Academic Catalog 2020-2021

Academic Policies

Residency Requirements

A minimum of thirty-six (36) hours of credit toward the MDiv degree must be earned in the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. These hours are exclusive of any hours gained through testing for Credit by Examination. The final twenty-four (24) hours must be earned consecutively at Gardner-Webb University unless the student obtains permission from the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity.

Academic Course Load

A minimum full-time course load for MDiv degree students is nine hours per semester. The maximum academic course load for MDiv degree students is eighteen hours per semester. An academic course load of more than fifteen hours per semester must be approved by the student’s faculty mentor. It is suggested that new students restrict their class loads to nine-to-twelve hours in the initial semester.

The definition of a full-time academic course load is made for those students requiring certification of full-time status for participation in insurance programs, the receipt of veteran’s benefits, or the regulations of U.S. Immigration. Students enrolled full-time are eligible to apply for various financial aid packages. The students should consult with the Office of Financial Planning regarding the availability of financial aid.

Class Attendance

Gardner-Webb University is grounded in the idea of educating its students holistically within the traditions of Christianity and the liberal arts. At the center of both guiding principles of the University is the idea of community and interpersonal relationships. Spiritual, moral/ethical, and intellectual growth are all broadened, enriched, and made more meaningful within a community of individual growth. Therefore, in order to ensure that students interact with others engaged in this search for growth and knowledge, Gardner-Webb University requires that students regularly attend and participate in the class meetings and activities designed to encourage aspects of this growth in each of their courses. This provides that philosophical foundation for the University's Attendance Policy which follows.

Regular class attendance is an important student obligation. Students are responsible for all coursework conducted in class meetings and are required by University policy to attend a minimum of 75% of the scheduled class meetings. Failure to meet this attendance requirement will result in a grade of "@F" in the course. In face-to-face classes, attendance is counted from the first scheduled meeting. In online classes, attendance is counted from the student’s completion of the Enrollment Verification Activity or first required course activity or assessment, whichever comes first. Furthermore, it is the prerogative of the instructor to set a more stringent class attendance policy. The instructor will clearly state in the syllabus the attendance policies which will govern the class. Students are responsible for knowing the number of absences that they accumulate.

In online classes, attendance satisfying the 75% requirement is measured by the documented weekly participation in the class on the part of the student, e.g., a minimum of one activity per week that demonstrates attendance, such as submitting an assignment, attending a webinar, or participating in a discussion board (logging into a course in Blackboard does not constitute participation or attendance in the class). As in face-to-face classes, the instructor in an online class may stipulate a more stringent attendance policy in the syllabus.

Absence from class does not excuse the student from responsibility for classwork. Planned class absences for foreseeable personal circumstances or official University business must be negotiated with the instructor prior to the absence. All absences, regardless of reason, apply toward the 25% threshold.

Transfer of Credit

Graduate-level credits earned in institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, regional accreditation associations, and/or recognized specialized agencies may be considered for transfer credit toward degree programs of students enrolled in the MDiv program of the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. A request for a transcript evaluation must be submitted to the office of the Dean of the School of Divinity for adjudication. Each course considered for transfer is required to have a grade of at least “C” (2.0 on a 4.0 scale) and must be substantially parallel to a School of Divinity requirement. All other requests for transfer of credit must be approved by the faculty of the School of Divinity.

Graduate-level credits earned at institutions outside the United States and Canada will be evaluated on an individual basis. The evaluation will take into account the institution where the work was completed, the level of the work, and the grades earned.

Course Registration

Registration includes academic advising, selection of courses, and payment of fees. During preregistration, students should consult with their academic advisors on course selection and other degree requirements. However, it is the responsibility of the student, not the academic advisor, to ensure that all University graduation requirements are met.

Students will not receive credit for any course for which registration has not been completed. Unless students and their advisors consider it essential, they should not change the schedule after registration.

