6.8.2 Degree Requirements
The Th.M. degree is offered in two fields: Biblical Studies and Theological Studies. Each candidate must select a concentration within his or her chosen field. The following fields are offered: Biblical Studies, with concentrations in Old Testament or New Testament; Theological Studies, with concentrations in Church History, Systematic Theology or Apologetics.
Six courses are required for the Th.M. degree. The courses may require approval from the student’s advisor.
In addition to the six required courses, each candidate must complete PT 421P Theological Bibliography and Research Methodology. Candidates for advanced degrees (Th.M. and Ph.D.) take this course on a pass/fail, non-credit basis and without tuition charge in the first year after the student enrolls.
The candidate is required to maintain a general academic average of 3.00 after the completion of three courses in the Th.M. program. If an average of 3.00 is not maintained, the student will be withdrawn from the Seminary. However, see section 5.2.2.b5 (Academic Probation). The average recognizes the thesis as the equivalent of four courses.
After initial matriculation, the candidate must demonstrate a working knowledge of a modern language. Students in the Biblical Studies field should know French or German. Students in the Theological Studies field should know French, German, Dutch, or ecclesiastical Latin. If another language is of particular value for the candidate’s studies, the Field Committee, upon request, may approve its substitution. An examination in the language chosen must be sustained prior to the submission of the thesis. If the examination has not been sustained, the candidate cannot submit the thesis to the Academic Affairs Office.
While knowledge of the original languages of Scripture is required of all Th.M. students (see section 6.8), special aptitude in Hebrew is requisite for concentration in Old Testament, and in Greek for concentration in New Testament. Entering Th.M. students in Old Testament must demonstrate knowledge of grammar and reading proficiency at an advanced M.Div. level in Hebrew upon initial matriculation. Th.M. students in New Testament must demonstrate the same level of expertise in biblical Greek. Such expertise will be demonstrated by means of a competency exam taken upon initial matriculation in the Th.M. program. Commencement of those programs is contingent upon successfully passing the competency exam. For more information see section 6.8.1.f (Registration & Academic Policies) and section 6.1 (Placement and Competency Exams in Greek and Hebrew).
Failure to demonstrate competence on either of these examinations will result in remedial language study and evaluation, supervised by the examiner, to be completed during the first semester of enrollment. These language assignments must be completed in the semester in which they are assigned. Should the student not fulfill the requirement, the faculty maintains the right to place the student on academic probation, pending completion of the language requirement.
A master’s thesis on an approved subject within the candidate’s concentration is required. Approval of the thesis proposal by the academic advisor and/or the Field Committee should be obtained within the semester after coursework is completed. Upon approval of the thesis proposal, the Field Committee will appoint a faculty member to share with the academic advisor the responsibility of reading and approving the thesis. The master’s thesis must reflect a high standard of scholarly research and writing, and its specific word limit is 50,000 words (excluding bibliography).
The thesis must be submitted within four and one-half years after the completion of all coursework (based on half-time enrollment).
A comprehensive examination shall thoroughly cover the candidate’s concentration.
An oral comprehensive examination is administered to the candidate in the Biblical Studies field after completion of all course work. Either an oral or written comprehensive examination is administered to the candidate in the Theological Studies field after submission of the completed thesis. The comprehensive examination, either oral or written, must be sustained at least two weeks before the commencement at which the degree is expected to be conferred.
If the comprehensive examination is oral, it shall be conducted by faculty members who meet as a committee for that purpose, under the direction of the coordinator of the department in which the student is concentrating. All faculty members present shall have the opportunity of taking part. To be sustained, the oral examination must be approved by a majority of the faculty members present. If the comprehensive examination is written, it must be approved by the faculty members of the department in which the student is concentrating, in order to be sustained.
The maximum length allowed to complete all work for the degree of Th.M. is six years from the date of matriculation including any leave of absence or withdrawal period. For a comparison of the number of semesters required to complete the degree based on enrollment status, please refer to section 6.12 (Th.M./Ph.D. Program Length table). If the student has transferred from the Ph.D. program, the date of the student’s matriculation into the Ph.D. program will be used to determine the time limit. Students are responsible to report to the Registrar when actions have been taken to meet deadlines in their program. International students must be full-time each semester and are allowed four semesters from the date of matriculation to complete the degree program. See section 5.1.2 (International Students).
Students who do not expect to graduate within the program time limit must petition for a program extension by contacting their advisor, who will bring the petition before the Field Committee for approval/denial. International students on F/J VISA must first contact the International Student Advisor about obtaining an Extension of Stay Request form. The deadline to submit the petition is January 15.