MATh: Detailed Program Description
Students currently enrolled in the MATh must consult the DSPT Student Handbook for program details.
Coursework - One course is required in each of the following areas: biblical studies, systematic theology, moral theology, historical theology, and the theology or history of a non-Christian religious tradition. A total of four courses must be taken in the chosen area of concentration (see "Electives" below). At least one-third of the total coursework must be taken at DSPT, and students are encouraged to take up to one-third of the coursework from outside DSPT. At least one-half of the coursework must be from offerings above the introductory (1000) level. At least two courses must be at the 4000 level or above. Details for coursework requirements are described in the Course Requirements Checklist .
Written Samples for the Assessment Portfolio. The assessment portfolio requires each student to submit two research papers during the course of the academic program: 1) Research Readiness Paper (submitted at the end of the first semester); and 2) the MA thesis. These papers must be written according to the standards prescribed in the most recent edition of A Manual for the Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, by Kate Turabian.
Research Readiness Paper Review (RRP). The RRP review helps students, advisors, and Department Faculty assess and refine student research skills. As such, the RPR is a prerequisite for submitting a thesis proposal and must be completed by the end of the first semester in the program. There are several parts to this review:
The RRP review helps students, advisors, and Department Faculty assess and refine student research skills. As such, the RPR is a prerequisite for submitting a thesis proposal and must be completed by the end of the first semester in the program. There are several parts to this review:
Foreign Language Certification. Students in the DSPT MA (Theology), the DSPT MA (Philosophy) Thesis Option, or the GTU Common MA program must demonstrate reading proficiency and comprehension skills in a foreign language. Students in the concurrent DSPT MA program with a concentration in Thomistic Studies must demonstrate reading and comprehension proficiency in Latin. There is no language requirement for any of the other DSPT degree programs.
Students are expected to fulfill the language requirement by the beginning of the third semester in the program. GTU Common MA students should note that they must fulfill this requirement before they can form a thesis committee.
DSPT follows the policy of GTU for fulfillment of the foreign language requirement. For details, students should consult the most current version of the MA Program Handbook, found at the webpage for the Consortial Registrar's Office . In general, language certification may be obtained by any of the following means:
Students enrolled in a DSPT MA program who wish certification in a language not approved by the GTU, must submit a written petition to the Academic Dean. The mode of certification is as for other languages.
Foreign students whose native language is not English may fulfill the language requirement by passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.
Using Foreign Languages Courses for Credit. As a general policy, foreign language courses taken to fulfill the language requirement, including courses taken to prepare a student for the GTU language exam, cannot be counted as electives toward fulfillment of course requirements of a degree program. However, certain advanced-level language courses designed to equip MA students for future research may be counted as electives in some circumstances. Students must submit a written petition to the Academic Dean for approval of such coursework as graduate electives. Other types of language courses that can be counted as electives toward a degree program are specialized languages (Hindi, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.) and classical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Latin).
Thesis Proposal. The thesis proposal gives students an opportunity to show an ability to organize a project of philosophical inquiry into a brief, coherent proposal. It must be submitted no later than the third semester in the program.
Before writing the proposal, students should review and carefully follow the guidelines described in the Navigating through the MA Thesis Information . A detailed description of the proposal format is found in the Thesis Proposal Guidelines , which should be carefully followed. There are also samples of "successful" thesis proposals available for review in the Registrar's Office.
In addition to the proposal, students must also submit a signed Thesis Proposal Petition , which suggests membership of the thesis committee. Faculty consent to serve on a committee, as indicated by their signatures on the Thesis Proposal Petition , indicates that they have read the proposal and feel it is ready for departmental review. For this reason, faculty must be given sufficient time to review the proposal and offer feedback.
Students submit the proposal and signed Thesis Proposal Petition to the Theology Department chair one week before the meeting at which it is to be discussed. The thesis topic as well as faculty composition of the thesis committee require approval of the Theology Department according to the Thesis Proposal Guidelines . The results of faculty review are communicated to each student by the department chair. Faculty may also suggest improvements or revisions which are communicated to each student by the thesis coordinator. The thesis committee coordinator cannot be changed without the permission of the department faculty. Once approved, the thesis coordinator becomes the student advisor.
Students whose native language is other than English may write their thesis in that language provided that:
Students wishing to take advantage of this policy must indicate this fact in their proposal in the description of their suggestions for the faculty director and committee members.
No proposals will be considered until the student has successfully completed the RRP.
Thesis and Oral Defense. Promotion to the degree of Master of Arts (Theology) requires the successful completion of a written thesis of about eighty pages in length, and an oral defense of the thesis. Students are provided six semester units of "In Thesis" time to conduct academic research and writing. They use the thesis to demonstrate a capacity for scholarly philosophical research by using appropriate primary and secondary source materials, along with relevant current discussions, and for presenting findings in a clear and convincing manner.
The criteria for evaluation of both thesis and oral defense are listed in the Master of Arts – Thesis Review Form . Students should familiarize themselves with the evaluation criteria listed in these two documents before beginning work on either the thesis proposal or the thesis.
The oral defense provides an opportunity to demonstrate not only acquired knowledge and insight, but also oral communication skills. The written thesis must be successfully defended by an oral exam conducted by the coordinator and the assigned readers. Normally, the defense shall not exceed one and one half hours in length. Each thesis is to be defended, passed and filed by the posted GTU deadline of the intended year of graduation (see GTU academic calendar for the specific date). Students are responsible to see that a copy of the thesis to be defended is in the Readers/Coordinators' hands at least three weeks before the scheduled defense. Members of a committee are not obliged to meet during breaks in the academic calendar.
In preparing for the oral defense, students must schedule the defense through the DSPT Registrar's Office. The registrar verifies that defending students have an approved Statement of Intent to Graduate on file and are in good standing with the Business Office and the GTU Library. Students must print out and bring to the defense the Master of Arts – Thesis Review Form , and the Master of Arts – Thesis Review Form . These forms should be given to the thesis committee coordinator at the beginning of the defense. The two forms must then be submitted by the coordinator to the DSPT registrar within 48 hours of the defense.
In cases of disagreement between the members of the committee as to whether or not the requirements for the thesis have been satisfactorily fulfilled, the department chair shall have the deciding vote. If the department chair is a member of the committee, the Academic Dean shall have the deciding vote (if both the department chair and Academic Dean are on the committee, the President shall appoint a third faculty member to cast the deciding vote).
DSPT Thesis Title Page. Students in a DSPT MA program follow all of the formatting guidelines described for the GTU Common MA EXCEPT that the title page should read as follows: "A thesis by [Name] presented to The Faculty of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in partial fulfillment . .
Thesis Format Approval Form. Once all final corrections have been made, the thesis undergoes one final review by the GTU Library Reference Department to ensure that it meets archival standards. Information about library approval for the MA thesis may be found on the GTU Library's website. Three copies suitable for binding (two for the GTU Library and one for DSPT) are to be submitted to the Registrar, along with the signed Library Approval of Thesis Format Form , no later than the thesis filing deadline of the semester in which the student plans to graduate.