Rules & Regulations
This page contains a summary of the academic rules and regulations of McMaster Divinity College. Please feel free to use this page as a resource regarding questions, concerns, or other issues as they arise.
McMaster Divinity College is a religious community of people training for and engaged in Christian ministry. As part of their commitment to Christian faithfulness, members of the Divinity College community are expected to maintain the highest standards of personal and professional conduct in all fields.
Definition of Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty is not qualitatively different from other types of dishonesty. It consists of misrepresenting the ownership of written work by deception or by other fraudulent means. In an academic setting this may include any number of forms such as: copying or using unauthorized aids in tests, examinations and laboratory reports; plagiarism, i.e., submitting work that is not one's own; submitting work for credit to an instructor for which previous credit has been obtained from another instructor, unless the previously submitted work was presented as such to the instructor of the second course and has been acceptable for credit by the instructor of that course; aiding and abetting another student's dishonesty; giving false information for the purposes of gaining admission or credit; giving false information for the purposes of obtaining deferred examinations or extension of deadlines; forging or falsifying McMaster University or McMaster Divinity College documents. [Adapted from the McMaster University Academic Integrity Policy]
In cases of suspected dishonesty with regard to course work, the course instructor shall:
- Consult with the Academic Dean or designate about suspected academic dishonesty and specify the evidence (at this stage the identity of the student is not revealed).
- Notify the student that academic dishonesty is suspected, specify the evidence, and inform the Academic Dean.
- Provide the student a fair opportunity to respond within two weeks after contacting the student by setting up a meeting at the convenience of both parties.
- The student is not permitted to withdraw from the course concerned during that two-week period.
- If the student does not respond to the course instructor's attempts to make contact within that two-week period, the Academic Dean will write a letter to the student outlining the suspected Academic Dishonesty, will state the evidence, and will keep a copy of that letter in the student's file and in a special file on Academic Dishonesty.
As a result of a meeting regarding a first offence, the course instructor reports the outcome to the Academic Dean. If the course instructor establishes that Academic Dishonesty occured, he or she may give a grade as low as 0% for the assignment. The Academic Dean will maintain a record of all occurrences of Academic Dishonesty in a special file that registers each offence as first, second or third.
In the case of second or third offences, the Academic Dean will bring the case to Faculty as a whole for its decision regarding an appropriate penalty, which may range from failure in the course, suspension, to expulsion from the College. Second and third offences will also be recorded in the student's file and registered on their transcript.
First offences may be appealed to the Academic Dean within 30 days. Students may appeal the Faculty's decisions regarding second or third offences within 30 days to a person designated by the College Senate who has expertise in Academic Dishonesty issues and is familiar with the College. Based on their interaction, a student may request that their appeal go before a committee of the College Senate, reported by the designated outside person, for a final decision to be made by the College Senate.
In addition to this statement, the McMaster University Academic Integrity Policy [www.mcmaster.ca/senate/academic/ac_integrity.htm] is also valid for all members of the McMaster Divinity College community. For further explanation and examples of academic dishonesty, please refer to “Appendix 3: Academic Dishonesty Explanation and Examples” of the Academic Integrity Policy.
Academic Standing and Grades
for work displaying mastery of the subject-matter, creativity and individualized integration of insights and their relationship
for work displaying a good level of competence and comprehension
for work which meets basic course requirements but demonstrates a low level of comprehension
for work which falls below minimum standards
unsatisfactory work and/or failure to meet course requirements.
- Letter grades are given for all courses. Plus and minus signs indicate work of higher or lower quality within the guidelines for each letter grade. Some courses, such as Ministry Formation, may be evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis.
- In the M.Div., M.T.S., Dip.Min. and Cert.C.S., and Occasional programs, any course below C- does not count for credit and must be repeated if it is a required course.
- In the M.A. and Ph.D. programs, any course below B- does not count for credit and must be repeated.
