II. GDRSA: Graduate Division of Religion Student Association

Student government plays an important role in advocating for student needs.

About the GDRSA
The Graduate Division of Religion Student Association (GDRSA) is the official organization and representative body for GDR students. It plays a number of important roles. It provides financial support to students attending conferences. It provides a forum for international student concerns. It organizes social events for GDR students (notably, the end-of-year GDR party). It represents GDR students at the Theological School faculty meeting and on certain committees, such as the Academic Standing Committee.

Conference travel reimbursement
Students are encouraged to attend professional conferences throughout their graduate career. They are also to present papers at such conferences, particularly in the latter stages of their studies. Funding is made available through the Drew student activities and theological student funds to support graduate student travel to professional conferences. Reimbursement is not automatic, however, and not guaranteed.

Visit the GDRSA Conference Fund web site to learn how to submit a reimbursement request.

The GDRSA leadership consists of two Co-Chairs, an Administrative Officer, and a Financial Officer. Elections for these positions are held each spring. Those with an interest in serving are urged to submit themselves as candidates.

Serving as a GDRSA officer is highly recommended, especially for students interested in pursuing an academic career once they obtain their degree. Working in student government will provide you with a window on the “inner workings” of university and faculty life and hence a deeper understanding of both. It will richly complement classroom learning. You will get to know more faculty and administrators than you would otherwise, and they in turn will get to know you. And it will also look very good on your CV!

[return to contents]      [see Regulations Section VI]

III. Degree Requirements

Knowing what will be required of you as you work toward your degree is the first crucial step in obtaining that degree. Be sure you understand all the requirements for your program. Pay very close attention to the regulations concerning time limits and leaves of absence!

General Degree Requirements

Master of Philosophy
Essentially, the M.Phil degree is a milestone on the way to the Ph.D. (It is not a free-standing degree program within the GDR.) It is awarded to Ph.D. candidates who have satisfactorily completed all of the requirements for the Ph.D. except those relating directly to the dissertation. In other words, most Ph.D. students who have passed their comprehensive exams obtain the M.Phil. Note that in some cases, where a student’s performance in the program has not been strong enough to demonstrate the ability to write and defend a dissertation successfully, that student may be awarded a “terminal M.Phil” and exit from the PhD program at that point.

Doctor of Philosophy
Completion of two years of course work (12 courses, 36 credits), meeting the minimum grade point average requirement.

Demonstration of a scholar’s reading competence in the foreign languages required by the student’s area.

Passing of comprehensive examinations.

Completion of two semesters of dissertation research (18 credits), an approved scholarly dissertation, and its oral defense. (Translated, what “completion of two semesters of dissertation research” means is that a Ph.D. student will not be allowed to graduate unless he or she has registered for DISST 998 and DISST 999, two semesters at full tuition.)

Full time students carry 3 courses (9 credits) per semester.
Half-time students carry 2 courses (6 credits) per semester.
Part-time students carry 1 course (3 credits) per semester.
NOTE: In order to receive Federal financial aid, a student must be registered for at least 6 credits per semester and/or maintaining matriculation FULL TIME. Scholarships are not applied to a student’s financial aid package if s/he is in matriculation status.

Time limits for earning the Ph.D.
Pay very close attention to the regulations concerning time limits and leaves of absence! Serious practical problems begin to arise when students exceed those limits. International students, for example, risk losing their visa status, and all students risk being asked to vacate Drew housing (if living on campus). Students on leaves of absence, meanwhile, even when such leaves are unavoidable, become liable, in the eyes of the U.S. federal government, to begin repayment of student loans. Moving from full-time to part-time status may also make you liable for such repayment. Avoid costly surprises!

Above all, avoid being withdrawn from the PhD program altogether because you have run out of time.  All requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must be completed within a period of seven years. It is entirely possible, however, and highly desirable, to complete the degree in five years. Refer to the chart on the following two pages for a closer look at time limits and details.

[return to contents]        [see Regulations Section VIISection IX;  and Section XI]


Detailed Timetable for Earning the Ph.D. (full-time)

