Academic Policies

Integrity of Work

The learning environment at YDS is intended to be one of trust. Students are expected to adhere to academic conduct that honors this trust and respects the integrity of the academic community.

  • 1. All written work must be the student’s own original work, except as consultation or collaboration or use of other resources is authorized by the instructor.
  • 2. All material quoted or paraphrased from other sources must be fully identified, including, where relevant, both secondary and original sources. (Refer to Chapter VIII of the Student Handbook, “Learning and Planning Resources,” supplied to all entering students.)
  • 3. Similar written material may be submitted in more than one course only with the advance approval of all instructors involved. A student may not submit work that he or she has published elsewhere, whether in print or via an electronic forum such as a Web page, article, or blog, except in consultation with the instructor.

Plagiarism, whether intentional or inadvertent, is regarded as a serious offense and is subject to severe penalties. Cases of plagiarism, together with full documentation of the offense, may be referred to the Professional Studies Committee, which will conduct an investigation of the charges. As part of this investigation, the accused student will be invited to appear before the committee.

Suspected violations of academic integrity should be reported to the senior associate dean of academic affairs.

The use of inclusive language is a matter of concern to the YDS community. Guidelines for gender inclusive and racially inclusive language are available to faculty and students.


Rights and Representation

 
Governance

The work of YDS is carried on through the Governing Board (tenured faculty), the General Faculty, and the Standing Committees of the Faculty: Admissions and Financial Aid, Community Life, Curriculum, Ministerial Studies, Professional Studies, Spiritual Formation, and Worship. Each committee has an equal number of faculty and students. Faculty members of the committees are appointed by the dean and confirmed by the General Faculty; student members are elected by the entire student body, with the exception of student members of the Standing Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, who are chosen by the director of admissions and financial aid.

Discipline

A Disciplinary Committee is appointed by the dean. Printed statements of the membership and established procedures of the committee are available in the Office of the Dean. Issues of academic discipline, like plagiarism, are addressed by the Professional Studies Committee. The Disciplinary Committee shall be the final authority on all nonacademic cases of discipline involving students in the School. Formal complaints of sexual harassment must be brought to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC), which may also address informal complaints. Informal complaints of sexual harassment may also be brought to the Divinity School’s Title IX coordinator, Lisabeth Huck, or to any Title IX coordinator at Yale. For more information about the work of the committees, see Termination, below. For more information about University-wide resources on sexual misconduct, including the UWC, see Resources on Sexual Misconduct in the chapter Yale University Resources and Services.

Freedom of Expression

Each member of YDS shall enjoy the rights of intellectual freedom that are fundamental to the University tradition. Freedom of expression is a necessary condition for exercising intellectual freedom. The purpose of maintaining free speech at Yale, as elsewhere, is to protect the expression of all views. To do so, the University must maintain a community with the requisite order, freedom of access to facilities, and impartiality toward all opinions for free expression.


The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Grievance Policy

The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) maintains accreditation standards for its member institutions. Yale Divinity School (YDS) is a member institution of ATS. Student complaints regarding violations of ATS accreditation standards in YDS should be directed to the senior associate dean of academic affairs in YDS. The senior associate dean of academic affairs maintains a record of formal student complaints for review by the ATS Board of Directors. The ATS accreditation standards may be found at www.ats.edu/accrediting.


Grading System

The Divinity School uses the following grading system:

Honors (H)

= Exemplary

Honors minus (H–)

= Excellent

High Pass plus (HP+)

= Very Good

High Pass (HP)

= Good

High Pass minus (HP–)

= Satisfactory

Low Pass (LP)

= Marginally Passable

Fail (F)

 

Credit (CR)

 

No Credit (NC)

 

Withdrew (W)

 

If the YDS grading system were to be translated into a traditional grading system on the graduate level, Honors would represent a strong A and A+; Honors minus, A–; High Pass plus, B+; High Pass, B; High Pass minus, B–; Low Pass, C.

There is also a Credit/No Credit system. The Credit/No Credit option for a course may be chosen by the professor, in which case the entire class will be graded thus. Individual students in such a course may request the professor’s approval to take the course on the regular grading system. Conversely, a student taking a course graded on the regular grading system may request the professor’s approval to be graded Credit/No Credit. The grade of CR in the Credit/No Credit system requires achievement at the level of HP– or better. Requests for departures from the grading systems under which courses are taught must be made on a form supplied by the registrar’s office. Options are elected during the first two weeks of the term, and the decision is irreversible. The option of a Credit/No Credit grade is not available under the S.T.M. program.

