When degrees first began to be awarded by universities in the twelfth century in Bologna, Paris, and Oxford, the doctor’s degree was recognized as a universal authentication of scholarship. The doctorate was not earned by attending classes but by sustained residency and demonstrated scholarship. The credential was awarded by the faculty of the university on the basis of a thesis which was submitted by the candidate and followed by an oral defense of the document before the gathered academic community.
Times have changed but much of the doctoral process has endured. The Graduate Theological Foundation requires a demonstration of academic research considered by the faculty to be an original work of scholarship and a contribution to the field. After the doctoral candidate has completed residency and language requirements (if required), the development of the thesis is initiated under the direct supervision of the Thesis Supervisor.
The Thesis Supervisor, in this style of learning, is specifically mandated to work closely with the candidate in the development of the thesis topic and through its evolving refinements leading to the finished product. The Thesis Supervisor is nominated by the candidate and approved Academic Affairs Committee, on the basis of academic qualifications at the doctoral level of training and experience.
Selection of Faculty Thesis Supervisor and Nomination Procedure
Students select a faculty member of the GTF to serve as Thesis Supervisor. This enables the student to receive helpful and pragmatic evaluative feedback from a member of the faculty in the developmental process of producing the doctoral thesis. The role of the faculty Thesis Supervisor is responsive and suggestive. The faculty person is encouraged to limit feedback to pragmatically helpful hints and suggestions and not to attempt any censorship of the thesis. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The faculty Thesis Supervisor must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Thesis Supervisor Report Form.
A study by University of Sydney (2004) on factors affecting research experience of higher education students, indicated that the highest satisfaction in graduate students about thesis writing process was for supervision quality and students' skills development (). Another study by University of Edinburgh showed that there was high satisfaction with thesis supervision in students, but it had decreased in comparison with the previous year ().
You Are Here: Thesis Supervision
The two supervisors and the day-to-day supervisor constitute the so-called Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), which takes all relevant decisions such as the approval or rejection of the proposal defence, which usually takes place after the drafting of the research design, i.e., six to eight months after acceptance into the Research School. The TAC is also responsible, where applicable, for the approval of fieldwork plans. The doctoral student shall meet at least every half year with all members of his or her TAC in order to report on and seek guidance and feedback regarding the research of the previous six-month period and the research planned for the upcoming half year. A written progress report to the TAC is due every year.