Fall Semester Spring Semester Summer
Year One Register for three courses (9 credits) Register for three courses (9 credits) Prepare for language exam; take exam in August
Must pass one language exam before second year of course work can begin. If necessary, instead of registering for the third semester of course work, students may register for TP01F 001 Maintaining Matriculation, 1st Lang Prep., a semester that may be used for language study. Ideally, however, both language exams would be passed well before the end of the final semester of course work. A good strategy to ensure this is to prepare for the first language examination before matriculating in the program, so that the first language examination might be passed during the first year of study.
Year Two Register for three courses (9 credits) Register for three courses (9 credits) If not already completed, prepare for second language exam; take exam in August
Must pass second language exam before petition for comprehensive exams can be submitted. If necessary, students may register for TP02F 001 Maintaining Matriculation, 2nd Lang Prep., another semester that may be used for language study. There is still another semester beyond that which may be devoted to language, TP03F 001 Maintaining Matriculation, P.T., Lang Prep., but it entails transferring to part-time status. The latter two options are discouraged, as failure to complete language requirements before the third year of full-time study usually proves to be a significant obstacle to successful completion of the degree. As already indicated, attempt to complete one exam before concluding the first year of study, so that a second language exam can be taken in the second year of full-time study.
Year Three Register for P03F 001
Maintaining Matriculation,
Comp. Exam. Prep., 1st semester.
Submit the petition form detailing your planned slate of comprehensive exams. Take at least one,
but preferably two, exams this fall.
Register for P04F 001
Maintaining Matriculation,
Comp. Exam. Prep., 2nd`semester. Take your remaining comp exams this spring.
Begin to put your dissertation prospectus together.
Cautionary note: The Academic Standing Committee only meets once a month and not at all between June and September. Plan the submission of your comp exam petition and proposals carefully, therefore, allowing adequate time. If needed, P05F 001 Maintaining Matriculation, F.T., Comp. Exam Prep, Additional Semester I is available with advisor’s approval and written permission from the Associate Academic Dean. In special cases it may be repeated, but only with the approval of the Academic Standing Committee. Beyond even that is P05P 001 Maintaining Matriculation, P.T., Comp. Exam Prep., Additional Semester II, although it entails transferring to part-time status.Also note that scholarships do not cover maintaining matriculation fees. These fees are only a fraction the cost of full tuition, however.
Year Four Register for P06F 001
Maintaining Matriculation, F.T.,
Diss. Prosp. Prep., 1st semester.
Write your dissertation prospectus and obtain approval from the Prospectus Committee
Register for DISST 998.
Begin writing your dissertation in earnest.
Continue to work on your dissertation
Two semesters of dissertation prospectus preparation are permitted. Notwithstanding the challenges of producing the prospectus, however, it is a short document (approx. 12 pp.) and students should aim to complete it and obtain approval within one semester.Note that during the “dissertation year” (which begins with DIST 998) students are required to pay full tuition, just as in the two years of coursework. Scholarships extend to this tuition, however.
Year Five Register for DISST 999.
Continue to work on your dissertation
Register for P 08F 001
Maintaining Matriculation, F.T.,
After Dissertation-year Work 1.
Complete your dissertation and defend it.
Graduate at the May Commencement!

IV. Courses

Talk to your advisor, be sure you know what courses your degree requires and that you plan your course schedule to accommodate them. Talk to your advisor often!

Course numbers and what they mean
In general, courses bearing numbers from 100 to 699 and prefaced with abbreviations for one of the Theological School’s five divisions, namely, BIBST, CHIST, THEPH, CHSOC, or PASTH are offered primarily for students in the Theological School’s masters degree programs. Courses numbered in the 700s and 800s, and prefaced with BIBST, CHIST, THEPH, RLSOC, or INTEC (the latter reserved for interdisciplinary seminars), are offered primarily for Ph.D. students.  Note, however, that some courses have two numbers and so are pitched to both masters and Ph.D. students.  In other cases, the number may simply be misleading: perhaps a professor has taught the course at a masters level in the past but now plans to offer it as a doctoral seminar without changing the number.  A better indicator of the intended audience of a course is whether it appears on the GDR course listing, the TS course listing, or both.  The best indicator of all is the professor’s word!

Note that the GDR is increasingly trying to limit the number of Ph.D.-targeted seminars.  That may sound like a bad thing, but the goal is to strengthen the doctoral programming, first, by ensuring that there is a critical mass of doctoral students in each of those seminars and, second, by encouraging interdisciplinarity.  (If there are three courses offered in your own field each semester, you are much less likely to venture outside that field.)  So do try to gravitate toward those doctoral seminars, both in your own Area and in other GDR Areas, when you choose your courses!  In particular, check out the interdisciplinary seminars, of which there will usually be one each semester.

Will all fifteen or so seminars that have been identified as primarily for PhD students in a given semester be populated solely by GDR students?  No.  A few might be. More typically, such seminars will also include a few STM, MA, and/or advanced MDiv students.  Seminary students who opt to take 700– or 800-level courses, however, tend to be ones with strong academic interests. Often they are students who themselves have their sights set on a doctoral program.  Sometimes a course will be more evenly split, both in numbers and in orientation, between seminary and GDR students, because the professor feels that this kind of diversity will be helpful for the topics being studied.  And sometimes a mixed classroom will be the result not of lofty planning but of gritty logistics. The University reserves the right to cancel scheduled courses for which, in its judgment, there is insufficient enrollment, so a professor may have to recruit students from other programs if there are not enough doctoral students signed up for a given course.

What about courses offered primarily for masters students in the TS and not appearing on the GDR course listing?  A GDR student wishing to take such a course should consult with his or her advisor, and if the advisor approves the plan, communicate with the faculty member scheduled to teach the course. Different faculty have different ways of incorporating GDR students into courses designed primarily for seminary students. Typically, for example, they require additional reading and a higher level of research and writing from GDR students. Be sure to speak with the instructor and make sure that both of you are clear on the work that will be expected of you and that it will be appropriate to your degree program.

