Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

Contextual Education


Practical experience is built into each degree at the Institute of Pastoral Studies. Contextual Education is designed to be a multi-dimensional learning experience drawing together instruction, workshops, and small group reflection with hands-on involvement at an engaged learning site. These experiences prepare students for the responsibility of leadership and professional practice in ministerial contexts. Offering students a structured and integrative approach for concrete situational learning, the Contextual Education course connects them with expert coaches, provides insight on the changing landscape of ministry and service, and allows them the opportunity to apply classroom studies in specific settings.

Contextual Education requirements are specific to each degree program, and students should check with their academic advisor about when to take their Contextual Education course(s). The Office of Contextual Education offers a MANDATORY preparation session every Spring Semester for all MAPS, MASJ, MDiv, and MASp students ready to begin the Contextual Education in the subsequent Fall semester. These preparatory meetings explain the structure of the course and detail the procedures and tasks students will need to complete prior to beginning work at their placement site.

MAPC Contextual Education requirements include Practicum and Internship in separate years. For a full-time student, the Practicum occurs in the second year and the Internship during the third year. For half-time students, the Practicum is taken after successfully completing approximately one-third of MAPC coursework, including IPS 501, Human Relations Skills.

Students are responsible for locating their own placement sites. The Office of Contextual Education is happy to work with students to identify parishes and/or agencies appropriate to their interests and to support them in their searches. This provides students the opportunity to develop needed job search skills. All students are encouraged to contact the university’s Career Development Center for additional assistance. Placements at sites not previously used are welcome, pending approval by the Faculty Coordinator of Contextual Education in conjunction with the student’s advisor. It's best to begin considering sites as early as March for the following fall semester and no later than mid-July as some locations have very specific recruitment processes, including background checks and letters of recommendation.