Integrative Examination

The Examination as an Exit Strategy

Villanova’s Graduate Program in Theology aims to provide students with a well-rounded education, placing particular emphasis on the relations between faith and culture. To that end, students are required to take classes from a variety of disciplines, ranging from biblical studies to spirituality. However, there is a recognition that classwork alone is not sufficient to complete the students’ formation. A final step is needed. At Villanova, this step is fulfilled either

  1. by passing an integrative examination, which, among other things, requires students to work with scholars in different areas; OR
  2. by writing a thesis, which also serve this purpose, even as it challenges students in different ways; OR
  3. by completing an integrative project. Indeed, we consider an integrative project the equivalent of the integrative examination or the thesis.

Thus, the examination, thesis, and project assume the same intention: each undertaking seeks to round out the students’ experience at Villanova, requiring them to engage matters of faith and culture under the direction of scholars from different fields.

The registration schedule of our Graduate Program differs significantly from the Graduate School schedule.

Graduate Program Schedule

  • For spring semester examination, you must register by 15 November.
  • For fall semester examination, you must register by 15 April.
Complete the registration by submitting this online form.

Graduate School Schedule

Register for the examination by the deadline listed on the Graduate Calendar by submitting the Gradtuate School Application form.

Note: You must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 to be eligible to sit for the Integrative Examination.

The Graduate Program administers the examination in the fall and spring semesters.

  • The two written parts of the examination are usually scheduled Monday through Wednesday of one week, and the oral examination on Friday of the same week through Wednesday of the following week.
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the examination at the announced location.
  • Bring academic material approved in advance by your board members (primary texts or other sources).



The Examination is interdisciplinary in nature. Its focus is identical to the focus of graduate theological education at Villanova: faith engaging culture.


Day One

3 hours, written

Answer one question from each of the three examination areas (for a total of three answered questions).

Day Two

3 hours, written

Answer the integrative question.

Day Three

1 hour, oral

Answer questions on your written answers or on other topics from your area-specific fields of competency.

Choose three distinctive examination areas on which you will be examined. Well in advance of the examination - normally during the semester preceding the examination - form an Examination Board of three members of the graduate faculty, one from each of your chosen areas for examination. Request that one faculty serve as Chair of your Board.

Note: The Chair is responsible, among other things, for arranging the formulation of the integrative question for the second day of the examination and the time and place of the 1-hour oral examination.

Meet with each member of your Board well in advance of the examination (that is, during the semester preceding the examination) to formulate two mutually agreed upon area-specific areas of inquiry. On the basis of these agreed upon areas, each board member will construct two area-specific questions for the first day of the examination.

  • Board members will help you in defining appropriate fields of competency. However, responsibility for constructing specific questions rests solely with the members of your examination boards. That is, faculty members will not share the wording of the two questions with you before the examination.
  • Compile into one document (email) the six mutually agreed upon areas of inquiry on which you will be tested and distribute a copy to each board member at least two weeks before the scheduled examination.

Note: The Board meets separately to formulate the integrative question for the second day of the Examination.

The Examination is graded pass/fail and pass with disctinction.

  • You may appeal your grade to the Graduate Program Director unless the Director also serves on your Committee. In that case, the departmental Chairperson or his/her representative evaluates the appeal.