Houston Graduate School of Theology

Academic Polcies


Click Here for full Academic Policy

Academic Calendar – The academic year is divided into a fall semester, a spring semester, two summer terms and, from time to time, intensive, week-long mini-terms. Schedules, requirements, and credit for all courses are measured in terms of semester hours, regardless of when they are offered. HGST publishes an official academic calendar each year in the front of the catalog and on the website.

Academic Probation – A student will be placed on academic probation for the following reasons:
•A student whose cumulative GPA falls below the published minimum for his or her degree program will be placed on academic probation according to the following scale:

DMin – 3.00
MTS – 2.75
MAC – 2.75
MDiv – 2.25
MASD – 2.25
MAML – 2.25
• A student receives three or more failing grades over three or fewer successive term
• A student placed on academic probation may register for no more than 10 credit hours per regular semester (6 hours in the summer) until the student’s cumulative GPA rises above the minimum requirement.
• A student placed on academic probation due to a low cumulative GPA shall automatically be removed from academic probation when the student’s cumulative GPA rises above the minimum required for his or her degree program.
• A student whose cumulative GPA remains below the minimum requirement for two consecutive semesters will be placed on academic suspension. The first academic suspension period is for one academic year.

Academic Standing and VA Benefits – A student receiving Veterans Administration educational benefits must maintain the published minimum cumulative GPA for his or her degree program. Any student whose GPA falls below the minimum for two consecutive terms will no longer receive VA benefits. Students who fail to achieve or maintain the published minimum shall be placed on probation for one semester. If the student achieves a semester GPA above the minimum during the probationary semester, but has not achieved the required cumulative GPA, the student may be continued on probation for one more semester.

If the student on probation fails to achieve the published minimum at the end of the first probationary semester, HGST is required to report the student to the Veterans Affairs Regional Office as making unsatisfactory progress. If it appears unlikely that a student can benefit from seminary education, he or she may be advised not to continue on the basis of one semester of unsatisfactory work. A student who fails to achieve the published minimum for two consecutive probationary semesters shall be reported to the Veterans Affairs Regional Office and dismissed from school. Students who achieve the minimum published cumulative GPA or higher at the end of either their first or second period of probation shall automatically be removed from academic probation.

AIDS Policy – Individuals diagnosed as HIV positive or with AIDS are provided equal protection under state and federal law against discrimination. The Seminary will make reasonable accommodations for any persons with AIDS or HIV to ensure their full participation in the Seminary community. This reasonable accommodation is assured by our concern for equitable treatment of all who study and work in the Seminary community, and to follow the legal guidelines for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Except as required or permitted by law, the Seminary will not ask students, faculty, or staff to respond to questions about the existence of HIV infection or AIDS, nor will any person, group, agency, insurer, employer, or institution (including churches and church judicatories) be provided with medical information of any kind without the prior written consent of the person. Any member of the Seminary community who has AIDS or HIV will be treated fairly and compassionately and her or his right of privacy will be respected. The potential for discrimination and mistreatment of those persons who are known to have HIV or AIDS requires that confidential information concerning any aspect of HIV infection or AIDS be handled with extraordinary care.

The Seminary should and will condemn all such occurrences of discrimination and mistreatment as intolerable and will respond to them quickly and effectively through those preexisting channels most relevant to the nature and context of the discrimination or mistreatment.

Attendance – Regular attendance is expected in all classes. Students are responsible for obtaining information from fellow students about missed lectures or announcements made in their absence and assume the risk of missing assignments or quizzes by unexcused absence. Whenever possible, the instructor should be notified prior to the absence. Attendance is especially important in intensives, mini-terms, or seminar-style classes. The success of any course depends upon the regular attendance and participation of each member. Therefore, an excessive number of absences, as outlined in the syllabus, may result in a grade of “F” for the course, despite completion of other requirements.

Auditing – From time to time, current HGST students may decide to audit a course rather than take a course for credit. Students may register to audit scheduled courses through their faculty advisors. Anyone who is not a current student, but who would like to audit a course, may apply to HGST as a non-degree student. An “auditor” is defined as a student registered for a course without credit and without obligation to do work assigned to the class. The full non-degree student admission process shall be followed, the applicant must be accepted as a student at HGST, and a faculty advisor will be assigned.

