Academic Policies

 Academic Policies Table of Contents - Click to Expand

Policy for THEO 6980 Cross-Cultural Immersion Experience

(Adopted by the Graduate Curriculum Committee, February 8, 2011)

Course Description: THEO 6980 Cross-Cultural Immersion Experience (3 cr.):

Explores issues and questions pertaining to ministry across cultural boundaries. Students will have the opportunity to experience and reflect on specific historical and theological issues of culture and ministry as they pertain to a specific locale. This will include engagement with local ministries, developing paradigms of holistic ministry, biblical foundations of missions, theology of religions and community exegesis and development. Course must be approved by the Dean of the School of Theology (SOT) or the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies prior to enrolling.


SOT-sponsored cross-cultural immersion programs:

  1. The School of Theology (SOT) will normally offer one cross-cultural immersion (CCI) program for its graduate students approximately once every three years. This program will normally be approximately two weeks long, from the time of departure from Seattle to the time of return.
  2. SOT CCI programs will comply with the policies and standards established by the SPU Office of Study Abroad Programs.
  3. Sites will vary from year to year.
    1. Whenever possible, an SOT faculty member will accompany the students on the trip, and will work closely with the site director in designing a program that fulfills the learning goals that SOT has established for its courses (see below) and meets its usual academic standards.
    2. In those years when an SOT faculty member cannot accompany the students on the trip, the Dean of SOT, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, or some other SOT faculty member designated by the Dean or the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies (ADGS) will communicate with the director of the site to assure that the program fulfills SOT’s learning goals and meets its usual academic standards.
  4. As with every SPS course, electronic copies of the syllabus for each section of THEO 6980 will be filed with the ADGS.
  5. The work load for the students enrolled in each section of THEO 6980 will be roughly equivalent to that of any other 3-credit, 6000-level course in SOT:
    1. The workload of a typical course computes roughly as follows:
      1. Three hours per class per week for 10 weeks = 30 hours class time; and
      2. Three to four hours homework [reading, homework assignments, preparation for class presentations, etc.] per hour of class = 90-120 hours; and
      3. 30-40 double-spaced pages of written work [research papers, examinations, etc.]
    2. Site directors and SPU instructors are encouraged to use this formula as a rule of thumb when configuring the work load for THEO 6980. It is understood, however, that the amount and nature of the “class time” (or equivalent), “homework” (or equivalent) and written work in a given section of THEO 6980 will depend greatly on the availability of relevant resources and on site-specific circumstances and opportunities.

Permission for SOT graduate students to participate for credit in non-SOT-sponsored cross-cultural immersion programs

  1. In rare cases, permission may be granted by the Dean or ADGS for a student to satisfy his or her CCI requirement in a non-SPU-sponsored program. Permission will be contingent on the following circumstances:
    1. A student whose academic and/or professional obligations conflict unavoidably with the scheduling of the SPU-sponsored program for the year in which s/he needs to take it may be allowed to enroll in a non-SPU-sponsored CCI program. (Personal and/or family schedule conflicts will normally not be deemed sufficient grounds for a waiver.)
    2. The student must demonstrate: (1) that the cross-cultural immersion program in which s/he wishes to enroll, is offered or sponsored by an ATS-accredited theological seminary, divinity school or school of theology; and (2) that the number of academic credits awarded for successful completion of that program is at least equivalent to the three quarter-credits awarded for THEO 6980 at SPS.
  • A student from abroad who has come to the USA will be expected to fulfill the CCI degree requirement, but in a manner suitable to his/her particular circumstances and approved by the Dean or ADGS.
  1. If permission is granted for a student to fulfill his or her CCI requirement by enrolling in a program that meets the above criteria, it will be the student’s responsibility (1) to satisfy whatever admission requirements may be associated with that program and/or the seminary that offers or sponsors it, and (2) to see to it that the credits are duly transferred from that seminary to SPS.
  2. SPS students who participate in CCI programs for which no academic credits are awarded by an ATS-accredited seminary, divinity school or school of theology shall not be considered to have satisfied the CCI requirement for their SPU degree.

SPS Syllabus Boilerplate

University Mission Statement: Seattle Pacific University is a Christian university fully committed to engaging the culture and changing the world by graduating people of competence and character, becoming people of wisdom, and modeling grace-filled community. 

 Seattle Pacific Seminary Mission Statement: Why we existGuided by the Holy Spirit, SPS prepares students for faithful service to Jesus Christ through transformational ministry in the church and world. 

 Seattle Pacific Seminary Vision Statement: What we do.  As a seminary in the Pacific Northwest, embedded at Seattle Pacific University, SPS aims to embody theological education through a Wesleyan vision of academy, abbey, and apostolate, preparing students for faithful service 

Seattle Pacific Seminary Student Learning Outcomes and Objectives:

MDiv Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs in italics; vision statements in bold)

As an academy, SPS seeks the mind of Christ through theological study and reflection.

