An exception is typically narrower in scope than an experiment, usually addressing a particular degree program requirement (e.g., residency, duration, admission). Exceptions seek permission to do something that the Standard already allows—as a stated exception—or seek to allow what it specifically disallows. Exceptions represent a different way to achieve the same educational outcomes and reflect the theological values associated with a particular Degree Program Standard. Once approved by the Board, the exception may continue indefinitely, though the Board may still require interim reports in order to demonstrate that the exception does, in fact, achieve the same educational outcomes and theological values associated with that Degree Program Standard.
An experiment is typically an innovatively designed educational program or approach that extends the meaning and practice of one or more existing Standards. In a real sense, these educational experiments go beyond “existing best practices” to establish “different but equally best practices.” Such educational experiments reflect the educational values and outcomes associated with theological education, but they do so in creative ways that may not have been anticipated by the Standards. If done well, they are worth watching—perhaps even replicating. To that extent and like most experiments, such programs or approaches need to be tested over time to evaluate their enduring value to graduate theological education. Consequently, all Board-approved experiments come with a Board-approved time limit during which the results of the experiment will be carefully assessed and evaluated—by the school and by the Board.