- Students who repeat a course and fail a second time will not be permitted to register in that course again, even in the case of a required course. If the failed course is an elective course, a substitute course may be permitted with the approval of the Academic Dean or designate.
- The absolute deadline for all course assignments is the last day of the examination schedule. Any missing assignments will receive a grade of "0".
- Once the final grade sheet has been submitted, the course instructor may not change a grade without consultation with the Academic Dean or designate.
Adding and Dropping Courses
Students must rigorously adhere to all deadline dates for adding and dropping courses. McMaster Divinity College follows the University deadlines for dropping and adding courses. These deadlines are posted on the University and College websites and are available from the Student Records Office of McMaster Divinity College. The financial charges for dropped courses are pro-rated depending on the date that the course is dropped. After the last possible date for dropping a course, the student remains registered in the course, receives no refund of fees, and is assigned an automatic grade of F (Failure).
Students wishing to make changes in their registration by either dropping or adding courses must communicate this in writing (an e-mail is acceptable) to the Student Records Office for approval by the Registrar. The Student Records Office will confirm the drop/add status with the student.
Courses completed as part of an undergraduate degree cannot receive transfer credit to MDC. If, however, one has completed relevant language, biblical or theology courses as part of the undergraduate program, these may be eligible for Advanced Standing in some areas. This would allow the student to replace some required courses with electives. The Registrar will determine eligibility for Advanced Standing. A syllabus of the course will be required.
Courses completed at the graduate level at an institution accredited by a recognized accrediting body may be eligible for transfer into a program at MDC. The Registrar will determine eligibility for Advanced Credit. A syllabus of the course will be required.
- The MDC exam period begins on the first Monday following the end of classes and lasts one week. The exam timetable is the same as the course timetable.
- Courses with final exams must schedule the exams during the exam period.
- The absolute deadline for all MDC assignments is the last day of the examination schedule.
- If exceptional circumstances (e.g. bad weather) cause the University to close and exams are cancelled, these will be rescheduled the following week (same day and time).
- No tests or exams (unless worth 10% or less of the final grade) are to be administered during the last week of classes.
- Take-home examinations may be handed out during the last week of classes but cannot be due before the first day of exam week; the due date can be any time during the exam week.
Reasons for Rescheduling an Exam
The following three categories outline the reasons for applying for the rescheduling of an exam.
Category 1: Reasons known well in advance of exam date, and not due to the choice of the student:
- 3 exams in twenty-four hours
- 2 exams scheduled at the same time
- a disability (written documentation must be provided)
Category 2: Reasons not known in advance, and not due to the choice of the student:
- illness (a doctor’s note must be provided)
- family or personal crisis (written documentation must be provided)
Category 3: Reasons due to the choice(s) of student.
In general, Category 1 & 2 requests will be granted (with proper documentation provided by the student). Category 3 requests will be considered on an individual basis. The decision making process is as follows:
- Category 1 & 2: Academic Dean (or designate) makes the decision.
- Category 3: Academic Dean (or designate) and relevant faculty member(s) makes the decision.
Comments on Category 3 requests. Students should not make plans that require a rescheduling of an exam since it is rare that such a request will be granted. McMaster Divinity College and faculty are not responsible for any money lost or negative consequences due to a decision to refuse an exam rescheduling request.
All date change requests must be made through the use of the “Exam Reschedule Form.”
- Category 1 applications must be made a minimum of thirty days in advance of the exam date.
- Category 2 applications must be made as soon as the circumstances allow.
- Category 3 applications must be made as soon as the circumstances allow.
All documentation will be kept confidentially in the student’s file.
Penalties & Fees
For Category 1 & 2 applications there is no fee and no penalty.
For Category 3 applications note the following:
- A $100 fee must accompany the Exam Reschedule Form.
- $50 of the fee will be refunded for a request denied.
An appeal of the decision may be made to the Academic Dean of the College. His/her decision will be final.
