The Catholic University of America

 Doctor of Philosophy General Degree Requirements

Admission

  1. Superior achievement and the ability to pursue graduate work, as indicated by official transcripts from previous institutions of study.
  2. The results of the Graduate Record Examination, GRE, or Miller Analogies Test, MAT. However, GRE scores (vs. MAT or TOEFL) are necessary for applicants to be considered for most university scholarships.
  3. Non-native English-speakers should demonstrate evidence of English proficiency through submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL, scores or through some other means.
  4. At least three academic letters of recommendation.

Prerequisites

Applicants should possess an M.A. in theology or religious studies as offered by this faculty, or the equivalent of this degree. Applicants who are in the process of completing an M.A. may be admitted to the program provisionally if they have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.3.  Applicants should have demonstrated ability to do serious research in theology and should manifest success in their previous study of theology and/or religious studies.

Residency

Students in the Ph.D. program should be enrolled on a full-time basis while completing their course work (i.e., registered for at least nine credit hours per semester for at least three semesters).

Students who have completed their minimum period of residence must continue in extended residence until all the requirements for the degree are fulfilled. Extended residence requires registration for comprehensives (one credit hour), or for dissertation guidance (three credit hours) unless a student is granted a leave of absence or permission to register in Absentia.

Coursework

Thirty hours of course work after the M.A. degree. Additional requirements may be specified by individual academic areas.  Students must maintain a GPA of 3.3

Languages

The language requirements for Ph.D. students are set out under the degree program descriptions of the individual academic areas.

Comprehensive Examinations

Ph.D. students will be required to complete written comprehensives within the various academic areas given over the course of three days in at least three distinct areas of study. Each academic area director, in collaboration with appropriate faculty and the dean, will determine the modality of comprehensive exams.

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is not simply to examine students about knowledge already acquired within course work, but also to provide students with the opportunity to study areas not touched upon by course work, to deepen knowledge of areas already studied, and to synthesize and interrelate areas of theological knowledge.

Admission to Candidacy (Admission to the Ph.D. program does not imply admission to candidacy for the degree)

  1. fulfilled the language requirements
  2. completed the course work
  3. completed minor requirements
  4. passed the comprehensive examination
  5. made formal application in writing to the Ph.D. Committee chair
  6. been recommended by the director of the specified academic area

The Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Approval Process

1. Initial Steps of the Process

     The student first secures the approval of the proposal (this consisting of two pages and addressing the following four points: background and state of the question, purpose, methodology and contribution and originality; the appended bibliography should be limited to two pages) by the director and two readers (all of whom are ordinarily to be members of the STRS faculty).  Once that approval has been obtained, the proposal is forwarded by the director to the head of the student's area of concentration who, in turn, will circulate it to all members of the area group for their comments and approval.  At this time, the student is also asked to send the Chair of the Ph.D. Committee a copy of the proposal and to arrange for a conference (whether in person or by phone) with the Chair concerning the proposal and to review the entire proposal approval process.    

2. Evaluation of the Proposal by the Ph.D. Committee

     Once the student and director have been notified of the acceptance of the proposal by the head of the student's area group the student should send the Chair of the PhD committee an electronic copy of the proposal which the Chair, in turn, will transmit to the members of the Committee.  In addition, the student is to provide the Chair with i) the Doctoral Dissertation and Topic Committee Request for Approval and ii) the PhD Proposal Recommendation forms (both with the appropriate signatures).  The Ph.D. Committee normally meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month; all of the above documentation should be in the hands of the Ph.D. Committee Chair one week prior to that meeting.

     At the meeting of the Committee, the student's director is asked to be present to answer any questions the Committee may have. The proposal may be approved by the Committee either "as is" or on the understanding that small-scale emendations will be made. In the latter case, it is the responsibility of the director to communicate the emendations asked for by the committee to the student and to ensure that these are made by the student.  Once the emendations have been made to the director's satisfaction, the student should submit the revised proposal to the Ph.D. Committee Chair one week prior to the meeting. The Committee may also decide that the proposal requires major reworking and needs to be resubmitted to the Committee after such reworking. In this case as well, the director is responsible for conveying the Committee's remarks to the student and ensuring that the required reworking is carried out by the student.  Once this has been done to the director's satisfaction, the student should forward the revised proposal to the Ph.D. Chair one week prior to the meeting who will bring it before the Committee.      

3. Final Stages of the Dissertation Proposal Approval Process

     Once the Ph.D. Committee Chair has the student's proposal as approved by the Committee (or revised in accordance with the Committee's comments) as well as the two other, above-mentioned documents, the Chair will write the student a letter (with a copy to the director) officially informing the student that the proposal has been approved by the Committee.  A copy of that letter will be included in the student's file which the Chair will submit to the STRS Dean at this point.  The Dean will either approve the proposal as submitted and sign the "Request for Approval Form" or ask for changes in the proposal, communicating the changes in question to the director and the student.  The director and student will make the changes and resubmit the proposal to the Dean.

     Once the Dean has signed off on the proposal, the Dean will transmit the student's file to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.  The Dean of Graduate Studies, in turn, will have the proposal assessed by an evaluator from outside STRS.  On the basis of that evaluation, the Dean of Graduate Studies will either approve the proposal as submitted or ask that it be revised in minor or major ways and will so inform the student and director.  If revisions are asked for, they will need to be made by the student in consultation with the director and the revised proposal is then to be resubmitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies who, in all cases, has the final say regarding the approval of the proposal on the part of the University.