Continuance – HGST is an educational institution that is redemptive in spirit, but rehabilitation of individual students is not its primary mission. The total record of a student is subject to review each time he or she registers for classes. HGST reserves the right to discontinue at any time the enrollment of any student whose quality of academic performance, ethical or moral conduct and life style, or financial standing is considered to be unacceptable.

Copying and Copyright – HGST students are expected to purchase or otherwise obtain a copy of each required textbook. A copy of the required textbook for each HGST course is placed on reserve in the Library every semester; however, reserve books may not be removed from the Library nor may they be photocopied in their entirety. Except in cases where a book is out of copyright (published prior to 1923) or is not available at a reasonable cost, photocopying an entire book is forbidden under U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S Code).

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one of more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act. These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov.

Course Load – For the MDiv, MTS, MAC, MASD, and MAML programs, a full-time load is defined as at least nine credit hours for fall and spring semesters. A full-time load for summer terms is defined as at least six credit hours. For the DMin program, a full-time load is defined as seven hours in a semester. Full description of full-time and part-time status for the DMin program can be found below under “Doctor of Ministry Definitions and Policies.”

Credit Hour – The unit of measurement for coursework is the credit hour. One credit hour is equal to fifteen “contact hours” of instructional time (the equivalent of one “contact hour” per week throughout a fifteen-week semester). A “contact hour” is equivalent to 50 minutes of instruction. Students should ordinarily anticipate two hours of preparation time outside of class for each hour spent in class. (See Student Workload Expectations, pp. 12-13).

Directed Study – Students may request, on a limited basis, to complete courses on the basis of “directed study” rather than through classroom instruction, subject to the following limitations:
1. Full-time faculty members may lead no more than three directed studies in any fall or spring semester and no more than two during the summer.
2. Students may enroll in no more than one directed study in any semester
3. Students may count no more than two directed studies toward the completion of the Master of Arts in Counseling, Spiritual Direction, or Missional Leadership or the Master of Theological Studies Students may count no more than three directed studies toward the completion of the Master of Divinity. Any directed study over the stated limits will not count toward fulfillment of the degree program.
4. Students may not take directed studies until completing their first 15 credit hour.
5. Ordinarily, adjunct instructors will not be permitted to conduct directed studies. Any exception will be granted upon approval by the HGST Academic Office. 500-level courses may not be taken as directed study. The “501” courses (OT501, NT501, PC501, PR501, CS501, and TH501), and COU 674 Group Process and Practice may never be taken as directed study.
6. A Directed Study will not be granted for a course during the semester in which that course is scheduled. If the directed study is a course that is regularly scheduled, the directed study syllabus must show that additional work is required to compensate for the lack of classroom time with the instructor. The instructor should take into consideration the lack of classroom time when designing a directed study syllabus.
7. Normal semester schedules apply to directed studies.
8. The 790 courses are subject to the Directed Study fee and the above-listed policies since the course is directed. A student registering for a 790 course should include a statement concerning the nature and extent of the proposed research on the Directed Study Request form.
9. A course, which is listed on the schedule but does not meet minimum enrollment, may be taught with a modified schedule and will not be considered a directed study.
10. Normally, language courses will not be considered directed study courses; therefore, they will not count toward the maximum number of directed studies allowed within a degree program.

Educational Rights and Privacy – FERPA is an acronym for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g, 34 CFR 99). Congress enacted FERPA, also referred to as the “Buckley Amendment,” in 1974. FERPA mandates that schools, including colleges and universities, maintain students’ records in a confidential manner. It requires that students be allowed to inspect and review their education records and request the amendment of records that are inaccurate or misleading. It also prohibits the disclosure of student information except in limited circumstances.

Rights under FERPA apply to eligible students. An eligible student is an individual who is or has been in attendance at HGST. FERPA rights begin on the first day of class in the academic term for which the student is accepted. Applicants who are denied admission or who never attend are not covered under FERPA. Admissions records for students who decide not to matriculate are destroyed after two years.

Education Records – Education records are records directly related to a student and maintained by HGST or by a party acting for HGST. Printed documents, handwritten notes, emails, electronic documents, and web pages can all contain education records covered by FERPA. Education records may include but are not limited to:
•Student folders in Admissions/Registrar/Financial Aid/Advisors/Placement offices
•Student classroom activity or homework maintained by HGST as part of the student’s permanent record
•Reports and records
•Class rolls, papers, and tests
•Application forms for student organizations/activities
•Memos between school employees
•Most student disciplinary records

Student files are kept in the Registrar’s Office until five years after the student’s date of graduation or the student’s last day of attendance. Following that date, some records, such as academic transcripts, changes of grade forms, and applications for admission, are maintained by HGST, either in hard copy or digitally, according to an approved Records and Retention Schedule. Records not scheduled for retention will be destroyed.