McMaster Divinity College uses inclusive language for human beings in worship services, student written materials, and all of its publications. In reference to biblical texts, the integrity of the original expressions and the names of God should be respected. The NRSV and TNIV are examples of the use of inclusive language for human beings. It is expected that inclusive language will be used in Chapel services and in all MDC assignments.
Incompletes and Deferrals
Course Instructors may not assign a grade of incomplete (INC) or deferred (DEF) unless the following procedures have been followed:
- Any student requesting an Incomplete must first fill out an "Application for an Incomplete/Deferral" available from the Student Records Office or above. Application must be made before the deadline date for submission of course assignments.
- Students must meet with the instructing faculty member to discuss the incomplete or deferral before submitting the form to the Registrar.
- Students must then make an appointment with the Registrar to obtain approval for the request.
- A firm deadline date for completing the course requirements will be set and recorded on the form.
- The student, the course instructor and the Registrar, after consultation with the Academic Dean, must sign the form, indicating their agreement to the terms, conditions, and deadlines.
- Only then may the instructor record the grade as incomplete (INC) or deferred (DEF) on the final grade sheet for submission to the Student Records Office.
- Any grade of incomplete (INC) or deferred (DEF) appearing on the final grade sheet that has not received official approval from the Registrar will be automatically converted to "F" by the Student Records Office.
- Reasons for Granting a Status of Incomplete or Deferral
- Incompletes will be granted only for reasons of sickness, death, or major crisis in the immediate family. A doctor's note must accompany the application for an incomplete on the basis of illness.
- Incompletes can be granted for up to 12 weeks.
- The timeframe for deferrals is between 12 weeks and 12 months.
- Incompletes or deferrals are not given for work overload. A student who feels overloaded with work should make arrangements to drop the course by the withdrawal deadline.
Consequences of a Grade of Incomplete or Deferral
- A student with two or more grades of incomplete or one deferral is ineligible to register for more courses until the incomplete or deferred work is submitted.
- A student with one incomplete may be eligible for academic awards and/or financial assistance.
Completion/Incompletion of the Terms of the Incomplete or Deferral Status
- Upon completion of the course requirements, the instructor is responsible for notifying the Student Records Office that the grade of INC or DEF may be changed to the appropriate grade. The Student Records Office will then record the grade change with the university to ensure accuracy in the student's transcript.
- Only in exceptional circumstances will students be allowed to re-negotiate the recorded deadline date for the Incomplete. Requests for an extension of the deadline date must be made in writing to the Registrar. A DEF may be granted at that time for extreme circumstances. Under a DEF status the student may request to postpone completing course requirements for up to 12 months. The final decision is negotiated between the Registrar, in consultation with the Academic Dean, and the Faculty.
- If the student fails to meet the recorded deadline, the Student Records Office will automatically convert the grade of INC or DEF to "F" unless instructed otherwise by the Registrar.
Letters of Permission (LOP)
Students who wish to take courses at another seminary or university, for credit towards their degree, must request a Letter of Permission (LOP) from the Registrar. The LOP must be submitted to the requested institution at the time of registration in order to receive credit for the course at MDC. No guarantee can be given for transfer credit to MDC for courses completed elsewhere without a Letter of Permission. Students are responsible for fulfilling admission requirements set by the other institution. Students have four (4) months (the equivalent of one semester at MDC) to complete the course. At the end of the course, the student must request that an official transcript of the final grade be sent to the Student Records Office at McMaster Divinity College.
M.Div. and M.T.S. students may take no more than 5 courses (15 units) at other institutions.
A student may receive transfer credit for CAPPE-certified SPE units provided that a Letter of Permission has first been obtained from the Dean or designate.
Fees for courses taken at other institutions are payable directly to the institution involved.
Courses selected to replace required courses at MDC must be equivalent in content and academic requirements.
In order to request a LOP, an application for a Letter of Permission (use the link at the top of this page) must be completed and submitted to the Student Records Office at MDC, along with the course outline, for review by the Registrar.
