School Policies


Please scroll further down for the remainder of the policies in brief.

Addendum D is added in addition to “Student Responsibilities for Adult Learning” in the last section of the document below.

Upon acceptance into either Contemplative Musicianship or Music-Thanatology, and before paying full tuition or residency fees, each student is provided with a financial contract of possible payment plans and a copy of an issue of the Student Handbook/Syllabus appropriate to the program they are entering. This document outlines course descriptions; academic standards; scholarly, artistic and spiritual expectations; a code of ethics for interns; general school policies and procedures, and provides detailed fee schedules and refund policies.

Before matriculation, before the first class, a student reviews the Handbook/Syllabus thoughtfully, reviews payment plan options which summarize the financial policies again, and signs a financial agreement which is a legally binding contract. Matriculation in either Contemplative Musicianship or Music-Thanatology means that a student accepts, understands and is responsible for the content of the Handbook/Syllabus and anything posted on this School Policies page, and is willing and able to shoulder adult personal responsibility. During the first week of Module One in any new CCM or MTH cycle, sometime between Monday and Friday, if there is something a student does not understand in the Handbook or this School Policies page, it is their personal responsibility to address it immediately with the main office. In this way, faculty and administration are given an opportunity to make improvements or clarify things for everyone involved, and avoid possible confusion at a later date.


We welcome your questions. If you are an upcoming applicant, feel free to call at 503-845-6089 or email us if there is something you don’t understand. Students enrolled in either educational program (CCM or MTH) are issued a much longer Student Handbook/Syllabus in which these and other policies and expectations are elaborated in far more detail, appropriate to the cycle in which they have enrolled. These brief notes are meant to help provide information to the general public, or to provide students with access to a quick overview if they are traveling without their Handbook/Syllabus.

Application Fees are non-refundable.

Tuition Deposits
Tuition Deposits reserve your place in a specific CCM or MTH class cycle, and are non-refundable.

Intensive Residencies
The dates for your two annual intensive residencies are announced far in advance, and are known to each student prior to matriculation. Depending upon the class cycle, the School contracts with outside agencies and/or individuals 12 – 18 months in advance. We are then liable for those costs whether or not a student attends the residency. For this reason, residency fees are separated out from tuition fees and are non-refundable. During academic terms in 2005 and 2006, the residency fee is $700 and $750 respectively per residency for a total of $1,400 and $1,500 respectively per year. (In general, these fees increase a little each year, depending upon the retreat center or abbey with whom we contract). Once the academic term begins and the student has signed a financial agreement, no residency refunds can be made after the first module is posted. Students are financially responsible for payment of both residencies regardless of circumstances; any student with an early withdrawal is still financially liable for the payment of both residencies. Also, students are required to attend the entirety of each residency; arriving late or leaving early will not be acceptable for successful completion of certification requirements.

Instructor Responses (IR’s)
Each academic term consists of 12 modules, spaced approximately one month apart, excluding holidays and study breaks. Students complete twelve (12) modules during the course of a term, yet they are given a tremendous amount of flexibility on the due dates of each assignment.

Provided a student is pro-active and communicates the need for an extension, a no-fault extension is always given, whether the need for additional time has arisen from work, illness, personal or familial events. If you get the flu or simply need more time to digest a particularly involved module, you will be granted an extension. Student work is not penalized for late submission. Quality is what we are seeking.

Our school calendar is very complicated. (Please review the Academic Calendar by visiting the Calendar of Events & Academic Calendar page online). Due to the scheduling of intensive residencies, which are sometimes back-to-back for four weeks at a time, continual publishing deadlines, and other administrative responsibilities, coupled with the flexibility the School extends to all students in completing their written and musical assignments, faculty cannot always provide an immediate turnaround in response to student papers and/or videos submitted. Some periods of time are simply blocked out one year in advance during which it is not possible to write instructor responses. When we are off-campus teaching the week-long Intensive Residencies, we remain connected to the entire student body by phone and email, but do not write IR’s. Other periods are blocked out for self-care and respite, such as Thanksgiving weekend or the annual three-week, December-January holiday break. In marked contrast, there are many times in which we can respond very quickly and write IR’s in anything from 48 hours to five days. Accordingly, we commit to the writing of unusually thoughtful, thorough, constructive, personal and supportive instructor responses for students enrolled in either program. We also give important feedback on how to improve work, and speak about areas that need strengthening, so please be prepared to be stretched. We make every attempt to write and deliver these IR documents as soon as possible, given the calendar and barring emergencies. We also retain the right to receive the same flexibility, courtesy and compassion from the students as we extend to them, depending upon the load being carried at any time of the year and the flow of other simultaneous deadlines.

