Students enrolled in the M. Div., M.S.M., and M.A.M. degree programs are required to enroll in a two-semester Spiritual Formation course during their first year. Although the course is treated as a single credit hour, students must register in both the fall (XX 6003) and spring (XX 6104) of their first year. (Please note: M.S.M. candidates are required to enroll for and participate in spiritual formation, but they do not receive academic credit. M.S.M. students register for XX 6004 in the spring instead of XX 6104.)
The spiritual formation program includes a mandatory spiritual orientation at the beginning of the year and a weekly small group session that explores issues of spirituality including the call to ministry, the formation of religious life, spiritual disciplines and the examination of a growing and changing faith; one term hour.
Groups consist of no more than 10 students and are facilitated by faculty and adjunct faculty at the Dallas campus and the extension program in Houston-Galveston. The format differs slightly at each location, given calendar restraints, but the programs adhere to a common framework.
Credit/no credit is determined on the basis of attendance and demonstrable engagement with the subject matter of the formation process. Because of the emphasis placed on formation in community and the emphasis on spiritual practice, attendance is all-important and the requirement is typically fulfilled in a single academic year. Students should be aware that unexcused and frequent absences will require that they repeat the formation process for the full year. (Because of the emphasis placed on formation community, students who matriculate in the spring should also be aware that they enroll for spiritual formation in the autumn of the following year following their matriculation and not at the time they are admitted.)
Engagement with the material is also of considerable importance and facilitators are at liberty to use a variety of approaches in evaluating student involvement, including in-class discussion, journaling, etc. For a more accurate understanding of how that engagement will be assessed, students should consult with their group facilitator.
Unlike other courses, students are not allowed to select their own section of the formation program. Instead, following registration, students are assigned to formation groups in order to guarantee as much diversity as possible in each group.