Doctor of Pastoral Music Thesis Requirements

D.P.M. Thesis Requirements (Approved: September 2018)

The Doctor of Pastoral Music thesis is the culmination of the degree. Students will complete their course of study by preparing a document that reflects the specific understanding of music and arts within their ministry situation, including liturgy, faith formation, and performative skills, and demonstrating a missional understanding and contextual analysis of their ministry in the broader community.

The thesis may take several forms including, but not limited to, the following: a) an original musical composition or other creative project designed for the student’s ministry location in a church, or other institution, and community; b) a theological document that deepens the student's awareness of their congregation's contextual and social situation and offers strategies for ministry in the community; c) a musicological analysis that includes reflection on the historical context, theological insights, social location analysis, and performative implications of a particular work within the student's ministry situation; d) a curriculum design in church music and the arts for those whose ministry includes an educational setting; e) the evaluation of a program or aspects of a program initiated by the student that establishes a link between the student’s congregation and the community.

The thesis length for the Applied Pastoral Music Practicum should be between 12,500 to 18,750 words (50-75) pages, or the equivalent in case of a musical composition; the thesis length for the Academic Pastoral Music Practicum should be between 18,750 to 24,000 words (75-100 pages). In both cases, the thesis topic should be developed through an approved thesis prospectus in consultation with the Director of the D.P.M. Degree Program and/or the thesis advisor. The preparation of the prospectus takes place during CM 9696 Pastoral Music Practicum. For the Applied Pastoral Music Practicum, the prospectus should submitted no later than February 1 of the student’s third year of study. For the Academic Pastoral Music Practicum, the prospectus should submitted no later than September 15 of the student’s third year of study and a portion of the thesis must be presented to an appropriate constituency or published in an appropriate source to be determined in consultation with the thesis advisor. The prospectus in a revised form may become the first chapter of the thesis.

CM 9398 Doctor of Pastoral Music Thesis will be taken in the January or May term of the student’s fourth year of study though work on the thesis may commence at any time after the prospectus is approved. Students must submit their thesis by the deadline for all written work of the term in which they are registered for CM 9398. CM 9398 is not eligible for an extension or incomplete unless the student faces extenuating circumstances. Such exceptions are rare and may be granted only after a petition in writing to the Director of the D.P.M. Program. If the thesis is not submitted and an exception is not granted, the student will receive a grade of F for the course and must register for the course again in a future term in order to submit the thesis.

The process involves the following:

  1. Invite and secure the agreement of a faculty member to serve as thesis advisor. The thesis advisor should be selected no later than the beginning of the third year of the program and must be secured in order to prepare a prospectus. Depending on the subject of the thesis, the student will invite a second SMU faculty member or a mutually agrees upon second reader from another institution. Together the thesis advisor and second reader constitute the thesis committee. In some instances, the faculty advisor and the student may find that it is helpful to add a third reader because of the expertise needed to evaluate the project.
  2. Meet with the thesis advisor to discuss the thesis topic. Complete and sign a Thesis Proposal Form, gather the necessary signatures, and submit it to the Director of the D.P.M. Program by the deadline, February 1, of the student’s third year of study.
  3. Consult with the thesis advisor as needed to further develop the thesis proposal with a rationale and a bibliography. Establish a timeline for completing a well-researched and edited thesis.
  4. Submit drafts to the thesis advisor for editing and discuss improvements. The editing process continues until the thesis advisor indicates the thesis is ready for review by the other faculty member serving as reader.
  5. Submit the completed thesis to the advisor and reader no later than December 1 for the following January term or April 1 for the following May term in which the student is registered for CM 9398. The thesis committee will evaluate the student’s submission and schedule an oral hearing to be conducted in person or through electronic communication.
  6. Following the submission of the thesis and the oral defense, the thesis advisor will communicate the decision of the committee as to the student in the following categories:
    • PASS with distinction. (The committee must be unanimous to receive this level of recognition.)
    • PASS with no further emendations or corrections.
    • PASS with minor modifications.
    • FAIL.
  7. Submit an electronic copy of the completed and approved thesis to the Director of the D.P.M. Program.