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Navigating the Thesis Process

A significant part of the program for many of our students. The Master's Thesis is the culmination of coursework and personal research into a specified topic or issue.

The MA thesis is a significant part of the program for many of our students. It is the culmination of coursework and research into a specified topic, allowing students to practice and showcase skills in academic research and writing. This page briefly summarizes the details provided in the DSPT Student Handbook. Please be sure to consult the Handbook and refer any questions to your thesis coordinator or the academic dean.

All MA students participate in the Academic Forum, a 2-year process that assists students in developing communication skills for ministry and professional research and writing for advanced academic work. For those students in the thesis option, the Forum guides them towards the preparation of the thesis proposal (year 1) and towards the thesis defense (year 2). Students in this option should consider several important steps.

Proposal and Committee

  • Before writing the proposal, students should review and carefully follow the recommendations described in the Thesis Proposal Guidelines
  • Students can find inspiration from among recent thesis completed for the MA Philosophy, MA Theology, or Concurrent MA programs.
  • It is recommended that students complete the Foreign Language Requirement before submitting the thesis proposal, but it must be completed by the 3rd semester in your program. 
  • Submit the Thesis Proposal and Thesis Proposal Petition no later than the 3rd semester in the program for review and approval by the proposed thesis coordinator and readers. Submit to the academic dean a signed Thesis Proposal Petition and proposal for final approval.

Thesis and Oral 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. 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 or read written work during breaks in the academic calendar, e.g. January or summer. The criteria for evaluation of both thesis and oral defense are listed in the Thesis Review Form. Students should follow these steps in preparing for the defense:

  • Schedule a date with the thesis committee members and submit a Thesis Defense Scheduling Form to the DSPT registrar.
  • Provide printed copies of the Thesis Defense Form and Thesis Review Form to Thesis 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.

Thesis Filing - Deadline and Requirements

Students must complete several steps by the thesis filing deadline published in the DSPT Academic Calendar in order to be eligible to participate in the Spring graduation ceremony. There are several steps for the filing process:

  • Ensure that the coordinator has submitted the completed and signed Thesis Defense Form and Thesis Review Form to the DSPT registrar,
  • make any necessary corrections to the thesis requested by the committee,
  • once all final corrections have been made, submit the thesis to the GTU Library Reference Department to ensure that it meets archival standards. Information about library approval for the MA thesis may be found in the MA Thesis Library Guidelines. The student must have the Reference Librarian sign the Library Approval of Thesis Format Form, noting the exceptions to the title page as described in the DSPT Student Handbook.
  • After the final thesis has been reviewed and approved by the GTU Library, the final version must be filed by the thesis filing deadline of the semester in which the student plans to graduate (see the Academic calendar) as follows:
    • submit a PDF copy to the DSPT Registrar, including the title page with signatures of the committee.
    • upload an electronic copy to ProQuest.
    • Submit 3 printed copies (two for the GTU Library and one for DSPT) to the DSPT Registrar for binding along with the signed Library Approval of Thesis Format Form and payment for the Thesis Filing Fee.

Only when all of the above steps have been completed by the posted filing deadline will the student be eligible for graduation. To participate in the Spring graduation ceremony students must meet the Spring filing deadline, typically on or near April 1st.

To guide calendar planning, the following theoretical timeline is proposed for in order to participate in the May graduation:

  • Sep/Oct - have thesis proposal approved, if not already completed in the previous spring semester
  • Nov - February - research and write thesis, with ongoing communication and feedback from coordinator and committee
  • Feb - consult with coordinator and schedule a thesis defense date, filing the Scheduling Form and Intent to Graduate Form (check the Academic Calendar for deadlines)
  • mid-Feb to mid-Mar - submit completed thesis to committee
  • mid-Mar - oral defense of thesis
  • April - complete all steps indicated above, submitting the final thesis and relevant documentation, along with the Graduation Checklist by the thesis filing deadline

Filing For an Extension

IF YOU MISS THE THESIS FILING DEADLINE, ... DSPT policy requires that students pay tuition in the semester they wish to graduate. Students in the thesis option who have completed all program requirements other than the thesis but have missed the thesis filing deadline and who wish to avoid paying this tuition fee must complete the “MA Thesis/Exam Filing Extension Agreement Form” and successfully defend their thesis by the stated deadline, at the beginning of the next term. By way of example, if a student misses the April thesis filing deadline, then they must complete the following steps:

  • complete the Thesis Filing Extension Agreement and submit to the academic dean before the end of the Spring semester
  • continue to work on the thesis and defend either
    • before the conclusion of the Spring semester, or
    • before the late filing deadline in the following Fall semester, which is always the same as the close of the add/drop period

If a student is unable to complete the thesis and oral defense by the late filing deadline, then the student must pay tuition for the following semester.