Navigating the Thesis Process
The Master’s Thesis is a significant part of the program for many of our students. It is the culmination of coursework and personal research into a specified topic or issue. It allows the student to practice and showcase skills in academic research and writing.
One of the first steps in the Thesis process is determining one’s topic. Students can find inspiration from among recent thesis completed for the MA Philosophy, MA Theology, or Concurrent MA programs.
Proposal and Petition
- Complete the Foreign Language Requirement by the 3rd semester in your program. Proficiency in one foreign language must be certified by exam, coursework, or by petition.
- Submit Thesis Proposal and Thesis Proposal Petition no later than the 3rd semester in the program and one week before the meeting at which it will be discussed. Upon approval, the thesis coordinator becomes the student’s advisor.
- Before writing the proposal, students should review and carefully follow the guidelines described in the Navigating through the MA Thesis Information. Carefully follow the proposal format detailed in the Thesis Proposal Guidelines. There are samples of “successful” thesis proposals available for review in the Registrar's Office.
- The thesis proposal gives students an opportunity to show an ability to organize a project of philosophical inquiry into a brief, coherent proposal. It is highly recommended and generally expected, that the chosen topic be related to coursework already done by the student so that there is at least a basic knowledge in the research area.
- Submit a signed Thesis Proposal Petition, which suggests membership in the thesis committee.
- MA Philosophy Thesis Option students must give a presentation of their Thesis Proposal at the Philosophy Colloquium. The proposal may be presented at the Colloquium once it has been approved by the Philosophy Department. Students may present either the approved proposal itself or some segment of the research outlined in the proposal. MAPh Thesis Option students must:
- distribute a handout and bibliography to Colloquium participants before the scheduled presentation
- obtain the signature of the Colloquium Coordinator on the Thesis Proposal Petition to indicate that a satisfactory presentation has been given
- upon receiving this signature, proceed to the writing and defense of the thesis itself. Once this presentation is successfully concluded, the student is encouraged, though not required, to continue to participate in meetings of the Colloquium.
Thesis Units 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. Each thesis is to be defended, passed and filed by the posted deadline of the intended year of graduation. 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.
The criteria for evaluation of both thesis and oral defense are listed in the Master of Arts – Thesis Review Form.
- Schedule MA Thesis committee members and then submit a thesis scheduling form
- Submit Thesis Defense Form and Thesis Review Form to Thesis Coordinator for signing 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 and Oral Defense for the MAPh or MATh programs
- requires the successful completion of a written thesis and an oral defense of the thesis. Students are to complete the Academic Research & Writing Salon (WS 1000, WS 1001, total 3 units) as well as three-semester units of “In Thesis” time, during which they are to conduct focused academic research and writing. The thesis is to be approximately eighty (80) pages in length (approx. 20,000 words, not counting notes or bibliography) and 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. A comprehensive bibliography of the appropriate sources and modern treatments of the subject matter of the thesis should be included in the final copy. The criteria for evaluation of both thesis and oral defense are listed in the Master of Arts – Thesis Review Form.
- Thesis and Oral Defense for the Concurrent MAPh/MATh program
- requires the successful completion of a written thesis of about one hundred and twenty pages (approx. 30,000 words) in length, and an oral defense of the thesis. Students are to complete the Academic Research & Writing Salon (3 units) as well as six-semester units of “In Thesis” time. Thesis 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. A comprehensive bibliography of the appropriate sources and modern treatments of the subject matter of the thesis should be included in the final copy.
- A student whose thesis and oral defense are deemed outstanding by all three examiners may be granted the degree “with honors.”
Thesis Preparation and Filing
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 in the MA Thesis Library Guidelines. The student must have the Reference Librarian sign the Library Approval of Thesis Format Form.
DSPT Thesis Title Page
- Students in a DSPT MA program follow all of the formatting guidelines 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 of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts (Philosophy) …” or “A thesis by [Name] presented to The Faculty of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts (Theology) …"
- Students in the Concurrent DSPT MAPh/MATh option, follow all of the formatting guidelines EXCEPT the title page should read: “A thesis by [Name] presented to The Faculty of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degrees of Master of Arts (Philosophy) and Master of Arts (Theology) …”.
After the final thesis has been reviewed and approved by the GTU Library it must be filed three ways by the thesis filing deadline of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. See the Academic calendar.
- a PDF copy must be submitted 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 submission to the GTU Library for binding along with the signed Library Approval of Thesis Format Form and payment for the Thesis Filing Fee. The fee can be made by a check payable to DSPT or by credit card; the current fee is $60.
Filing For an Extension
Students who wish to avoid paying tuition for a subsequent semester 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.