M.Th. Research Program

M.Th. Research Program

The M.Th. Research option is designed for the student that has a focused interest and the desire and drive to complete a guided research program. Wittenberg Institute connects students with scholars who provide direction with topic, significance, bibliographic sources, outline, reading, response and final submission and defense. This program is not intended to replace a course based degree program, rather to give another venue for students who have demonstrated competence in their field of study.

Current areas of interest to Wittenberg Institute thesis supervisors include: Old/New Testament, Dogmatics, Homiletics, Catechetics, Historical Theology, Reformation History, Missiology, Apologetics and Ethics.

The candidate must submit a Master’s Thesis of 30,000 – 40,000 words (120 – 160 pages), which addresses some topic, subject, or problem in a field of theological study as shown above and demonstrates a grasp of the literature and theological discipline required in the treatment of the chosen project. The Thesis should focus upon the required readings and research for the subject of study as determined by their supervisor. The Thesis should be analytically reflective of all required reading and research and provide a “unique” perspective on the specific subject being evaluated. The paper should be adequately footnoted and include a comprehensive bibliography and should be suitable for submission to a scholarly publication. All academic work must be completed by March 1st of the intended year of graduation. Your oral defense will be scheduled upon submission of your Thesis and recommendation from your advisor.

Students are required to attend a 1-week course in Research Methodologies and may schedule independent study in areas related to their thesis topic.

Wittenberg Institute will provide:

  • Remote access to JSTOR and Corpus Reformatorum databases.
  • In-Residence, Research Methodologies course (date and location TBA).
  • Connection to assigned supervisor for duration of program.
  • Printing and Binding of Thesis
  • Selection of best papers to be included in annual bound journal of the institute.
  • Faculty panel for public defense of thesis.

Student will provide:

  • Books and personal materials required for personal research.
  • Travel expenses for all required events

Supervisors will provide assistance with:

  • Bibliographic sources and research framework
  • Necessary reading list
  • Clarifying of Thesis topic and description of significance
  • Preparation of a Research Proposal to be turned into the Dean of the Institute
  • Outline and Proofreading of Thesis Chapters
  • Preparation of Oral Defense

Research Methodologies Course

This class will teach the techniques for gaining bibliographic ability over the literature and research material of theological subjects, as well as give attention to the planning, preparation, and writing of theses.

The object of the Research Methodologies class is for the student to understand the nature and purpose of research in the theological disciplines. The student should achieve understanding of research methodology applicable to a specific area of theological research study. The student should demonstrate utilization of correct bibliographic forms according to a selected style manual. The student should acquire sufficient knowledge of theological bibliography in various formats to complete appropriate research at the Master’s level Thesis. The student will employ correct thesis format and style according to the standards set by Wittenberg Institute.

Selected Reading List

The University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. 15th ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003. (Ref LB 2369 .C49x 2003)

Turabian, Kate L. A, Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Revised by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller, Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995).

John Warwick Montgomery, The Writing of Research Papers in Theology. (Canadian Institute for Law, Theology and Public Policy).

Residency and Research Papers

The student completes four intensive study units at approved venues chosen by the students. Each session should be at least two weeks in length. This is in addition to required attendance at the Research Methodologies course. A research paper of 1,750-2,500 words (7-10 pages) must be submitted for each intensive unit (four units) of study. Papers are evaluated by Wittenberg Institute faculty and an acknowledgment letter is sent to the student. If further development of the paper is necessary, the student will be notified by the Dean of the Institute of the necessary changes. Otherwise, students will be informed by the Dean of the Institute that the papers have been accepted or accepted with honors. All academic work must be completed before the thesis can be completed and defended.

Admission Requirements

Interested students should complete the online application and include: quality writing sample, references, thesis proposal (description, significance, preliminary outline and bibliography). Applications will not be considered if incomplete. Final acceptance will depend on aligning one of our research advisors with your intended course of study. Although some applicants and proposals may be worthy, there is no guarantee it will match with our advisors interests. Wittenberg Institute has sole discretion over assignment of advisors.

Tuition and Timeframe

Wittenberg Institute is committed to providing a quality research based Masters degree. The usual time frame for degree programs is a minimum of twelve months and a maximum of twenty-four months for completion.

Tuition: $6,800
Thesis Advisor: $1,200
No additional fees

Your travel and residential intensives are not included in the tuition. Payment must be made directly to the institution offering your intensives. Half of your tuition ($3,400) is due 45 days after your acceptance. The Thesis supervision fee is due prior to nomination of your Thesis Advisor. The remainder of your tuition is due upon submission of your thesis proposal.

Thesis Supervisor

First Option: The student may select a Faculty Fellow member of Wittenberg Institute to serve as Thesis Supervisor. This option enables the student to receive helpful and formative guidance and evaluative feedback from a member of the Faculty Fellows in the developmental process of producing the Master’s Thesis. The role of the Faculty Fellow Thesis Supervisor is to be guidance and evaluation. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The Faculty Fellow Thesis Supervisor must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Thesis Supervisor Report Form. The assessment from the Thesis Supervisor is due by March 1 of the intended year of graduation.

