The thesis is an 80 to 120 page sustained argument based on original research that represents a scholarly contribution to current topics in philosophy, theology, or history. In the last year of a student's work in the GST, they work with their advisor to develop a thesis topic. Once an area of research is decided, students write a thesis prospectus that outlines their project and then put together a thesis committee of professors from the GST and (often) from other institutions as well. Students work closely with their advisor and other committee members as they write the thesis, culminating with an oral thesis defense where students respond to oral critiques from their thesis committee members.
Essentially, the thesis in the GST resembles a Ph.D. dissertation but on a much smaller scale. Students are expected to utilize research methods and sources to develop an original argument that both prepares the student for future work in a Ph.D. program as well as representing a sample of writing that displays students' capabilities.
Working with Faculty
Students work on their thesis in partnership with their faculty advisor. As such, this provides an opportunity that rivals any degree program in the United States. An experience like this is often reserved for doctoral students at other schools, leaving masters level students much on their own. However, at ACU students work closely with their advisor in working through drafts of the project, learning how to interpret primary sources, and adopting a methodology that allows for constructive proposals. As such, students learn how to be contributors to the academy rather than mere observers.
"Doctoral Level" Research
The Thesis project involves doing original work with primary sources. As such, it is the most important part of the degree for preparing students to go on to do doctoral work. Further, many students use parts of their thesis as a "writing sample" when they apply to doctoral programs. Additionally, some students turn chapters into published articles in peer-reviewed journals.