Student enrolled in American International Theology University doctoral program is required to submit a dissertation to satisfy this important part of the requirements to complete his/her degree. This manuscript is the most critical requirement of the doctoral program because it is a permanent record of the creative effort or independent research that will give a student his or her degree. The best professional practice and academic tradition require this University to share and preserve the student’s work with other academics and scholars. In order to do that successfully, we must uphold high standards of scholarship, and we must require that every student meets those standards.
Passing the Comprehensive Examination
Students intending to pursue doctoral degrees must take and passed a comprehensive examination after they have completed their non-dissertation courses, because it is a pre- requisite of the dissertation courses. One of the purposes of this examination is to sufficiently assess students’ full knowledge on the dissertation title they wish to research.
Students should come up with a dissertation that makes an original and significant contribution to the field of study. Students can explore previously neglected primary sources, undertake an interpretation of existing literature or original theoretical analysis, or use primary material to develop their own critique of past and current scholarly arguments. Simply reviewing the books and scholarly articles and materials which students have collected about the topic is not enough. The dissertation should exhibit that students can collect research evidence and consider a particular problem or topic in detail, and also that they understand how their chosen topic supports or debunks the works other scholars have done in the field. The review of related literature should demonstrate how the works of others on the same topic relate to each other and where the students’ own work is positioned. In addition, the analysis should demonstrate an awareness of what other researchers and scholars have already said and the implications of their positions and views for the dissertation.
Writing the Dissertation
American International Theology University requires all doctoral students to strictly follow the guidelines of the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) format, including guidelines on headings, spacing, margins, typeface, number of pages, citation and reference style, rules in the usage of graphs, figures, tables, and so forth. Doctoral students as well as their dissertation supervisors and examiners should carefully consult and rigorously adhere to the APA Handbook. Students should not use other handbooks except with the permission of their supervisors. If students have not prepared a dissertation
draft using an approved APA handbook, the Dissertation Committee will return the manuscript unread and will ask that reference lists, citations, and other matters regarding format be revised before the examiners proceed to work with the dissertation. In addition, students are expected to uphold high standards of research ethics, including honesty and integrity in coding, collecting, and analyzing data. As to the length of the dissertation, this University has no specific requirement. All dissertations must be in English. American International Theology University expects that every dissertation is an original work. Plagiarism is a ground for failing the doctoral program; the University may also apply more serious sanctions if circumstances warrant them. Students are responsible to understand the concept and consequences of plagiarism. In order to avoid plagiarism, the University strictly requires the students to use the APA style of documentation that requires the author-date style of documentation. All references cited in the text must be included in the reference list at the end of the manuscript.
Preliminary Acceptance of the Dissertation
Before the dissertation is sent to the Dissertation Committee, members of the doctoral supervisory committee shall declare to the dissertation supervisor either: (1) that the work is of adequate quality and substance to warrant that it is ready to be read and reviewed by external examiners, and that the doctoral student is prepared to proceed to the oral defense; or (2) that the work is unsatisfactory, and that the doctoral student is not prepared to proceed to the final oral defense. This preliminary acceptance of student dissertation must be conducted to protect and maintain the reputation of the doctoral programs and this University for excellence in online education. If the supervisory committee considers a dissertation ready for examination by external members, the supervisory committee must complete and sign a form stating the preliminary acceptance of the dissertation to be forwarded to the Academic Unit graduate program designate, who must then complete and submit the same form before external examiners are invited to read and examine the dissertation, and before the scheduled oral defense.
The Dissertation Committee is comprised of two qualified external members (that is, research active). The third committee member is usually a member of the Charisma University research staff. The dissertation supervisor, in collaboration with the doctoral student, is responsible in forming the Committee. The dissertation supervisor will present the proposed dissertation committee members or external examiners to the Charisma University’s Dissertation Council before the proposal defense. The Dissertation Council will then review the application and make a recommendation to the Dean of the applicable college, who will make the final decision whether the proposed external members are of acceptable standard. The decision is based on three criteria: (1) The member is an expert in the specific area that the doctoral student is focused on, with a strong academic record of high quality works and publications related to the topic. (2) The member normally has successfully graduated their own doctoral students. (3) The member is normally from a department that grants doctorate’s degrees. Once approved, the Dean will send a letter to the external members or examiners, inviting them to take on the external role. They can be included in the oral defense using virtual technology.
Once the Dissertation Committee deems that the student is prepared to defend his or her work, the supervisor will send the oral defense form to the applicable Dean, indicating the defense teleconference date and those invited, including the Dissertation Council, the committee members, faculty members and graduate students in the appropriate department. In the oral defense, the graduate student participates in a real-time conference with the committees and other guests. The telephone conference call is the standard manner of conferencing. During the oral defense, Committee members present focus questions related to the research. The presentation of each focus question should take about one minute. The doctoral student will reply to each question. He or she responds in five minutes. Committee members may provide follow-up questions to the student. Each follow-up question should take a minute for presentation. The student replies to each follow-up question in not more than three minutes. Under special circumstances, alternative methods of oral defense are more appropriate than telephone conference. The supervisor can arrange acceptable alternatives such as videoconferences or electronic chat room, rapid exchanges of e-mail, or face-to-face conferences. Under very rare conditions, dissertation defense may be completed by fax or post. Following the completion of the oral defense at which the student passes the dissertation, the candidate makes the needed revisions and submits the approved dissertation within the timelines established by the examination committee, and the Dissertation Committee. If the student fails to submit the final copy and the necessary forms on or before the approved time limit, he or she may not be considered for graduation. After the Dissertation Committee receives the completed dissertation and forms indicating that the student has passed the dissertation and the oral examination it endorses the candidate.