Statement on Educational Effectiveness:
Oblate School of Theology (OST) has a mission to “prepare persons for pastoral ministry through academic study and pastoral practice.” (Statement of Purpose) It is fair to ask how well OST accomplishes that goal.
Annually, graduates of OST take the ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire. Among other things, this questionnaire looks to answer how well the school accomplishes its educational mission. OST receives results comparing the responses of our graduates to other Catholic institutions accredited by ATS and of other institutions in Texas accredited by ATS.
Overall, graduates of Roman Catholic institutions have high regard for the formation they received. At OST, that regard is very high. Comparing the responses of OST graduates with those of all Roman Catholic institutions, OST graduates report scores equal to or above those for Roman Catholic institutions in 14 of 15 categories. (ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire Year 2011, Table 13) OST reported above the norm in categories such as:
- Ability to preach well
- Ability to use and interpret Scripture
- Knowledge of Church policy/Canon Law
- Ability to teach well
- Ability to lead others
- Ability to conduct worship/liturgy
- Ability to relate social issues to faith
- Ability to administer a parish
- Ability to think theologically
Graduates report that the three most important influences on their educational experience were (in order) faculty, biblical studies, and the study of history and theology. The faculty at OST offers not only academic study but also the practical experience of ministry which they apply in the classroom. (Table 15) The practical application of study extends to field education at OST. 93% of graduates report field education was either important or very important in their formation for ministry. (Table 16) It led to improved pastoral skills, greater sense of people’s needs, and a better grasp of personal strengths and weaknesses. (Table 17) All of these are marks that indicate achievement of learning outcomes for professional degrees (Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry) at OST. The ability to use and interpret scripture, knowledge of Church policy/Canon Law, and the ability to think theologically point to achievement of outcomes for the MA (Theology) and MA (Spirituality).
OST graduates reported significant personal growth during their time of study. (Table 12) when compared to other Catholic schools, higher than average items include:
- Empathy for the poor and oppressed
- Ability to pray
- Concern about social justice
- Trust in God
- Respect for my own religious tradition
- Clarity of vocational goals
- Strength of Spiritual Life
There are items that point to areas in need of improvement. While many items that point to a different response are higher than the Catholic school norm, OST graduates reported below the norm on the following items:
- their faith was stronger than when they arrived at OST(3.9 vs 4.4)
- While they report that knowledge of theology, history, and scripture all grew, they report at a rate .2 below the norm (4.1 vs 4.3) that they were satisfied with the academic experience here.
These items need improvement and further investigation.
Overall, graduates report a solid preparation in the skills knowledge, and spiritual life needed for ministry, whether it is ordained or lay. One other statistic is very informative. In the past 7 years, only one Master of Divinity graduate has left ordained ministry. That is a rate four times better than other Roman Catholic institutions. OST and her partner institutions, such as Assumption Seminary, prepare students well for life as parish ministers.
Our graduation rates are as follows:
- Master of Divinity: 72%
- MA: 24%
This number is not representative of the actual rate at which MA students complete the program. It reflects the number of students who complete the program in two years, which is considered full time. Since the vast majority of students in these programs are part time, they usually complete the program in four to five years.
Over the past three years, the percentage of admitted students who complete the MA program is 86%.
This number better demonstrates the graduation rate of the part-time student population that is the greater portion of those programs.
Since most of the students that come to OST are either preparing for ordained ministry or already in a placement, the placement rate is close to 100%.