Adding, Dropping, and Withdrawing from Courses

Changes in a student’s schedule may be made by visiting WebbConnect at

A student who withdraws from a course after the schedule modification period must complete an online withdrawal form in WebbConnect. The student is responsible for carrying out the withdrawal and must secure written documentation of the withdrawal. When a student officially withdraws from a course, a grade of “W” (withdrew) is recorded during the first four weeks of the Fall and Spring semesters, or during the first week of a Summer term, or by the end of the first day of an accelerated (one-week intensive) J-term course, or by the end of the second day of a three-week J-term course. After this period, a “WP” (withdrew passing) or “WF” (withdrew failing) is assigned by the instructor based upon an assessment of the student’s work to date in the course. No hours attempted are recorded for “W” and “WP” grades.

The last day for dropping an individual course is four weeks after mid-term or a date not to exceed 75% of the course. The specific date is established each semester by the Registrar and published in registration materials sent out by the School of Divinity. After this point, students may not withdraw from individual courses but may completely withdraw from school.

Before withdrawing from a class or classes, students should refer to the “Charge Reduction Policy for Class Withdrawal” in the “Finances” section of this catalog in order to understand the financial implication on their account.

Removal from Class

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not distract from or disrupt the educational pursuits of others. Should an instructor determine that a student’s conduct is distracting or disruptive to the educational environment in the classroom or online environment, the instructor may request the disruptive student to leave the class immediately. Such students may not return to the classroom or online environment until they have met with the instructor and offered assurances that they can conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. The instructor reserves the right to inform the Dean of the School of Divinity as soon as possible. If the student is dismissed from the class permanently because of disruptive behavior or other violations of the Code of Student Conduct, the student’s final grade will follow the grading period for a “W” or a “WP/WF,” depending on the date of dismissal.

In the event a student refuses to remove him/herself upon request, the instructor should contact University Police immediately, or in the case of an offsite facility, local law enforcement.

Medical Withdrawal Policy

Any registered student who experiences medical trauma or a chronic illness that may prevent completion of the semester may apply for a medical withdrawal from the University. A medical withdrawal is a complete withdrawal from the University (i.e., not from a particular course). A request for a medical withdrawal must be submitted prior to the beginning of final exams for the semester in which the medical withdrawal is desired. A medical withdrawal request is initiated through the submission of the online Withdrawal Form located in WebbConnect prior to the beginning of final exams in the same manner as a general withdrawal from the University. In addition to the online request, the student must also provide a statement from a licensed medical or mental health professional trained in the diagnosis of the student’s medical condition. The statement should verify that the medical condition prevents the student from participating in classes or carrying out course requirements.

The statement from the medical or mental health professional must be submitted on official letterhead, addressed to the Gardner-Webb University Registrar, and include the practitioner’s name and title. The statement should indicate that the student is unable to continue in school and include the date at which the student became unable to continue (or the closest possible approximation to the date).

The student will be notified by the Registrar of the decision made by the Medical Withdrawal Committee. If the request is approved, the student will receive a final grade of “W” for each class (except in instances of Academic Dishonesty). Any adjustment in tuition will be made on a prorated basis. Once granted a withdrawal, students must apply for readmission to the University in order to continue their studies. All program admission requirements, programmatic and degree requirements, departmental student handbook, and accreditation requirements at the time of the student’s return will apply.

Any appeal for a retroactive medical withdrawal must be initiated by the end of the next Fall or Spring semester. Documentation for these appeals includes the same materials required for other medical withdrawal requests but must also include an explanation as to why the medical withdrawal request could not have been made by the normal deadline (i.e., by the beginning of final exams for the semester in which the medical withdrawal is desired).

As with any other readmission, stipulations may apply. The student must provide a statement from the same medical or mental health professional stating that the student is now able to continue studies at the University. This documentation should follow the same format as above.

Military Deployment Policy

A currently enrolled student may request withdrawal from courses if called to active military duty. Non-punitive grades of “W” or “WP” will be issued for the course(s) for the student’s academic record for the semester, regardless of the student’s current grade in the course(s). If a student is deployed toward the end of a semester but still wants to complete the course, the student must contact his/her instructors to reach agreement on the terms of the completion, which may include requesting an “Incomplete.” The Student Accounts Office will give special consideration to student bills when there is a military-deployment-related withdrawal. A copy of the student’s military deployment orders is required.

