Writing a Thesis at GTS


How do I begin? Start by meeting with your academic advisor early in the term. Your advisor will help you develop and refine your topic, give you advice on how and where to begin your work, and will discuss with you who your readers should be. It will also be helpful to meet with the reference librarian to learn about the resources available in the Keller Library and in other libraries in the area. Take time to review the academic requirements as stipulated in the catalog.

What’s the difference between a thesis and a summative project? Theses, summative papers, and projects are opportunities for M.Div. and M.A. students to focus their attention in a particular area at the culmination of their studies.

Theses are distinctive in making a scholarly contribution to a field of study. Students writing theses should bear in mind that their work will become a permanent part of the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, available for consultation by future students, faculty, and scholars.

For M.Div. students, undertaking a thesis represents a decision to study a particular area in what is otherwise a general professional degree. For M.A. students, the thesis is the culmination of study in the concentration that has characterized the student’s entire program. Please check this page for details regarding the thesis guidelines for the newly formed D.Min program.

A project is a piece of work that combines scholarly research with application to a ministry setting, either hypothetical or real. In the case of an actual ministry setting, a project may describe the outcomes of the implementation of the project’s proposals. Projects are placed in the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library.

A summative paper is a piece of work in which a student integrates the learning of one’s degree program in a paper on a particular topic. The emphasis of a summative paper is on the student’s integration of learning rather then on a scholarly contribution. These papers tend to be shorter than theses. A summative paper is not normally placed in the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library.

When can I turn in my thesis? Your paper is considered “finished” once you’ve made all the suggested edits and the signature page is attached and signed by all readers. To submit, print two copies of the document, formatted according to the thesis guidelines, on 100 percent rag bond paper, single-sided and double-spaced. Both copies and the signature page are submitted to the Registrar. Be sure to make an appointment with the Registrar to review your thesis. The Registrar will not accept work that is not formatted correctly, so be vigilant in following the guidelines!

How many copies? What about a personal copy? The thesis guidelines state that two copies of the thesis should be submitted for the library. Both copies will be bound after graduation. One will be placed in the Archives and kept for posterity along with hundreds of other GTS graduates’ work. The other will be placed in the Library’s circulating collections, so that students and scholars can borrow and use your dissertation.

If you would like a bound personal copy of your thesis, bring an additional copy (or copies) to the Registrar during your thesis appointment, along with $30 for each additional copy. Be sure that we have your permanent address so that we can send your copies to you once they have been bound.

Why the bond paper and the formatting requirements?  We require that theses be printed on 100 percent rag bond paper (cotton or linen), single-sided, double-spaced, with the required format as stipulated in the guidelines. These guidelines provide uniformity in submissions, which means that the reader in future years won’t be distracted by unusual or idiosyncratic formatting, and that the paper on which your thesis is printed will hold up over time. If someone needs to photocopy some pages, the spine of the volume is less likely to be damaged if the thesis is single-sided. In short, these requirements ensure that your hard work will hold up to posterity!

What is the difference between my thesis title and my spine title?  You will work out your thesis title with your advisor, which is the title that will be included on the title page of your thesis when you turn it in to the Registrar. However, there is limited space on the spine of your bound document, so you may wish to consider your title carefully. Your thesis title page may contain something like this: The Very Deepest Thoughts of Deepak Chopra: How He Reached the Conclusion that Everything’s Better with Anglican Chant – but your spine title will read something like: THE DEEPEST THOUGHTS OF DEEPAK CHOPRA. If you have questions about how this works, please speak to a librarian.



The Christoph Keller, Jr. Library building is closed.

The library's physical collections are not available to patrons, as GTS transitions to future uses of this space. 


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