Department of Theology

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History of Christianity

The Department of Theology provides a congenial setting for the study of the history of Christianity in all its rich complexity. Reflecting the diversity of methods and interests of the faculty, a sampling of doctoral seminars from recent years would include:

  • the medieval Jewish-Christian encounter
  • religious pilgrimage
  • theologies of Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, and Origen, among others

Special strengths of the program in the history of Christianity include the interpretation of scripture prior to the modern period, spirituality, and doctrine and theological method from the early period through the Reformation.

“I tend to gravitate towards doctrines that seem inexplicable, and I try to understand what motivated the early Christians to formulate these doctrines in just these ways." — Khaled Anatolios, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology

Students who major in the history of Christianity normally concentrate in their course work and candidacy examinations on two of the following periods of Christian history, in any combination: early, medieval, Reformation & modern. In the first two years of residence, the student takes courses in the major, evenly divided between the two periods.

While the majority of these courses are taken with the faculty in the Department of Theology, students are encouraged to take appropriate courses offered by historians of Christianity affiliated with other departments in the University. Students are also required to take some courses outside their field.

Admission to the history of Christianity program has in recent years been increasingly competitive. Entering students should already have made significant progress in the study of languages needed for serious historical research; introductory language work while in residence will be in addition to the normal course load.

Library holdings are especially strong in the early and medieval periods. Most of the reference and research tools crucial for the investigation of early and medieval Christianity are housed in the Medieval Institute , located on the seventh floor of the Hesburgh Library.

Khaled Anatolios

Khaled Anatolios

Department Chair John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology

History of Christianity, Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity |Early Christian Doctrine, Theological Method, and Biblical Exegesis |Khaled Anatolios is interested in all aspects of the theology of the early Church, with special emphases on the Trinitarian, Christological, and soteriological doctrines of the Greek fathers and Augustine; early Christian biblical exegesis; and the development of theological methodology in Patristic and medieval theology. He has published on a variety of early Christian theologians including Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, and Gregory of Nyssa. A particular focus of  his work is the engagement between early Christian theological reflection and contemporary theological concerns.

Ann W. Astell

Ann W. Astell

History of Christianity | Hagiography as Biblical Commentary; the Song of Songs and the Liturgy | Ann W. Astell is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of six books, most recently Eating Beauty: The Eucharist and the Spiritual Arts of the Middle Ages (2006), and is now completing a monograph on hagiography and the Bible. She has been the recipient of an N.E.H. fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. She has edited eight collections of essays, most recently Saving Fear in Christian Spirituality (2020). Past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and also of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, she has published recently in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Spiritus, Theological Studies, Marian Studies, and Religion and Literature. 

Yury P. Avvakumov

Yury P. Avvakumov

Associate Professor

History of Christianity |Papacy and Eastern Churches; scholastic theology; Latin and Byzantine ecclesiology and sacramental theology; Russian and Ukrainian religious thought of the 19th and 20th century. | Avvakumov is a historian of Christianity who specializes in the Later Medieval and Early Modern periods, with a focus on scholasticism, ecclesiology, and relations between the papacy and Byzantium, and in Russian and Ukrainian religious history and thought of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is also broadly engaged with the history, ecclesiology, and liturgy of Byzantine-rite Christianity in communion with Rome (“Uniate”, or “Greco-Catholic” Christianity) from its medieval beginnings to the present day. His special research interest is the fateful history of Catholic and Orthodox Christians under Soviet totalitarianism and their role in contemporary post-communist societies. Avvakumov obtained doctorates in Orthodox theology in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Catholic theology in Munich, Germany. Prior to coming to Notre Dame in 2010, he held academic positions in Germany, Ukraine, and Russia, including at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lemberg where he served as Dean of Humanities and as the founding chair of the Department of Classical, Byzantine, and Medieval Studies in 2006-2009. Courses he teaches include “Latin West and Byzantine East 1054-1596: Clash and Communion”; “Popes, Patriarchs, and Councils: Medieval Church and Ecclesiology”; “Introduction to Scholastic Theology”; “Theology of the Byzantine Liturgy”; “Russian Religious Thought”; “Eastern Churches: History and Theology”. A trained singer, he also teaches a college seminar “Heaven and Hell: Musical Theater” based on operas and oratorios by Bach, Lully, Meyerbeer, Wagner, and Mussorgsky.  