Upon receipt of the LOP application, the Student Records Office will forward the necessary information to the Academic Dean or designate for approval. Once approved, the Student Records Office will send the approved LOP to the institution offering the course and email the student to confirm its approval.
Students must register at both MDC and the other institution. The Student Records Office will assist the student in completing the MDC registration form so that the correct codes are entered for the LOP course.
Probationary Status - On Admission
- An applicant may be admitted on probation for any reason deemed advisable by the Admissions Committee.
- Students admitted into a degree program with less than the required average for admission in their previous degree (B- or 70%) are automatically placed on probation.
- Students admitted without a B.A. (or equivalent) into the Dip.Min or Cert. C.S. programs are automatically placed on probation.
Probationary Status - Continuing Students
- Probation may be applied to any continuing student for academic reasons or for conduct out of harmony with the College's purpose and mission.
- Academic probation will be applied to any student in the M.Div., M.T.S., Dip.Min, or Cert.C.S programs who does not maintain a minimum C- average (60%) or who has more than one grade below C-.
- Academic probation will be applied to any M.A. student who does not maintain a minimum B- average (70%) or who has more than one grade below B-.
Application and/or Removal of Probationary Status
- Probation is monitored by the Student Records Office and is applied and/or removed by action of the Academic Dean or designate in consultation with the Faculty.
- For M.A. students, academic probation may be removed after one full semester (18 units) with at least a B- average and with no grade below B-.
- For all other students, unless stipulated otherwise (i.e. in their acceptance letter), academic probation may be removed after one full semester (15 units) with at least a C- average and with no grade below C-.
- Any student who fails to meet the criteria for the removal of probation after the equivalent of one semester will have their status reviewed by the Academic Dean or designate in consultation with the Faculty. Possible consequences may include denial of permission to register for further courses.
- Occasional students are not normally allowed to register for further courses if they have failed a course.
Implications for Financial Aid and Academic Awards
Students on probation are ineligible for financial aid and academic awards. Furthermore, to be eligible for financial aid, students must normally have a minimum B- average with NO outstanding incomplete or deferral grades.
Program GPA Guidelines
NOTE: GPA calculated by McMaster University is the Official GPA for McMaster Divinity College transcripts.
Listed below are the regulations for GPA calculations for McMaster Divinity College.
McMaster Divinity College calculates GPA as a requirement for approvals for:
- Thesis Proposals
- Reading Course Applications
- Major Paper Proposals
- Prize Calculations
- Only grades achieved at McMaster Divinity College and in the current program are included within the GPA.
a. The following courses will not be applicable for GPA calculation:
- courses taken by Letters of Permission
- courses taken as pre-requisites for entry into MDC programs
- courses transferred as advanced credit
- courses taken in past programs
b. Grades of "Pass" or "Complete" do not apply toward the calculation of GPA.
c. A current "Incomplete or Deferral" is not included in the GPA.
An outstanding "Incomplete or Deferral" is changed to F before GPA calculation is completed.
- GPA calculation is based on the 12 point system.
- If a student contests a grade, the result from the appeal applies toward the GPA. Until an appealed grade has been finalized, the original grade will be used for all GPA calculations.
- Repeated Courses: Core courses may be repeated in a subsequent semester.
- A course may only be repeated once.
- The original course is not erased from the university transcript.
- The grade for the repeated course is the grade for GPA calculation.
- Replaced Courses: Elective courses may be replaced in a subsequent semester.
- A course may only be replaced once.
- The original course is not erased from the university transcript.
- The grade for the replaced course is the grade for GPA calculation.
- Since some electives are not offered every year, replacement is controlled by the requirement of the program (e.g. OT 2XA3 slotted as an OT elective is to be replaced by another OT course; conversely NT 2XA3 slotted as an open elective may be replaced by any 3-unit course).
The designation of "Reading Course" is given to courses that allow students to design their own course of study for a particular subject. They are especially beneficial when the student has a particular area of interest that is not addressed by the regularly scheduled course offerings, but where the student would benefit from the expertise of one of the faculty. Reading courses are an important supplementary learning experience in all degree programs. Students are also encouraged to consider master's level courses in their area of interest that are offered at other institutions accredited by the ATS.