A “tutorial” is the official name at Drew for an independent study. A tutorial is a wonderful opportunity for a student to immerse himself or herself in a particular research area for a semester with a faculty mentor with expertise in that area. Students may only take one tutorial in a given semester, and are limited to a total of two tutorials in their program. In order to take a tutorial, a student must obtain a tutorial petition form from the GDR office or web site, complete it, and get the signature of the proposed instructor and the advisor, after which the petition goes to the Committee on Academic Standing. The petition must be accompanied by a syllabus for the proposed tutorial, indicating the schedule for meeting with the professor (every week or two is typical), the topics to be covered, and the reading and writing assignments. (Note that the type and extent of the work expected for the tutorial varies considerably from professor to professor.) Tutorial petitions for the Spring Semester are due in the GDR Administrative Office by December 1.  Petitions for Fall Semester tutorials are due in the Office by April 1.  [see Regulations Section X.C]

GDR students commonly audit courses, especially after they have completed course work and wish to extend the stimulation and learning entailed in participating in a class. To audit a course officially carries a hefty tuition charge. GDR students, however, are entitled to audit unofficially or informally and without charge any course offered at Drew, with the approval of the instructor (the sole exceptions being Arts and Letters and Medical Humanities courses). Unofficial auditors do not register for courses, nor is audit credit entered in their transcript. Students wishing to audit a particular course should speak with or email the instructor and request his or her permission. Course auditors are not expected to write papers, although if they wish to participate in class discussions they are expected to have completed the assigned readings.

A spouse of a currently enrolled student may unofficially audit courses in the Theological School without charge, with the approval of the instructor and the Associate Academic Dean, and as space allows.  Such auditors do not register for courses, nor is audit credit entered in their permanent transcript record.

If the student (or spouse) wishes to have the course recorded on his/her permanent transcript record, he or she must (after gaining permission) register for the course as an audit, have the instructor certify to the Registrar that the requirements for an audit have been satisfied and pay the audit tuition.    [see Regulations Section X.D]

Course descriptions and credit loads
The GDR course list posted on the Registrar’s website in advance of registration each fall and spring semester contains few or no course descriptions. Ordinarily for descriptions you will need to consult the course listings in the GDR catalog, which is available in the “Current Students” section of the GDR website. Also, it is standard practice for students to contact professors for further details about the courses they are scheduled to teach.

Credit hours are listed in parentheses following the course titles. For instance, (3) indicates three credits per semester; (3, 3) indicates three credits per semester for a course running through two semesters.

Full-time GDR students carry three courses per semester. In rare instances a student, may with the approval of his or her advisor and the GDR Chair, register for four courses for credit in a given semester.

Half-time students carry two courses per semester, while part-time students carry one course per semester.

Choosing courses
Most of the GDR programs have relatively few required courses. As such, it is largely up to the student, in consultation with his or her advisor, to determine which courses will benefit him or her the most. If you are a Ph.D. student, a major concern as you move through course work should be that of steadily determining, clarifying and refining your eventual dissertation topic.

Once you finish course work and arrive at comprehensive exams, you will need to know, in general terms at least, what your research topic will be. The third comp exam, for example, the interdisciplinary exam, is meant to prepare you for your dissertation research in a general way, while the fourth exam, the topical exam, is meant to prepare you for it in quite a specific way, as its name suggests.

As your research topic clarifies, take courses from professors you think you may want to ask to work with you on comprehensive exams or to serve on your dissertation committee. Taking a course from the professor will enable you to get acquainted with his or her mentoring style, range of expertise, and personality, and will give you a better idea of what it would be like to work with this person on your larger project.

Note also that it is generally considered bad form not to take courses offered by your advisor. If your research interests are very different from those of your advisor, you may need to consider changing advisors.

Class schedules
Seminars and other elective courses in the Theological School, especially those geared to GDR students, normally meet for one 2.5 hour session each week, and generally either on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.

The Required GDR Interdisciplinary Colloquium
This GDR-wide colloquium is a yearlong event, spanning both the fall and spring semesters. It meets three times each semester, normally for three-hour sessions.   It is a requirement for all first-year and second-year PhD students in the GDR (who must register for it), but is open to all GDR students and faculty.  It does not carry course credit, and hence is additional to the normal nine-credit semester load.  It entails modest reading assignments but no writing assignments.
Each colloquium session is led or co-led by a GDR faculty member or faculty team. Presentations are kept relatively brief and a premium is placed on inter-Area discussion.

The colloquium is designed to introduce students to key contemporary theoretical discourses, hermeneutical lenses, and methodologies employed in the study of religion and theology across disciplines.  The colloquium is thus intended to equip students for the interdisciplinary ethos of the GDR and membership of the wider academy, and also to contribute toward preparing them to teach outside their specialized subject areas.

Frequency of course offerings
Courses are offered with varying degrees of frequencies. Some are offered annually; others are offered over a two- or three-year cycle. Most GDR faculty teach to at least a loose cycle. If you are eager to work with a particular professor but he or she is not scheduled to offer a suitable seminar while you are in course work, consider asking him or her to work with you in a tutorial (i.e. an independent study).

Taking courses at other institutions while at Drew
Credit for up to three courses for the Ph.D. may be given for courses taken at other graduate schools while you are a student enrolled at Drew, if such courses are deemed essential to your program of study by your Area. You must petition the Committee on Academic Standing to take such courses prior to enrollment. This rule also applies to tutorials to be given by off-campus instructors.

Drew has a cross registration agreement with Union Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary, all in Manhattan. This agreement allows students to register for courses at these institutions through Drew (thereby paying Drew the tuition). Download the Cross-Registration Form from the GDR web site in order to register for courses at these institutions.  [see Regulations Section X.E]

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V. Registration

Be sure to register by the stipulated deadline to avoid the late registration fee!