Selection of Faculty Thesis Supervisor and Nomination Procedure:

  1. The student chooses a supervisor from the Research Faculty Fellows Supervisor list provided below.
  2. The student completes the Faculty Thesis Supervisor Nomination Form and returns it to the Dean of the Institute.
  3. The Dean of the Institute provides the nominated faculty member with Form.
  4. The selected faculty member notifies the Dean of the Institute of acceptance of student nomination.
  5. The Dean of the Institute informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided.

Second Option: The student is at liberty to select a Thesis Supervisor who is not a Faculty Fellow of Wittenberg Institute. In that event, the Thesis Supervisor must hold a comparable degree to that being pursued by the student. The student must nominate the Thesis Supervisor by submitting a letter of nomination to the Foundation along with a C.V. of the nominee. The student is notified upon approval of the Thesis Supervisor by the Dean of the Institute. The Thesis Supervisor must give final approval of the student�������s work by submitting the Thesis Supervisor’s Report Form. The assessment from the Thesis Supervisor is due by March 1 of the intended year of graduation.

Research Faculty Fellow Thesis Supervisor List

Dr. Michael Albrecht –  Historical and Systematic Theology
Michael is pastor at St. James Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, MN and Editor of LOGIA Journal. Michael’s doctoral work was on the writings of Prof J.P. Koehler and the Wauwatosa Theology.

Dr. Adam Francisco – Missiology and Apologetics
Adam is Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary in Fr. Wayne, IN. Prior to joining the faculty in 2007 where he teaches Islamic studies in the PhD program as well as several graduate electives in Christian apologetics, he served as Assistant Professor of History at Concordia College–New York (2005–2007). Before that, he was the Albin Salton Fellow at University of London’s prestigious Warburg Institute (2004–2005). Dr. Francisco received his BA in Biblical Languages (2000) and MA in Reformation Theology (2001) from Concordia University (Irvine, California) and MSt (2003) and DPhil (2006) in Historical Theology and Christian-Muslim Relations from the University of Oxford.

Dr. Stephen Kennedy – Pastoral Theology and Ethics
Steve holds earned degrees from the University of Southern California (USC) (B.A. and Ph.D.) and Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Steve has taught at Trinity International Law School Santa Ana, CA; Northrise University Ndola, Zambia; Concordia University, Irvine, CA; Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA and the School of Business Administration, Georgetown University. Steve has also worked as a speechwriter, Policy Analyst and was a Congressional Fellow in Washington D.C.

Dr. Jack Kilcrease – Theology
Jack is a Lutheran lay-theologian and a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He grew up in Oregon and attended Luther College in Iowa (B.A. History and Religion) and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN (M.A. Doctrine and Theology). He graduated in 2009 from Marquette University with a Ph.D in systematic theology.  Among other honors, Dr. Kilcrease was recently invited to speak at the annual Symposium of the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Jack writes for many theological journals and has forthcoming books on Martin Luther, Bernard of Clairvaux and Gerhard Forde. Jack is an adjunct professor of theology at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI.

Dr. Jeff Mallinson – Philosophy of Religion and Epistemology
Jeff serves as Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett, WA. He earned his undergraduate degree in religion from Concordia University, Irvine, and his doctorate from the University of Oxford, where his studies, with advisor Alister McGrath, focused on religious epistemology in Reformation thought.

Dr. Mark C. Mattes – Theology
Mark is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Grand View College, Des Moines, IA. He is author of The Role of Justification in Contemporary Theology and is also coeditor of A More Radical Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism.  Mark is a highly sought after lecturer and the pre-eminent ELCA scholar in the area of Justification by Faith.

Dr. James A. Nestingen – Historical and Pastoral Theology
Jim is Professor of Church History Emeritus at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized Luther scholar as well as a popular speaker and lecturer.  Nestingen is the author of numerous books and studies, including The Faith We Hold and co-editor of Sources and Contexts of the Book of Concord.

Dr. Rod Rosenbladt – Apologetics and Theology
Rod is a Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Irvine in Irvine, CA, and is also well-known among Lutheran, Reformed and Evangelical Christians as the co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The White Horse Inn”.

Dr. Stephen Turnbull – Bible and Preaching
Steve serves as the senior pastor at First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota and as adjunct Professor of New Testament at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.  He is a graduate of The College of Wooster (B.A.), Luther Seminary (M.Div.), and Duke University (Ph.D.).  Steve’s primary research and teaching interests are in the fields of Biblical Theology and Preaching.

Graduation Requirements

  1. Completion of all necessary application and thesis proposal forms.
  2. Payment of tuition.
  3. Completion of four intensive study units at Trinity Lutheran College (or other approved venues).
  4. Submission of four academic response papers of 1,750-2,500 words (7-10 pages) on topics related to the units completed and submission of transcripts for the academic credit taken.
  5. Selection of a Thesis Supervisor.
  6. Completion of a Master’s Thesis of 35,000-40,000 words (140- 160 pages) and submission of one electronic and one hard copy including the Thesis Supervisor’s evaluation forms by March 1 prior to graduation.