Jeremy Phillip Brown

Jeremy Phillip Brown

Assistant Professor

History of Christianity |Medieval Judaism, Iberian Kabbalah, Jewish-Christian Polemic |Jeremy Phillip Brown is Assistant Professor of Theology specializing in medieval Judaism. He completed his BA in Religion at Reed College, and earned his doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Brown has taught at the University of San Francisco, and served as Simon and Ethel Flegg Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Research interests include the Zohar, the penitential discourses of Kabbalah and Jewish pietism, Jewish-Christian polemic in medieval Iberia, and the dissemination of Kabbalah in Latin America.

John C. Cavadini

John C. Cavadini

History of Christianity, Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity | He teaches, studies, and publishes in the area of patristic theology and in its early medieval reception. | John C. Cavadini is a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, having served as Chair from 1997-2010. Since 2000 he has served as the Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame. He received a B.A. in 1975 from Wesleyan University; an M.A. in 1979 from Marquette University; M.A., 1981, M.Phil., 1983 and his Ph.D. in 1988 from Yale University. A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1990, Cavadini teaches, studies and publishes in patristic and early medieval theology, the theology of Augustine, and the history of biblical and patristic exegesis. He has served a five-year term on the International Theological Commission (appointed by Pope Benedict XVI) and in 2018 received the Monika K. Hellwig Award from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life. As Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life, he inaugurated the Echo program in catechetical leadership, the Notre Dame Vision program for high school students and is responsible for the continued growth and outreach of the McGrath Institute, which partners with Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools to address pastoral challenges with theological depth and rigor.  

Catherine Cavadini

Catherine Cavadini

Director of Master of Arts Associate Teaching Professor

History of Christianity |The history of biblical interpretation, especially medieval interpretation of the Song of Songs. |Katie teaches courses within the undergraduate and MA curriculum as well as directing the MA Program.

Brian Daley, SJ

Brian Daley, SJ

Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, Emeritus

History of Christianity, Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity | Patristic Christology, Eschatology, Theology of Mary, Ecumenical Theology | Born in Orange, NJ, in 1940, Fr. Daley did his undergraduate work at Fordham University and a subsequent M.A, (classics and philosophy) at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He then entered the Society of Jesus, taught for a year at Fordham, and studied theology for ordination in Frankfurt, Germany. He returned to Oxford in 1972 for doctoral studies, focused on the Patristic Christological tradition, and completed a critical edition of the works of the sixth-century theologian Leontius of Byzantium in 1978. He then was a faculty member of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, in Cambridge, MA, until 1996, when he moved to Notre Dame's Department of Theology as the Catherine Huisking Professor. He considers himself a historical theologian, studying the thought and practices of the first seven or eight centuries of Christianity as expressions of the developing common faith of the Church, especially as it is focused on our understanding of the person of Christ, the Trinity, and the hope for eternal life. His most recent book is: God Visible: Patristic Christology Reconsidered (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Margot Fassler

Margot Fassler

Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, Emeritus

Liturgical Studies, History of Christianity | Theology, Liturgy, and the Arts; Congregational Studies; Sacred Music |Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, University of Notre Dame, is Director of the Program in Sacred Music and Tangeman Professor of Music History, Emerita, Yale University. Recent books include Music in the Medieval West and its accompanying Anthology (New York, 2014); (with Jeffery Hamburger, Eva Schlotheuber, and Susan Marti) Life and Latin Learning at Paradies bei Soest, 1300-1425: Inscription and Illumination in the Choir Books of a North German Dominican Convent, 2 vols. (Munster, 2016), and Medieval Cantors and Their Craft (ed. with Katie Bugyis and AB Kraebel) York Medieval Press, 2017. Fassler is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, a former President of the Medieval Academy of America, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society. Her digital work includes documentary studies of contemporary congregations. Her book: Cosmos, Liturgy and the Arts in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard’s Illuminated Scivias is forthcoming with the University of Pennsylvania Press. A digital model of creation and cosmos based on the illuminations of Scivias (with Christian Jara) will appear in 2021. These works have been supported by grants from the Luce Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the ACLS. In 2019-20, Fassler was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Paul Kollman, CSC

