USML | S.T.L. Licentiate Thesis

Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.)

S.T.L. Licentiate Thesis

  • The licentiate thesis is written in the area of specialization and may be compared to a substantial scholarly essay, its length is sixty to eighty typewritten pages. The thesis demonstrates the student’s ability to do theological research, to present this research in a coherent way, and concludes with a personal assessment of the findings.

  • Schedule for S.T.L. Thesis Research and Writing
  • During the second semester of the S.T.L. program, the student will enroll in DT 810 Thesis Proposal, during which he or she will choose a director who will agree to meet with the student on a regular basis. The student will work with the thesis director to develop a proposal. The director will approve and forward the proposal to the President of the Pontifical Faculty at least one month before the end of the semester.  The President will then ask another professor to review the proposal.  Once this professor accepts the proposal, the President will inform the student who then will continue writing the thesis. 

  • The content of the Thesis Proposal is as follows:
    • Working title
    • Working thesis statement
    • The theological context of the thesis (status quaestionis)
    • A description of a the student’s proposed methodology
    • Working list of up to 10 primary sources
    • Working list of up to 20 secondary and tertiary sources
    • Outline of the argument

  • In the third and fourth semesters of the program, the student will enroll in Thesis Writing.  In order to graduate by the end of the fourth semester, the thesis must be approved by the director and submitted to the President of the Pontifical Faculty two months before the end of the semester.  The President will then assign another faculty member to read and approve the thesis.  Once approved, the student will request from the President a date for the Presentation and Defense of the Thesis.
  • Presentation and Defense of S.T.L. Thesis
    • The candidate for the S.T.L. degree will give a ten minute presentation of the thesis before a board constituted by the director of the thesis and at least one other professor who is appointed by the President of the Pontifical Faculty. After the candidate’s presentation, each member of the board will ask questions and discuss the presentation with the candidate for ten minutes apiece. 

    • The members of the board will then submit two numerical grades, one for the thesis and one for the presentation and defense.  In order for the candidate to pass, the average of the thesis grade and the average of the presentation grade both must be at least a 86%. 

    • After the presentation and defense, the student will make any corrections required by the board and submit the corrected thesis to the director.  The director will then confirm that the corrections have been made and notify the President of the Pontifical Faculty, who will in turn notify the Registrar.

      The director will then instruct the student to submit a copy of the final thesis to the Library Director for approval of formatting as outlined in the USML Writer's Manual. Once final approval is given, the Library Director will forward an electronic copy of the thesis to the Registrar, who will arrange for its printing and binding.  Costs for the printing and biding will be billed to the student.

  •  Time Limits
    • The S.T.L. is completed within four semesters.  A student may request to extend the work by submitting an Extension Request Form and  registering for “Ongoing Thesis Writing” each semester until the project is complete.  Extensions are exceptions and may be granted for a maximum of three years.  After this time, a diploma will not be granted.  Students still wishing to be awarded the degree must reapply.

    • In order to participate in the University Convocation at the end of the academic year, a student must have completed their Comprehensive Exams, successfully presented and defended the thesis, and have received final approval of style and formatting of the thesis by the Library Director (as stated above) thirty days before the Convocation. 

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