The following are not included in the definition of education records:
•Employment records where employment is not connected to student status
•Alumni records that do not relate to the person as a student
•Records made by instructional, administrative, and educational personnel that are not shared with others

Although the above information in not confidential under FERPA, HGST will not disclose this information to third parties who plan to use the information for purposes of commercial solicitation. Students may opt out of the release of directory information by completing a form available in the Registrar’s office.

Children on the HGST Campus – In addition to providing graduate-level studies, Houston Graduate School of Theology is a community of faith and caring, concerned with the well-being of every member of its family. However, unattended children can disrupt the teaching and learning process, may damage equipment or facilities, and may cause injury to themselves or others. HGST employees are not qualified to provide adequate childcare and cannot take responsibility for the safety and well-being of children while their parents are in class, conducting business on campus, or studying in the library. Therefore, students with children under the age of 12 should seek alternative childcare arrangements off campus.


Children 12 and older may sit quietly and read or study in the Student Commons or the Library. In every case, parents are responsible for ensuring that their children do not become distractions to fellow students or HGST employees. Noncompliance may lead to the revoking of the privilege of bringing children of any age to campus.

Directory Information – FERPA permits institutions to define some education record information as “directory information” not confidential under FERPA. This is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. HGST considers the following directory information:
•Student’s full name
•Permanent address and telephone number
•Local address and telephone number
•Email address
•State of residence
•Date and place of birth
•Marital status
•Academic status
•Class schedule and roster
•Name of advisor
•Major field of study
•Dates of attendance and graduation
•Degrees and honors & awards received
•Photographic, video, or electronic images of students taken and maintained by the school
•File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by HGST to comply with this law

HGST is not required to provide a copy of education records unless failure to do so would deny access. Records cannot be destroyed if a request is pending. The school must comply with written requests to inspect and review education records within 45 days. FERPA does not grant the student access to:
•Educational records that contain information on more than one student (the student may review only the specific information about himself or herself).
•Confidential letters of recommendation, for which the student has signed a waiver and which are related to admission to HGST

School Officials and Legitimate Educational Interests – A school official is a person employed by HGST in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other outside parties to whom the institution has outsourced institutional services or functions, persons serving on the Board of Trustees, and students serving on official committees or assisting school officials in performing their tasks. Only school officials with a legitimate educational interest may access education records. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the school. Upon request, HGST also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Non-discrimination – As a diverse and welcoming community, HGST does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, national or ethnic origin, or handicap in any of its policies, practices, or procedures, including admission.

Plagiarism is presenting the work of another person as one’s own without giving proper credit for the use of the information. Any student found guilty of plagiarism is subject to a range of consequences as outlined below:

If a faculty member suspects plagiarism, the instructor will investigate. If suspicions are confirmed, the faculty member will present the evidence to the Associate Dean as a record of the offense. If the Associate Dean concurs with the allegations, the following procedures should be implemented as applicable:
 1. The faculty member may discuss the offense with the student following consultation with the Associate Dean, but the student will meet with the Associate Dean.
 2. For a first offense, the faculty member, in consultation with the Associate Dean, may give opportunity for a rewrite of the assignment or may assign a grade of zero for the plagiarized assignment.

1. For a particularly egregious case of plagiarism on a major assignment, the consequences could result in automatic failure of the course.

2. The student may appeal the above-mentioned decisions of the faculty member in writing to the Chief Academic Officer.

3. The second confirmed offense will result in expulsion from school. The student will be notified by a letter from the Chief Academic Officer. His or her only opportunity for appeal will be to the President in writing. The President’s decision will be final.

Repetition of Courses – A student may repeat a course for which he or she has received an unsatisfactory or failing grade. Both grades will appear on the student’s transcript and be included in calculating the GPA, but credit hours will be awarded toward the degree only once. A student may not repeat a course for credit in which the student has received a satisfactory grade except for certain practicum courses where experience is cumulative or when a course number is repeated with different course content. Students are responsible for all tuition and fees related to the repetition of a course.

