The MTS is an interdisciplinary degree that serves students who are preparing for doctoral work in religious studies as well as others who are interested in rigorous exploration across the breadth of religious studies.
To graduate, students must meet the requirements as specified in the Master’s Student Handbook for their year of matriculation. At least 72 quarter credits with a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better are required for the MTS degree. All required courses below (16 of the 72 credits, including the thesis), must be completed with a letter grade of C or better (or with a Pass, when no letter grade is offered).
This degree may be completed in 40 quarter credits if the student has previously completed an MDIV degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution prior to enrollment at Iliff. Specific requirements may be negotiated based on prior educational experience.
MTS Colloquium (4 credits) is required of all students. Normally, Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Formation credits (IPVC, Internship; and so on) are not accepted into the MTS degree program. Permission to participate and count Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Formation credits must be negotiated with the Director of Professional Formation in consultation with the MTS Director.
First Year Interdisciplinary Course (4 credits): This course is team-taught and will introduce students to terminology, reading of primary texts and how to write academic papers as well as expose them to the complexity and significance of theological reflection. The course must be taken within the student's first 40 credit hours.
Joint MA/MTS Thesis Proposal Class (4 credits)
Learning Plan (no credit): The learning plan must be completed with the MTS Program Director prior to registration in the second quarter.
Other courses (56 credits): as outlined in Learning Plan
MTS Interdisciplinary Thesis (4 credits)
Total for Master of Theological Studies: 72 credits
Length of Study
Students who average 40 quarter credits a year (13-14 credits each quarter of the academic year) will complete the course work for the MTS degree in two years. Students may, however, elect to complete their course work over a longer period of time. The MTS does not have a residency requirement and can be mostly completed online. All requirements for the degree must be completed within seven calendar years from the date of the first course taken in the program.
Outcomes Assessment Process
To insure the breadth and depth of the educational experience, student thesis and capstone projects will be automatically reviewed as part of Iliff’s outcomes assessment process. Further information is available from the Dean's Office or from MTS Program Director.
GUIDELINES FOR THE PREPARATION OF A MASTER’S THESIS
MTS Interdisciplinary Thesis: The interdisciplinary thesis project is intended to be a focused, article-length (approximately 6,000 words), original piece of academic research, demonstrating the student’s: ability to work across two or more identifiable disciplines and articulate clearly how that work is executed in the project, ability to conduct academic research; depth and originality of thought; ability to articulate his or her research in appropriate academic discourse.
Development of the thesis will proceed in several stages:
Initial Development: All MTS students will work with an appropriate faculty member in developing a viable thesis project. A thesis proposal must be approved by the Director of the MTS Program, the Dean, and one faculty thesis reader. Students from programs other than the MTS who are writing a thesis must have their thesis proposal approved by their program director rather than the director of the MTS program. Ideally, initial discussions about the thesis should begin no later than the Spring of the first year of study and students will have taken or plan to take at least two courses in related areas of study. The MTS Colloquium provides opportunities for students to begin to identify and explore their research interests. Students should enroll in this course during their first year of study.
MTS Thesis Proposal Class (4 credits): In this fall quarter class, students (in the second year of the program) will define and refine their topic, thesis, and points of evidence in order to produce a proposal and a detailed outline of the thesis. At the beginning of the seminar, students will be expected to identify and consult with a faculty advisor about the viability and scope of the topic. By week 4 of fall quarter, a draft of the proposal will be submitted to the faculty reader. By week 10 of fall quarter, a detailed outline of the thesis will be submitted to the course instructor.
The Proposal: The student must discuss the proposal with and receive the approval of the faculty reader and the Director of the MTS Program. When approval is granted, the student will turn in the proposal to the Registrar who will seek the final approval of the Dean. An Approval Page for the Master’s Thesis Proposal is available from the Office of the Registrar or on my.iliff and should be provided with the proposal.
Students will seek approval of the thesis proposal by the fourth week of the proposal seminar. The proposal, on not more than five double-spaced typed or printed pages using appropriate grammar and style, should include the following items:
- Statement of the proposed title
- Statement of the thesis and scope of the study
- Rationale for pursuing the thesis
- Tentative outline
- Discussion of available resources with a working bibliography
Thesis (approximately 6000 words, 24-26 pages): The thesis must clearly delineate the nature of the topic, include a definition of the principle terms, meet standard grammatical requirements, and develop arguments in a systematic and organized fashion. The thesis must be consistent in form with recognized dissertation style manuals, such as Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, or The Chicago Manual of Style (use the most recent editions available). Stylistic consistency is crucial. One may use either footnotes or endnotes, and must include an abstract, 3-5 keywords, and a bibliography.
- Title page (p. i is assigned but not typed)
- Abstract and keywords (p. ii assigned but not typed)
- Final Evaluation of Master’s Thesis form (no page number)
- Text (paginated starting with Arabic numeral 1 through to the end)
- Appendix (if necessary)
A grade will be given for the thesis and should reflect the reader's assessment of the academic quality of the Thesis; students may register for up to 4 credits for the thesis. The student may choose, with the concurrence of the reader, a pass/fail option. The student must request the pass/fail option at the time the proposal is submitted.
Students are encouraged to submit the outline to the faculty reader prior to the final quarter of the program so that the student will have five full weeks in the final quarter to develop the outline with attention to the faculty reader’s feedback.
The thesis is due in final form no later than the fifth week of the final quarter in the program. After the thesis has been turned in, the student will meet with the faculty reader for a concluding evaluation and conversation, after which the student may make final revisions.
A copy of the thesis with all revisions completed and one extra copy of the title page must be given to the faculty reader for signatures no later than fourteen days prior to the date of graduation. The faculty reader will forward the thesis and all forms to the MTS Director for his/her signature. The MTS Director will forward to the Registrar no later than seven days prior to the date of graduation. The Registrar will seek the Dean’s final approval. After the Dean has given final approval, the Registrar will forward the thesis to the library to be deposited in Iliff’s digital collections.
MTS Degree Learning Goals
After successfully completing the Master of Theological Studies Degree Program, graduates will be able to within a broader awareness of the academic study of religion, articulate the complexities emergent in the interdisciplinary study of religious traditions.
1.Formulate a viable research question that puts the student into conversation with historic and contemporary thinkers in the study of religion and that fosters transformative possibilities for humanity and the world.
2.Identify theological resources that would broaden and deepen their thinking about these questions.
3.Organize their response to a research question, both in written and oral format, in such a way as to establish themselves as a competent public voice within the interdisciplinary study of religion.