Students interested in applying for a reading course should begin the process by discussing their ideas with an appropriate faculty member and with the registrar at least 30 days prior to the registration deadline for the semester.
With the guidance of the appropriate faculty member, the student is responsible for drawing up a written Reading Course Proposal following the guidelines set out in the Application for A Reading Course, available in the Student Records Office or using the link at the top of this page.
The application must be signed by the faculty supervisor and submitted to the Registrar for approval. Students may not register for a reading course without the signed approval of the Academic Dean or designate.
Reading Course Objectives
- To offer qualified students the opportunity to explore a specific area of knowledge or experience not covered in required or elective courses.
- To build upon faculty expertise and interests.
- To broaden the bibliographic understanding of a topic.
- To gain experience in focusing on a problem and its attendant scholarly methodology.
- To develop research skills in an area of knowledge or experience.
- To prepare an acceptable research essay.
Reading Course Expectations
- Students will have completed the basic required courses in the given curricular area, with at least a B average in those courses.
- With the guidance of the appropriate faculty member, students will prepare and submit to the Registrar, at least 30 days prior to the registration deadline, an Application for a Reading Course.
- No student may register for a reading course without the signed approval of the Registrar.
- The reading course proposal must include a clear topic, the name of the proposed course instructor, an explanation of the reason the student wishes to undertake the reading course, an outline of the stages the reading course will follow, specific information regarding three to four planned meetings with the instructor, course requirements, an explanation of how grades will be determined, and a comprehensive, up-to-date bibliography assembled by the student.
- The outcome of the reading course should be:
- 3000 pages of reading
- 6000-7000 words of written work that reflects a scholarly treatment of the topic at the master's level.
Expectations of Faculty Supervisors
- Faculty will consult with students regarding reading course proposals.
- Faculty will consider requests to supervise a reading course on the basis of their expertise in the field such as teaching, writing, research and reading interests.
- Faculty should not propose to work outside of their fields of competence.
- Final approval of the designated faculty supervisor rests with the Academic Dean, who takes into consideration faculty workload.
- Reading course instructors will normally be limited to full-time faculty members. In special circumstances, other persons may supervise reading courses.
The Registrar will notify the student and instructor regarding the status of the application. The Student Records Office will advise the student of the appropriate course code to be used on the registration form. Note: Courses with an F code are reading courses. Under unique circumstances, the Academic Dean or designate may approve the conversion of an approved Professional Degree thesis application to a reading course if the thesis is incomplete after one year.
Re-read of Work
Students who wish to raise questions regarding their grade, the assessment of their academic performance, or their academic standing or status, and allege error in the academic judgment of their work on the part of the instructor, are encouraged first to speak informally with the instructor to clarify the reason for the assigned grade.
If dissatisfaction continues, the student is advised to make an appointment with the Registrar and to complete an Application for a Re-Read form. The form requires the student to provide a written, reasoned rationale for the appeal of the grade. The Academic Dean or designate will arrange for a reader who will be someone other than the course instructor. The Registrar will advise the student of the outcome.
Students shall make their appeal as promptly as possible and no later than 30 days after the final grades for the semester have been posted. Students need to be aware that a Re-Read may result in the mark being increased, decreased, or remaining the same. Once the final grades for the semester have been submitted, final authorization for a change of grade rests with the Academic Dean, not the course instructor.
If the student alleges error or injustice on grounds other than the academic judgment of his/her work (such as discrimination, harassment, unfair evaluation practices), the student is advised to follow the Student Grievances Procedure.
