Houston Graduate School of Theology
Educational Effectiveness 2015-16
As a part of ongoing institutional assessment, Houston Graduate School of Theology (HGST) evaluates the effectiveness of its educational processes in several ways. The report below presents some key indicators of success: (a) the student’s assessment of their own skill levels; (b) the length of time it takes to complete a degree; and (c) the number of graduates working in-vocation three years after graduation. This report is based in large measure on data provided to HGST from the Association of Theological Schools and the Commission on Accrediting (ATS/COA), our accrediting agency. Annually, graduating students fill out the Graduating Student Questionnaire (GSQ), which, once analyzed, provides a profile and summary of our most recent students and their responses to the educational program. Over the last five years the GSQs have provided a consistent portrait of HGST’s effectiveness.
In general, graduates have a high degree of satisfaction with the programs at HGST. They ranked highly (4.5 out of 5) how HGST’s curricula have influenced their own spiritual growth, their abilities to work with diverse populations, their skills in giving spiritual counsel/direction, their capacities to think theologically and their abilities to lead others. Their overall satisfaction with the school’s services and resources ranked highest (4.5 out of 5) in the following areas: accessibility of staff and faculty, class size, quality of library, and ease of scheduling required courses. 88.9% of all graduate students ranked their field education experience as important or very important to their program and personal development. In particular, these experiences outside the classroom gave students a better sense of their own limitations, abilities and spiritual needs. Students ranked the HGST experience lowest in commuting time to the school and the financial impact it had on their lives.
Effective schools assist their students in making progress toward their degrees. In a December 2015 report to the Board of Trustees, the Academic Dean shared the following information with the trustees.
Time to Graduation (based on August and December 2015 degree conferrals)
- 85% of HGST students graduated within 3.34 years of beginning their work
- MAML students take 2 years on average to complete their degrees
- MASD students take 2 years on average to complete their degrees
- MAC students take 2.85 years on average to complete their degrees
- MDiv students take 4.18 years on average to complete their degrees
- DMin students take 3.5 years on average to complete their degrees
Of course, a small number of students do take up to a decade to finish their degrees. This is due to the fact that many students at HGST are part time and must work twenty to fifty hours per week to support them and their families. HGST’s time to graduation compares favorably with other theological seminaries.
Another important measure of an institution’s effectiveness involves whether its students attain a vocational goal once they graduate. The following data shows the number of people working in their degree field three years after graduating. This information regards students who graduated in 2013-14.
- 65% of MDiv graduates were working in-vocation (18% unknown)
- 77% of MAC graduates were working in-vocation (8% unknown)
- 75% of DMin graduates were working in-vocation
Since it is not possible to keep up with all former students once they graduate, there will always be some uncertainty in such numbers. It is important to note that 25% of MDiv graduates in 2013-14 had no expectation of working in a church or parish after their graduation (GSQ 2013-14). The percentage of HGST graduates working in-vocation three years after graduation is consistent with percentages seen in other theological seminaries.