The Summative Evaluation is the capstone of the student’s academic work in the M.A. program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. The student of philosophy or theology who matriculated into his or her degree program prior to the spring 2015 semester may meet the requirement of the Summative Evaluation by one of three methods: (1) Thesis; (2) Special Project; or (3) Comprehensive Examination. Students of philosophy or theology who matriculated into their degree programs in the spring 2015 or subsequent semester will no longer have the Special Project option open to them.
A summary description of these three options is provided here. For fuller descriptions of the Summative Evaluation options, see guidelines linked below this text.
1. The Thesis
The Thesis is an academic research paper of approximately 50 to 60 pages in length. This thesis is written under the direction of a faculty Research Advisor, and will also be reviewed by a faculty Reader. After the Research Advisor and the Reader have approved the final draft, the author will defend the thesis orally in a one-hour session.
A student enrolled in an M.A. program may pursue a Thesis after completing at least 24 credits of coursework (including all co-requisite and core courses) and maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average. The student also must demonstrate the requisite skills at research and writing in one of two ways: (1) by submitting a “qualitative research” master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation written for a different program; or (2) by taking ENG 891: Academic Research, Design, and Writing (a 3-credit course).
A student who meets these prerequisites applies for the thesis by submitting a Thesis Proposal (as described in the Guidelines) along with the Thesis or Special Project Application Form to the Associate Dean for Online Learning.
A student planning to write a thesis may earn up to 6 credits that count toward graduation requirements by taking the Research and Design course (3 credits) and a Directed Study course (3 credits) taught by the Research Advisor.
2. The Special Project
Special Project Guidelines
WHO CAN & WHO CANNOT WRITE A SPECIAL PROJECT?
Graduate students who matriculated before Summer 2013: Students who matriculated prior to summer 2013 did not come into the program knowing that a special project could be an option. These students are encouraged NOT to pursue a Special Project for their Summative Evaluation requirement since comprehensive exams under the new format or a Master’s Thesis are better indications of their having fulfilled the program learning outcomes.
The reason is that many who matriculated into the program prior to summer 2013 did so when the program relied on coursework drawn from lectures developed by the International Catholic University (ICU). The year 2012-2013 was the first year where the ICU video content had been fully replaced by flesh and blood faculty lecturers. In that year, the institution began the process of looking for better ways to assess student achievement than the rote memorization exams brought into being by the ICU format.
The new exam format came into being in January of 2013 to address that need, and the special project option was piloted in April as a possible way to support the new delivery method. It has proven to be a mismatch, however, in purely academic programs like the MA in Theology and MA in Philosophy.
Graduate students in Theology (not Philosophy since projects in Philosophy cannot be applied ministerially in a way that demonstrates fulfillment of the program learning outcomes) who matriculated from the Summer 2013 to Fall 2014: Summer 2013 was the first semester in which a special project was possible. The Guidelines were created in April 2013 and piloted for the next year and a half. The stretch of time between Summer 2013 and Fall 2014 was the pilot phase; Theology students who matriculated during that time may produce Special Projects for their Summative Evaluation requirement. They are encouraged, however, to write theses instead given the more academic nature of the thesis exercise.
M.A. students in Theology and Philosophy who matriculated Spring 2015 or later: M.A. students in Theology and Philosophy who began in Spring 2015 or later may NOT produce Special Projects for their Summative Evaluation requirement. In the summer of 2014, the academic office assessed the ability of the Special Projects to provide an adequate demonstration of whether a student was meeting the program learning outcomes and found that a ministerial project was mismatched within an academic program. After the new curriculum was approved by the Faculty Senate in November, 2014, the Senate ratified the decision of the Academic Office given that the Special Project does not serve the needs of the new curriculum in those two programs, either. The Special Project serves the M.A. in Pastoral Studies, which is a ministerial degree program, quite well, however.
What is a Special Project?
The Special Project is the production within one’s ministerial area or apostolate of an artifact of sufficient scope to demonstrate that the student has achieved the program learning outcomes. More practically-oriented than the Thesis, the Special Project is designed by the student for application in a particular pastoral setting. The Special Project is developed under the supervision of a faculty Special Project Advisor and must also be approved by a faculty Reviewer. After the Advisor and Reviewer approve the final draft, the student presents and defends the Special Project in a one-hour oral session.
A student enrolled in an M.A.P.S. program may pursue a Special Project after completing at least 24 credits of coursework (including all co-requisite and core courses) and maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average. M.A. students in philosophy or theology who matriculated into their programs in spring 2015 or later may not pursue a Special Project. The student also must demonstrate the requisite skills at research and writing in one of two ways: (1) by submitting a “qualitative research” master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation written for a different program; or (2) by taking ENG 891: Academic Research, Design, and Writing (a 3-credit course).
A student who meets these prerequisites applies for the thesis by submitting a Special Project Proposal (as described in the Guidelines) along with the Thesis or Special Project Application Form to the Associate Dean for Online Learning.
Students who pursue a Special Project may receive 3 credits toward completion of their degree requirements by taking a Directed Study course taught by the Special Project Advisor.
The Comprehensive Examination begins with a three-hour written examination during which the student critically assesses a non-authoritative text from within a student’s area of concentration. The student will not see the text before the examination. A faculty Praeses and a faculty Second Examiner will review the written examination. If the student passes the written portion, then the student will sit for a one-hour oral examination conducted by the Praeses and Second Examiner.
A student may take Comprehensive Exams only after completing all 36 credit hours within the degree program. Students who are planning on taking the exam must register with the Director of Online Student Affairs for a 0-credit Comprehensive Examination Preparation course. A student may schedule the Comprehensive Exam to take place after completing his or her final course. Students should take Comprehensive Exams within two semesters of completing coursework.
Students who opt to take the Comprehensive Examination do not earn any course credit during the examination process.