Directions for Completing an STM Thesis
Pastors who wish to write a thesis as partial fulfillment of the requirements of earning the STM would begin by consulting with their STM advisor. The topic for the thesis would be chosen from within the pastor’s selected area of focused study in the STM (e.g., Biblical Theology: Old Testament, Church History). Since the writing of the thesis does earn course credit, the pastor does not need to have completed all 24 credits before writing his thesis. While the thesis will typically be written near the end of a pastor’s pursuit of the STM, some additional course credits needed to complete the STM can be taken during or after the thesis writing.
If the decision is made to move ahead with a thesis, the pastor begins a four-step process for completing the thesis and receiving credit toward the STM. Your advisor will request from the continuing education department a link to the digital STM Thesis Proposal form (provided as a Microsoft form) with his portion of the form completed.
Once the STM Thesis Proposal form is received, the pastor completes his portion of the form and returns it to his advisor that will include the following information.
- The focus of his study summarized in one to two paragraphs.
- The thesis question he is seeking to answer.
- An initial bibliography of resource material for his thesis.
- A tentative brief outline for the thesis (no more than a page). While not limited to what follows, the outline should give evidence of how the thesis would:
- Interact with and analyze current literature on the topic (what is often called a literature review);
- Bring scriptural insight to bear on the topic from a Confessional Lutheran perspective; and
- Show how the research and scriptural study leads to conclusions/recommendations being drawn that seek to answer the thesis question.
- A proposed completion date for the thesis.
His STM advisor would either accept the proposal as presented or provide suggestions to the pastor for how he might strengthen his proposal. If needed, the pastor would then offer a revised proposal to his advisor for his approval. Once the proposal is accepted by the advisor, the advisor would also then propose to the pastor the number of credits he would suggest to be awarded for completing the work outlined by the proposal.
The second step of the STM thesisis to submit an expanded outline of the thesis to the STM advisor for his suggestions. As needed, a revised draft of the outline may be requested by the advisor. This outline should give evidence of:
- Having read and analyzed thoughtfully the current and seminal literature that pertains to the topic under study;
- Having grasped how a Confessional Lutheran, Christ-centered understanding of Scripture impacts his approach to this topic of study; and
- Having thoughtfully proposed an answer to the thesis question based on the research done.
The third step would be to submit the completed thesis, following the current WLS style guide to determine matters of formatting.
- Before moving ahead to the final step of the process, the STM advisor determines whether the thesis is acceptable for moving on to the final step of the oral exam.
- If some significant revision is suggested, this would need to be completed and a second draft of the thesis would be submitted to the STM advisor.
The fourth and final step is to successfully complete an oral exam on his thesis with his STM advisor and a second reader selected by his advisor.
- This oral exam can either be completed at WLS or conducted via digital video technology.
- It is likely that some additional minor revisions to the thesis will be requested as part of successfully completing the oral exam.
- The thesis, including suggested revisions as needed, would then be submitted to the STM advisor.
- The STM advisor would submit the completed thesis to the WLS library director for inclusion in the WLS online essay file.
The cost per credit of the thesis is 2/3 of the per credit cost for a regular STM course when the thesis work began. For those whose tuition is covered by their calling body, tuition discounts are also available just as they would be for any for-credit course. For pastors covering the tuition from their own resources, the seminary also has its regular financial aid for which a pastor can apply. The tuition is due once the oral exam has been passed. Credit for the thesis is entered into the pastor’s official transcript once the final draft of the thesis has been delivered to the STM advisor and the full payment of tuition (less any scholarships) has been received.
If the completion of the thesis brings to a completion all 24 credits needed for the STM, the advisor would then inform the director of continuing education that all requirements for the STM have been met as well as make the formal request to the faculty to award the STM degree.
The graduation fee is $25.