Satisfactory Academic Progress – The Standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) are:
• Maintain a cumulative GPA that is equal to or greater than the graduation standards published in the HGST Academic Catalog for a student’s program of study;
• Successfully complete degree program according to the following scale: 

Degree  Credit Hours Required  Number of Years to Complete  Annual Completion Pace for SAP 

MAC  67513.40

MASD 3749.25

MAML 3749.50



DMin436 7.20

Sexual Harassment
General Policy – 
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the federal regulations adopted under that act, prohibit sexual harassment in the employment setting. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, in any educational programs and activities of educational institutions that receive federal funding. Students and employees are covered by Title IX.

As Christians, we affirm that God’s will for both religious institutions and society as a whole is the full and equal participation of all persons without distinction as to gender, race, religion, or physical disability Human relationships in the church should be marked by respect and Christ-like love Leadership should be marked by the Christ-like servant character that distinguished the Lord we serve while he was on this earth

When sexual harassment or abuse occurs, the Christian community bears a responsibility to offer healing to the victims of such abuse and to correct it. The existence of human sin, however, means that this desirable solidarity and equality in the human community has been and perhaps will continue to be broken by violence and sexual abuse. HGST also has a responsibility to insure that policies are in place both to prevent such abuse insofar as it is possible and to discipline offenders when it occurs.

Sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as:

Any sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decision affecting such individual, or (3) such interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

None of the above behaviors will be tolerated by HGST.

Student Rights Under FERPA


Under FERPA, students may:
•Inspect and review their education records (requests should be made in writing)
•Request the amendment of inaccurate or misleading records (requests must be made in writing) ◦Consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education records by completing a form available in the Registrar’s office.

New Student Orientation – New students may not complete the class enrollment process for fall or spring semesters prior to attending a required New Student Orientation session, held on campus twice annually. New students enrolling in summer terms will attend the next available New Student Orientation. In the DMin program, orientations are scheduled on or near the opening of each DMin semester—mid-May and mid-November.

Students must not quote or paraphrase books, articles, essays, or Internet sites without giving proper credit to the author(s). Students should guard against plagiarism by crediting the original author through use of proper citations. Internet plagiarism is a particularly easy and tempting form of intellectual theft. Cutting and pasting sentences and paragraphs from the Internet without citations is plagiarism. Failure to cite Internet sources is plagiarism.

Readmission after Dismissal – Ordinarily, students dismissed from school due to unsatisfactory academic progress will not be readmitted. A student who applies for readmission must present written evidence that the cause or conditions that led to the dismissal have been remedied. The evidence must be satisfactory in the judgment of the Chief Academic Officer, who will work with appropriate admissions and/or administrative committees in determining whether to readmit the student.

Student Relationships – Relationships, between students and their teachers, advisors, and others holding positions of authority over them, should be conducted in a manner that avoids potential conflicts of interest, exploitation, or personal bias. Given the inherent power differential, the possibility of intentional or unintentional abuse of that power should always be borne in mind. For example, a conflict of interest arises when an individual evaluates the work or performance of a person with whom he or she is engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship. Romantic or sexual relationships between students and persons in positions of authority compromise the relationship between students and the seminary. No faculty or staff member should be romantically or sexually involved with a current HGST student. In the case of a student complaint of sexual harassment or inappropriate relational contact with a faculty member, the follow steps will be taken:
1.The Chief Academic Officer, President, or designated representative will investigate the incident, including meeting with the student and other involved party or parties. If the incident can be resolved to the satisfaction of all involved, the incident will be considered concluded.
2.If the incident is not resolved, a sexual harassment grievance committee will be convened to investigate and recommend a satisfactory solution. The committee, appointed by the President, should include at least one member from the following groups:
•Board of Trustees
•Student Body
3.The committee will gather all necessary evidence and make one of the following recommendation

◦Dismissal of charge because of insufficient evidence.

•Recommendation of disciplinary action against the accused, which may include dismissal, a period of probation, or official reprimand, following the general guidelines for disciplinary actions in this manual. 

◦In an extreme situation, the committee may recommend legal action by the complainant.

4.Either party may appeal the decision of the committee to the Board of Trustee The Board of Trustees may choose the course of action that they deem appropriate. The Board of Trustees’ decision will be final.