In both grading systems, the W is to be used only under extraordinary circumstances by permission of the senior associate dean of academic affairs in consultation with the Professional Studies Committee. Students who receive one or more LP, F, or NC grades in a given term are subject to being placed on academic warning or academic probation (see section on Academic Deficiencies below).

Grade Changes

Once submitted, a grade may not be changed by the instructor except:

  • 1. in the event of a computational or clerical error, or
  • 2. after a reevaluation of a student’s work in consultation with the senior associate dean of academic affairs.

Academic Deficiencies

Academic Warning

The Professional Studies Committee will review the academic performances of students and place them on warning if their record in any term shows a significant decline or reason for concern about the quality of their work, e.g., a course graded Low Pass (LP), Fail (F), or No Credit (NC). Students placed on warning will be reviewed by the committee following the end of the term, and either removed from warning, continued on warning, or placed on probation. The warning notation will not be placed on students’ transcripts. Both the student and the faculty adviser will be notified in writing of the warning.


Academic Probation

The Professional Studies Committee will place on probation students whose academic work is unsatisfactory. In every case the committee will take into account the personal situation of the student; but the following record, accumulated during the course of any one term, will normally result in probation:

  • 1. two courses graded Low Pass, or
  • 2. two Incompletes, or
  • 3. two Fs or NCs, or
  • 4. any combination of inadequate or incomplete work in two or more courses.

In addition, a student may be placed on probation if his or her record shows a pattern of academic warnings in multiple terms.

Students are responsible for knowing at the end of a term whether or not they have completed each course satisfactorily. As information becomes available to the Professional Studies Committee, written notice of probation will be given both to the student and to the faculty adviser, and the notation will be placed on the transcript. The student must meet with the academic dean to develop a plan for a return to good academic standing. Failure to successfully complete this academic plan can result in the loss of federal financial aid eligibility. For more information about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and financial aid eligibility, see below.

Students on academic probation must observe the following conditions when they register for courses:

  • 1. during the term in which students are on academic probation they may not take more than twelve hours of course work, and
  • 2. they may not take any reading courses.

Students will be removed from probation when they have completed four courses under the following conditions:

  • 1. all work for each course must be completed by the end of its term, without extensions;
  • 2. all incomplete work from previous terms must be completed;
  • 3. the grade received in each course must be HP– or better.

Any student who remains on academic probation for two consecutive terms may be recommended to the faculty for dismissal from YDS.


Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

All degree-seeking students are required to meet standards regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). SAP refers to the student’s success in meeting the minimum standards deemed acceptable for the program of study. Failure to maintain SAP jeopardizes a student’s ability to receive University or federal financial aid (subsequently referred to as “financial assistance”). Federal regulations require institutions to monitor each student’s “pace,” which is the progress that a student is making toward his or her degree. Monitoring pace ensures that the student will graduate within the maximum time frame permitted for the student’s degree or course of study (for a description of the maximum length of time permitted in each program, see the chapter Programs of Study). SAP standards apply to all degree-seeking students regardless of their financial aid status. The Divinity School has established a set of standards below which a student will be placed on academic probation (see section on Academic Deficiencies, above). Failure to maintain these standards, and/or failure to progress through the program at the pace necessary to complete the degree in the time permitted, means that the student has failed to maintain SAP.

In addition to the qualitative standards referenced in the Academic Deficiencies sections, YDS has established the following set of quantitative standards:

  • Students must successfully complete 67 percent of credits attempted.
  • Courses graded W, F, or NC will be considered credits attempted but not completed.
  • For part-time students, the pace calculation will be made after the equivalent of each full-time term.
  • If a student fails a course and retakes it, the first enrollment will be considered an uncompleted attempt, and any future enrollment in the course will be considered a separate course attempted.
  • Transfer credits accepted from other institutions are not included in pace calculations.

