Grading System

RBS employs the following common set of marks and criteria to indicate a student’s academic achievement in a course:

  • A: Excellent; superior achievement of course objectives.

  • B: Good; commendable achievement of course objectives.

  • C: Acceptable; acceptable achievement of course objectives.

  • D: Poor; marginal achievement of course objectives.

  • F: Failure to advance in the course to the extent necessary for credit to be given.

  • W: Withdrawal; official permission granted to withdraw from the course after the final date for dropping a course.

  • S or P: Satisfactory or pass; adequate achievement of course objectives, but no grade points given.

  • U: Unsatisfactory; insufficient achievement of course objectives.

  • AU: Audit; no grade points given.

  • I: Incomplete; a temporary extension granted as defined in the “Policy for Incompletes.”


Grading Scale

RBS assigns the following numerical values to the grades for the purpose of computing the grade point average:

  • 95-100 A 4.0

  • 91-94 A- 3.7

  • 88-90 B+ 3.3

  • 84-87 B 3.0

  • 81-83 B- 2.7

  • 78-80 C+ 2.3

  • 74-77 C 2.0

  • 71-73 C- 1.7

  • 68-70 D+ 1.3

  • 64-67 D 1.0

  • 61-63 D- 0.7

  • 0-60 F 0.0

RBS determines grade points per subject by multiplying the grade points assigned to the letter grade earned, times the number of credit hours assigned to the course. A student’s semester and cumulative grade-point averages are computed by dividing the total grade points earned by the number of attempted hours. RBS does not factor grade points from transfer credits in the computation.


Grade Reports & Appeals

Every student may access an unofficial copy of his or her transcript through Populi, the seminary’s online student management system. The student should bring any discrepancy between the transcript and the student’s personal record to the attention of the seminary. Students have a period of six months from the final date of the semester to appeal any grade recorded on their transcript within that same semester. After this six-month period, grades will be considered final.


Academic Probation

 

RBS will notify a student who fails to maintain the minimum GPA for his or her program at the end of each academic term. The minimum GPAs per program are as follows:

  • 2.0 GPA - Diploma of Theological Studies (D.T.S.)

  • 2.3 GPA - Associate of Arts in Biblical Counseling (A.A.B.C.)

  • 2.3 GPA - Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div.)

  • 2.3 GPA - Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

  • 2.7 GPA - Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (M.A.B.C.)

  • 2.7 GPA - Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

RBS will place the student on academic probation should his or her GPA drop below the minimum requirement. The seminary will give the student two semesters to raise his or her average to the minimum, or to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Academic Dean that significant progress is being made to raise the average to the minimum standard. If sufficient progress is not made, the student will be terminated from the program.


Credit Transfer

 

Students seeking to transfer credit earned from other institutions should request that those institutions send an official transcript to RBS. See the Apply page for mailing instructions. In some cases, the seminary dean may request additional information such as the syllabi for applicable courses and an academic catalog from the other institution(s) with descriptions of the coursework for which transfer credit is requested.

Normally, RBS may accept up to 50 per cent of the credits of the program being pursued from graduate level programs. No more than 25 per cent of credits from an undergraduate level program in the areas of biblical studies, church history, systematic theology, or practical theology may be transferred. In cases where courses taken for undergraduate credit duplicates coursework required, RBS may waive the required course. However, the student will not receive credit but will need to take an elective equivalent in credit to the course waived.

The two primary criteria for ascertaining the transferability of course credits include (1) correspondence of course content and (2) equivalency of course requirements and expectations.


Add/Drop

 

New students have five weeks from the start of the semester to register for classes. Returning students must register during the self-registration period in their current semester. Adds and drops must be completed through RBS staff, since self-registration will not be available to students after self-registration closes. Adds and drops are allowed until the 5th week of the semester, which allows the student to drop a class without any impact on their transcript. After the add/drop deadline, a student may still drop a class, but will receive a “W” on their transcript (indicating “withdrawal”), as long as they withdrawal before the withdrawal deadline (see academic calendar). After the withdrawal deadline, a student must either apply for an extension (see here) or will receive a grade for whatever is completed at the end of the semester. The student should consult the “Tuition & Fees” section of the seminary website for drop/add fees and the refund policy.