  1. Students will interpret and respond to the texts and traditions of the Christian faith.
  2. Students will demonstrate critical reflection on the Christian faith and society for a deeper knowledge of God and God’s work in the world

As an abbey, SPS endeavors to be a formative community that is a workshop of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Students will learn spiritual practices and participate in forming communities of discipleship, guided by the Holy Spirit

As an apostolate, SPS aspires to participate in God’s reconciling mission in the world.

  1. Students will demonstrate attentiveness to the work of God in diverse contexts through participation in the ministry of reconciliation.
  2. Students will discern their vocation to God’s reconciling work by participating in communities of faith.

MA Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs in italics; vision statements in bold)

As an academy, SPS seeks the mind of Christ through theological study and reflection.

  1. Students will interpret and respond to the texts and traditions of the Christian faith.
  2. Students will demonstrate critical reflection on the Christian faith and society for a deeper knowledge of God and God’s work in the world

As an abbey, SPS endeavors to be a formative community that is a workshop of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Students will learn spiritual practices and participate in communities of discipleship, guided by the Holy Spirit

As an apostolate, SPS aspires to participate in God’s reconciling mission in the world.

  1. Students will demonstrate attentiveness to the work of God in diverse contexts through participation in the ministry of reconciliation.

Academic Integrity Policy: Students are expected to follow the Academic Integrity Policy stated in the current edition of the Graduate Catalog. The guidelines for handling any cases of suspected infractions are spelled out in the same place.  

  • Note: Instructors may establish any policy they like for penalizing infractions, as long as it conforms to the University Academic Integrity Policy). But some reference to your expectations and manner of penalizing infractions should be included in your syllabus. 

Style Guide: 

The official SPU School of Theology style guide is:

   All written work submitted for SPS courses shall use the method of citing sources, as well as other stylistic conventions, described in that Handbook. For an online summary of SBL style, as well as any suggested interpretations or SOT-approved exceptions, see:

  • The SBL tab on the SPU LibGuide Citations Styles.
  • Failure to cite sources, and to cite them in accordance with the official style guide, is considered a breach of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy (see above), and may be penalized accordingly.

Information Ethics:

The Computer and Information Systems website includes a Computer Acceptable Use Policy, which provides guidelines for the appropriate use of instructional technology, digital media and the Internet. The SPU Library website includes information on Information Ethics, which offers guidance on “how to use various types of information appropriately for papers or projects.” [For guidance on how to cite such resources, please see the SBL Handbook of Style.] Students are expected to heed these guidelines, and faculty are expected to penalize infractions for the same reason, and with the same severity, as they would penalize other infractions of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy (see above).


School of Theology Inclusive Language Policy:

The Christian gospel aims to provide a clear witness to the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. For this reason, the words we choose are influential and significant. Because language related to race, gender, class, and nationality has a particular power to liberate or to marginalize other human beings, our words ought to exhibit the sort of grace-filled sensitivity to human dignity that is part and parcel of the Christian gospel (James 3:1-18). In particular, the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University believes that language about God and people should mirror these biblical truths: that God created both male and female in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); that God formed male and female into a working partnership to steward all of God’s creation (Genesis 1:28); and that God loves every one equally without respect to race, gender, class, or nationality; yet all are equally in need of God’s forgiveness and equally transformed by God’s grace into new creatures because of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-6). The use of nondiscriminatory language substantiates these truths and fosters a community where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The social practices of Seattle Pacific University’s Methodist heritage exemplify these biblical truths. Rooted deeply within Methodism is the active participation in the lifting of oppression in any form so as to extend and implement the freedom of the gospel to all whom God has created and seeks to redeem. The record of Wesleyans on behalf of those on the margins is impressive and honorable and should be furthered by the modern offspring of Wesley in word and deed. Therefore, it is the policy of the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University to use nondiscriminatory language in our syllabi, publications, and communications. (The grammatical particulars about nondiscriminatory language are spelled out in The Everyday Writer.) Moreover, when writing and speaking about God, the School of Theology encourages the use of a wide variety of images found in Scripture and the Christian tradition, such as rock, sovereign, light, mother eagle, shepherd, creator, father, and so on. By drawing on the richness of these biblical images, we position ourselves to deepen our understanding of God’s manifold attributes more fully and to help form God’s multiform people into a more inclusive community.