Registration is required of all students each semester during the dates announced in the university calendar, usually during April for the Fall semester and late November for the Spring semester. There is a late registration fee applied to students who do not register during the appropriate time period. Students are responsible for reading their Drew e-mail notices on registration.

Be aware of the following:

No registrations will be taken over the telephone.
You need to check with your advisor early to determine when he or she will be available for consultation.
Your account must be clear with the Business Office for your registration to be processed.
Online registration is the norm at Drew, and mandatory for most students.

To initiate the process:

Go to CampusWeb (https://campusweb.drew.edu)
Enter your network username and password. (If you do not know them, contact the Telecom Office at Ext. 3333.)
Once you have logged in, select the “My Registration” option.

Phone: 973-408-3025
Fax: 973-408-3044

E-mail: regist@drew.edu

Office of the Registrar
Tilghman House
36 Madison Avenue
Madison, New Jersey 07940

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VI. Maintaining Matriculation

Being “matriculated” means that you are officially enrolled in an academic institution. It establishes your status as “student,” and this status is important for many practical reasons having to do with such matters as student visas, loans, housing options, health and car insurance.

Maintaining Matriculation Basics
“Maintaining matriculation” is the official term used for your registration status during all the time in your program when you are not registered either for course work or for your “dissertation year” (the two principal semesters devoted to writing the dissertation).

All students must either be enrolled in courses of study or must pay maintaining matriculation fees in order to be considered students in the Graduate Division of Religion who are proceeding toward a degree. Students who are maintaining matriculation full-time should spend a minimum of 35 hours per week on their doctoral studies.

Your advisor’s approval is required for registration for all maintaining matriculation statuses. Additional signatures are also required for certain maintaining matriculation statuses, as detailed in the GDR Regulations.  See the GDR Regulations Section IX.A.3 for up-to-date information on maintaining matriculation requirements, and for a complete listing of maintaining matriculation statuses.

Financing maintaining matriculation
Scholarships do not cover the maintaining matriculation fees, but fortunately these fees are only a fraction of the cost of tuition for course work or dissertation year. (Scholarships do apply to the dissertation year, as to course work.) If you are maintaining matriculation full-time you would, however, still be eligible for financial aid such as Stafford loans.

Withdrawal from the graduate division of religion
Students wishing to withdraw from the Graduate Division of Religion must submit a withdrawal form. The form may be submitted online, but students should have consulted with their advisor before initiating the process. Students wishing to withdraw must also meet with the Associate Academic Dean.

Much more commonly, students are involuntarily withdrawn from the GDR by the Committee on Academic Standing. Most often such withdrawals occur because students have been too long in the program, and even though they have received time extensions have failed to get their dissertation off the ground or complete it.

Refunds are made only upon formal withdrawal and as indicated in the GDR Catalog.

A student who has withdrawn or been withdrawn may petition to be readmitted. When more than three years have elapsed since withdrawal, however, the former student must apply for readmission to the program through the GDR Admissions Office.

A student who wishes to enroll in another degree program at Drew must formally withdraw from the GDR program in which he or she is enrolled and then apply for readmission.  [see Regulations Section IX.C]

Insider advice
As stated above, a student who has been withdrawn from his or her program may petition to be readmitted. Unless there is at least one faculty member, however (normally the advisor), willing to go to bat for the student and argue his or her case to the Committee on Academic Standing, there is little or no chance that the committee will readmit the student.

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VII. Transfer Credit and Student Status

Be sure that you have met specific requirement time lines (such as languages) . The student status section contains important information on how long a student can be considered full time in various stages of the degree. Failing to meet certain deadlines can stop your progress and change your student status (which affects such things as visa status, ability to register for further courses, housing, loans etc).

Transfer credit
“Advanced standing” is the official term used for transfer credit at Drew. Ordinarily the Committee on Academic Standing will not consider a student’s request for advanced standing until he or she has completed one year of full-time study (or the equivalent) and passed at least one language exam. See Regulations Section X.F for limits on credits given, stipulations on the type of work that qualifies, and the procedure for seeking advanced standing.
Full-time, half-time and part-time Student Status
While full-time status is strongly recommended, circumstances may make less than full-time study necessary. The following definitions of student status are taken from the GDR Regulations.

Ph.D. candidates registered for courses carry 3 courses per semester for full-time status, 2 courses per semester for half-time status and 1 course per semester for part-time status. Ph.D. candidates registered for dissertation year are full-time students in each of the two semesters, carrying 9 credits per semester.

For part-time Ph.D. students, completion of course work is considered equivalent to two years of full-time status (which allows them five additional years to complete the program). Students who have been less than full-time during course work retain the same status as they maintain matriculation, unless a change of status is approved by the GDR Chair. Such approval may depend on submission of evidence that the circumstances which necessitated less than fulltime study have changed, enabling the student to devote him/herself to a full-time schedule of study.

The visa status of international students may be affected by the above classifications, as may the deferment of required repayment on federal student loans.

Ph.D. students who have been full-time while taking course work, but who cannot proceed with course work or the comprehensive exams because they have not met the language requirements may be considered full-time students for no more than one additional semester while they maintain matriculation for a particular language preparation.