Mid-Semester Course Withdrawals & Adds

 

A student may still wish to drop a class after the add/drop deadline (which is five weeks from semester start date), in which case a “W” will be indicated on the transcript, but only if the class is dropped before the mid-semester add/withdrawal deadline (which is ten weeks from semester start date). No class may be dropped after the withdrawal deadline. After the withdrawal date, a student will be receive a grade for their course, whether finished or unfinished, unless they apply for and are granted an extension (see “Course Extensions” below). For specific dates of these deadlines in a given semester, see our academic calendar. The student should consult the Tuition & Fees section of the seminary website for the refund policy

Students who fully complete one course in the first ten weeks of the semester may request to add an additional course before the mid-semester add/withdrawal deadline. Since self-registration will not be available, the student must email RBS staff to add them to a course. No student will be able to add a new course if they have not fully completed another course in the first ten weeks of the semester. The student should only request to add a course at the mid-semester add date if they are certain they can complete the course within same semester. Extensions may still be granted if a course is unfinished at the end of the semester, but only as a last resort (see below). We provide this mid-semester add policy as a courtesy to students who prefer to focus exclusively on one class at a time and are able to complete one course in ten weeks and wish to complete another course in the second half of the same semester.


Withdrawal from Seminary

A student planning to withdraw from the seminary should report this intention to the seminary dean in writing. The student is responsible for any unpaid bills to the seminary. Should such a student desire to return to the seminary within one academic year of withdrawing, he should notify the registrar and normally need not reapply. If the student desires to reenroll after one academic year has passed, he may be asked to reapply.


Course Assignment Extensions

 

Normally, students have one semester (twenty weeks) to complete all the assignments for a course. However, students may apply for one extension for each course they are unable to complete by the end of a semester. To qualify for the extension, the student must have completed all the assignments for the course except the final exam and/or final term paper. No extensions will be granted to complete reading, lectures, quizzes, or book reviews.

The student will be given half of a semester (ten weeks) to complete the remaining exam and/or term paper for a course they were given an extension for. The ten-week extension period will commence on the first day of the next semester. To apply for a course assignment extension, please complete the request form in the Student Area.

If a course extension is granted, the student will be charged an extension fee per course, along with the current semester enrollment fee for the next semester, both of which must be paid within 15 days of approving the extension. For each approved course assignment extension, the student will receive an “I” (incomplete) until the course is completed, at which point the transcript will be updated.


Retakes

 

In a course in which a student has received a failing grade, permission may be granted by the professor to take a re-examination or resubmit an assignment of sufficient quality to raise the grade to an F/D. Such work must be completed within one month after notification of the failing grade. If the grade is raised to an F/D, the student receives credit for the course but receives a 0.0 GPA for the course.

Students are permitted to repeat a course in which a grade was earned. When a course with an earned grade of an “F” is repeated, both the failing and second grade figure into the cumulative grade-point average. If a student repeats a course that has been passed, both grades will be shown on the transcript, but only the first grade will factor into the student’s GPA.


Incompletes

Students who make an incomplete (I) are required to make up or complete their work by the mid-term point of the following semester. If the work is not completed by the required deadline, the “I” will be changed to “F.” A student who makes up his work within the required time will receive a grade determined by the instructor. Exceptions to this policy are at the discretion of the Academic Dean.


Plagiarism

 

Plagiarism of any kind is unacceptable for teachers or students. Because plagiarism is an act of academic theft and dishonesty, any student found to be plagiarizing will receive at minimum an F for the assignment. In some cases, the student will be disallowed to continue with his studies. Teachers guilty of plagiarism will be dismissed. In these instances, the Academic Dean and the Seminary’s Overseers will determine the appropriate action.

Definition of Plagiarism

The WPA[1] defines plagiarism as instances “when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.”

Levels of Plagiarism

As the Internet continues to change the academic landscape, the issue of plagiarism has become increasingly complex. To identify and avoid various types of plagiarism, see the following list from Plagiarism.org.[2]

  1. Clone: An act of submitting another’s work, word-for-word, as one’s own.

  2. Ctrl-C: A written piece that contains significant portions of text from a single source without alterations.

  3. Find-Replace: The act of changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source in a paper.

  4. Remix: An act of paraphrasing from other sources and making the content fit together seamlessly.

  5. Recycle: The act of borrowing generously from one’s own previous work without citation; to self-plagiarize.

  6. Hybrid: The act of combining perfectly cited sources with copied passages—without citation—in one paper.

  7. Mashup: A paper that represents a mix of copied material from several different sources without proper citation.

  8. 404 Error: A written piece that includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources

  9. Aggregator: The “Aggregator” includes proper citation, but the paper contains almost no original work.

  10. Re-tweet: This paper includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text’s original wording and/or structure.

[1] The Council of Writing Program Administrators is a national association of university faculty involved in the direction of writing programs: http://wpacouncil.org/files/wpa-plagiarism-statement.pdf

[2] http://www.plagiarism.org/plagiarism-101/types-of-plagiarism

Examples of Plagiarism

To help the student conceptualize the difference between the wrong and the right use of an author’s language and ideas, we cite below an excerpt from John Frame’s discussion of “Christ and Culture” (pp. 863-75) in his book The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2008). Then we contrast a plagiarized paraphrase of the original with an appropriate use of the original.

