A Jesuit, Filipino, and Asian Ecclesiastical Faculty of Theology

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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The MA major in Theological Studies (MA TH-STUD) program has the following purposes: [a] To prepare teachers for college-level theology; [b] To present a sound and serious grounding in the basic theological disciplines (biblical studies, systematic-historical, and moral-pastoral theology) relating to both the Christian tradition and to the contemporary life of the Christian community; [c] To foster a capacity for disciplined reflection and effective communication, principally on the college level. Upon admission into the program, the student may choose his/her area of concentration from any of the following:

a) Biblical Theology
b) Systematic and Sacramental Theology
c) Moral Theology
d) Pastoral Theology


Academic Prerequisite

To get accepted to the MA major in Theological Studies program, the applicants must have a government-recognized (civil) bachelor’s degree with at least 12 units of undergraduate (college) theology courses. Moreover, they must have attained at least a general undergraduate average of B (2.5 or 85) with no grade of “failure” or “condition”.


MA-TS Course Work

This program requires at least three semesters of course work in which the student must complete successfully 10 master’s level courses belonging to the following categories:

a) Foundation Courses (15 units): The five core courses: [1] Revelation-Faith (3 units); [2] Christology (3 units); [3] Ecclesiology (3 units); [4] Fundamental Moral Theology (3 units); and [5] Christian Worship (3 units).

b) Concentration (9 units): Three courses or seminars in the student’s area of concentration.

The following are required courses in the various areas of concentration: for students specializing in New Testament Biblical Theology: Synoptic Gospels, John and Paul. For students specializing in Old Testament Biblical Theology: Pentateuch, Prophets, Wisdom Literature and Psalms. All Biblical Theology students are required to take Biblical Hermeneutics and Research Methods.

For students specializing in Systematic Theology: Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium; Theological Anthropology I: Creation and Eschatology; Theological Anthropology II: Sin and Grace; Soteriology and Mariology. For students specializing in Sacramental Theology: Sacraments of the Church, Sacraments of Vocation and Holy Eucharist. For students specializing in Moral Theology: Special Moral Theology I: Medical/Sexual Ethics, Special Moral Theology II: Christian Social Ethics.

c) Electives (6 units): Two electives courses chosen from outside the student’s area of concentration.
Excess concentration units may count as electives.


Probation Period

Before successfully completing eighteen (18) units of course work, the student is on academic probation status. He/she cannot enroll beyond the eighteen units until he/she has been approved for definitive acceptance to the MA-TS program by the Vice President for Academic Affairs upon the recommendation of the Admissions Committee. The bases for the definitive acceptance are the grades, the professors’ evaluations, proficiency in English, and at least one major research paper written in the MA-TS course work.  


Major Research Paper

The paper should conform to the following specifications: [1] it must be between 15-30 pages in length; [2] it must be formatted according to LST Style Manual based on Turabian, 6th edition]; [3] it must include footnotes and at least one full-page bibliography listing only the titles of books and articles that have actually been cited in the paper; [4] it must have received a grade of at least B (2.5).

Note: The sources of quotations and borrowed ideas must be fully acknowledged in the footnotes. Failure to do so is tantamount to plagiarism, which is penalized with a failing grade in the course and an appropriate sanction (Code of Discipline, pp. 9-10).

Students who are not approved for definitive acceptance are automatically dropped from the MA-TS program. However, they may shift to the non-thesis MA program.




MA-TS Comprehensive Examination

After completing his/her course work, the student must pass a written comprehensive examination. The student must be registered with the Ateneo de Manila University to take the comprehensive examination. Note: one cannot register for comprehensive examination while still on course work or still have an incomplete grade (INC) in his/her course work. The comprehensive examinations are scheduled once each semester and in the summer. Students who cannot take the comprehensive examination during the regular schedule must wait until the next examination period. Those who cannot complete the two parts of the examination at the schedule must repeat the entire comprehensive at the next examination period.

The two-part written examination is given on two successive Saturdays: Part I covers the foundation courses (Revelation-Faith; Christology; Ecclesiology; Fundamental Moral Theology; and Christian Worship); and Part II covers the courses the student has taken in his/her area of concentration. The two parts of the exams are graded separately. The passing grade for the comprehensive examination is 2.5 (B). In case of failure, only one retake is allowed. Students who fail the retake are dropped from the program unless, for special reason, the Standards and Degrees Committee recommends a second retake. In retake comprehensive examination, students need to repeat only the parts failed.

The STB dogma comprehensive examination may serve as the MA comprehensive examination for students taking both STB and MA-TS programs simultaneously. In this case, the student must be registered with both LST and the Ateneo to be able to take the comprehensive exam.