Student grades are reviewed each term to determine whether each student is meeting SAP. The registrar will provide the Financial Aid Office with a list of students who are failing to meet SAP and have been placed on academic probation. Such students will be placed on one term of financial aid warning. A student on financial aid warning may continue to receive financial assistance for that term. After a term on financial aid warning, a student who is still failing to meet SAP may continue to receive financial assistance for the next term only if he or she is placed on financial aid probation. In order to be placed on financial aid probation, the student must (1) successfully appeal the determination that he or she is not making SAP and (2) meet with the academic dean to create an academic plan for return to good academic standing. A student may appeal the determination that he or she is not making SAP by submitting a written petition to the academic dean, who will review the appeal and notify the student of the outcome. The student’s written petition to the academic dean should include information about why the student failed to make SAP and what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP at the next evaluation. Once a student is on financial aid probation, the student must follow the academic plan and meet its benchmarks on time, or meet SAP by the end of the term, in order to continue to receive financial assistance.


Special Examinations and Extensions

Special examinations, at hours other than those regularly scheduled, will be given only under extraordinary circumstances. Except in the case of unforeseen emergencies, the request for a special examination must be submitted two weeks before the date of the regular examination. At the discretion of the instructor, students who are non-native speakers of English may be granted additional time, to a maximum of time-and-a-half, to complete written examinations.

All work for the first term is due by the end of the term, unless the instructor specifies an earlier date. In exceptional circumstances, such as illness or family crisis, the instructor in the course may grant an extension of time into the second term, but no extension can be given beyond the fourth week of the second term. No work from the first term can be accepted by a faculty member after that date. A student may appeal to the Professional Studies Committee for an additional extension. Such an appeal must be made in writing before the end of the fourth week of the spring term on a form provided by the registrar’s office. Extensions will be considered by the committee only in exceptional circumstances, such as those indicated above. An Incomplete grade will automatically be recorded as Fail (F), unless a petition for an extension is filed by the end of the fourth week of the spring term.

All work for the second term is due by the end of the term, unless the instructor specifies an earlier date. In exceptional circumstances, such as illness or family crisis, the instructor may grant an extension of time during the summer, but no extension can be given beyond June 30. No work from the second term can be accepted by a faculty member after that date. A student may appeal to the Professional Studies Committee for an additional extension. Such an appeal must be made in writing before June 30 on a form provided by the registrar’s office. Extensions will be considered by the committee only in exceptional circumstances, such as those indicated above. An Incomplete grade will automatically be recorded as Fail (F), unless a petition for an extension is filed by June 30.

All work for summer courses is due by the end of the course, unless the instructor specifies a different date. In exceptional circumstances, such as illness or family crisis, the instructor in the course may grant an extension of time into the fall term, but no extension can be given beyond the fourth week of the fall term. No work from the summer can be accepted by a faculty member after that date. A student may appeal to the Professional Studies Committee for an additional extension. Such an appeal must be made in writing before the end of the fourth week of the fall term on a form provided by the registrar’s office. Extensions will be considered by the committee only in exceptional circumstances, such as those indicated above. An Incomplete grade will automatically be recorded as Fail (F), unless a petition for an extension is filed by the end of the fourth week of the fall term. Unless otherwise noted, the following deadlines apply to summer courses: the last day to add a summer course is the first day of the second quarter of the course; the last day to drop a summer course is the first day of the second half of the course.


Leave of Absence

A student who wishes or needs to interrupt his or her study temporarily may request a leave of absence. There are three types of leave—personal, medical, and parental—all of which are described below. The general policies that apply to all types of leave are:

