6.8.2 Degree Requirements

6.8.2.a Fields

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.

In each field a faculty committee has supervision of the work of the candidates. This Field Committee will assign each candidate an academic advisor.

6.8.2.b Courses

Six courses are required for the Th.M. degree. The courses may require approval from the student’s advisor.

At least three of these courses must be in the candidate’s concentration. The candidate may choose the remaining courses from any of the advanced level courses (Th.M. and Ph.D.) or from approved graduate courses of study in other institutions of higher learning. Up to two of the six courses may be taken as directed reading or independent study. Normally, the candidate may transfer a maximum of two graduate courses from other institutions of higher learning, only one of which may count towards the three required courses in the candidate’s concentration. A candidate who has completed the M.Div. degree at Westminster may petition the Th.M. Field Committee for permission to transfer a third graduate course from another institution of higher learning. However, each student will be required to take at least two courses in his or her chosen field at Westminster. A maximum of three “non-classroom” courses (such as directed reading, independent studies, and transfer credit from other institutions) is allowed.

When planning to take a course at another school, the student should consult his or her advisor, make arrangements for enrollment at the other school, and report to the Westminster Registrar in writing before the beginning of the semester when he or she will enroll at the other school. Failure to conform to these stipulations may result in removal of the student from the program and in the refusal of Westminster to count these courses toward degree requirements. If no Westminster course is taken in the semester a student is enrolled elsewhere, the student will not pay a fee to Westminster.

The policies pertaining to Advanced Theological Writing are the same for all degree programs. See
section 5.3.b.

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.

Under an arrangement with the Jerusalem University College, students, selecting a concentration in either Old Testament or New Testament, may complete some of their program requirements at JUC. See
section 5.9 for further details.

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.

6.8.2.c Languages

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.

6.8.2.d Thesis

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 conform to the format and bibliographic style requirements in “Format Guidelines for WTS Theses, Dissertations and Projects,” available from the Library and online. Three copies of the completed thesis, with the appropriate fee, must be submitted to the Academic Affairs Office by March 1 (see the Academic Calendar if the 1st falls on a weekend) for the following May. (See below for quality of paper required for approved copy.)

The faculty committee must approve the thesis by May 1. If approved, some minor corrections may be required. The student must submit two copies of the approved thesis in final form to the Academic Affairs Office by May 15th (see the Academic Calendar for the date if the 15th falls on a weekend). One copy must be printed on 20 lb., 100 percent cotton content paper. The other may be printed on white multipurpose paper. No holes should be punched in the pages, and the thesis should be submitted flat in a box that is well protected so that the pages do not bend. For information on formatting the thesis see the Format Guidelines.

The thesis must be submitted within four and one-half years after the completion of all coursework (based on half-time enrollment).

6.8.2.e Comprehensive Examination

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. 

6.8.2.f Program Time Limit

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.

The Th.M. degree shall be granted only to persons enrolled at Westminster at the time of the completion of their degree program.