Practical experience is built into each degree at the Institute of Pastoral Studies. Contextual education experiences are nested in credit-bearing courses within the degree requirements. These practicum or internship experiences prepare students for the responsibility of beginning professional practice in chosen ministry contexts. They offer students a structured approach for learning in a real world setting with the support of experienced mentors, and for integrating and applying their previous knowledge and experience through combining action with group theological reflection.
Each degree specifies the number of contextual education courses required, the prerequisite coursework needed, and the specific preparation steps required to secure a practicum/ internship and to prepare for the required course. To start this process, students should be in regular conversation with their academic advisors to be sure they are on track with their coursework. Every Spring semester, the IPS Coordinator of Contextual Education offers mandatory Spring preparation sessions for all students ready to begin contextual education in the subsequent Fall semester. These preparation sessions explain the procedures and tasks that students will need to complete in the months prior to beginning their practicum/internship.
Students are not “placed” in practicum settings. After refining their areas of interest, and reviewing placements of previous students, students initiate contact with potential sites and follow the particular site’s application procedures. Students are welcome to develop new practicum sites, and the IPS Office of Contextual Education will provide follow-up contact with prospective field supervisors. Students may not finalize a placement on their own. It is the policy of the Institute of Pastoral Studies that all practicum sites must be approved by the student’s academic advisor and the IPS Coordinator of Contextual Education.
Time Commitments During Field Ed semesters:
Typical hours per semester at a field site: 200-250 (depending on degree)
Average weekly commitment at site: 10-12 hours
Required on-site supervision: 1 hour per week focused on student’s learning goals
Additional IPS group supervision: Student participates in 2 ½ hours per week* small group reflection seminar (5-6 students) led by faculty supervisor
*MAPC pastoral practicum meets every other week