Doctoral Program Policies and Practices

Program Leadership
The Director of the Ph.D. Program in Practical Theology oversees the program and enforces program policy under the leadership of the dean of the School of Theology and Ministry. The dean appoints the director, receives petitions for exception to program policy, and issues scholarships and internships. The faculty of the School of Theology and Ministry are collectively responsible for interviewing applicants, making admissions decisions, and evaluating performance on candidacy examinations, which are subject to review and approval of the dean. The members of a duly appointed dissertation committee approve the dissertation.

Citation Style
The doctoral program requires Chicago style in all academic work. Students should obtain a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as early as possible in their doctoral studies. (University of Chicago. University of Chicago Manual of Style. Sixteenth edition. 2010. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1026 pages. ISBN 978-0226104201.)  Students may use Turabian, which is based on CMOS, but should note that the currently available version is based on the fifteenth edition of CMOS, not the sixteenth, which is the program standard. (Kate L. Turabian. 2007. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. Seventh edition, revised by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 436 pages. ISBN 978-0226823379.)

Occasionally, dissertation writers may choose to seek permission from their committee for use of the style of the American Psychological Association (APA), particularly for work within counseling and pastoral care. Such committee approval must be documented in an appendix of the dissertation. Students who intend to use such a style in their dissertation may request permission from faculty to use this style in their coursework. However, such permission is not automatic and must be sought in writing from the instructor at the start of any course in which a student wishes to use APA style.

Candidacy Examinations
Doctoral students are eligible to take candidacy examinations when they have completed the prescribed program of precandidacy coursework consisting of 42 credits. They must be in good academic standing.  

Academic Standing
To remain in good academic standing, a student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. All those who are active in the program must be enrolled in the fall and spring semesters. Those who have completed all up to Dissertation Seminar I, but have not successfully defended a prospectus, must enroll for a minimum of one credit while concluding their prospectus work. Those who continue to write their dissertation after completing all 54 credits required for graduation must enroll for a minimum of one credit while continuing to write their dissertation.

Dissertation Prospectus
A dissertation prospectus proposes the study of a topic understudied or insufficiently studied, and to which the literature and methods of practical theology may be effectively applied. The prospectus offers a roadmap for such a dissertation, including an examination of the literature, presentation of design and relevant methods, and discussion of the anticipated topics and framing of the various chapters, together with proposed chapter titles, a detailed timeline of completion, and a list of references critical to the work.
Dissertation Committee
The dissertation committee consists of a chair, lead reader, and at least one other member. The chair must be drawn from St. Thomas University faculty. The composition of the committee must be formally approved by the dean of the School of Theology and Ministry in advance. It is the duty of the chair to coordinate institutional relationships and convene the committee. The lead reader is someone other than the chair, generally chosen for particular expertise in the area in which the candidate is working. This person initially reviews the candidate’s work, particularly the most specialized portion of the candidate’s work. Decision-making follows a consensus model. Candidates must formally and successfully defend their dissertation prospectus before their dissertation committee prior to formally commencing dissertation writing. The dissertation committee is formally constituted upon the successful defense of the prospectus.

Dissertation Evaluation
Dissertations are defended before the writer’s dissertation committee. Such a defense must occur before the midpoint of the fall or spring semester if the dissertation writer is to graduate in that semester. Upon a successful defense, the dissertation is given a final format check by the designated university author. At this point, the dissertation is submitted for publication to Proquest, the dissertation publisher of record. Doctoral graduation may not proceed until the Office of the Registrar has been notified of dissertation publication by Proquest.

Length of Program
All requirements for the doctorate must be completed within seven consecutive years from the commencement of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond the seven year limit, as with any other exception to program policies, may only be granted upon written application to, and written approval from, the dean of the School of Theology and Ministry.

Leave of Absence
Students or candidates who need to interrupt their program of studies, and thereby suspend their active student status while remaining in good standing, must seek and obtain written approval from the dean of the School of Theology and Ministry. Such a leave of absence is for no more than a year in duration, ending at the start of the fall semester, and must be renewed should it be necessary for more than one year. This includes those who have been admitted to the program and need to defer their initial start date in the program. 

Awards and Hooding Ceremony
On the evening before graduation, the University celebrates a Baccalaureate Mass, a worship service designed to celebrate the academic achievements of the graduating students while giving thanks for the larger community, including those who supported the graduates in their pursuit of learning and wisdom. The School of Theology and Ministry has a particular celebration when graduates are presented with awards, formally hooded, and when doctoral graduates briefly present a précis of their dissertation scholarship. This celebration is specifically for the School of Theology and Ministry and celebrated in the university chapel in full academic regalia. All in the doctoral program are expected to attend, and all associated with the School of Theology and Ministry in any way are most welcome to attend.