VIII. Grade Requirements

Be aware that while minimum grade requirements are set, Ph.D. students are actually expected to exceed the minimum GPA requirement. Typically, Ph.D. students who achieve a grade of B or B– in course work are viewed by faculty as underachieving and a cause for concern, which may have unfortunate practical consequences, as detailed in this section.

Be aware that while minimum grade requirements are set, Ph.D. students are actually expected to exceed the minimum GPA requirement. Typically, Ph.D. students who achieve a grade of B or B– in course work are viewed by faculty as underachieving and a cause for concern, which may have unfortunate practical consequences, as detailed in this section.

Ph.D. candidates must have a GPA of at least 3.4 and must manifest excellence at certain points in course work in order to sit for the comprehensive exams and undertake the dissertation. ***Students entering the GDR in or after Fall 2009 will be required to  meet the minimum GPA requirement and manifest excellence at certain points in course work in order to (a) sit for the comprehensive examinations, and (b) undertake the dissertation.***

Areas may review a student’s academic performance before approving the petition for the comprehensive examinations. The maintenance of the minimum GPA, therefore, does not automatically qualify the student to complete the doctoral degree, inasmuch as the doctorate is intended to represent something more than an overall minimal performance.

Failure to maintain required GPA
At the conclusion of the first semester in which a student’s average falls below the minimum GPA, a letter of warning is issued. If the GPA is deemed seriously deficient, more stringent action may be taken. Should this occur in the semester in which the student would normally complete the course work for the degree, the Committee on Academic Standing must grant permission before additional course work is undertaken.

A student who fails to secure the required minimum average, or to demonstrate promise of excellence in some area of study, by the end of the semester following the warning letter, may be withdrawn from the program.

[return to contents]           [see Regulations Section XIII]

IX. Incompletes and Review of Candidacy

Carrying Incompletes for more than one semester can have serious consequences, which students are not always aware of. Notably, grades of I automatically flip to U within six months of the semester in which the Incomplete was granted.

Students are expected to complete and submit all assigned work for a course no later than the end of the semester in which the course is taken.

In special circumstances, a student may request from the course instructor an extension of time for the completion of the work. If the instructor concurs, he or she normally sets an appropriate date for completion. The student then fills out the Incomplete Request Form, has it countersigned by the instructor, and delivers it to the office of the Associate Academic Dean.

Requests for Incompletes must be initiated and settled before the end of the grading period (three weeks after the end of the semester). Exceptions must be approved by the Academic Standing Committee.

Work left incomplete from the Fall Semester must be completed by April 15th. Work left incomplete from the Spring Semester must be completed by October 1st. Where work for a course has not been completed by those final dates, the instructor may submit a grade based on whatever work is in hand, with due deduction made for the work outstanding. In extraordinary circumstances, however, he or she may record a permanent I (Incomplete). After November 1st and June 1st respectively, any grades registered as Incomplete from the previous semester convert automatically to U. Subsequent change of the grade requires the permission of the Academic Standing Committee.

Students shall be limited to one incomplete per semester.
[see Regulations Section XIII.F]

Review of candidacy
By the Areas:
Reviews of first and second year students in the Graduate Division of Religion shall be conducted by Area faculty and put in writing for communication with the student and entry in the GDR records.  It shall be noted whether the student’s progress is excellent, satisfactory or not satisfactory, and specific areas of strength and weakness shall be identified.

By the Academic Standing Committee:
Any student whose record falls below the required average GPA or who fails to meet other standards of progress (such as completing their degree in the time allotted) is reviewed by the Academic Standing Committee.

The following actions may be taken by the committee: it may issue letters of warning (probation), recommend or require a leave of absence, or recommend or require withdrawal from the program. A letter of warning or probation serves as a warning to the student that unless the deficiencies noted in the letter are corrected, involuntary withdrawal from the program may result. It is not entered into the student’s transcript and it expires immediately upon the successful correction of the specific academic deficiency (such as low GPA or excessive Incompletes).

[see Regulations Section XIII.C]        [return to contents]

X. Language Requirements

Problems with the language requirements are a common reason why students falter in their program or grind to a halt altogether. Not meeting your language requirement deadlines, if you are a Ph.D. student, can mean not being able to register for your second year of course work, or not being able to petition to take comprehensive exams. This in turn may affect your student status.


The GDR Regulations contain the language requirements, listed according to each Area of Study, in addition to complete details on language substitution, deadlines for completion, examination procedures, and what happens when an exam is failed. Read Regulations Section XIV carefully.

Don’t forget, Ph.D. candidates cannot begin a second year of full-time study without having satisfied at least one of the language requirements. In exceptional cases (so say the Regulations), a student may take two additional courses (without petition), but no further exceptions are allowed.

One sitting of foreign language examinations will be administered four times a year, spaced so that there are no less than six weeks between sittings to allow for grading and further student preparation (normally August, October, January and April). Lists of suitable texts for translation practice may be provided by individual Areas, at their own discretion. Sources from which examination passages are taken will not, however, be identified in advance.

Certification of successful completion, with a grade of B or higher, of language courses offered through the Princeton University Graduate School Summer Language Program or the CUNY Graduate Center Language Reading Program will be accepted as demonstration of a scholar’s reading competence in lieu of the examinations administered by the GDR.  This certification should come directly to the GDR Administrative Office from the certifying institution.  Students may petition their Area and the Academic Standing Committee for acceptance of certification from similar programs.