Paul Kollman, CSC

World Religions and World Church, History of Christianity | I am currently preparing a manuscript on the Catholic missionary evangelization of eastern Africa. | Paul Kollman, CSC, is associate professor of theology and has been on the faculty at Notre Dame in the Department of Theology since 2001. Before that he taught at the Queen of Apostles Philosophy Seminary in Jinja, Uganda, and Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Since being at Notre Dame he has also taught at Tangaza College, Nairobi, Kenya. His scholarship focuses on African Christianity, mission history, and world Christianity, and he has taught and carried out research in Africa and in archives around the world. Kollman earned his PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School (2001), and a BA and MDiv from Notre Dame (1984, 1990). He is the author of The Evangelization of Slaves and Catholic Origins in Eastern Africa, co-author of Understanding World Christianity: Eastern Africa, and numerous other publications in professional journals. He has served as executive director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, as president of the American Society of Missiology, and is currently president of the International Association of Mission Studies. Kollman is also a fellow of the Kellogg, Kroc, and Nanovic Institutes at Notre Dame. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Kollman currently lives in O’Neill Hall at Notre Dame.

Ulrich L. Lehner

Ulrich L. Lehner

William K. Warren Professor

History of Christianity |History of Christianity after 1500, Global Catholic Studies, Early Modern History, Gender and Race in the History of Catholicism, 19th and 20th c. European History and Culture |Ulrich L. Lehner specializes in religious history and theology of the Early Modern period and the Enlightenment. Among his publications are over ten authored books and more than fifteen edited volumes, including The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800 (Oxford UP: 2016), Women, Enlightenment, and Catholicism: A Transnational Biographical History (Routledge: 2018), and most recently Innovation in Early Modern Catholicism (Routledge: 2021). He was selected as a Member and Herodotus Fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, a fellow at the Institute for Comparative History of Religious Orders at the University of Eichstätt, Distinguished Fellow at the NDIAS (twice), fellow of the Earhart foundation (twice), and fellow of the Humboldt and Friedrich von Siemens Foundation. In 2014 he was inducted into the European Academy for Sciences and Arts, in 2018 into the Accademia Ambrosiana, and in 2022 into the Academia Europea.

Timothy Matovina

Timothy Matovina

History of Christianity | Latino/a theologies and Latino/a Catholicism | Timothy Matovina works in the area of Faith and Culture, with specialization in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion. Professor Matovina has authored over 150 essays and reviews in scholarly and opinion journals. He has also written or edited 20 books, most recently Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church, which won five book awards, including selection as a CHOICE “Outstanding Academic Title,” as well as Theologies of Guadalupe: From the Era of Conquest to Pope Francis. Among his various scholarly awards, in 2010 Matovina received the Virgilio Elizondo Award “for distinguished achievement in theology, in keeping with the mission of the Academy” from the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS). At Notre Dame he has won two teaching awards, including the Julian Samora Award that members of Notre Dame’s La Alianza student organization confer on a faculty member whose research, teaching, and service advance knowledge and empowerment of Latino/a students and communities. In addition to his scholarly work, Matovina offers presentations and workshops on U.S. Catholicism and Latino ministry and theology throughout the United States.

Cyril O'Regan

Cyril O'Regan

Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology

Systematic Theology, History of Christianity | I am currently finishing up my volumes on the relationship between Hans Urs von Balthasar and Martin Heidegger. | Born in Ireland where I received my BA and MA in Philosophy. My Ph. D is from Yale where I taught in the Department of Religious Studies before I came to the Department of Theology at Notre Dame in 1999. My work spans a number of areas, systematic theology, historical theology, and continental philosophy, and I am especially active at the intersection of theology and continental philosophy. I have done considerable work in 19th-century theology and philosophy, postmodern thought, mysticism, apocalyptic, Gnosticism, religion and literature, major Catholic figures such as Newman, de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Benedict XVI, and on the doctrines of the Trinity and "last things." I will shortly complete two volumes dealing with the relationship between the Swiss theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Martin Heidegger. I will then turn to complete my Gnosticism in Modernity project. I intend to write in order a volume on Gnosticism and German Idealism and subsequently a volume on Gnosticism and German and English Romanticism. I teach a wide array of courses on all levels and am very active in directing doctoral students.

