Academic Guidelines

Academic Standards
Rockbridge Seminary upholds a high standard of academic excellence. Faculty members hold academic credentials appropriate to the field and level of teaching—an earned doctorate for teaching at the master’s level and a master’s degree for teaching at the diploma level. All faculty members serve in local church ministry.

Learner Responsibility
Rockbridge Seminary’s ministry education course design is learner-focused, meaning that the learner bears greater responsibility for the management of learning than in a traditional classroom setting. Each course is eight weeks long. Due to the intensity of the study, you may take no more than two Rockbridge courses per term. A professor assigned to the course provides almost daily learning support. Weekly course expectations may include learning community discussion, group projects, and other learning processes. Failure to participate fully in the online learning process will prevent a learner from completing a course satisfactorily. Rockbridge Seminary expects learners to log on to their courses a minimum of five days each week while class is in session. Learners in the same class are not expected to log-on at the same time on any given day, but can log-on according to the learner’s individual schedule.

Virtual Classroom
Rockbridge Seminary’s online seminary courses are accessed through a virtual Learning Management System (LMS) provided by Comcourse Learning Solutions. Students may access the LMS anywhere in the world through an internet connection. No special software is required on the student’s computer to operate or access the LMS.

Course Professor
A professor guides, facilitates, and supports the learning of students enrolled in each ministry leadership training course. Students may contact the professor directly at any time while a course is in session through professor connect forums available in each unit or by direct email. Professors generally respond with 24 hours.

Student Advisor
A Student Advisor is available for assistance throughout the learner’s program of study. Learners have the responsibility of tracking courses related to their learning objectives with the support and assistance of a Student Advisor. Rockbridge Seminary provides Academic Program Guides that help a learner track progress.

Ministry Praxis and Mentors
Learners must be actively engaged in a ministry role (vocational or volunteer) when enrolled in a course. Learners must recruit a mentor for each course.

Active Student Status
In order to maintain “active student” status, a learner must enroll in at least one course every six months. Otherwise, re-application is required. Before inactive students can reactivate their studies, they must update their personal information and supply a statement about why they were unable to take courses and what has enabled them to begin courses again. Returning students will also be expected to update the seminary on any life issues relevant to their academic performance.

Graduation and Placement
A learner graduates from an academic program when courses fulfilling the requirements of that program are completed satisfactorily. Students and alumni have access to a placement section of the Rockbridge Café where open ministry positions may be posted and/or reviewed.

Withdrawal from Class
A learner may request to drop any class during the first half of the term. The seminary’s published refund policy applies.

Grading
Final course grades are assigned as follows:

“A” – Exceeds Learning Expectations
“B” – Meets Learning Expectations
“F” – Unsatisfactory
“Dropped” – Dropped course

A final grade of “B” or higher is required to pass a course. A professor may declare a student’s work “incomplete” if coursework is not completed by the end of a term due to serious illness or the death of a family member. If the learner fails to satisfy course requirements by the end of the third week following the course’s completion date, the final course grade automatically becomes “F.”

Assessment and Proctoring
Students are assessed within distance education and training courses in a variety of ways, including quizzes, reading application questions, interactive learning forums, research papers, performance assessments, authentic assessments, learning assessment papers, mentor engagement, and proctored final exams (master’s courses only).

In selected master’s program courses, students are required to take a final exam using an online proctoring service that requires the student to use a computer with a web cam and microphone. Students schedule the proctored exam session and pay a modest proctoring fee directly with the proctoring service.

Student Identify Verification
Rockbridge Seminary verifies the identity of students in order to ensure that learning exercises are being completed by the student who was approved admission into the program. Verification is done in two ways. First, a student’s mentor must complete an end-of-term survey that includes a statement of identity verification. Second, master’s students must complete final exams in selected courses using an online proctoring service that verifies student identify.

Repetition of Courses
If a learner repeats a course, the latest attempt is the permanent grade for the course. Any previous grades will remain on the transcript, but Rockbridge Seminary will count only the last attempt toward fulfilling academic program requirements.

No Spam Policy
Rockbridge Seminary supports a “No Spam” policy. Please do not add fellow students or Rockbridge Seminary personnel to your broadcast e-mail lists.

Academic Probation
The purpose of Rockbridge Seminary’s Academic Probation Policy is to identify and alert students as early as possible who are not demonstrating satisfactory academic progress. A determination that a student is not demonstrating satisfactory academic progress is made by the Academic Council and may be based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to a student’s academic performance and/or input from a student adviser, professor, or staff member. The policy has two levels – academic warning and academic probation. An academic warning is considered an early intervention in behalf of a student and requires that a student meet with a Student Adviser by phone to discuss strategies for academic improvement. Academic probation is considered a more serious step after improvement strategies have not been successful. At the end of two terms, academic probation is either lifted based on academic improvement or the student is dismissed from the seminary.

Disciplinary Action & Grievance Process
Actions of the Academic Council may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Reprimand and disciplinary probation
  • Reprimand, disciplinary probation and loss of credit in course or courses where dishonest work was done
  • Temporary suspension with time and terms of readmission indicated
  • Indefinite suspension with time and terms of readmission not indicated
  • Permanent dismissal

RS reserves the right to note any of the above actions on a learner’s transcript. A learner may request a review by the president of RS. The president’s decision is final with no further review or appeal.