Insider advice
Some students may opt to work independently with private tutors. They may also take language courses at other institutions. They may even take their language exam at another institution, with permission (contact the GDR Chair in the first instance).

Show up for the exam well prepared, well rested, well fed, and armed with a good dictionary (e.g., German-English or French-Korean). You are allowed to bring food, water, coffee, etc., and printed translation aids (such as dictionary, verb book, grammar sheets, etc. ). Previously translated texts or electronic devices (including cell phones) are not permitted in the exam room.

Remember, accuracy counts more than speed. Write legibly, and, most importantly, don’t forget to breathe (both in AND out)!

Be sure to get the language exams behind you as soon as possible. The first language must be passed prior to beginning second-year coursework. You must have passed both languages before you can schedule your comprehensive exams.

Students are actually encouraged to prepare to take one language exam at the beginning of their very first semester of coursework. Students may register for Drew language courses in the summer before beginning their program.

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XI. Comprehensive Examinations

The GDR Regulations contain all requirements for eligibility to take the comprehensive examinations, petitioning to take the exams,  time limits for passing the exams, and procedures for administration, grading, and re-taking of exams. See Regulations Section XV for general regulations, and Section XVI for requirements specific to each Area of Study.

Guidelines for the examinations, and the petition form, can be downloaded from the Administrative Forms & Documents page of the GDR web site (Drew login required).

Insider advice

Preparing for exams
Copies of sample examinations are available in the GDR Office. Students say that looking through these samples is one of the most helpful tools in preparing their own proposals and preparing for their own exams.

Being a Ph.D. student can be rather solitary and isolating at times—especially during the comp and dissertation phases. Some students have found it helpful to form online discussion groups where they can stay in touch with each other, especially if they have moved away to do their comp and dissertation work. Staying connected to others who are also preparing to take comps can help you to keep motivated, focused and on track. And sometimes it is nice just to have someone to talk to who understands exactly what kind of stress you are under!

Taking exams
A thirty minute extension is added to all exams in order to allow you time to eat, rest, take bathroom breaks etc.

Exam veterans offer the following advice :

-Bring plenty of snacks and liquids.
-After you read through the exam and before you begin writing, make an outline and work from this rather than purely from memory.
-Divide the time allowed evenly over the number of questions you have to answer.
-Watch your time closely and be sure to give all answers equal attention.

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XII. The Doctoral Dissertation

Consult the GDR Regulations for instructions and requirements for formation of the dissertation committee, formatting and submission of the dissertation prospectus, and defense of the completed dissertation.  See Regulations Section XVII.

Guidelines for the prospectus and dissertation, as well as the required forms and sample dissertation pages, can be downloaded from the Administrative Forms & Documents page of the GDR web site (Drew login required).

Doctor of Philosophy dissertation
A dissertation demonstrating the student’s ability to perform and creatively to interpret advanced research is an essential requirement of the doctorate. It will take at least a year of full-time work to research and write the dissertation. The student must register for two semesters of dissertation research (18 credits total).

Insider Advice
Realistically, most students will need more than two semesters to complete the dissertation. Even completing it in three semesters is regarded as excellent progress by the GDR faculty and administration.

Formation of the Dissertation Committee
The selection of a dissertation topic and preliminary definition and exploration of that topic may commence at any time in the student’s graduate program.

After all comprehensive exams have been passed, the student should discuss the proposed dissertation project with the faculty member (not necessarily the student’s academic advisor) likely to be the Dissertation Committee Chair. The Chair must be a full-time member of the Graduate Division of Religion faculty.

The Dissertation Committee will normally have three faculty members. Committees with four faculty members, while less common at Drew, are also perfectly acceptable. After the student and probable Dissertation Committee Chair have mutually chosen the other potential members of the committee, the student should ask those who are members of the GDR whether they are willing to serve. In the case where a scholar from outside Drew is proposed for membership of the committee, the committee Chair may initiate contact with that person but the GDR Chair must issue the official letter of invitation once the committee is approved.

The student submits a completed Dissertation Committee form to the GDR Office, from which it is sent to the Area for action.

If the Area approves the proposed committee, it is sent to the Dean for final approval. If the Area does not approve the proposed committee, it recommends further discussion among the relevant parties. If problems arise at any point in the process, the student, or members of the committee, may bring the matter to the attention of the Area or the GDR Chair and request assistance in solving the matter. Should such negotiations fail to bring about a resolution satisfactory to all parties, the Dean makes the final decision on the membership of the Dissertation Committee. If, for any reason, a faculty member leaves a Dissertation Committee, the GDR Chair, in consultation with the Area and the student, will make arrangements for a new reader.

The Dissertation Prospectus
The dissertation prospectus is developed by the student in consultation with the Dissertation Committee. The prospectus must follow the format outlined in the “Guide for Writing the Prospectus,” available from the Administrative Forms & Documents page of the GDR web site (Drew login required).

