Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

Contextual Education

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Beginning in Spring 2018, Contextual Education will be transitioning to a full-academic year structure. Students who plan to graduate in December 2017 or May 2018 are advised to take IPS 580 Contextual Education in Fall 2017, as this will be the last time it will be offered on the old model. In an attempt to integrate CE more fully throughout the curriculum, the new structure will be as follows: students will enroll in IPS 578 Contextual Ed Prep in Spring 2018; IPS 579 Contextual Ed Intro in Fall 2018; and then IPS 580 Contextual Education in Spring 2019. The number of total hours will remain the same (100hrs conducted in the Fall and 150hrs in the Spring) and students will continue to gain 3 credit hours toward their degree. Finally, MDiv students will do two academic years of Contextual Education Internship, working with the Office of Contextual Education in their second year to revisit some prep work and to meet with the Faculty of Coordinator of Contextual Education during the Fall Semester for coaching. Then, they will register for IPS 581 Contextual Education II in the Spring of the second year.


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.