Learner Records
Academic records are housed primarily in digital form on secure web servers maintained by Comcourse Inc. Digital back-up copies of learner records, paper documents such as learner transcripts, printed copies of digital records (when required), and other learner records are maintained by the seminary. Learner records include, but are not limited to, documents and files related to academics, admissions, advising, discipline, payment, credit, and placement. Rockbridge Seminary utilizes security measures to prevent information abuse. Original documents and digital files submitted to the seminary may become a permanent part of the learner’s file and will not be returned to the learner or sent elsewhere.

The Seminary respects the privacy of student education records. Student education records shall be disclosed only to the student, to persons within the Seminary with a legitimate interest, to persons authorized by the student to receive the student’s education records, and to persons authorized to receive education records without the student’s consent. The Seminary adheres to the privacy of learner records as required by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA).

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

  • A student has the right to inspect and review his/her education records within 45 days of the day the seminary receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Chief Learning Officer written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The institution official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Chief Learning Officer, the student will be advised of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  • A student has the right to request the amendment of his/her education records that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask the seminary to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the seminary official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the seminary decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the seminary will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

Disclosure of Educational Records:

  • Information defined as Directory Information may be released without a student’s consent. Rockbridge Seminary defines Directory Information to include:

Name
Address
Phone Number
Email address
Enrollment Status
Date of Graduation
Degrees and Honors Received
Photos (for identification purposes only)
Major Field of Study
Dates of Attendance
Most Recent Institution Attended

  • A student’s social security number is never considered Directory Information.
  • A student may opt out of Directory Information disclosure by submitting a written request to the Chief Learning Officer.
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
  • Generally, universities must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows universities to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

University officials with legitimate educational interest
Other universities to which a student is transferring
Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the University
Accrediting organizations
To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

The student has a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the Institution to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is Family Policy Compliance Office, Department of Education; Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202-4605. Additional FERPA information is available from the U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20202 or 800-872-5327.

Intellectual Property Rights
Rockbridge Seminary owns the intellectual property rights for works produced as “works made for hire,” works supported by the direct allocation of funds from the seminary for a specific project, works commissioned by the seminary, and other works making substantial use of seminary resources or personnel, such as lectures, audio and visual materials, pictorial or graphic works created as part of the responsibilities for designing, writing, or teaching a course. Where the seminary owns rights to a particular intellectual property, the creator of that property is entitled to share in any royalties generated by that property.

Except for those works described in the preceding paragraph, Rockbridge Seminary does not claim ownership to artistic, research, scholarly, or pedagogical works produced by faculty or students. This includes the works of students created in courses, such as forum posts, papers, and articles.

Transfer Credit Policy
Rockbridge Seminary considers student requests to transfer previously earned transcripted course credits into a seminary program using these guidelines:

  • Generally, only courses taken at institutions accredited by an agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are considered for transfer. However, transfer of credit will not be denied solely on the source of accreditation of the sending institution.
  • Transfer courses must have been taken at the same level of study. Course descriptions must be similar to Rockbridge Seminary courses. Additional documentation may be requested.
  • A grade of “C” or above is required for any transferred course credits.
  • Transcripts from non-U.S. institutions will be evaluated through WES.
  • No more than 25% of the credit hours required for the DMS, MML, and MDiv and no more than 15% of the credit hours required for the DMin can be transferred. Credits are transferred in multiples of 3 (diploma program), 4 (master’s programs), and 6 (doctoral program).
  • Transfer of credit decisions are made by the Chief Learning Officer. Decisions may be appealed to the Academic Council.
  • Total program cost will be reduced equal to the number of credits being transferred.

To request transfer of credit, go to Transcript Evaluation Request Form. Applicants may submit a request after completing the Application for Admission. Students considering enrolling in a course from another seminary with the intent of transferring the credits from that course into their Rockbridge Seminary academic program should ask for a course review first before enrolling in the course.

Transcript of Credits
The transcript of seminary credits is an official copy of the learner’s permanent record, bearing the school seal and the signature of an authorized seminary representative. Students may order a transcript to be sent to an institution or to themselves. The cost for each order is $5. Transcript Request Form

Transfer of Rockbridge Seminary Credits
The acceptance for transfer of academic credits earned as a student of Rockbridge Seminary is determined by the receiving institution.

Sexual Harassment
Rockbridge Seminary is committed to the respect and dignity of every employee, student and guest. Harassment in any form, verbal, physical, or visual is incompatible with the biblical standard of Christian conduct and academic integrity. It is the policy of the Seminary that no one be subjected to harassment, whether it is sexual, racial, and ethnic or of some other type. Any employee or student will be subject to disciplinary action for violation of this policy.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  1. Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or
  3. The conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, education, or living environment.

Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Unwelcome sexual propositions
  • Sexually graphic comments about a person’s body
  • Unwelcome touching, patting, pinching, or leering
  • Persistent, offensive, and unwelcome sexual jokes and comments
  • Unwelcome displays of sexually graphic pictures

Sexual harassment is illegal under both state and federal law. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an employee or student for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of sexual harassment. In some cases, sexual harassment may be subject to prosecution under criminal law. At Rockbridge Seminary, sanctions for sexual harassment by employees and students may include the full range of disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the seminary.

File a Formal Complaint
A student, professor, or staff member may file a formal complaint with Rockbridge Seminary over any unresolved issue that deserves formal investigation by the seminary, including but not limited to sexual harassment or discrimination. The President of Rockbridge Seminary will receive the complaint and seek resolution within 30 days. If the complaint relates to the President of Rockbridge Seminary, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees will receive the complaint and seek resolution within 30 days. Formal Complaint Form