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Prospectus for Doctoral Programs in Theology at Boston University School of Theology
(a.k.a. constantly updated, hyperlinked "Red Book")

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2. Requirements of the Doctoral Degree Program in Theology

2.1. Requirements of the ThD Major in Theology

Requirements applying to all ThD candidates in STH are stated in the various sources described in "Where to Get More Information" (section 1.3). In addition, the doctoral program in theology has specific requirements, described in what follows.

2.1.1. Theology Proseminar

Doctoral candidates in the ThD Theology Major are required to attend a Proseminar in the first semester of their program in which it is offered. This seminar:

  • examines the nature and tasks of theological reflection through critical engagement with classic and contemporary theological texts; and
  • introduces doctoral students in theology to program requirements, faculty resources, library resources, the general reading list, and discusses strategies for preparing for qualifying examinations.

2.1.2. Language Examinations

ThD doctoral candidates are required to pass translation examinations in languages as required by their specific programs. One language must be German or French, usually German. Other languages must be germane to the candidate's degree program, taking into account the primary tradition of study and the anticipated direction of dissertation research. Advisors guide candidates in the selection of languages. One language examination must be passed in the first year, and the other(s) before the end of the second year. The requirement for doctoral candidates to complete one language requirement by the end of the first year and the other by the end of the second year is strictly enforced for ThD students. Financial aid may be affected if this timetable for language requirements is not met. See the sources in "Where to Get More Information" (section 1.3) for further details.

2.1.3. Written Qualifying Examinations

The Theology Faculty hold ThD qualifying examinations at various times during the school year. These examinations are in addition to qualifying examinations required of ThD candidates in their non-theology discipline.

For more information about written qualifying examinations, see "Written Qualifying Examinations in Theology" (section 3).

2.1.4. Oral Qualifying Examination

After all other qualifying examinations have been passed, including non-theology qualifying examinations, a candidate may proceed to the oral qualifying examination. The oral examination is an in-depth evaluation of the candidate’s competence in the area of specialization chosen for his or her dissertation. The oral examination may include a review of the other qualifying examinations. More information about this examination can be found under "The Oral Qualifying Examination" (section 4).

2.1.5. Timing of Examinations

All of the written qualifying examinations in theology must be taken in the same semester, usually in the fifth semester of the doctoral program for a full-time student. The oral examination must be taken within twelve months after the first written examination is taken.

2.1.6. Dissertation Prospectus

A ThD student must submit a dissertation prospectus to the Advanced Studies Committee, according to the procedures described in the ASC Handbook.

2.1.7. Dissertation and Defense

With an approved dissertation prospectus in hand, the doctoral dissertation must be written and defended. Other documents contain information about this phase of the degree program (see section 1.3). Guidelines for writing the dissertation abstracts are contained in Appendix B.

2.1.8. Knowledge of BU Theology Faculty Texts

All doctoral students in theology are expected to be familiar with the general thrust of the work of each core Theology Faculty member, and the detailed thought of their Theology Faculty advisers and dissertation readers. To that end, the major works of the faculty are listed in Appendix A: Major Writings of the Boston University Theology Faculty.

2.2. Remarks on Requirements for the ThD Major in Theology

What follows is remarks on requirements for ThD programs with a Major in theology. Requirements for ThD Minors in theology are discussed below (see section 2.3).

2.2.1. Upon Admission

ThD candidates must have a Master's degree in theology, religion, or the equivalent. Corequisites (courses in addition to the basic degree requirements that must be completed as soon as possible during the period of course work) may be imposed on a case by case basis.

2.2.2. Course Work

ThD Majors must complete a minimum of thirty-two credits beyond the Master's degree, including:

Other requirements may be established by the Minor discipline or by the ASC (see "Where to Get More Information," section 1.3).

2.2.3. Qualifying Examinations

The expectation concerning qualifying examinations, both written and oral, is that ThD majors in theology are expected to exhibit facility with questions relating to the specific focus of their program throughout the qualifying examinations in theology. This may involve, for example, interdisciplinary connections between a candidate’s Major and Minor disciplines or connections with specific concerns a candidate may have with Christian religious communities. In particular, each qualifying examination shall include one question pertaining to the relationship between major and minor disciplines, written by the advisor.

2.3. Remarks on Requirements for the ThD Minor in Theology

2.3.1. Theology Proseminar

This seminar is recommended but not required of ThD Minors in theology.

2.3.2. Language Examinations

The language requirements for the ThD Minor in theology are determined by the requirements of the candidate’s Major discipline.

2.3.3. Written Qualifying Examinations

ThD Minors in theology are required to take only the regularized qualifying examination on the Contemporary Period (see "Examination on the Contemporary Period (20th Century)," section 5.1.3). If the candidate’s research interests make it preferable, and with the permission of the candidate’s Minor advisor, a ThD Minor may opt to take one of the other two qualifying examinations in place of the examination on the Contemporary Period. The theology minor qualifying examination shall include one question pertaining to the relationship between major and minor disciplines, written by the advisor.

2.3.4. Oral Qualifying Examination

ThD Minors do not take an oral examination in theology, though they may be required to pass an oral examination in the area of their Major specialization.

2.3.5. Timing of Examinations

The timing of examinations for ThD Minors in theology is determined by the requirements of their Major discipline, except that the written qualifying examination in theology is always held in the stipulated examination weeks (see "Timing of the Written Qualifying Examinations," section 3.3.1).

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