Prior to submitting the prospectus, the student is required to meet with his or her entire Dissertation Committee (as distinct from meetings with individual members of the committee) to discuss a full draft of the prospectus. This draft should be submitted to the Committee at least two weeks prior to the proposed meeting. The student is responsible for bringing a Prospectus Approval Form from the GDR office to that meeting which the Dissertation Committee members will sign to verify that the meeting has taken place and if they are satisfied that the prospectus is ready for submission. In cases where it is impossible for a Dissertation Committee member to be physically present at the meeting, his or her participation or input should be secured by other means (he or she should be invited to participate by conference call, or to submit comments to be a part of the discussion at the meeting). An e-mail from the absent member approving the prospectus shall suffice in lieu of a signature on the form.

If possible, it is advisable to use this first meeting of the Dissertation Committee also to discuss what kind of interaction the committee members would like to have during the dissertation writing phase.  Should drafts go first to the chair for initial revisions, and subsequently to other committee members, or to all of the committee members at once?  Do all of the committee members want to see drafts chapter by chapter, or do some want to wait until a full draft has been produced?  Do they prefer hard copies or electronic files?  Should you expect to get written comments or to arrange meetings to discuss drafts?  Etc.

Insider Advice

How long should it take to prepare the prospectus? Students regularly underestimate the amount of time that will be needed to prepare an acceptable prospectus, misled, perhaps, by the fact that it is a document of only around a dozen pages. Exceedingly few students manage to complete the prospectus in a matter of weeks; for most it is a matter of months. And for a minority of students it can take a year or more. But that is a situation that it is crucial to avoid. The prospectus should be written and approved in no more than one semester, if you are going to graduate in a timely

Students should continue working on their dissertation as their prospectus moves through its approval process. Rarely does the committee reject the entire topic that a student has proposed. Therefore, students should continue reading appropriate materials and making notes for writing the dissertation.

Despite the headaches, crafting the prospectus is an eminently worthwhile task. Major weaknesses in the argument of the dissertation can be anticipated and corrected in the process of hammering out the prospectus, thereby preventing time-consuming problems in the writing of the dissertation later on. A well-crafted prospectus will serve as a blueprint and outline for the dissertation, and can help make the writing of the latter a more efficient and less stressful process.

Prospectus Committee
The Prospectus Committee of the GDR is composed of faculty representatives elected by the Areas. The purpose of the committee is to review dissertation prospectuses submitted by Ph.D. students.

The committee provides an assessment of the prospectus, with a formal evaluation of either “Approved” or “Resubmit.” All assessments may contain suggestions for further development of the research. Suggested revisions of the prospectus are required in the case of a mandatory resubmission. The Prospectus Committee Chair returns the completed evaluation form to the GDR Office, which then sends copies to the student and the Dissertation Committee Chair. If the committee does not approve a resubmitted prospectus, the prospectus will be referred to the student’s Area. The Area will formally review the prospectus and request further revisions if it deems it necessary. The student may proceed with the dissertation only if or when the Area has approved the prospectus. The Area then reports its decision to the GDR office so that it may be entered into the student’s record.

The committee meets once a month during the Fall and Spring Semesters with the first meeting ordinarily held in September and the last one in May. Students wishing to have their prospectus reviewed by the committee in a given month must submit it to the GDR Office for circulation to the committee no later than the first of the month.

Prior to submitting the prospectus, the student is required to meet with his or her entire Dissertation Committee (as distinct from meetings with individual members of the committee) to discuss a full draft of the prospectus. This draft should be submitted to the Committee at least two weeks prior to the proposed meeting. The student is responsible for bringing a Prospectus Approval Form from the GDR office to that meeting which the Dissertation Committee members will sign to verify that the meeting has taken place and if they are satisfied that the prospectus is ready for submission. In cases where it is impossible for a Dissertation Committee member to be physically present at the meeting, his or her participation or input should be secured by other means (he or she should be invited to participate by conference call, or to submit comments to be a part of the discussion at the meeting). An e-mail from the absent member approving the prospectus shall suffice in lieu of a signature on the form.

Doctor of Philosophy dissertation oral exam

Final reading and oral examination of the dissertation
Visit the GDR Administrative Assistant two to three months out from the date when you hope to graduate to be briefed on preparing and submitting the defense copies and final copies of your dissertation and other such practical matters.

Three copies of the dissertation—contained in spring binders, three-ring binders, or printing boxes provided by the student—must be submitted by the Ph.D. candidate to the GDR Administrative Assistant for the purpose of final reading and oral examination. These are known as the “defense copies.” The deadlines for their submission are set in the GDR calendar. The GDR Administrative Assistant will forward them to the Dissertation Committee.

A ballot will be attached to each of the defense copies. Each member of the Dissertation Committee must mark and return the ballot, stating whether or not the dissertation is ready for examination. If the Dissertation Committee reports two negative judgments, the dissertation will be considered not ready for examination. If the three members of the Dissertation Committee agree that the dissertation is ready for examination, then the student proceeds to arrange a day and time for an oral defense through the GDR Administrative Assistant. Once the day and time is established with the Committee members, the Administrative Assistant reserves a room where the defense will take place. If conference call technology is required to enable participation by an external reader, the Administrative Assistant will make the necessary arrangements. The student also prepares a 350-word abstract of the dissertation and submits five copies to the GDR Office no later than the time of the oral defense.

