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Statement of Educational Effectiveness and Student Achievement

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Phoenix Seminary is committed to integrity and Christian stewardship. Therefore, it engages in systematic evaluation of its effectiveness in producing graduates who possess the knowledge, skills, and character indicated in our Educational Values. Student achievement and the Seminary’s educational effectiveness are measured through: 1) The assessment of student learning outcomes; 2) Graduation and Retention rates; and 3) Graduate satisfaction and successful ministry employment.

Indicators of program effectiveness include both institutional and self-reported participant data that taken together help to ensure congruence between vocational intention and theological training. To aid in consistent and reliable reporting, our evaluative processes incorporate data reported to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), our professional accrediting association. Two of the most common indicators of educational effectiveness in higher education are completion rates and the placement of graduates. Reports pertaining to these key areas are summarized below.

Specific questions about the data, or its reporting and analysis may be directed to the Phoenix Seminary Director of Assessment, Roma Royer, at or 602-429-4947. These data are updated annually early in the calendar year after the filing of the annual ATS report.

Student Learning Outcomes

The majority of our students meet the student learning outcomes reflected in the Educational Values of Phoenix Seminary. Some specific examples include:

  1. For the last three years, 97% of our MDiv students have passed the culminating theological oral exam the first time. Of those who passed, 38% were "exemplary" passes.
  2. The 2018-19 Faculty Juried Review of Graduates indicates that 100% of graduates met or exceeded the student learning outcomes, across all graduate degree programs.
  3. Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) students are required to pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) as their comprehensive written exam. The current pass rate of the CPCE is 100% at or above the national examination mean. This exam also helps prepare graduates to take the National Counselor Exam (NCE) which is similar in format and covers the same eight core content areas. Not all graduates take the NCE; some opting to pursue further education or to pursue other vocational opportunities. The current pass rate of graduates known to have taken the NCE is 100%.
  4. Highlights from the 2016 PS Student Survey: a) My professors model and teach the proper application of the knowledge I am learning (96%); b) My studies have caused me to discover much new information and have forced me to question the understandings I had when I entered seminary (76%); and c) The degree program I am pursuing is preparing me well for ministry (92.7%).
  5. Employers of PS Graduates (2016 survey) are overwhelmingly positive and affirm: a) They demonstrate a working knowledge and command of the Scriptures (100%); b) They demonstrate an ability to work with people in ministry (95%); c) They are able to communicate biblical truth and apply principles of wisdom to life situations (100%); and d) They live a life of integrity and are beyond reproach (100%).

Graduation and Retention Rates

Completions by Graduation Rate for the Previous Academic Year (ATS Fall 2019 Report)

Program <2 years 2-<3 years 3-<4 years 4-<5 years 5-<6 years 6+ years Totals
MDiv 0 0 2 1 5 2 10
MA in ______  (Special) 0 2 5 6 6 0 23
MA (BTS) 0 1 2 6 0 0 9
DMin 0 0 0 1 0 0 1


Graduation Rates by Degree Program

The new (and not yet mandatory) Association of Theological Schools’ Graduation Rates by Degree Program Report calculates graduation rates on the basis of 200% of the normal degree duration requirements to allow for the high number of part-time students in ATS member schools. This report answers the question, “Of the students who began in a particular Fall semester, how many had completed their program within 200% of the normal degree duration?”

  • Master of Divinity Cohort Graduation Rate: 37% (MDiv Students beginning Fall 2013)
  • Master of Arts Cohort Graduation Rate: 44% (MA Students beginning Fall 2015)

Graduation Rates for the Student Body by Gender and Ethnicity

Master of Divinity Cohort:

  • Ethnicity – 70% = White Non-Hispanic; 10% = Hispanic; 10% = Asian American; 10% =Multiracial
  • Gender – 80% = Male; 20% = Female

Master of Arts in Ministry/Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) Cohort:

  • Ethnicity – 88% = White Non-Hispanic; 6% = Asian American; 3% African American; 3% Hispanic
  • Gender – 56% = Male; 44% = Female

Graduation / Persistence Rates

The new (and not yet mandatory) Association of Theological Schools’ Graduation / Persistence Report calculates graduation and persistence rates by extending the scope beyond 200% of the normal degree duration requirements, once again to allow for the high number of part-time students in ATS member schools. This report answers the question, “Of the students who began in a particular Fall semester, how many have since completed their degree or are still actively making progress towards their degree?”