Gabriel Reynolds

Gabriel Reynolds

Jerome J. Crowley and Rosaleen G. Crowley Professor of Theology

World Religions and World Church, History of Christianity |Qur'anic Studies and Muslim-Christian Relations |Gabriel Said Reynolds did his doctoral work at Yale University in Islamic Studies. Currently he researches the Qur'ān and Muslim/Christian relations and is Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame. He is the author of The Qur'ān and Its Biblical Subtext (Routledge 2010) and The Emergence of Islam (Fortress, 2012), the translator of ʿAbd al-Jabbar’s Critique of Christian Origins (BYU 2008), and editor of The Qur'ān in Its Historical Context (Routledge 2008) and New Perspectives on the Qur'ān: The Qur'ān in Its Historical Context 2 (Routledge 2011). In 2012-13 Prof. Reynolds directed, along with Mehdi Azaiez, “The Qurʾān Seminar,” a year-long collaborative project dedicated to encouraging dialogue among scholars of the Qurʾān, the acts of which appeared as The Qurʾān Seminar Commentary (De Gruyter, 2016). In 2018 he published The Qurʾan and the Bible with Yale University Press and in 2020 Allah: God in the Qur'an, also with YUP. At Notre Dame he teaches courses on theology, Muslim/Christian Relations, and Islamic Origins.  He runs a youtube channel, “Exploring the Qur’an and the Bible” that features conversations on scripture with leading scholars.

Alexis Torrance

Alexis Torrance

Archbishop Demetrios Associate Professor of Byzantine Theology

History of Christianity | Greek Patristic, Byzantine, and Orthodox Theology, in particular Christology, ascetic thought, and theological anthropology.  | Alexis Torrance received his undergraduate and graduate training in Theology at the University of Oxford. He has held research fellowships at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC. He has been a member of the faculty at Notre Dame since 2014. His research interests gravitate around the fields of Greek Patristic, Byzantine, and Orthodox Theology, with a special focus on the areas of Christology, theological anthropology, ascetic thought, and East-West relations. He is currently developing a project on the nature and practice of theology in the middle and late Byzantine periods, with a view to bringing the findings into conversation with modern Orthodox thought. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2020, and is a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne.

Joseph Wawrykow

Joseph Wawrykow

History of Christianity | Medieval Christology; the late medieval and early modern reception of Aquinas's theology | Born and raised in Canada, Joseph Wawrykow did his doctoral work at Yale University and has taught at Notre Dame since graduation. He specializes in 13th-century Western theology, and has published on a wide range of central theological topics (Trinity; Christ; grace and predestination; sacraments; biblical interpretation) in high medieval theology. While he is best known for his work on the theology of Thomas Aquinas, his scholarly interests extend to other scholastic theologians, as well as to the varieties of medieval spiritual theology. In his research, he is attentive to issues of reception and transformation, showing the medieval scholastic theological achievement in its complex relations with the theologies of the early Fathers. Wawrykow has directed numerous doctoral dissertations, on such figures as William of Auxerre, Angela of Foligno, Duns Scotus, and, Aquinas. He has received University recognition for his teaching, both undergraduate and graduate, and has been entrusted with several leadership responsibilities by his Department, including lengthy stints as Director of Undergraduate Studies and as Director of Graduate Studies (Ph.D.) He is married to an art historian (Yale Ph.D.); their son did his undergraduate work at Yale and is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Mathematics at the University of Michigan.

Jeff Wickes

Jeff Wickes

History of Christianity, Liturgical Studies |Late Antique Christianity; Syriac literature; ritual studies; religion and literature |Jeff Wickes focuses on the interplay between Syriac literature, theology, and liturgy in the context of late antique Christianity. Building projects that work from close readings of Syriac texts, he gravitates in his work towards larger questions of genre (especially poetry), religion, and theology as they play out within the historical horizons of late antique Christianity, and as those horizons meet our own in the contemporary world. His first two books focused on Syriac Christianity’s formative voice, Ephrem the Syrian, and sought to find the place where performative context and exegesis met in the space of Ephrem’s poetry. His current book turns to a range of Syriac hagiographical poems sung between the fourth and sixth centuries to ask questions around form, agency, time, and gender in late antique poetry and the cult of the saints. He comes to Notre Dame after nine years at Saint Louis University. Prior to that, he completed a PhD at the University of Notre Dame, an MA at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, and a BA at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. His work has been supported by grants from, among others, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, the Mellon Foundation, and the Dolores Zorhab Liebmann Fund.

