Distance Learning Overview

Introduction to Distance Learning

Distance Learning recreates the classroom experience through recorded lectures and a comprehensive study guide supplemented by textbooks and reference materials. By participating in the entire M.A. Theology degree program, or by taking selected theology and philosophy courses, we hope you will be prepared academically and strengthened spiritually to respond to the Church’s call, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, our patron saint, in the work of renewing the Church.

Our program is designed to accommodate students with busy family, parish and work schedules. Continuous enrollment gives you the freedom to start a course at your convenience, while the six month completion period lets you pace yourself. You study when and where your schedule allows. Assignments and proctored exams help evaluate your progress. You earn three semester credits and receive a grade report with each completed courses.

Distance Learning Format

All Distance Learning courses have a corresponding media package that includes audio lectures (cassette or MP3 format) and a study guide (print or HTML). Each media package contains one semester of lectures recorded live in the classroom (roughly equivalent to 30 hours of material per course), using digital recording and editing equipment to provide the best possible sound quality. The purpose of this format is to bring the Distance Learning student as close to the classroom experience as possible. The study guide explains how the course is administered. Each chapter contains a lesson summary, outline, and study questions for the corresponding lecture. A course schedule indicates when assignments and exams are due. There is no deadline for registration. Students may start a course anytime during the year and the shipping date of the materials will set the start of the six month study period.


The study guide lists the assignments that must be completed and returned to satisfy course requirements. Students can mail or fax assignments to the Distance Learning Office. After the student submits an assignment, his file is updated and the assignment is forwarded to the faculty facilitator assigned to grade the student's work. The faculty facilitator returns the graded assignment to the Distance Learning Office, the grade is recorded, and the corrected assignment is returned to the student.


Distance Learning exams are proctored. It is the student's responsibility to apply for exams and find a qualified proctor (a priest, religious, librarian, or teacher, etc.). To take an exam, the student fills out an exam application. After verifying the proctor's qualifications, the Distance Learning Office mails the exam to the proctor and sends a notice to the student. The proctor administers the exam to the student and returns the completed exam to the Distance Learning Office.

Extensions and Withdrawals

We recognize that students may encounter special situations that prevent them from meeting their course completion deadlines. A student unable to meet the deadline will receive a grade of incomplete (I). The student will have three weeks to submit a request for an extension and pay a $50.00 extension fee. If students do not complete the course by the original due date and fail to apply for an extension within the three week grace period, or if students fail to complete the coursework within the three month extension period, the grade of incomplete (I) will change to a grade of failure (F). Exceptions will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Students may voluntarily withdraw upon written request to the Distance Learning Office. If a request for withdrawal occurs within one month of the registration date, the course fee will be refunded, less $25.00. If withdrawal is requested between one and two months after the registration date, half of the course fee will be refunded. No refunds will be granted after two months. The media package and the textbooks are non-refundable.

Students with a Disability

The Distance Learning office will make every effort to accommodate the needs of students with a disability that impacts the exam procedure or the course completion deadline. If you will need testing accommodations or an extension, you must mail documentation verifying your disability and the needed accommodations to the Distance Learning Office. Documentation must be from a professional service provider, such as vocation rehabilitation counselor, medical doctor or psychologist. The Director of Student Academic Services will evaluate the documentation and its support for the accommodations requested. Evaluations will be made on a case by case basis. Notification of approval must be received before submitting an exam request form. If you have any questions about documentation or accommodations, please contact the Distance Learning Office or call Student Academic Services at (740) 284-5358.

Educational Rights

Franciscan University complies with all requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. For more information, please see the Franciscan University of Steubenville Policy Statement on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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