The Original Source

So there is a biblical basis for thinking in terms of antithesis. Should we, then, adopt the model of “Christ against culture”? Well, for one thing, culture and world are not synonymous. As I argued in the previous chapter, culture is a mixture of good and bad. It includes the effects of sin as well as the effects of God’s grace. But world, used in that negative ethical sense, is entirely bad. The world is the kingdom of the Evil One, and Christians should not be conformed to it even a little bit. We should not have any love for it. Our only concern should be to rescue people out of it. The world is a great snare and delusion.

Culture is a broader term than world. World is the bad part of culture. It is the culture of unbelief, taken in its essence, without the effects of common grace and special grace. The early church, looking out on a world untouched by the gospel, often saw worldliness as something pervasive and inescapable. It was a systematic kind of unbelief that tried to bring everything under its sway. So Christians didn’t always make fine distinctions between the evils of the world and the mixed good and evil of culture.

A Plagiarized Paraphrase

It is important to note that culture and world are not synonymous. Culture more broadly includes the effects of sin as well as the effects of God’s grace. In contrast, the world, used in that negative ethical sense, is the kingdom of the Evil One. Thus Christians should not be conformed to it, nor have love for it. The world is a trap and delusion, without common grace or special grace. As early Christians faced a world as of yet untouched by the gospel, they were often unable to make fine distinctions between the evils of the world and the mixed nature of culture.

A Correct Paraphrase or Use of Original Source

As John Frame notes, it is important to draw a distinction between the terms culture and world. In an ethical sense, the Bible often refers to the world as Satan’s kingdom. It is in this sense that John warns, “do not love the world…. If anyone loves the world, the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Culture, as “the human response, in obedience or disobedience, to the cultural mandate,” includes but is not limited to the world. Due to God’s common grace, fallen men still have the ability to express truth, create beautiful and useful things, and engage in philanthropy. Unfortunately, Christians have not always been successful in navigating the convoluted nature of culture. [3]

[3] See John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2008), 863-66.

Common Knowledge vs. Plagiarism

“Common knowledge” is widely held information that needs no documentation. Typically, when something can be found undocumented in five or more sources, it is viewed as common knowledge. “Field-specific common knowledge” includes terminology, facts, or details that are familiar within a discipline. For example, while widely used terminology does not need attribution (e.g. “common grace” or “means of grace”), coined terminology does. John Frame, the theologian cited above, has coined the phrase “triperspectivalism.”[4] In general, the deeper you move into your studies, the easier it will be to judge whether something is common knowledge or not.

In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As Princeton University states the matter on its website,

The bottom line is that you may be unable to make informed decisions concerning what is and is not ‘common knowledge.’ That will be less true as you get to know a topic in depth, as you will for your senior thesis. But, especially in fields with which you’re less familiar, you must exercise caution. The belief that an idea or fact may be ‘common knowledge’ is no reason not to cite your source. It’s certainly not a defense against the charge of plagiarism, although many students offer that excuse during the disciplinary process. Keeping in mind that your professor is the primary audience for your work, you should ask your professor for guidance if you’re uncertain. If you don’t have that opportunity, fall back on the fundamental rule: when in doubt, cite. It’s too risky to make assumptions about what’s expected or permissible.[5]

[4] The term appears in Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1987), 250.

[5] http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pub/integrity/pages/notcommon/

Policy for Dealing with Plagiarism

Normally, RBS will deal with instances of plagiarism as follows:

  1. First offense: The student is spoken to by the professor and/or the dean and the incident is recorded and entered into the student’s permanent record.

  2. Second offense: The student is suspended for one year. Re-admittance to study at RBS will require the approval of the president of the seminary in consultation with the seminary board.

  3. Third offense: The student is expelled from the seminary and will not be permitted to graduate with a degree. Expulsion will proceed as determined the president and approved by the board.

RBS will deal with each case individually and reserves the right to make exceptions to the steps above.  All second and third offenses—and serious first offenses—of plagiarism will be reported to the president and to the board. The president will exercise discretion in this area, and the student retains the right to appeal to the seminary board.


Student Conduct

All students of RBS are expected to conduct themselves at all times as mature Christians. The seminary reserves the right to turn down applicants or to dismiss students whose conduct fails to conform to the ethical norms and principles set forth in Holy Scripture. The seminary board shall be the final interpreters and ultimate adjudicators of what does or does not constitute mature Christian behavior that is consistent with Scripture.