The members of the Dissertation Committee questions the candidate on the dissertation, hear his or her defense, and reaches a judgment by majority vote in accordance with the following schedule of evaluations:

a. Pass
Certain minor typographical and/or stylistic changes to the dissertation may be required.

b. Pass with Major Revisions
The dissertation is essentially sound and the candidate shows strength in its defense, but portions of it may need to be recast or more extensively elaborated.  Such revisions must be approved by the Dissertation Committee.

c. Pass with Distinction
The Dissertation Committee may recommend to the GDR faculty that “Distinction” be recorded on the student’s transcript.

d. Fail
Submission of a rewritten or new dissertation is permissible.  This is a clear failure; however, the committee will advise the student how this judgment is to be construed in his or her case.

e. Final Fail
No provision for resubmission is permitted.

Following a successful defense, the candidate meets with the Administrative Assistant regarding the final submission of the dissertation on at least 25% cotton fiber content or acid-free paper. The student must sign the standard contract with University Microfilms for microfilming the dissertation and including the abstract in Dissertation Abstracts and pay the fee for this service in order for the degree to be conferred.

[see Regulations Section XVII.C.6]

Insider advice
Clear and consistent communication with your dissertation committee is essential! Be sure you and your committee are clear, not only about your dissertation topic, but also about the proper procedure for submitting drafts and defense copies.

The oral defense typically lasts around two hours, although about thirty minutes of that time can be taken up with the committee conferring in private. The defense of a doctoral dissertation is open to members of the faculty of Drew University, to students of the Graduate Division of Religion of Drew University, and to whichever appropriate members of the public the candidate chooses to invite. With regard to invitations extended to the public, consultation with the dissertation advisor is strongly recommended. The committee members come with lists of questions that have emerged as they worked their way through the dissertation. Ordinarily, however, there will only be time for each committee member to pose about three major questions to the candidate.

Students are frequently nervous at the defense, and faculty expect that and make allowances for it. The defense is a rigorous exercise, yet it is extremely rare for a dissertation to be failed on the basis of the student’s performance at the defense. Try to approach the defense as a unique opportunity to engage in fruitful discussion of your work with expert readers who are intensely interested in it.

You should also be aware, however, that it is standard for further revisions of the dissertation to be required by the committee at the conclusion of the defense. These will normally be revisions that the committee believes may realistically be completed in the weeks that remain before the final copy of the dissertation must be submitted. Most often, these will be further weeks of intense hard work for the student. Normally the student will not meet again formally with the entire committee, and frequently the committee chair will take sole responsibility for reading and approving the final revisions.

Further customs of the Doctoral defense
The defense of a doctoral dissertation is open to members of the faculty of Drew University, to GDR students, and to whichever appropriate members of the public the candidate chooses to invite.

Under very special circumstances, on written recommendation of a Dissertation or Thesis Committee, the Dean is empowered to declare an oral defense private, in which case only the candidate and the Committee are permitted to attend.

The examining committee meets privately before and after the public defense—before, to review the candidate’s academic record and to discuss the main questions to be put to the candidate and other matters of procedure; after, to determine the outcome of the defense. The candidate is not present at either of those meetings.

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XIV. Academic Integrity

Standards of honesty in the academic world derive from the nature of the academic enterprise itself.  Scholars use writing both to record and create knowledge, and students are invited into the academic enterprise through an intellectual conversation that occurs primarily in writing.  Through contributing to this academic conversation, students develop their intellectual skills.  Since academic dishonesty violates the basic principles of the conversation, it cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.  Accordingly, Drew University has established standards of academic integrity and procedures governing violations of them.  These basic standards apply to all work done at Drew.  Students are expected to study and comply with these principles as stated  in the GDR Regulations, Section XXI.

XV. Prizes and Awards

GDR prizes and awards
The prizes listed below are available each year to GDR students. Surprisingly few students, however, apply for them, even of those most qualified to do so. Prize recipients are honored at the Dean’s Reception, normally held in early May.The prizes also come with monetary awards.

The GDR administration hopes to establish further prizes and awards. Inquire from the GDR Office for an updated list.

Priscilla Patten Benham Prize in Biblical Studies: Established in 2001 by Leary Anna Murphy in memory of Priscilla Patten Benham (G’76). To be awarded to a Ph.D. candidate for expenses associated with dissertation research in Biblical Studies. Apply by March 1 to the GDR Chair outlining the research for which you would use the award. Include a tentative budget.

Edwards-Mercer Prize: Endowed in 1998 by Juanita Edwards Mercer and her family to honor Mrs. Mercer’s mother, Alpha Duncan Edwards. Awarded to a Ph.D. candidate for travel expenses associated with religion-related dissertation research. Apply by March 1 to the GDR Chair outlining the research for which you would use the award. Include a tentative budget.

Rabbi Dr. Sheldon J. Weltman Prize for Excellence in Biblical Studies: Endowed in 1992 by the estate of Rabbi Weltman (G’80, ‘90). Awarded for the M.A. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation in Biblical Studies that is singularly distinguished by creative thought and prose style. All dissertations are automatically considered for this prize. The decision is made by the Dean in consultation with the Biblical Studies faculty.

Edward D. Zinbarg Prize: Established in 1999 by Barbara Zinbarg to honor her husband upon the completion of his Doctor of Letters degree at Drew. Awarded annually to a student in any of the  University’s schools who has creatively linked Jewish studies and the study of other religious traditions. Faculty should nominate students by March 1.