Attendance Policy for Graduate Classes:

Preparation for class, faithful and punctual attendance at class, and active participation in class are integral elements of education at SPS, and accordingly are mandatory. Students may not miss more than two sessions for a once-a-week quarter course, four sessions for a quarter course that meets three times a week, or one class session for a one-week intensive course without penalty on their final grade, unless valid, documented excuses are presented to the professor within two business days of the missed session. Appropriate penalties will be assessed by the professor, and normally explained in the course syllabus. Advance notice to the professor is considered a professional courtesy and should be given whenever possible. Valid excuses for missing class include are restricted to illness and other personal or family emergencies. Absences and tardiness due to church-related activities (e.g., mission trips, conferences, weddings, funerals, mid-week services, committee meetings, adult education classes or prayer groups), work-related activities (e.g., special meetings, overtime hours or emergency fill-ins for other employees) or non-emergency activities with family or friends (e.g., weddings or vacations) are not excused, nor should faculty be expected to penalize themselves for unexcused student absences by assigning make-up work that they would then have to grade. 


Policy for Students with Disabilities:

Students with Disabilities: If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services in the Center for Learning, Lower Moyer Hall, to make your accommodations request. Once your eligibility has been determined, DSS will send a Disability Verification Letter to your professors indicating what accommodations have been approved. Here is the Center’s contact information: 


Inclement Weather School Closure Policy:

  • Full Closure: All classes are canceled and all offices are closed. The Library, Campus Dining Services and the Student Union Building will be operational on a limited schedule.
  • Late Start: Indicates that classes begin at 9:30 a.m. and offices open at 9:30 a.m. Classes beginning at 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. are canceled. All other classes will operate as scheduled. Chapel will be held if planned.
  • For Evening Classes and Events: Allowing for weather changes during the day, a decision will be made by 2:00 p.m. for evening classes and events. Call the Emergency Closure Hotline for the updated information.
  • The Emergency Closure Hotline (206) 281-2800 always provides current and complete information.


Reports of Threats, Crimes and Sexual Misconduct:

Seattle Pacific University is committed to providing a safe learning and working environment on campus. As part of this, university employees are generally required to report information they receive about threats, crimes, and sexual misconduct involving students to the Office of Safety and Security or the university’s Title IX Coordinator. Information that must be reported includes both verbal and written statements (e.g., spoken in class or submitted in a written assignment), whether by a victim or by a third-party. Types of incidents that must be reported include physical assault (including domestic or dating violence), sex offenses (e.g., rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment), stalking, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, hate crimes, and arrests for weapon, drug, or liquor law violations. If you are a victim of any of the offenses listed above, you are strongly encouraged to report the matter promptly to a professor, the Office of Safety and Security, or the university’s Title IX Coordinator so that the university can offer you support and notify you of available resources. If you are a victim and would like to speak with someone confidentially, you can arrange to speak with a counselor at the Student Counseling Center or you can make an appointment outside of class with a pastoral counselor.

SPS Policies on Student Behavioral Competencies

As a community of people (students, staff, and faculty) who are committed to faithful service of Jesus Christ, all members of this community enter into an agreement concerning their behavior in the classroom and in relation to one another. These competencies are drawn from professional ethics in ministerial vocations. All students are expected to adhere to university policies, including the “Behavioral Expectations” outlined in the SPU Graduate Student Handbook. Violation of university policies may be considered evidence of unsatisfactory behaviors in one or more Student Behavioral Competencies. Consistent failure to demonstrate these competencies may result in a behavioral review with either the Seminary Dean, Associate Dean, or Director. Definitions of each of the six behavioral competency areas and examples of unsatisfactory performance likely to result in behavioral review include, but are not limited to, the following:

Area 1 - Conscientiousness & Commitment to academic and ministerial responsibilities

· Expected behaviors: Reliable attendance and timeliness; advance preparation for assignments and absences; effective management of appointments and schedule; follow-through on tasks; and adherence to appropriate self-presentation and conduct in class/work settings.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Frequently late or misses class without notification; poorly organized presentations or papers or research products; insufficient preparation for contextual education site responsibilities or classes; persistent unprofessional behaviors after receiving feedback from a faculty member or contextual education supervisor; refusal to meet with faculty, staff, or contextual education supervisor.

Area 2 - Interpersonal Skills

· Expected behaviors: Displays warmth, respect, positive affect, and empathy when interacting with peers, professors, and supervisors; contributes effectively to groups; supports the growth of others by providing feedback and encouragement; exercises good listening skills with both faculty and fellow students.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Interacts in an aloof, negative, or harsh manner; displays difficulty when collaborating on group projects or when discussing difficult topics; feedback to instructors/other students violates professional boundaries; frequently takes over class conversations or interrupts others.

Area 3 - Self-Care

· Expected behaviors: Maintains personal and professional wellness, energy and focus by practicing healthy habits, setting boundaries, managing health issues, and seeking professional help when needed.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Over-scheduling leads to mistakes, missed appointments, or decreased quality of work; repeatedly cannot stay awake in class; loses focus due to continuous multitasking; displays of stress and tension impede relationship building; does not seek medical or therapeutic support necessary to meet academic and professional expectations; does not exercise healthy personal/professional boundaries.

