All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) - Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree Completion Program


The GTF has developed an accelerated completion program designed specifically for those individuals who have reached the All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) level at a graduate school of an accredited seminary or university. All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) indicates incompletion. According to statistical reports of the various state and government agencies monitoring higher education in the United States, there is an inordinately high percentage of individuals who fail to complete their Ph.D. work after having successfully sustained the doctoral qualifying examinations, completed language requirements, and fulfilled residency coursework. The phenomenon is particularly and disturbingly high in the cognate fields of theology and religious studies.  The A.B.D. Doctor of Philosophy degree completion program of the GTF is an attempt to address this issue. 

The degree may be completed in no less than twelve months and no more than three years. 
Would you like to hear from an alumnus? Click here

++Return to top

Admission Requirements

The program is built around the integrity of the graduate work completed up to, but not including, the successful completion of the thesis.  Any All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) applicant must meet the following criteria in order to be accepted into the program and defined as a Ph.D. candidate:
  1. Appropriate undergraduate and graduate degrees which allow for the pursuit of doctoral work.
  2. Completion of all residency requirements for the Ph.D. at a graduate school of religious studies, seminary, or university.
  3. Fulfillment of language requirements, if applicable, in compliance with the
    degree being pursued.
  4. Passing of any and all Ph.D. qualifying examinations in preparation for the writing of the thesis.
  5. Demonstration of good standing at previous All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) institution.
  6. Completion of the Application Procedure.

++Return to top

Program Requirements

Individuals designated as All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) who transfer their credits and records into the All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) program of the GTF must fulfill the following requirements:
  1. Nomination and approval of a Thesis Supervisor.
  2. Submission and approval of thesis proposal. 
  3. Submission of one electronic copy of the thesis and required forms (abstract, personal biography, cover sheet, Thesis Supervisor Report Form).
  4. Successful defense of the thesis before Foundation faculty in Indiana or our satellite defense locations, or at Oxford during the Oxford Theology Summer School.  (Students in the A.B.D. program are not required to attend graduation, but are welcome to do so.)

++Return to top

Total Program Cost:  $11,650
Degree candidates are bound by the regulations of the Student Handbook of the year in which they are accepted into their program of study. Tuition fees will not change during a student’s course of study, providing the student submits payments and papers on schedule and completes the degree program within the prescribed time. If the student does not conform to scheduled payment and/or paper submission deadlines, the student’s file will be deactivated. Upon reactivation, the student will be responsible for the tuition and degree requirements which are current at the time of reactivation.
Tuition payment schedule for Academic Doctorates
1/3 of total fees paid within 30 days of acceptance
1/3 of total fees paid within one year of the date of acceptance
1/3 of total fees paid prior to scheduling of the doctoral defense
Payment Plan Option
Students who are unable to make tuition payments in three installments may request to be placed on a payment plan.  The payment plan option allows the student to make small monthly or quarterly tuition payments for the duration of the degree program.  There is no interest charged on payment plans.  If a student requests a mailed invoice as a reminder to make payment, there is a ten dollar fee per invoice.
To make tuition and fee payments online click here
If you have a question for the Bursar please click here or contact our office 9am-3pm EST. 