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is designed to equip you for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities, and for advanced church leadership.

Home / Programs / Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

What Is a Doctor of Philosophy?

A doctor of philosophy, also known as a PhD, is a doctoral degree in a specific area of study. At Calvin Theological Seminary, this terminal degree is available in the area of theology.

What Is a Theology PhD Program?

Calvin Theological Seminary’s PhD focuses on Christian theology. The graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is designed to afford students advanced training in independent inquiry, academic research, critical analysis, and scholarly writing as they define their own theological positions in dialogue with other points of view. It is aimed at equipping scholars from all parts of the world for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities and for general ecclesiastical leadership.

Theology Doctorate Career Opportunities

A PhD can prepare you for many roles, including:

  • Professor: Share your knowledge through undergraduate- or graduate-level teaching. 
  • Pastor-Scholar: Help lead a congregation and a denomination as a pastor who engages with and produces scholarship that feeds the church.
  • Author: Curate your learning and research through written works.
  • Center or institute staff: Serve as a leader for a faith-based center, institute, think tank, or other organization that values theology.

Our PhD in Theology Program

Seminary phd concentrations.

PhD concentrations are offered in the History of Christianity, Moral Theology (Ethics), New Testament, Philosophical Theology, and Systematic Theology.

  • History of Christianity: If you love studying history and the life of the global church, this concentration offers you a deeper study of the development of Christian communities and Christian thought over time.
  • Moral Theology (Ethics): For students who have a passion for ethical living, personally and communally, this concentration offers a philosophical and practical look at moral theology.
  • New Testament: Does the life of Jesus, and the acts of the early church, excite you? Do you pore over Scripture with an eagerness to understand more deeply? This concentration offers an up-close look at the New Testament of God’s living Word.
  • Philosophical Theology: If you are drawn to the work of thought-provoking authors throughout time, energized by philosophical conversations with your peers, and curious about the implications of philosophy for the church and the world, this concentration is your key to open doors of the mind.
  • Systematic Theology: What is theology? Why does it matter? How can we respond to basic questions about the Christian faith? What is the story being told in the whole of Scripture? Explore these questions and more through the systematic theology concentration. 

Theology PhD Coursework

Students are required to complete a total of twelve PhD courses for credit in biblical or theological content areas. Full-time students take six courses per year (typically three per semester) for two years. Part-time students take either four courses per year for three years or three courses per year for four years. At least three courses must be taken in the student’s discipline of specialization and at least two courses in each of the other three areas.

In addition to the twelve required PhD courses in biblical and theological content areas, students in the program must take seminar 9103RP, “Teaching & Student Formation,” during the first two years in the program and are expected to take seminar 9102RP, “Dissertation Seminar,” if they have completed the required PhD courses and are working on their dissertation. Students ordinarily will take the dissertation seminar during more than one semester. These seminars are offered on a credit/no credit basis and do not count toward the twelve required courses in the program. Students living outside of the Grand Rapids area can join by video call.

Learning in the Reformed Tradition

Calvin Seminary is committed to the confessional and theological standards of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), but students from all Christian traditions are welcome to apply. The academic freedom to probe the foundations of Reformed theology and to explore the validity of other approaches is a fundamental assumption of the PhD program.

Get Your Theology Doctorate in Michigan

The residential PhD program allows you to learn in our newly remodeled smart classrooms alongside your peers and mentors. Experience true community, below-market housing (optional), and a vibrant city at your fingertips.

Academic & Vocational Support

As an option, PhD students may use the services of the Vocational Formation Office, including formation groups with peers and personal assessment tools such as the Birkman.

Finishing Your PhD

How long does a phd take.

The PhD program at Calvin typically takes between 4–5 years to complete.

Program Details and Requirements

In addition to this summary of the PhD program, further details and requirements can be found in the PhD Handbook.

Program Outcomes

PhD graduates will leave the program with the following skills and competencies:

  • Academic research skills
  • Critical analytical skills
  • Scholarly writing skills
  • Ability to teach across the entire field of biblical and theological studies, with mastery of one biblical or theological discipline
  • Ability to provide thoughtful, fair, and respectful analyses and interpretations of positions with which they agree and of positions with which they disagree
  • Ability to articulate their own biblical and theological positions and engage in informed, respectful dialogue with other points of view
  • Understanding of and appreciation for Christian thought from around the world and from diverse points of view
  • Ability to strengthen the church’s biblical and theological understanding and its ministry, including the ministry of proclaiming the gospel and discipling believers for Christ-like service in everyday life

What Makes the PhD Program at Calvin Different from Other Seminary PhDs?

