Master of Missiology and Intercultural Studies degree. Each student’s cumulative grade point average must be a minimum of 2.0 on a scale of 4.0 in order to be eligible for graduation.

 

Practical Missions Program Requirements. The Practical Missions program is an integral part of the training of every student enrolled at this seminary. Students may not graduate without completing the Practical Missions requirements for each semester enrolled. The nature, scope, and requirements of the Practical Missions program are clarified in the Practical Missions program section of the Catalog [19].

 

Faculty Review of Credit Awarded

 

The Masters and Undergraduate Committee “serves as the curriculum committee for the Masters and Undergraduate programs, making a continuous study of the academic offerings as listed in the Catalog.” The Doctor of Ministry Committee and the Doctor of Philosophy Committee oversee the curriculum in the doctoral programs [20]. All courses on the Masters and Undergraduate level at MABTS are three credit hours [21]. The primary responsibility for curriculum rests with the faculty (led by the chair) in each department [22]. This assures that curriculum content reflects the most current disciplinary trends, instructional methods and assignments are in keeping with programmatic expectations, credit hours are commensurate with course work, and expected learning outcomes are determined by the curriculum design for the whole degree program.

 

Federal Compliance of Credit Awarded

 

MABTS uses sound and acceptable practices to determine the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, irrespective of format or mode of delivery. The seminary “reports academic credits in units of semester hours” [23], each hour representing three hours of academic credit. MABTS adheres to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 668.8 (k) and (l) [24], Rule 1540-01-02-03 (ll) in the Rules of Tennessee Higher Education Commission on pages 7-8 [25], and to its own definition of semester hour units in the Catalog [26].

 

Distance Learning Policy for Credit Awarded

 

MABTS's distance education program is in accordance with the SACSCOC definition: “In conjunction with the federal definition, SACSCOC defines distance education as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program” [27]. Non-traditional courses are subject to the same review requirements as all courses. These courses involve a variety of methodologies.

 

Non-traditional courses may vary in format but are equivalent in expected learning outcomes. Credit awarded for distance education (distance learning technology) courses is determined in the same way as face-to-face courses. For a three hour course, online students must log on to the course website (www.midamericaondemand.org) three days each week—similar to a traditional three-hour residency class that meets three times a week [28]. Work assignments are equivalent to those for a regular three-hour semester resident course [29]. Students taking classes through the distance education program must meet all academic requirements and the Practical Missions requirement that apply to resident students [30]. Students may earn up to 49% of graduation requirements through online courses [31].

 

Documentation

 

1. SACSCOC Credit Hour Definition

2. IPEDs Glossary

3. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 92

4. Semester Definition

5. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 63

6. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 170-171

7. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 193

8. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 83-84

9. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 66-67

10. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 67

11. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 67

12. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 67-69

13. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 69

14. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 69

15. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 69-70

16. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 70

17. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 70

18. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 70-72

19. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 72

20. 2014-15 MABTS Employee Handbook, p. 40-43

21. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 92

22. 2014-15 MABTS Employee Handbook, p. 41

23. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 92

24. Federal Regulations on Credit Hours

25. Rules of TN Higher Education Commission

26. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 92

27. SACSCOC Definition of Distance Education

28. Online Course Sample Intermediate Greek (GR 5811)

29. Greek 1 (5801) Syllabus Online

30. Online Requirements for Students

31. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 83

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