Course and Schedule Changes

The School of Divinity reserves the right to cancel or discontinue any course because of small enrollment or for other reasons deemed necessary. In order to assure quality instruction, the School of Divinity reserves the right to close registration when the maximum enrollment has been reached and to make changes in schedule and/or faculty when necessary.

Auditing Courses

Any Gardner-Webb student may audit a course for a fee. The auditor is expected to complete the Audit Form and to complete all course requirements, with the exception of tests and examinations. Approval of the instructor and the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity is required.

Course Substitution

Students may substitute up to nine hours of graduate-level courses from outside the School of Divinity for credit toward the MDiv degree. Students must make their requests in writing to the Associate Dean, who will convene the Academic Policies Committee to evaluate the request. Courses for substitution must meet the accreditation standards stated in the Transfer of Credit policy above.

School of Divinity Probation and Suspension Policy

A student must have at least a 2.0 overall grade point average to be awarded a degree in the School of Divinity. When the GPA falls below 2.0, the student is placed on academic probation and is so notified. In order to be removed from academic probation, the student may enroll for a maximum of nine credit hours in the following semester and attain a cumulative GPA of 2.0. If at the completion of this semester the student has not attained a 2.0 GPA, the student may be placed on academic suspension. Students placed on academic suspension will be required to withdraw for at least one semester (not including summer sessions). After that time, students wishing to resume studies may seek readmission to the degree program. Students who are readmitted after having been placed on academic suspension will be allowed to take no more than six hours and must earn a semester grade point average of 2.50. Students failing to meet this stipulation may be subject to academic dismissal.

Students who fail to satisfy the requirements for removal of academic suspension after having been readmitted will be required to withdraw from enrollment in the degree program. Students who are dismissed under these conditions are not eligible for readmission.

Transfer Courses While on Suspension or Probation

A student may not take courses for transfer credit from another institution while on suspension or probation.

Repeating Courses

Only courses with a grade of “D,” “F,” “WF,” or “@F” may be repeated and then only once. When a course is repeated at the School of Divinity, only the higher grade is counted in computing the student’s overall grade point average, although the lower grade remains on the official transcript.

Credit by Examination

Applicants holding a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university may be granted up to fifteen hours of Credit by Examination toward their Master of Divinity degree. Requirements for Credit by Examination are as follows.

  1. Credit by Examination will be determined by a standardized examination in each course requested. The Associate Dean’s office administers all exams. (Examinations are currently available in the following areas: Greek and Hebrew, Christian History, Old Testament, and New Testament.)
  2. The applicant must (a) have completed an undergraduate course in the discipline attaining a minimum 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, (b) make a written request to the Associate Dean for an examination, (c) pay per-credit-hour fee, and (d) score a minimum of 75% on the objective part of the exam and complete satisfactorily a written essay component.
  3. The request and examination must precede the applicant’s enrollment in subject areas where consideration for Credit by Examination is requested.
  4. In no case will Credit by Examination be awarded during the student’s final semester.

After successful completion of the examination(s), the Dean or the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity will send a memo to the Registrar and to the student confirming that the student should receive the credit hours for the course.

Advanced Standing Policy

A student completing a baccalaureate with a major in Religion or its equivalent is eligible to apply for advanced standing in specific discipline areas up to and not to exceed 21 hours. Coursework considered for advanced standing credit must have received at least a “B” course grade. Undergraduate coursework will be evaluated by the Associate Dean’s office on a case-by-case basis. The following undergraduate courses or their equivalent will be considered for advanced standing credit.

Introduction to Old Testament I

Introduction to Old Testament II

Introduction to New Testament I

Introduction to New Testament II

Hebrew I

Greek I

Introduction to Christian History I

Accelerated Pastoral Ministries Program (APMP)

In conjunction with the School of Divinity, the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy offers an accelerated track for students who enter the University with a clear call to vocational Christian ministry. This program allows students to graduate with a BA in Discipleship Studies in three years and a Master of Divinity degree in two years. Students in this accelerated program are expected to fulfill the requirements of the Discipleship Studies major and the minor in Biblical Studies. Students must be admitted into the program as first-year students in order to qualify. (See the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy portion of the Traditional Undergraduate section of this Catalog for additional information.)