  • International learning community: Calvin Seminary offers an international community of Christian scholars eager to learn from one another. Calvin is a truly global community, with students coming from over 20 countries around the world. Over 30% of students come from outside the United States and Canada.
  • Reformed : Calvin Seminary is a learning community in the Reformed Christian tradition that forms church leaders who cultivate communities of disciples of Jesus Christ. Here you will receive a thorough grounding in confessional Reformed thought. 
  • Diverse scholarly literature: The program helps develop an awareness and appreciation of scholarly literature representing diverse points of view in the worldwide church today and of ways in which cultural and religious contexts challenge and enrich theological education.
  • Know your Christian history: Students will learn about key figures and issues in the history of Christian thought and throughout church history. 
  • Solid methodology: The Calvin Seminary PhD program teaches and practices a solid methodology of theological research. You will be introduced to proper research methods and their application as well as to important theological issues and developments.
  • Broad range of biblical and theological topics: Calvin Seminary enables teaching competency across a variety of biblical and theological topics through a broad range of coursework and comprehensive examinations. In addition, each PhD concentration provides depth and breadth of learning in a specific area.
  • Insightful pedagogy: The PhD program offers instruction in pedagogy that provides insights, skills, and practice in teaching. Courses are innovative and engaging, built on the learning and expertise of world-class professors. 
  • Supportive community: At Calvin Seminary, you will find a supportive community from the first course to the last chapter of the dissertation. Faculty, staff, and fellow students are here to support you throughout your seminary journey.
  • Significant financial support: Calvin Seminary PhD students will find substantial financial support and options for reasonable living expenses. You are guaranteed to receive tuition support between 25% and 100%.

Library and study space resources: Calvin Seminary offers high-quality literary resources and study space. Here you will discover Hekman Library—the largest private library in Michigan, and home to an entire floor of resources devoted to theology, biblical scholarship, and ministry practices.

How to Apply

Begin the journey to your potential PhD by applying now and submitting supplemental materials. Our application process will walk through the items you need to submit, and our Enrollment Management team is available for help and questions along the way.

Calvin Seminary offers a wide range of scholarships and other financial assistance. In fact, in recent years, nearly $1.5 million in scholarship funds were awarded annually.

Application Requirements

The PhD committee, in partnership with the admissions office, will make all admissions decisions. 

A Master of Divinity , Master of Theological Studies , Master of Theology , or an equivalent degree, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 (B+), from an accredited institution. All applicants must show transcript evidence that they know Hebrew, Greek, and a modern foreign language (preferably German, French, or Dutch). Applicants must also submit scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and a research paper that demonstrates their ability to do theological research and analysis at an advanced level. 

Additionally, an Autobiography (250-500 word autobiography, focusing on personal history, academic/professional background, and church/ministry involvement) and a Statement of Purpose (500 words describing your academic interests and vocational goals in pursuing a PhD at Calvin Seminary) are required.

For more information on the PhD admissions process, please see the PhD Handbook .

Applicants who are non-native in English must submit official TOEFL exam results as a part of their application for admission. A minimum internet-based total score of 90 with a score of 23 in the writing section is required. Use Calvin Theological Seminary’s institutional code 1096 to order scores.

For information on international student application requirements, visit the international student information page .

Admission Deadlines

The deadline for PhD application materials to be submitted is January 15. 

The PhD program has one start date: the Fall Semester. Admitted students will typically be required to be on-campus for an orientation in mid-August.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), like a ThD (Doctor of Theology), is a terminal degree. PhD and ThD degrees from seminaries and theological schools generally have equivalent standing. Some institutions choose to use the degree title of ThD as a way to designate a focus on Christian theological study or include Christian formation. However, many PhD programs, like Calvin’s, also focus on Christian theological study and include Christian formation.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is designed to equip students for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities, and for advanced church leadership. Calvin Seminary’s DMin program allows ministry professionals to develop advanced ministry leadership skills and spiritual formation.