  • 1. Leave of absence application forms may be obtained by contacting the registrar’s office at YDS.
  • 2. All leaves of absence must be approved by the senior associate dean of academic affairs. Medical leaves also require the written recommendation of a chief physician or designee on the staff of Yale Health, as described below.
  • 3. A student may be granted a leave of absence for one, two, or three terms. A student may not normally be granted more than three terms of leave total during his or her study at YDS, but under extraordinary circumstances the academic dean may grant a student a fourth term of leave.
  • 4. A student is not normally granted a leave of absence to take on a professional commitment.
  • 5. International students who apply for a leave of absence must consult with OISS regarding their visa status.
  • 6. A student on leave of absence may complete outstanding work in any course for which he or she has been granted extensions. He or she may not, however, fulfill any other degree requirements during the time on leave.
  • 7. A student on leave of absence is not eligible for financial aid, including loans; and in most cases, student loans are not deferred during periods of nonenrollment.
  • 8. A student on leave of absence is not eligible for the use of any University facilities normally available to enrolled students.
  • 9. A student on leave of absence may continue to be enrolled in Yale Health by purchasing coverage through the Student Affiliate Coverage plan. In order to secure continuous coverage from Yale Health, enrollment in this plan must be requested prior to the beginning of the term in which the student will be on leave or, if the leave commences during the term, within thirty days of the date when the leave is approved. Coverage is not automatic; enrollment forms are available from the Member Services department of Yale Health, 203.432.0246.
  • 10. A student on leave of absence does not have to file a formal application for readmission. However, he or she must obtain the approval of the senior associate dean of academic affairs to return and must notify the registrar in writing of his or her intention to return at least eight weeks prior to the end of the approved leave. In addition, if the returning student wishes to be considered for financial aid, the student must submit appropriate financial aid applications to YDS’s Financial Aid Office to determine eligibility.
  • 11. A student on leave of absence who does not return at the end of the approved leave, and does not request and receive an extension, is automatically dismissed from YDS.
  • 12. Leaves of absence shall not be granted retroactively after a term has ended.

Personal Leave of Absence

A student who wishes or needs to interrupt study temporarily because of personal exigencies may request a personal leave of absence with the approval of the senior associate dean of academic affairs. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is current with his or her degree requirements is eligible for a personal leave after satisfactory completion of at least one term of study. Personal leaves cannot be granted retroactively and normally will not be approved after the tenth day of a term.

To request a personal leave of absence, the student must complete the form available in the registrar’s office before the beginning of the term for which the leave is requested, explaining the reasons for the proposed leave and stating both the proposed start and end dates of the leave, and the address (both physical and electronic) at which the student can be reached during the period of the leave. If the senior associate dean of academic affairs approves, the leave is granted. In any case, the student will be informed in writing of the action taken. A student who does not apply for a personal leave of absence, or whose application for a leave is denied, and who does not register for any term, will be considered to have withdrawn from YDS.


Medical Leave of Absence

A student who must interrupt study temporarily because of illness or injury may be granted a medical leave of absence with the approval of the senior associate dean of academic affairs, on the written recommendation of a chief physician or designee on the staff of Yale Health. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is making satisfactory progress toward his or her degree requirements is eligible for a medical leave any time after matriculation. The final decision concerning a request for a medical leave of absence will be communicated in writing by the senior associate dean of academic affairs.

YDS reserves the right to place a student on a medical leave of absence when, on the recommendation of the director of Yale Health or the chief of the Department of Mental Health and Counseling, the dean of YDS determines that the student is a danger to self or others because of a serious medical problem.

A student who is placed on medical leave during any term will have his or her tuition adjusted according to the same schedule used for withdrawals (see Tuition Rebate and Refund Policy). Before re-registering, a student on medical leave must secure written permission to return from a Yale Health physician.


Leave of Absence for Parental Responsibilities

A student who wishes or needs to interrupt his or her study temporarily for reasons of pregnancy, maternity care, or paternity care may be granted a leave of absence for parental responsibilities. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is making satisfactory progress toward his or her degree requirements is eligible for parental leave of absence any time after matriculation.

To request a leave of absence for parental responsibilities, a student must complete the form available in the registrar’s office before the beginning of the term for which the leave is requested, explaining the reasons for the proposed leave and stating both the proposed start and end dates of the leave, and the address (both physical and electronic) at which the student can be reached during the period of the leave. If the senior associate dean of academic affairs approves, the leave is granted. In any case, the student will be informed in writing of the action taken.

Students living in University housing units are encouraged to review their housing contract and the related policies of the Graduate Housing Office before applying to YDS for a parental leave of absence. Students granted a parental leave may continue to reside in University housing to the end of the academic term for which the leave was first granted, but no longer.


Withdrawal and Readmission

A student who wishes to terminate his or her program of study should confer with the senior associate dean of academic affairs regarding withdrawal. The senior associate dean of academic affairs will determine the effective date of the withdrawal. The University identification card must be submitted with the approved withdrawal form in order for withdrawal in good standing to be recorded. Withdrawal forms are available in the registrar’s office. Students who do not register for any fall or spring term, and for whom a leave of absence has not been approved by the associate dean, or who do not return from or ask for and receive an extension of an approved leave, are considered to have withdrawn from YDS.