In some instances, a module will assign a written paper to be accompanied by a video. The writing of the formal instructor response (IR) is not begun until both elements, written and video, are received and the written assignment is logged in internally by support staff as “complete.” Sometime soon after all elements are in hand, the instructor sets aside uninterrupted time to read papers and be with the videos. The writing of each IR requires approximately 3-4 hours of time. Please note that if a student sends in a paper but does not mail in the accompanying video for three months, the IR will not be written until sometime after that completion.

Conference Calls with Students
During the course of the approximate twelve modules of any given term, students will have the opportunity on several occasions to have conferences with faculty. These can be conducted by telephone or in person at the intensive residencies, or, for most students, a combination of both. The number of these conferences varies from class to class and student to student (depending upon the need or topic) and are simply scheduled as an element of the curriculum. Unless a student specifically requests a conference to discuss something personally urgent, (and we always respond in the affirmative for these cases), the conferences are scheduled at the pedagogical discretion of the home office. The conference calls tend to be approximately twenty-five to thirty minutes in duration, and are scheduled once a student has established a homework history or following a particularly involved or difficult assignment. Most often, students are informed in advance privately by email or generally in Portal Notes that the home office will be contacting them to schedule conferences; faculty may also request a conference with an individual if they deem it appropriate or helpful. Each person is usually offered several choices for a time-convenient slot, sometime during the course of an entire week. At residencies, when all students are together, private conferences can also be scheduled, and at some residencies, a schedule for a half hour conference is posted for each student, as part of the curriculum. During the course of the 12 modules, students can average 4 conferences, however, some have had as many as 6, and some as few as 1 or 2, if they did not take advantage of opportunities at intensive residencies, or if they missed faculty appointments or were otherwise unavailable.

Current Accounting
Student’s bills must be current in order to have access to the portal. If a student is in arrears financially, the passcode or ID can be de-activated until they make appropriate arrangements with the bursar.

Student Withdrawal
Students who wish to withdraw from a program write a formal letter of withdrawal addressed to the academic dean and complete an exit interview conducted by phone or in person as determined by the location of the student. The interview will be conducted by either staff or faculty. Students who do not complete formalities are ineligible for refunds or compassion waivers. Upon providing notice of formal withdrawal, the student Passcode and Student ID are automatically deactivated. This means that the student will have no more access to the lecture modules.

Crediting Tuition Forward
We are very proud to offer a progressive and compassionate tuition crediting forward policy to all students. Should a student encounter unexpected health, personal or employment problems that impede progress in their studies, they are encouraged to contact the dean and contract for a leave of absence or a crediting forward arrangement. An example of this: You begin the program with great promise and suddenly encounter difficulties during the third module. You get behind in your work for 2 entire months while you care for your elderly mother who is dying following a series of strokes. You feel overwhelmed and need to regroup. You may elect to contract with the main office to discuss the possibility of a leave of absence or of continuing in the next available cycle, till things at home or work stabilize. Instead of forfeiting unused tuition payments, your needs have been met with flexibility and your tuition funds are applied forward. The exception to this is the cost of a residency, which may not be credited forward.

The first module of every class cycle is posted on a Monday, and the school business week is Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time. If someone discovers that they are in over their head, a one hundred per cent tuition refund is available for a student who completes withdrawal formalities by Friday of the first week of the first module. Eligible tuition payments may be refunded but, as stated above, application fees, residency fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable. Refunds for other early withdrawals are computed on a percentage basis: depending upon the contract a student signs, the payment plan chosen, and the amount of tuition funds remaining in their reserve, partial tuition refunds of 50 and 25 per cent are available during the first month of school. (Please refer to the contract you signed to review your payment plan and the exact percentage available to you). Six weeks after the term has begun, no tuition refunds are available, under any circumstances save medical emergency. If a student is eligible for a refund, the School will issue a check no later than 60 days following completion of the withdrawal formalities. Please note the office is closed several times a year when conducting intensive residencies, some of which are taught back to back, several weeks in a row. The office is also closed for three consecutive weeks during the winter holidays and holy days. Please refer to the Academic Calendar to help you anticipate the schedule.

