USML | S.T.D. Dissertation

Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.)

S.T.D. Dissertation

  • The doctroal dissertation is a "major original research work" in one of the areas of concentration.  It must demonstrate:

    • the candidate’s erudition, judgment, and knowledge of Catholic doctrine;

    • proficiency in positive and speculative theology;

    • the ability to articulate and synthesize scientific research in a unique manner that advances theological scholarship and promotes engagement with issues encountered by contemporary Christians.

  • Dissertations will be written in English. Exceptions require the approval of the dissertation director and the President of the Pontifical Faculty.  The dissertation must be of sufficient length to constitute a truly scientific study, normally 150 to 400 pages. Exceptions must have the approval of the President of the Pontifical Faculty.
  • The dissertation must conform to the guidelines of the USML Writers’ Manual. Please consult the Pontifical Faculty of Theology Scholar's Manual for details specific to the preparation of a dissertation.

  • Once the dissertation is approved by the director, the President in consultation with the director, will appoint a second reader to review and evaluate the dissertation.
  • Once both the director and the second reader sign off on the dissertation, the candidate submits the manuscript to the Library Director for approval of formatting as outlined in the USML Writer’s Manual. Once the Library Director approves the manuscript, the Library Director will forward an electronic  copy of the final manuscript to the Registrar, who will produce five (5) copies, loosely bound.  These will be the copies used for the Defense.   
  • Then a third reader, appointed by the President, will receive and read the entire manuscript.
  • The defense date will be not be guaranteed any earlier than two months after the third reader has received the dissertation.  
  • Time Limits

    The doctoral dissertation must be completed within a maximum of five years from the date the dissertation proposal was officially  accepted. After five years the degree will no longer be assured.
  • Public Defense

    The candidate must defend the dissertation by examination before a Doctoral Jury convened by the President and composed of the director and the two readers of the dissertation.  The examination will be public, at least ninety minutes in duration.

    The Chancellor of the University or his delegate will preside.

    The candidate will begin the defense with a twenty minute doctoral lecture on the dissertation. Questions will then be addressed to the candidate by each member of the Doctoral Jury (twenty minutes each), and finally, questions will be permitted ex corona for twenty minutes.
  • Final Grade

    At the end of the defense, each examiner will give two numerical grades, one grade for the dissertation and one for the defense.  Successful completion of the Doctorate requires a minimum average of 86% in each of the two grades (the defense and the dissertation).  Graduation with honors will be determined by the average of the two grades (the defense and the dissertation). 

    A candidate who fails the dissertation defense must consult with the President of the Pontifical Faculty to determine the conditions under which a second defense would be permissible. A second failure would disqualify the candidate from receiving the doctorate.
  • Publication

    Once the dissertation is successfully defended, the readers have approved any required corrections, and the President has obtained the nihil obstat, the candidate will follow the procedures for publication as outlined in the Pontifical Faculty of Theology Scholar’s Manual. The Doctorate is not awarded until all requirements of publication are met and all fees are paid.

  • University Convocation

    In order to participate in the University Convocation at the end of the academic year, a student must have completed all the requirements or the S.T.D. thirty days before the Convocation. 

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