A reader for the thesis is assigned from the faculty; the director and reader are responsible for approving the proposal and placing it in the student’s file. The student, with the help of a faculty member who serves as director, will prepare a one-page thesis proposal that presents the background, purpose, method, and contribution of the thesis. The proposal with a selected bibliography will be submitted to the Director of the Academic Area for approval and will then go to the M.A. Committee for final approval.
The S.T.L. candidate will work in conjunction with the Director and Reader of the thesis in preparing the proposal. When the Director and Reader approve the proposal, it will then be submitted to the faculty of the Academic Area for approval. Subsequently the proposal is submitted to the members of the Ecclesiastical Degree Committee for approval. The proposal is kept in the student’s file.
These regulations apply to PhD and STD proposals. A student, who has been formally admitted to candidacy, is eligible to submit a doctoral proposal. The following guidelines for the dissertation proposal must be carefully followed:
The Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Approval Process
1. Initial Steps of the Process
The student first secures the approval of the proposal by the director and two readers, all of whom are ordinarily to be members of the STRS faculty. Ordinarily, the members of a Ph.D. proposal committee will all hold the degree of Ph.D. themselves. Holders of other degrees (e.g., D.Min.) may not serve as director, but may serve as readers if they bring a particular and relevant expertise to the committee. The proposal consists of two pages and addresses 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.
At this time, the student is also asked to send the Chair of the Ph.D. Proposal 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. Proposal Committee
Once the student and director have been notified of the acceptance of the proposal by the head of the student's area group and any comments made by the Ph.D. Proposal Committee Chair have been incorporated into the proposal, the student should send the Chair 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 the Doctoral Dissertation and Topic Committee Request for Approval and the PhD Proposal Recommendation forms (both with the appropriate signatures). The Ph.D. Proposal Committee normally meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month; all of the above documentation should be in the hands of the Ph.D. Proposal Committee Chair on the Wednesday 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 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. Proposal Committee Chair. 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 who will bring it before the Committee at its next meeting.
3. Final Stages of the Dissertation Proposal Approval Process
Once the Ph.D. Proposal 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.