Sexual harassment is a violation of the integrity of persons in the form of unsolicited, unwelcome, verbal or physical behaviour, which discriminates on the basis of gender about a person's body, attire, gender, marital status or economic status. Among faculty, staff, and students, sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
McMaster Divinity College has a zero tolerance policy and a protocol concerning sexual harassment. Definitions of harassment are available in that statement. A copy of the policy and the protocol is available from the President's Office. The College appoints a Sexual Harassment Officer. Contact the President's Office for the name of the Sexual Harassment Officer.
There are times in the life of any institution when conflicts between persons arise. The following procedures outline the steps to be followed in such circumstances in the Divinity College. It should be understood that the procedures work in both directions for the protection of both instructors and students.
Step 1 - Direct communication between faculty member and student
In the past, most conflicts have been resolved at this level, either with positive reconciliation or at least understanding, and it is not necessary to pursue the matter.
Step 2 - Contact with the Academic Dean
In circumstances where there is a serious breakdown in communication between faculty member and student, it should be understood that direct approach to the Academic Dean is appropriate.
Difficulties that are not resolved in Step 1 should be taken to the Academic Dean, who will review the situation with both persons involved. It will first be determined that Step 1 has been followed and, if not, it will be encouraged. If that is not successful, both parties will be brought together in the presence of the Academic Dean to attempt to establish communication and understanding.
Step 3 - Involvement of McMaster Divinity College Senate
a. Senate Committee on Appeals
A sub-committee of the McMaster Divinity College Senate will listen to appeals that have not been resolved in the previous steps. This Committee is composed of three Senators, including one faculty member, one student and one other member of Senate. The Academic Dean will not be a member.
b. Appeal to the Senate of McMaster Divinity College
In cases where dissatisfaction continues, the Senate will be asked to arbitrate or to determine a suitable solution. Students may appeal through student representatives to Senate and faculty members through their representatives. The student and faculty member concerned may be present at the hearing appeal.
Step 4-Involvement of the University
University Grievance Procedures for persistent difficulties are open to all students and faculty. These are complicated and often involve legal proceedings, and every effort should be made to resolve problems in the manner outlined above.
In most instances, grievances can be resolved in the earliest steps of these procedures. Appeals to any other form of arbitration will not be considered and steps should be followed in accordance with the order presented here.
Students of McMaster Divinity College are to complete the M.Div. and M.T.S. degree programs within a 10-year period. A student may request in writing that this time period be extended. Extending the 10 year limit is a Faculty decision. Although it cannot be guaranteed, the College makes every effort to ensure that courses are offered in a timely way so that completing a degree in 10 years is possible for part-time students. Students of McMaster Divinity College are to complete the M.A. degree programs with in a 4-year period. An extension of one semester may be accorded. Students of McMaster Divinity College are to complete the Ph.D. program in 4 to 6 years. Students must register for a minimum of 4 full years regardless of the length of time taken to complete the degree. A 7th year may be accorded if the student shows significant progress during the 6th year.
For 3-unit degrees and programs, if 12 months have passed since the last registration, the student must go through a readmission process that consists of:
- letter or explanation for absence
- reference from a pastor or Christian leader addressing the absence
- readmission fee -- $50
If three years have passed since last registration, the student must re-apply and follow the current regulations and curriculum of the catalogue under which they re-enter. In evaluating an application for re-admission into a program that is incomplete, normally a course will be credited only if completed within the previous 10 years, or 15 years for Level 1 courses.
A student voluntarily withdrawing from the College, temporarily or permanently, should write a letter communicating this fact to the Registrar.
A student may be requested to withdraw from the College by the Faculty for academic reasons or for conduct out of harmony with the College's purpose and mission.
Women in Ministry
McMaster Divinity College supports women in training for any and all forms of Christian ministry as well as the subsequent ordination of women. It is expected that no member of the MDC community (students, staff, faculty) will detract from MDC’s support of women in ministry. A student’s acceptance of admission as a student at MDC is taken as his/her agreement not to detract from MDC’s support of women in ministry.
As an institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, we would like to note that students who wish to express a grievance with any ATS standards are encouraged to address ATS directly through their website and shall inform McMaster Divinity College of this communication.