Area 4 - Self-Awareness & Flexibility

· Expected behaviors: Demonstrates the ability to identify strengths, biases, and areas of growth; responsive to feedback and uses the information to grow as a person and as a professional; open to new perspectives; demonstrates the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and unexpected events.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Difficulty identifying and acknowledging personal or professional strengths; defensive when given constructive criticism; unresponsive to peer or supervisor feedback; displays rigidity when discussing alternative ways of seeing, knowing, or behaving; demonstrates defensiveness for a subject that can become domineering, shutting down other opinions, and becoming argumentative rather than engaging in civil discourse.

Area 5 – Self-management and Emotional regulation

· Expected behaviors: Acts professionally when experiencing strong emotions; uses active listening skills and mutual problem solving to manage conflict situations; expresses feelings and uses humor that is appropriate to the setting.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Displays poor impulse control in interactions (such as verbal outbursts, sarcasm, swearing, physical aggression, or inappropriate humor); blames others rather than seeking to take responsibility in a conflict; actively avoids discussion of conflict; draws others into interpersonal conflicts inappropriately.

Area 6 – Ethical Behaviors

· Expected behaviors: Demonstrates honesty, fairness, integrity, and responsibility in interactions with peers, faculty, and supervisors; participates in structures of accountability to assist with ministerial development; avoids unprofessional conduct as a student and minister.

· Unsatisfactory behaviors: Acts in a dishonest or irresponsible manner; violates confidentiality; plagiarizes written work; displays poor boundaries with colleagues, faculty, or staff members; violates university or contextual education site policies.

We believe that professional behaviors, like skills and knowledge, can be strengthened when students are given regular feedback and support. Our goal is to have every student who is recommended for graduation demonstrate these behaviors on a consistent basis.

SPU Emergency Response Information:

  • Report an Emergency or Suspicious Activity: Call the Office of Safety & Security (OSS) at 206-281-2922 to report an emergency or suspicious activity. SPU Security Officers are trained first responders and will immediately be dispatched to your location. If needed, the OSS Dispatcher will contact local fire/police with the exact address of the location of the emergency.
  • Lockdown / Shelter in Place – General Guidance: The University will lock down in response to threats of violence such as a bank robbery or armed intruder on campus. You can assume that all remaining classes and events will be temporarily suspended until the incident is over. Lockdown notifications are sent using the SPU-Alert System as text messages (to people who have provided their cell phone numbers as described below), emails, announcements by Building Emergency Coordinators (BECs), announcements over the outdoor public address system, and electronic reader board messages.
    • If you are in a building at the time of a lockdown:
      • Stay inside unless the building you are in is affected. If it is affected, you should evacuate.
      • Move to a securable area (such as an office or classroom) and lock the doors.
      • Close the window coverings then move away from the windows and get low on the floor.
      • Remain in your secure area until further direction or the all clear is given (this notification will be sent via the SPU-Alert System).
    • If you are outside at the time of a lockdown:
      • Leave the area and seek safe shelter off campus. Remaining in the area of the threat may expose you to further danger.
      • Return to campus after the all clear is given (this notification will be sent via the SPU-Alert System)
    • Evacuation – General Guidance
      • Students should evacuate a building if the fire alarm sounds or if a faculty member, a staff member, or the SPU-Alert System instructs building occupants to evacuate. In the event of an evacuation, gather your personal belongings quickly and safely proceed to the nearest exit. Most classrooms contain a wall plaque or poster on or next to the classroom door showing the evacuation route and the assembly site for the building. Do not use the elevator.
      • Once you have evacuated the building, proceed to the nearest evacuation assembly location. The “ Think. Act.” booklet posted in each classroom contains a list of assembly sites for each building. Check in with your instructor or a BEC (they will be easily recognizable by their bright orange vests). During emergencies, give each BEC your full cooperation whenever they issue directions.
    • Additional Information: Additional information about emergency preparedness can be found on the SPU web page at or by calling the Office of Safety & Security at 206-281-2922.

Theology Librarian:

Steve Perisho, MDiv, ThM, MLIS (206/281-2417;


Graduate Coach

A Graduate Coach is available for an average of 10 hours per week to assist any SPS student with his or her studies. Priority is given to students on probationary admission, students placed on academic probation, students for whom English is a second language, students whose instructors have specifically requested that their assignments be checked by the Coach before submission, and first-year students not belonging to any of the prior categories. The coach is tasked with reviewing and processing class material, assisting with specific assignments, conducting strategy sessions for managing workloads, helping students to develop their writing skills, facilitating individual and group study sessions, and editing writing assignments.