Master of Theology (Th.M.)
The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, Director of the Master of Theology Program
(914) 961-8313 x 326
The Master of Theology program (HEGIS 2301) seeks to encourage scholarly research and reflection in Orthodox theology. It is intended for qualified Orthodox students from the U.S. or abroad who wish to prepare for higher-level studies, teaching, and research, and for qualified non-Orthodox students who wish to specialize in Orthodox studies.
The program is a residential program designed to be completed in one year by full-time students, who take an average of 12 credits per semester. The program may, however, be spread over a longer period of time by non-residential students working on a part-time basis. The degree must be completed within two years of entrance into the program, after which time the student is normally required to fulfill any new requirements that may then be in force. All credits applied toward degree requirements must be earned within 10 years of the awarding of the degree.
PROGRAM LEARNING OUTCOMES
St Vladimir’s Seminary seeks to equip Th.M. students to:
- Engage in advanced theological reflection and dialogue;
- Research and write theology at a scholarly level suitable for peer-reviewed publications;
- and Pursue a terminal academic degree, so that they may develop their academic talents to the highest degree possible in witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Admission to the program requires the Master of Divinity, or first graduate theological degree providing equivalent theological background, evidence of aptitude for advanced theological study, and a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B), or its equivalent. The applicant’s academic preparation should approximate that provided by the M.Div. program at St Vladimir’s. Thus, it should include course work in patristics, church history both Eastern and Western, historical theology, and liturgy, as well as in biblical studies and systematic theology. It should also include the study of Greek and of any languages required for the thesis, as determined by the student’s thesis supervisor. Applicants whose academic preparation falls short of program prerequisites but who are otherwise qualified may be offered admission to the Master of Arts program with up to one year advanced standing, enabling them to complete the M.A. in one year, before reapplying to the Master of Theology program.
Admission to the program also requires submission and acceptance of a thesis proposal of 4–5 pages. In the proposal, students are expected to outline the problem to be investigated and give a sense of what they expect to find. The proposal must also include a working title and a bibliography, which is not intended to be exhaustive but must show that the student is familiar with the main works in the field, in particular those that will be of value to the project.
Coursework at the Th.M. level requires a working knowledge of ancient Greek. Therefore students must demonstrate this knowledge by passing a Greek language examination prior to matriculation. Students who fail the examination will be required to complete a remedial Greek language course, as assigned by the director of the Th.M. program. In addition, Th.M. students are expected to be proficient in any language required for their chosen thesis topic. Language proficiency requirements will be formally agreed upon between the applicant and his or her thesis supervisor as a condition of admission.
Courses taken in the Th.M. program are intended to broaden and deepen the candidate’s knowledge of the major areas of theology. A minimum of 18 credits in advanced course work, with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B), is required for the degree. These are distributed between appropriate lecture courses and seminars at the “400-level.”
All 18 credits in advanced course work must be completed at St Vladimir's. Of these 18 credits, at least 12 must be completed in specially designated Th.M. seminars.
Master of Theology seminars—in selected fields of Orthodox studies, generally History, Patristics, and Systematic Theology—serve as the core curriculum of the Th.M. program. The seminars, which are rotated on an annual basis, are also open to qualified M.A. and M.Div. students (i.e., those with second- or third-year standing and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5), as long as these courses do not conflict with their program requirements. M.A. and M.Div. students must also meet the normal prerequisites for the course in which they seek to enroll and receive permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Instruction, activities, and assignments are set to the competence and needs of Th.M. students. Auditors are not permitted.
The thesis, written under the supervision of the student’s program advisor, must be based upon personal research and constitute an original scholarly contribution. The thesis is expected to be 60–100 pages in length and should follow the guidelines of the thesis style sheet.
Thesis Submission and Defense. After the advisor has accepted the final version of the thesis, an electronic copy of the thesis (as PDF file) must be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the deadline indicated in the Academic Calendar. The thesis is then evaluated by two readers: the first reader is the student’s thesis advisor, who is a full-time or sessional member of the faculty, and the second is appointed by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from among the other faculty of the seminary. The thesis will then be discussed and defended at a special meeting of the faculty, to which competent scholars from other institutions may be invited. These scholars will take part in the final faculty vote to recommend the candidate for the degree.
Students who do not complete their thesis by the thesis submission deadline, which is posted on the academic calendar, must register for continuation (CTN) and pay the continuation fee in the following semester(s) in order to remain degree candidates. Failure to register for continuation and pay the fee will cause the student to be administratively withdrawn from the degree program. In the event that the student is unable to complete the thesis even with continuation registration(s), the permanent grade W (Withdrawal) will be entered on the student's transcript.
The fullness of the experience of an Orthodox degree, while available to all Th.M. students, is more easily accessible to residential Th.M. students, who are expected to attend at least one chapel service per day. They may of their own choosing become a member of one or more of the chapel choirs, in which case they are expected to attend rehearsals and services as scheduled.
Degrees are awarded annually at the close of the spring semester. (However, see also "September Graduates" on the Commencement page.) After a final review and vote of recommendation by the Faculty Council, the candidates’ names are submitted to the Board of Trustees for their approval.
Academic Honors. Upon unanimous recommendation of the candidate’s thesis readers and approval of the Faculty Council, he or she may receive commendation for the thesis.
Requirement To Satisfy Financial Obligations. No degree will be awarded or final transcript issued unless all financial obligations to the seminary, library, and bookstore have been satisfied. In the case of outstanding loans or other obligations not then due and payable, appropriate agreements must have been drawn up and all payments must be current.