Course by Arrangement/Independent Study

Courses within both the core curriculum and selected concentrations are scheduled on a rotating basis and in such a manner that students may graduate within three years (six Fall and Spring semesters consecutively) of study. All courses offered by the School of Divinity are found within the current Catalog.

A Course by Arrangement is a course found in the current Catalog but which is not being offered in the published schedule during the semester in question. A course of Independent Study is a course not found in the current Catalog but which a student seeks permission to take.

Course by Arrangement

Courses by Arrangement are not encouraged and may occur only due to exceptional circumstances when the following criteria are met.

  1. The course being requested must be in the current Catalog but not found in the currently published schedule.
  2. The request must be made in writing to the Associate Dean.
  3. If the request is approved, the Associate Dean will enlist a faculty member for the course.

Independent Study

Independent Studies are not encouraged and may occur only due to exceptional circumstances when the following criteria are met.

  1. The course being requested is not found in the current Catalog.
  2. The request must be made in writing to the Associate Dean.
  3. If the request is approved, the Associate Dean will enlist a faculty member for the course.

Academic Appeals

A student who experiences a problem concerning a grade or any other aspect of a course, including issues relating to but not limited to academic dishonesty, should first discuss the matter with the instructor. If the problem is not resolved, the student should go next to the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity. If the student or the instructor is not satisfied with the decision of the Associate Dean, either party may take the matter to the Appeals Committee, whose decision is final.

The Appeals Committee consists of the Dean of the School of Divinity, who serves as chair, and two School of Divinity faculty members.

To initiate an appeal, the dissatisfied party should address a letter to the Dean of the School of Divinity, stating the reason for the appeal and explaining the circumstances. The Dean will convene the Appeals Committee. If the student or the instructor is asked to appear before the committee, he or she at that time may bring a representative from within the University to act as counsel. The deadline for an academic dishonesty appeal is seven days after the date of the decision being appealed. The deadline for other types of academic appeals (except for grade appeals) is eighteen months after the date of the decision being appealed. Grade appeals must be completed prior to the last day of the following semester. Grade appeals relating to courses taken during the summer must be made prior to the last day of the following fall semester.

Academic Honesty and Personal Integrity

All work submitted by students in each course is presumed to be the student’s own. Cheating, plagiarism, or any other expression of dishonesty will be subject to the University’s policy on academic dishonesty (see the School of Divinity Student Handbook).

It is presupposed that all persons enrolling in the School of Divinity, at whatever level of admission, will exemplify a high level of Christian commitment as well as a high degree of academic and personal integrity. It is expected that this commitment will be reflected in personal relationships, academic performance, and conduct inside and outside of the classroom. A student’s continuing enrollment may become the subject of a formal review if any of the above expectations are not being fulfilled. A member of the administrative staff, faculty member, or student may request a formal review and action by the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity. Upon the conclusion of the formal review, the Associate Dean may take action, which may include, but is not limited to, probation, suspension, counseling, etc. If any party to the review (student, faculty, or administrator) is not satisfied with the decision of the Associate Dean, he or she may request a hearing by the Appeals Committee, whose decision is final.

Application for Graduation

Each student is responsible for fulfilling all requirements for the chosen degree program. In cooperation with his/her advisor, the student is also responsible for filing an Application for Graduation with the Registrar through WebbConnect. Students must apply for graduation by the published deadline listed on the Academic Calendar. Specific deadlines will be published and a late fee will be imposed after the deadline date. A final deadline will also be published after which applications will be carried forward to the next scheduled Commencement.

Graduation Requirements

Students must meet the above requirements and have maintained a grade point average of 2.0 or better on a 4.0 scale.

Commencement Participation Policy

Candidates are not required to be present at Commencement. Students who cannot attend Commencement must notify Registrar Services by sending an email to

Time Limits

The minimum time for completion of the MDiv degree is three years. The maximum time allowed for completion is six years from the date of first enrollment. Beyond the six-year time limit, students may petition the faculty for an extension of time.

Style Guide for Writing Assignments

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th Edition, by Kate L. Turabian, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.