M.A. (Historical Theology) Thesis Guidelines

Updated November, 2020


  1. The general style guide for M. A. theses is the  Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2017).
  2. The thesis format and bibliographical guidelines of the Chicago Manual should be followed unless they are revised, modified, or clarified by this document.
  3. If you are unsure of any of the format requirements, be sure to check with your advisor before you submit your final draft for evaluation by your advisor and reader.
  4. Works not conforming to these standards will be rejected.
  5. A thesis may not exceed 30,000 words.
  6. Front and back matter are not included in calculating the length of the thesis.
  7. Back matter ordinarily includes charts, graphics, and pictures. More extensive materials should be included only after consulting the thesis advisor.
  8. Bibliographic footnotes are not included in calculating the length of the thesis.
  9. The rule of thumb for all questions: remember the reader.
  10. Spelling should conform to American practice.
  11. The thesis is due at 10:00 AM, ten business days
    before the last day of classes in the semester in which the thesis is begun.
  12. The thesis defense shall be conducted in public during the final exam period at a date and time established by the faculty advisor in consultation with the faculty reader.
  13. The defense shall consist of an oral summary of the main argument of the thesis and a response to questions from the faculty.


  1. The thesis must be on unlined white 8 1/2″ x I 1″ 20lb. paper or better (e.g., 22 lb., 92 brightness).
  2. The final draft submitted to the faculty evaluation should be printed on a laser printer at no less than 600 dpi.
  3. The font size must be 12 points for text. Footnotes may be as small as 9 points.
  4. The text of the thesis should be in a serif typeface (e.g., Times New Roman, 12 points). Headings and sub-headings should be in the same typeface as the text of the text of the thesis.
  5. The text of the thesis must be double-spaced.
  6. Each chapter should begin on a new page.
  7. The thesis should be printed on only one side of the paper.
  8. No compromises in the format of the thesis are permitted.
  9. Two final copies of the thesis must be submitted, one for each faculty reader.
  10. The copy submitted to the faculty for final evaluation may be bound in the following bindings: coil, wire or tape.
  11. Upon approval by the faculty readers and successful defense, the M.A. thesis must be submitted to the bindery and a copy of the receipt for the thesis must be presented to the director of the Historical Theology program before graduation. See the library director for direction.
  12. One final copy of the thesis must be presented, within 60 days of the defense, in a library binding for accession in the WSC library.
  13. Place the preliminary pages in the following order only.
    1. Title page.
    2. Dedication (optional).
    3. Abstract.
    4. Table of Contents.
    5. List of Illustrations (if needed).
    6. List of Tables (if needed).
    7. List of Abbreviations (if needed).
    8. Preface or Acknowledgements (optional).
  14. Page Numbering
    1. Assign an Arabic number to every page of the
      thesis proper.
    2. The preliminary pages should be numbered with
      lower-case Roman numerals.
    3. The page number should appear in the upper right-hand corner.
    4. Assign a number to the title page but do not
      print it on the title page.
    5. Use the same typeface as the text of the thesis
  15. Margins
    1. The left margin should be 1.5 inches; the other margins should be 1 inch.
    2. Do not, for any reason, type anything in these margins. Margins of this size are needed so that the thesis can be properly bound.
  16. Abbreviations
    1. Avoid abbreviations wherever possible.
    2. If you use abbreviations on your footnotes and/or bibliography, you must include a list of those actually used in a “List of Abbreviations Used” in the preliminary pages of your thesis (see above).
    3. NB: Do not use a period after these abbreviations.
  17. Headers
    1. A short title of each chapter should appear in the header.
    2. Headings should be centered.
    3. Sub-heads may be used sparingly throughout the text of the thesis. They should be flush left. Text following a sub-head should also be flush left.
    4. Headers should appear in the same typeface as the text of the thesis.


    1. You must use the following format correctly and consistently throughout your thesis.
    2. Endnotes are not permitted.
    3. MLA in-text references (author, date) and MLA footnotes are not permitted.
    4. Each footnote must be marked by a superscript nine point Arabic numeral, e.g., 9.
    5. For style guidelines for traditional footnotes see the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
    6. All footnotes must be placed at the bottom of the page with a separator line.
    7. Footnote numbers, below the separator line, should not be superscript.
    8. Guides: Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition
    9. Citation examples:
      1. Michael S. Horton, Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama (Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 77.
      2. D. G. Hart, “Poems, Propositions, and Dogma: The Controversy Over Religious Language and the Demise of Theology in American Learning,” Church History 57 (1998): 310–21.
      3. R. Scott Clark, “The Authority of Reason in the Later Reformation: Scholasticism in Caspar Olevian and Antoine de la Faye,” in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment, ed. Carl R. Trueman and R. Scott Clark (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1999).

    4. VITA

    1. The last page of the thesis must include a  curriculum vitae.
    2. This page should not be numbered.
    3. The vita should include information about the author’s life (date of birth, marriage), ordination, and/or ecclesiastical membership, education (degrees, dates, thesis or dissertation titles), publications, and academic awards.


    1. Westminster students are on their honor to give appropriate credit for all works quoted or used.
    2. Any thesis submitted found to be guilty of plagiarism shall receive a failing grade and any student found guilty of plagarism is liable to all the sanctions stipulated in the WSC Student Handbook.
    3. Questions about plagiarism should be referred to the faculty advisor and the WSC student handbook.


    1. The bibliography must include two parts:
      1. Primary Sources
      2. Secondary Sources
    2. The bibliography should be single-spaced with 6 points between each entry.
    3. Each entry should have a hanging indent.
    4. The Bibliography may be followed by appendices, maps, or other back matter.


    1. Do not orphan indented quotations.
    2. Indented block quotations should be double-spaced to allow comment by the readers.
    3. In historical writing, please use the past tense where possible.
    4. Include your name and contact information on all draft submissions to your faculty advisor.
    5. It is wise to submit chapters the advisor  seriatim rather than all at once.
    6. Smart quotation marks are preferred over straight quotation marks.
    7. Substantive arguments should be retained in the text of the thesis. Content footnotes are discouraged.


    (Must conform exactly to the example)

    (14 pt caps, 1.5 inches/108 points from the top of the page)

    (if any) (12 pt text followed by 12 points/two lines)

    (followed by 12 points/two lines)

    Author Name
    (followed by 2 inches/144 points)

    A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of
    (followed by 12 points/two lines

    (in caps followed by 12 points/two lines)

    in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree
    (followed by 12 points/two lines)

    MASTER OF ARTS (Historical Theology)
    (followed by 12 points/two lines)

    Year (of graduation)
    (followed by 18 points/three lines)

    Faculty Advisor


    Typed Name
    Faculty Reader


    Typed Name

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