A student who discontinues his or her program of study during the academic year without submitting an approved withdrawal form and the University identification card will be liable for the tuition charge for the term in which the withdrawal occurs. Tuition charges for students who withdraw in good standing will be adjusted as described in the Tuition Rebate and Refund Policy.

A student who has withdrawn from YDS in good standing and who wishes to resume study at a later date must apply for readmission. Neither readmission nor financial aid is guaranteed to students who withdraw. The deadline for making application for readmission is February 1 of the year in which the student wishes to return to YDS. The student’s application will be considered by the Admissions Office.


U.S. Military Leave Readmissions Policy

Students who wish or need to interrupt their studies to perform U.S. military service are subject to a separate U.S. military leave readmissions policy. In the event a student withdraws or takes a leave of absence from YDS to serve in the U.S. military, the student will be entitled to guaranteed readmission under the following conditions:

  • 1. The student must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces for a period of more than thirty consecutive days;
  • 2. The student must give advance written or verbal notice of such service to the senior associate dean of academic affairs. In providing the advance notice the student does not need to indicate whether he or she intends to return. This advance notice need not come directly from the student, but rather, can be made by an appropriate officer of the U.S. Armed Forces or official of the U.S. Department of Defense. Notice is not required if precluded by military necessity. In all cases, this notice requirement can be fulfilled at the time the student seeks readmission, by submitting an attestation that the student performed the service.
  • 3. The student must not be away from YDS to perform U.S. military service for a period exceeding five years (this includes all previous absences to perform U.S. military service but does not include any initial period of obligated service). If a student’s time away from YDS to perform U.S. military service exceeds five years because the student is unable to obtain release orders through no fault of the student or the student was ordered to or retained on active duty, the student should contact the senior associate dean of academic affairs to determine if the student remains eligible for guaranteed readmission.
  • 4. The student must notify YDS (the registrar, and/or the senior associate dean of academic affairs, or the director of admissions and financial aid) within three years of the end of his or her U.S. military service of his or her intention to return. However, a student who is hospitalized or recovering from an illness or injury incurred in or aggravated during the U.S. military service has up until two years after recovering from the illness or injury to notify YDS of his or her intent to return.
  • 5. The student cannot have received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or have been sentenced in a court-martial.

A student who meets all of these conditions will be readmitted for the next term, unless the student requests a later date of readmission. Any student who fails to meet one of these requirements may still be readmitted under the general readmission policy but is not guaranteed readmission.

Upon returning to YDS, the student will resume his or her education without repeating completed course work for courses interrupted by U.S. military service. The student will have the same enrolled status last held and with the same academic standing. For the first academic year in which the student returns, the student will be charged the tuition and fees that would have been assessed for the academic year in which the student left the institution. Yale may charge up to the amount of tuition and fees other students are assessed, however, if veteran’s education benefits will cover the difference between the amounts currently charged other students and the amount charged for the academic year in which the student left.

In the case of a student who is not prepared to resume his or her studies with the same academic status at the same point where the student left off or who will not be able to complete the program of study, YDS will undertake reasonable efforts to help the student become prepared. If after reasonable efforts YDS determines that the student remains unprepared or will be unable to complete the program, or after YDS determines that there are no reasonable efforts it can take, YDS may deny the student readmission.


Termination

A student’s relationship with YDS may be terminated for the following reasons:

  • 1. Failure to maintain a satisfactory academic record.
  • 2. Lack of aptitude or personal fitness for the ministry.
  • 3. Behavior that violates generally acknowledged canons and standards of scholarship or professional practice.
  • 4. Behavior that is disruptive to the educational process.
  • 5. Possession or use of explosives or weapons on University property.

Disciplinary actions are initiated by the Professional Studies Committee or by the Disciplinary Committee. The student concerned has the right to appear before the initiating committee. The decision to terminate the relationship of a student with YDS is made by the General Faculty on recommendation of one of these committees. The committees may also impose lesser penalties such as reprimand or probation.

The faculty reserves the right to withhold a degree from a candidate where there is compelling evidence of serious moral misconduct, or while disciplinary actions or criminal proceedings are pending.


Commencement

All candidates on whom degrees are to be conferred must be present at the Commencement exercises of the University, unless excused for urgent reasons by the dean’s office.

Contact

Academic Affairs

(203) 432-6340
(203) 432-7475
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