Thesis and Project Information

Are you enrolled in a degree program that requires you to complete a master’s thesis or master’s project? Are you an MDiv student who has chosen to apply for the research MDiv? All the information you need about registering for, writing, and completing a thesis or project can be found here.

Seattle Pacific Seminary Theses:

For past master's theses click here 

Seattle Paciic Seminary Projects

For past master's projects 

What is a master’s thesis?

All candidates for the Master of Arts [Christian Scripture] (MA [CSc]) and the Master of Arts [Christian Studies] (MA [CSt]) are required to take the following course, usually in the last year of their studies at Seattle Pacific Seminary:

THEO 6995: Master’s Thesis (6 cr.): Provides the opportunity for students to utilize the competencies developed in their coursework by engaging in a sustained research project on a carefully framed topic. This course is a faculty-supervised research component of the Christian Scripture and Christian Studies tracks of the Master of Arts degree. The topic and research methodology must be approved in advance by the faculty supervisor.

What is a master’s project?

All candidates for the Master of Arts in Asian American Ministry (MA [AAM]) and the Master of Arts in Reconciliation and Intercultural Studies (MA [RIS]) are required to take the following course, usually in the last year of their studies at Seattle Pacific Seminary:

THEO 6960: Master’s Project (3 cr.): The Master’s Project is an integrative project allowing students to synthesize various aspects of their academic studies and to give them practical application in a concrete ministry setting. Components of the project can include but are not limited to: contextual studies of major theologians, movements, and teachings, past and present; an exploration of the spiritual practices that bring together theology, prayer, and ministry in a particular context; and a qualitative study that facilitates a deep understanding of a particular ministry. The Master’s Project is to be guided and monitored, from beginning to end, by an SOT faculty member or designate.

If I am interested in doing a thesis as an MDiv student, what do I do?

If MDiv students are interested in doing a pursuing a thesis, they need to apply for the research-focused Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. This degree is for students of exceptional academic ability. Admission into this program requires that a student achieve at least a 3.85 cumulative grade point average after completing 40 credits of coursework, and receive the approval of the ADGS and the Graduate Curriculum Committee. Students accepted to this research-focused MDiv degree will be required to complete a master’s thesis, following the standard protocol for THEO 6995. The 6 credits of THEO 6995 will normally replace 3 credits of Approved Interdisciplinary Courses and 3 credits of the 21 required elective credits. Thus, the research-focused MDiv has the same minimum credit count as the ministry-focused MDiv. The student’s official transcript will indicate completion of the thesis, but her/his university diploma will read no differently from that of other MDiv students.

What’s the difference between a project and a thesis?

A Master’s Project is different from a Master’s Thesis in several ways. As a 3 credit class, it should represent less work than a thesis. Furthermore, the most important aspect of a Master’s Project is its situation in a particular ministry setting. A Master’s Project is the appropriate conclusion of our contextually focused degree programs (the MA [RIS] and the MA [AAM]). Therefore, the purpose of the Master’s Project is to enable students to apply what they have learned in SPU coursework to the particulars of a specified ministry setting.

While a Master’s Project can be constructed in a variety of ways, depending on the students’ interests and skills, the project must accomplish the following (based on the student learning outcomes for the degree programs):

-              The project will show that the student can write effectively.

-              The project will demonstrate that the student can apply knowledge of Christian theology (Scripture, history, doctrine, and ethics), racial, ethnic, and gender reconciliation theory, intercultural relations, and family systems to a particular ministry context.

-              If the project is pursued as part of the MA (AAM), the project will apply knowledge of Asian-American experience, culture, and identity to a particular ministry context.

While all projects need to be focused towards a particular ministry context, projects do not need to be detailed qualitative or quantitative human subject research of that context. If, however, students desire to do such research and are equipped with these skills, they are welcome to work with a faculty supervisor to design such a project. If the project includes any human subject research (i.e., asking questions in a specific context to then draw generalizable statements from them), the student must seek IRB approval for the project. Students should note that this application process can take several months, and SPS faculty does not provide assistance with it beyond what is posted on the website. IRB approval for such a project is required to protect the researcher and the subjects who participate in the research.

How do I register for THEO 6995: Master’s Thesis or THEO 6960: Master’s Project?

Contact the person you want to be your faculty supervisor in the academic year before you want to write your thesis or project.

See this document for details about registration, deadlines, and requirements for the thesis and project process. [Tracey: Link to Registration Info for Theses and Projects]

Faculty Supervisor, Second Reader (for MA Theses only), and ADGS responsibilities are listed here. [Tracey: link the PDF titled Supervisor and ADGS responsibilities]

Timing and Formatting Requirements for the Completion of the Project or Thesis

As students approach the end of the process, they should be aware that their faculty supervisor should see the penultimate draft of their project or thesis no later than six weeks before the last day of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. At this point, the student and faculty supervisor should invite a second reader’s input (applicable for MA Theses only). Students should submit a revised, final draft no later than two weeks before the conclusion of the quarter in which they intend to graduate.

Formatting and length requirements (faculty supervisors may modify these requirements as necessary for a student’s particular project or thesis):

1)      Length:

a)       MA Theses: between 12,000 and 18,000 words of text (excluding notes and bibliography)

b)      MA Projects: no formal length requirements, but approximately 7000-9000 words (excluding notes, charts/diagrams [if applicable], and bibliography).

2)      Margins (theses and projects): Left margins, 1.5”. Right, top, and bottom margins, 1”.

3)      Font: 12-point font (Century Schoolbook, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman, or Verdana).

4)      Title page and signature page completed and formatted in accordance with the following examples

[Tracey, please link the word documents called “title page” and “title page example” here for both a thesis and a project. There should be four documents total.]

How to Submit your Completed Project or Thesis

Once you’ve finished your final draft, you’ve checked all of the formatting and citations, and your faculty supervisor (and second reader, if applicable) have signed off on your project or thesis, then you need to prepare a PDF of your completed project or thesis, with the title page. Have your faculty supervisor (and second reader, if applicable) sign the signature page.

Email the full PDF to the ADGS and place a hard copy of the signature page in the ADGS’s mailbox. You will then receive an email from the ADGS with final instructions. These include: You will be asked to sign a release form to allow your work to be uploaded to Digital Commons on SPU’s website. You will also be asked to write a brief abstract, describing your project.

For past Seattle Pacific Seminary Theses, click here.

For past Seattle Pacific Seminary Projects, click here.