Theology Programs

MATh: Detailed Program Description

Students currently enrolled in the MATh must consult the DSPT Student Handbook pdf 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 pdf.

Required Areas Units
PH 1200, or equivalent 3
Biblical Studies 3
Historical Theology 3
Systematic Theology 3
Moral Theology 3
Non-Christian Religion 3
Electives 24
Thesis/Defense 6
Total 48

Electives 24 units - Students use elective courses as the means to tailor their program of study to their academic and research interests. They are also the means to fulfill requirements for the chosen area of concentration. At DSPT, some of the areas of concentration (Religion and the Arts, Thomistic Studies, and Catholic Social Teaching) further specify how electives are used, and so students must review carefully the detailed descriptions for the particular area of concentration.

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:

a) professor review - A student designates as the RPR a fifteen to twenty paper written as part of the normal class requirements for one of the courses that semester. The professor should be informed early in the semester that the paper will be used for this purpose. At the designated time, the paper and Research Paper Review Form pdf are submitted to the professor for review.

b) advisor review - The professor returns the graded paper and completed RPR Form to the student, who gives them to the faculty advisor.

c) department review - All items are summarized by the advisor at the Department discussion of the student. Any comments from the Faculty discussion about the RRP will be included in a written summary of the discussion presented to the student and kept in the portfolio. Students whose work is deemed unsatisfactory, must submit for review a different research paper (due at the end of the second semester).

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:

Pass the foreign language certification exam offered by the GTU each September, February and May. GTU certifies proficiency in Chinese, French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. Students wishing to certify proficiency by examination in other languages must submit a petition to the GTU Dean of Students at least one week before the exam and include in the petition the name and contact information of a qualified, impartial examiner. All students must register for language examinations at least two weeks in advance at the GTU Office of Student Affairs located at 2465 Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley.

Have completed four semesters of a language with a grade of B or better in the final semester. Students must petition the Academic Dean to use this work for language certification.

Have studied/lived/worked in a foreign country. Students must petition the Academic Dean to use this experience for language certification.

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 pdf. A detailed description of the proposal format is found in the Thesis Proposal Guidelines pdf, 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 pdf, which suggests membership of the thesis committee. Faculty consent to serve on a committee, as indicated by their signatures on the Thesis Proposal Petition pdf, 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 pdf 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 pdf. 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:

  • the proposed coordinator of the thesis is competent in the language;
  • there are two other committee members who are competent in the language;
  • at least one member of the proposed committee is sufficiently competent in the language to correct grammar and syntax.

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 MA – Thesis Review Form pdf, and the MA Thesis Defense Form pdf. 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 pdf on file and are in good standing with the Business Office and the GTU Library.The MA Thesis Review and MA Defense 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. 

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 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 pdf, no later than the thesis filing deadline of the semester in which the student plans to graduate.

Back to the MATh Program Description.