After completing all coursework, candidates undertake the research and writing of a doctoral thesis of 45,000-60,000 words (180-240 pages) in their field of specialization. It must be clearly a work of original academic scholarship making a contribution to the field of specialty. The thesis must be written in 12 point Times New Roman (or comparable) font, double-spaced and with the appropriate table of contents and bibliography. 
The basic commitment of the Graduate Theological Foundation is to serve the ministries of the various ecclesial traditions through programs of advanced professional education. The thesis, as the culminating work of the highest academic degree, must always relate significantly to some aspect of ministry and be an original and distinct contribution to the knowledge of a specific discipline or area of inquiry.
The thesis is shaped as a written work of original systematic research, which includes the substantive exposition of the theoretical basis and rationale of the subject, together with a demonstration of familiarity with the appropriate scholarly and professional literature. It should be noted that the written form of theses is to be in the style of actual scholarly publications; that is, the thesis as finally submitted is to be suitable for publication without being rewritten.
When the thesis in its final form has been reviewed and approved by the student’s Thesis Supervisor, it must be submitted to the GTF for final review and for forwarding to defense panel members.  One copy of the thesis, abstract, cover sheet and biographical statement must be submitted by email to the Office of the Registrar a minimum of three months prior to the intended date of defense.  Click here to fill out the form to request the email address of The Office of the Registrar.  After receiving both the completed thesis and the Thesis Supervisor Report Form, the GTF will appoint two additional readers, as the thesis is a demonstration of the capacity of the candidate to engage in significant professional scholarship and thus be a peer to other scholars in the field. 

Thesis Style Statement
There are several internationally recognized thesis styles acceptable in the academic community. In light of the fact that the Foundation has a rather large international student body, the Foundation has not adopted a single style form acceptable for thesis writing. The GTF will, rather, accept any of the internationally recognized styles, given that the student consistently employs the same style throughout the writing of the thesis. Those most commonly used but not required include Turabian, MLA, APA, as well as others known and recognized universally.

Thesis Supervision

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.

  • The student peruses the Faculty Details page and makes a selection.
  • The student completes the Faculty Thesis Supervisor Nomination Form 106 (Forms).
  • Academic Affairs provides the nominated faculty member with Form 106.
  • The selected faculty member notifies Academic Affairs of acceptance of student nomination.
  • Academic Affairs informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided. 

Thesis Proposal
The candidate will submit a thesis proposal to the GTF. This will be the first working document generated from the relationship between the candidate and the Thesis Supervisor. The proposal will include a brief description of the proposed thesis, a working title, and an exemplary bibliography. A form for this proposal is provided by the GTF.

Doctoral Abstract
The Ph.D. candidate must submit a 750-1,250 word (3-5 page) overview of the Ph.D. thesis at least three months prior to sitting for the oral defense. A one-page biographical statement should accompany the abstract.

Doctoral Committee
Every student admitted into an academic doctoral program, either the Ph.D. or the Th. D., will be assigned a Doctoral Committee prior to the scheduling of the doctoral defense.  The members of the committee are as follows
  • Thesis Supervisor
  • Two Faculty Readers
  • Two Defense Panel members
  • Defense Chair
These six individuals are not asked to agree with the observations or conclusions drawn by the doctoral candidate in the thesis, but the committee must finally concur that the thesis is worthy of scholarly recognition based on traditional standards of scholarship, research and presentation. 
To read a full description of the Academic Doctoral Committee, members, roles, procedures, etc., please click here.

Doctoral Oral Defense
The doctoral defense will be scheduled no sooner than 90 days and no longer than 180 days from the time that all academic and financial obligations have been met. You will be notified by the Office of the Registrar of your eligibility to schedule a defense after the following have been received by the Office of the Registrar:
  • Thesis Proposal
  • Thesis Cover Sheet
  • Abstract and Biographical Statement
  • Thesis Supervisor Report Form answering the six key points within the thesis (this form is mailed directly to our offices by the Thesis Supervisor)
  • One electronic copy of the thesis (PDF or MS Word format)
For scheduling procedures click here.

All But Dissertation Transfers
Current students in, and graduates of, the GTF All But Dissertation (A.B.D.) program have transferred from the following institutions:
  • American University
  • The Angelicum (The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas)
  • California Institute of Integral Studies
  • City University of New York
  • Columbia University
  • Drew University
  • Duke University
  • Duquesne University
  • Fordham University
  • George Mason University
  • Hebrew Union College
  • Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver
  • Loyola College
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Michigan State University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Seton Hall University
  • St. Louis University
  • Touro University
  • University of Bridgeport
  • University of Denver
  • University of Malta
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Saint Thomas, Rome, Italy
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Wyoming
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Walden University

 ++Return to top