  • Master of Divinity Cohort Graduation / Persistence Rate: 39% (MDiv Students beginning Fall 2013)
  • Master of Arts Cohort Graduation / Persistence Rate: 59% (MA Students beginning Fall 2015)

Retention Rates

Although IPEDS [Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System] requires the reporting of retention information for undergraduate institutions, it does not give an option for graduate schools like Phoenix Seminary to report the same. That being said, IPEDS’ measure for Retention Rates can be adapted to work in graduate settings as the percentage of first-time degree-seeking students from the previous Fall semester who either re-enrolled or successfully completed their program by the subsequent Fall semester. This report answers the question, “Of the degree-seeking students who were enrolled in a particular Fall semester, how many either successfully completed their degree or were actively making progress towards their degree in the subsequent Fall semester?”

  • Fall 2018 to Fall 2019 Retention Rate: 63.35%
  • Fall 2017 to Fall 2018 Retention Rate: 68.00%
  • Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 Retention Rate: 68.18%

Graduate Satisfaction and Ministry Employment

Graduate Satisfaction

The ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire reports the following areas of growth and satisfaction among Phoenix Seminary’s recent graduates:

PS graduates rate their seminary education as being most effective in facilitating these areas of personal growth over the last two years (2018 and 2019):

  • Trust in God
  • Enthusiasm for learning

PS graduates rate their seminary education as being most effective in facilitating the following skill areas (2017-2019):

  • Ability to use and interpret Scripture
  • Ability to think theologically

PS graduates were most satisfied with the following services and academic resources (2017-2019):

  • Class size
  • Financial aid
  • Quality of teaching
  • Accessibility of faculty
  • Accessibility of administrative/staff support

Ministry Employment

The majority of Phoenix Seminary students secure ministry positions while they are in seminary or they are already in ministry when they begin attending seminary. Others have no plans to be in vocational ministry and their studies have equipped them for lay ministry or for personal edification (non-vocational). Still others are continuing on to further education.  The following table reflects positions secured at the time of graduation:

2018-19 Graduates:

Vocational Ministry Non-Vocational Pursuing Further Education Pursuing a ministry position
Master of Divinity 50% 30% 10% 10%
MA in Biblical & Theological Studies 45% 22% 0% 33%
MA in Counseling 12%* 12% 0% 76%
MA in Ministry 57% 0% 29% 14%

*This unusual number reflects that 6 of the 8 graduates for the MAC program have not communicated their intentions with the institution. Past numbers have been much higher.

The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) is a relatively new program beginning in the 2014-15 academic year. As of January 2019, the program has 25 graduates. Sixty-four percent of these graduates have been licensed.  Twenty-four percent are in the process of pursuing licensure and 12% are not pursuing licensure. Fifty-six percent of graduates have been offered employment by their internship site.

Phoenix Seminary offers limited Vocational Assistance for students who are seeking placement during or after their studies. Graduates are serving in the following ways: pastoral ministry in the local church; intercultural ministry overseas and in the U.S.; various levels of leadership in a variety of para-church organizations; counseling and chaplaincy in secular and Christian arenas; leadership in the marketplace through professions such as law, business and medicine; and lay ministers in the local church.

Position Expected After Graduation

This information demonstrates the ministry expectations of new PS graduates:

Position anticipated upon graduation by PS graduates
(ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire 2018-19 – 98% response rate)  
Pastor 23.8%
Unsure what position within a congregation 14.3%
Associate Pastor 11.9%
Other 7.1%
Social work/social services 7.1%
Youth work or ministry 4.8%
Church planting/evangelism 4.8%
Homemaking/Childcare 4.8%
Secondary/prep school teaching 2.4%
Missionary service 2.4%
Supply ministry 2.4%
Interim ministry 2.4%
Prison ministry 2.4.%
Seminary teaching
Other teaching/admin in higher ed
Pastoral counselor


Page updated on 1/30/2020.

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