Master’s Thesis Process

NB: Only M.A. in Theology and M.A. in Philosophy students may request permission to write a master’s thesis. M.A. in Pastoral Studies students must take the comprehensive exam as their Summative Evaluation.

a. Statement of Purpose

Students who aspire to continue for more advanced degrees (e.g., a licentiate, Ph.D., or S.T.D.) may wish to write an M.A. thesis. The M. A. thesis is a major research paper of approximately 50-60 pages. If a student is granted permission to write an M.A. thesis, it serves as the student’s Summative Evaluation instead of the comprehensive exam. Completion of the M.A. thesis noted on student transcripts.

The Master of Arts thesis indicates scholarly competence in a topic in the student’s area of concentration. If approved to write an M.A. thesis, the Thesis Direct Study counts as a 3-credit elective toward completion of the 36 credit hours degree requirement.

b. Requirements for M.A. Thesis Direction

The comprehensive exam is the normative summative evaluation. Students wishing to write an M.A. thesis must receive approval based on the thesis application, proposal, and availability of appropriate faculty to serve as an advisor. Application to write a thesis is not a guarantee of being approved to write a thesis. Students not approved to write a thesis must complete a form of the comprehensive exam as outlined above as their Summative Evaluation.

Students must complete ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing before submitting a thesis application and proposal. ENG 891 is a 3-credit course that counts as a theology or philosophy elective. A student must complete at least 18 credits before enrolling in ENG 891. No special permission is required to take ENG 891 as an elective – any M.A. in Theology or M.A. in Philosophy student may ENG 891 as an elective. However, completion of ENG 891 does not guarantee permission to write a thesis. Students who completed a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation in the humanities may request a waiver of ENG 891. To request a waiver, the student must submit an electronic copy of the thesis or dissertation to the Summative Evaluation Administrator (currently the Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer).

A student must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA to submit a thesis application and proposal. The student must submit the thesis application and proposal the semester before when the student wants to begin the Thesis Directed Study. Since a master’s thesis is a capstone paper, the student may only enroll in the Thesis Directed Study concurrently with the student’s final semester of coursework or within two semesters of completing all coursework.

The student submits the thesis application and proposal to the Summative Evaluation Administrator (SEA). The SEA will inform the student if the application is approved or denied. If approved, the SEA will direct the Online Learning Office to enroll the student in the Thesis Directed Study with the faculty advisor.

The student has the initial semester of Thesis Directed Study plus up to three consecutive semesters of Thesis Directed Study Continuation to defend the thesis successfully. If the student does not defend the thesis by the end of the third Thesis Direct Study Continuation, the student must take the comprehensive exam the following semester instead.

For M.A. in Theology students enrolled in the Fall 2019 semester and after, if granted permission to write a thesis, the Thesis Directed Study replaces ENG 890.

c. Guidelines

Upon a student’s completion of the thesis, the student will engage in an oral defense of the work either on campus or via teleconferencing.

On-campus only, after obtaining the clearly expressed consent of both the Advisor and the Reader or Reviewer, the student may invite one or more guests to attend the Oral Defense Session. If guests attend the Oral Defense Session, they must do so as silent auditors. Any guests along with the student must be dismissed when the Advisor and the Reader or Reviewer confer regarding final evaluation of the Summative Evaluation. Guests are not to be readmitted when the Advisor informs the student of the final evaluation.

d. Fee Structure

The cost of the Thesis Directed Study is the same as that for a three-credit course plus an additional reviewer fee. A continuation fee is added for each additional semester a student invests in producing his or her thesis. These fees are itemized in the Tuition and Fee Schedule section of this catalog.

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