MA-TS Research Thesis

The MA-TS program requires a research thesis or its equivalent. The student must enroll for Thesis Direction every semester, for as long as he/she is engaged in thesis writing, until the semester the thesis will be defended.

a) MA-TS Thesis Proposal: Under the guidance of a mentor appointed by the
Vice President for Academic Affairs,  the student writes a thesis proposal. The proposal, which can serve as the first chapter of the thesis, should present and discuss the following: [1] The Problem of the Thesis; [2] Scope and Limitations; [3] The Significance of the Problem; [4] Methodology; [5] Definition of Key Terms; and [6] Basic Bibliography. The proposal (excluding bibliography) should normally not exceed 10 pages and should follow the LST Style Manual (based on Turabian, 6th edition). Once approved by the mentor, five (5) copies of the thesis proposal are submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs who appoints a panel of professors to examine it. On a date specified by the school the student defends his proposal before the panel.

The oral defense consists in [a] a clear presentation (for about 15 minutes) of the written proposal by the writer, covering the basic problem or theme of the thesis, its scope and limitation, its importance, and the basic sources (bibliography) and methods to be used; [b] each professor reviews the proposal with the writer through questions, suggestions, etc., usually for a period of 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon the particular needs of the proposal. The professors may offer brief written recommendations, analyses, suggestions, etc. to the writer, copies of which are also given to the mentor and the Office of the
Vice President for Academic Affairs.

b) MA-TS Thesis Writing: After the proposal has been approved by the panel, the student may now proceed to writing the thesis chapter by chapter. All throughout the writing of the thesis the student must seek the guidance of his/her mentor. Each chapter must be approved by the mentor one at a time.

An MA-TS thesis should be between 80 to 150 pages in length (excluding Bibliography). The thesis must conform to all the requirements of the Graduate School of the Ateneo de Manila University regarding form, style, and method of registration.

c) MA-TS Thesis Public Defense: When the whole thesis is finished and meets the approval of the mentor, it is submitted to the school. The
Vice President for Academic Affairs appoints a second reader, who, ideally, should come from the panel that examined the dissertation proposal. It is the task of the second reader to ascertain that the thesis is ready for public defense. He/she has the right to order any changes in the thesis he considers necessary for it to be truly ready for defense. In case of an unsolvable conflict between the second reader and mentor, an independent panel appointed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs will decide the issue.

After the second reader declares the thesis ready for defense, unbound copies of the thesis are submitted to two other readers who, together with the second reader, shall make up the panel of professors for the defense. A date for the defense is then scheduled. The readers assigned for the defense may ask for revisions of the thesis. The student should discuss these revisions with his mentor. In case of disagreement, readers and mentor should reach a suitable accommodation. Impasses may be resolved by the Standards and degrees Committee. After the successfully defending the thesis, the student must submit to the school two bound copies of the corrected and approved final edition of the dissertation.


Alternatives to the MA-TS Research Thesis

Besides the usual research thesis, the program offers three possible alternatives. With the approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, anyone of these may be substituted for the thesis.

a) Four Major Papers: The first alternative consists of four major papers and two additional 3-unit courses (to replace the 6 units assigned for thesis research). Each of the four papers must conform to the LST Style Manual based on Turabian, 6th edition. This alternative is approved principally for those who desire a broader, less narrowly specialized, technical formation, and who wish to deepen the work of four of their major courses while adding two additional courses. Recommended length of each paper is 15-30 pages. The four major papers ‘thesis’ does not need a thesis proposal defense.

The professor in whose course a major paper was written can suggest further changes and elaboration of the paper until the paper can be approved by him for inclusion in a four major paper "thesis". Under the guidance of an overall mentor chosen from among the professors who mentored the four major papers, the student writes a preface to introduce the four papers and a conclusion to recapitulate the main points of the papers. The overall mentor may still require whatever revisions he/she thinks are necessary before the four major papers can be submitted for public defense. The
Vice President for Academic Affairs appoints a second reader who should not have mentored two of the four major papers. It is the task of the second reader to ascertain that the four major papers are ready for public defense. He/she has the right to order any changes he considers necessary for them to be truly ready for defense. The rules and procedures governing MA thesis defense also apply to the four major papers.


b) Religious Education/Ministry Project: The second alternative is a religious education/ ministry project which, following the basic format of a thesis, concentrates on the effective communication of a particular doctrinal, moral, or pastoral response to a definite contextualized problem. This “project” substitutes for a thesis and is approved for those wishing to develop an applied, inculturated theology which responds more directly to the Philippine and Asian scene. The rules and procedures governing MA thesis proposal, writing, and public defense also apply to the religious education/ministry project.

c) Translation Work: The third alternative is a translation into a major Philippine language of an important Church document or a significant portion of a key theological work, together with a critical introduction. The choice of language presupposes that the school has the personnel who have enough theological and linguistic background to handle the project. The translation work does not need a thesis proposal defense, but all other rules and procedures governing MA thesis writing and public defense apply to translation work.