Medical Compassion Waivers
We do consider and offer partial medical compassion refunds early on in the term for any student who has experienced a life-threatening medical emergency such as a terminal diagnosis or an automobile accident that has left them in critical condition. These situations are reviewed in committee on a case-by-case basis. The medical emergency has to be substantiated by specific medical documentation and phone calls. We make every attempt to respond to these emergencies as quickly as possible. Those who are eligible for medical compassion tuition refunds will be sent a check approximately 60 days after withdrawal formalities have been completed. Please refer to the Academic Calendar to help you anticipate the schedule. Also, please again note the office is closed several times a year when conducting intensive residencies and for three weeks at a time during the Christmas holidays.

Student Responsibilities for Adult Learning
The highest possible standards of personal accountability, responsibility and integrity will be expected and required of every student enrolled in any program in the School. At the beginning of each term, on the first day of the first module, every new student is provided with a copy of the Student Handbook/ Syllabus appropriate to the program cycle they are entering. This document includes a detailed course description, academic standards and expectations, intensive residency information, school policies and procedures, media requests, and reviews information fee schedules and refund policies. As an assignment in the first module, each student is required to review the entire Handbook/Syllabus thoughtfully and write back saying that they have read it, archived it in a handy place, and understand it. Enrollment in either educational program, Contemplative Musicianship or Music-Thanatology, also means acceptance and understanding of the contents of the Handbook and this School Policies page, including the exacting standards of honorable scholarship outlined in the Dartmouth publication, Sources. We affirm that effective adult communication includes mutual and reciprocal involvement. It requires the shared responsibility of identifying questions or concerns in a timely and fair manner, thus ensuring that both parties will have equal motivation and opportunity to eliminate confusion or implement solutions. If there is something a student does not understand in the Student Handbook, this School Policies page, the pre-matriculation contract, it will be his or her personal responsibility to make inquiry during the first week of school, in order to avoid later confusion. If any other questions or concerns arise organically during the course of his/her studies, a student is encouraged to contact the faculty as quickly as possible for the support and assistance needed. If a student is unwilling or unable to communicate questions about policies and procedures in a timely manner, faculty and staff will be unable to help them progress at an ideal pace, and the student will have to accept the consequences of his/her choice not to communicate. Additionally, students are required to sign and renew intellectual property contracts each month at the student portal. Infringements of those contracts, flagrant disregard of copyright law, and any form of plagiarism – written or oral – constitute grounds for suspension and, in some cases, expulsion. Students whose status has been severely compromised by ethically-questionable activities (including but not limited to plagiarism, cheating on tests, or misrepresenting themselves, their involvement with the School or their student status to the public), forfeit all student or internship privileges until or unless they are reinstated in good standing following required acts of both admission and restitution. Students who are under ethics reviews who choose to initiate the withdraw process in order to avoid accountability or possible expulsion forfeit all student or internship privileges as well as all tuition or residency refunds. Students who are suspended or expelled for ethical violations are ineligible for any kind of tuition or residency refunds and forfeit all student or internship privileges.

Commitments and Emergencies
On a serious note, unexpected emergencies can and do occur in people’s lives. A death in the family, a serious accident or a serious illness are all outside of anyone’s control and are perceived as emergencies. Especially in an organization preparing students for a profession serving end-of-life care, we make every attempt to meet and support these student and faculty emergencies with sensitivity and loving concern. Even though our faculty members have experienced the death of a family member while school was in session, please note our level of commitment: the scheduled posting of modules is and has been sacrosanct, and no intensive residency has ever been postponed. Should a student have a death in the family, please do contact the dean as soon as possible for the support we can offer. Sadly, a number of students enrolled in our programs have already struggled with losses while they were studying with us, and we are well aware that no life emergency comes at a convenient time. Please don’t hesitate to contact us in times of need.

These revised policies are effective as of September 1, 2005, and are subject to modification without notice.

Last updated Tuesday, 25-Feb-2014