The PhD can enhance pastoral and other ministry roles, but it is not required for ordination .

Start your PhD journey today when you apply now.

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Past graduates have applied their learning to a variety of ministry-based opportunities. Here are some of their stories.


Academic Support

In addition to contextual learning, the Vocational Formation Office offers students other forms of support, including formation groups with peers, vocational mentors, and assessment tools to help students identify and cultivate their strengths.

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Postgraduate study

History of Christianity PhD, MPhil

Awards: PhD, MPhil

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: History of Christianity

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Research profile

If you would like to undertake research in the History of Christianity, you will find excellent specialist supervision and library resources.

Areas of particular research strength are:

  • patristics and early Christian history
  • the reformation in Britain and on the continent
  • the history of British and European Christianity from the 18th century
  • the history of Christian missions, especially in Africa, from the 18th century

You can find out more and identify a potential supervisor by looking at the School’s Staff Profiles, which give details of research interests and publications, and email addresses.

  • School of Divinity staff profiles

We encourage you to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.

At the School of Divinity, you will join a community of around 150 research students, drawn from around the world, and from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.

You will study in a stimulating environment. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked the School first in Scotland and fifth in the UK for its research power in theology and religious studies. The majority of the research activity of our colleagues is classed as world-leading, reflecting the vibrancy of the School’s research culture.

Training and support

The ethos of the Graduate School is to promote excellence in postgraduate study, within a stimulating and supportive environment. We value equality and diversity in the School community, and an academic culture that is both critical and constructive.

  • At the start of the academic year, you will be invited to Welcome Week, an intensive introduction to study and life in Edinburgh. Some events are especially for international students new to Scotland and the UK, but everything is open to all.
  • In the first weeks, the School provides a general orientation to research skills and to wider opportunities for training and support.
  • From your first days as a PhD or MPhil student, you will work one-to-one with your primary research supervisor.
  • Your progress will be tracked, through regular supervisions and milestone reviews, to ensure that you get the support you need to bring your project to fruition.
  • You will be part of the research seminar in the History of Christianity, to which visiting speakers are invited and to which postgraduates present work-in-progress.
  • If your interest is in Patristics, you can engage with the work of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins.
  • You will be able to follow taught courses that contribute to your interests and research needs, and can also take advantage of opportunities to learn ancient and modern languages.
  • If you are a PhD student, after successful completion of your first year, you will be eligible to apply for tutoring opportunities, to gain teaching experience.

A University review (2015) commended the Graduate School for providing excellent support, such as being:

  • responsive to student feedback
  • proactive in helping new postgraduates to adjust to their studies and to life in Scotland
  • enthusiastic and practical in promoting career development

The postgraduate student committee works closely with the School to make the research student experience the best it can be.

The School of Divinity, one of the largest centres for the study of religion in the United Kingdom, is located in the historic setting of New College, close to Edinburgh Castle and overlooking Princes Street.

Resources for research are excellent:

  • You can draw on the outstanding holdings of New College Library, the University of Edinburgh’s main library, and the nearby National Library of Scotland.
  • New College Library has one of the largest theology collections in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million items and a large and rich manuscript collection.
  • The University library exceeds 2.25 million volumes.
  • The National Library of Scotland – a ‘legal deposit’ library like the British Library in London and the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge – is just around the corner.

The School provides an extensive programme of weekly research seminars and special guest lectures. In addition, three research centres provide a special focus for activity:

  • the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins
  • the Centre for Theology and Public Issues

the Centre for the Study of World Christianity

Find out more about our research

You will have access to excellent study facilities, dedicated to postgraduates. PhD and MPhil students have access 24/7, and can request an allocated desk. Masters by Research students have shared study space. All areas have printing/scanning and computer facilities.

The main postgraduate study wing has a kitchen. New College has an on-site cafe that is open during term time.

Choose your research programme

You can choose from two research programmes: the MPhil or PhD.

Each takes a different amount of time: the MPhil takes two years; a PhD takes at least three.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Studying for an MPhil commits you to:

  • at least two years of full-time study
  • write a thesis of up to 50,000 words

You will have regular one-to-one supervision and work with advice from two supervisors.

During the first year, you explore your chosen area of research and refine your research proposal. At around the nine-month mark, you will submit a draft chapter for discussion at a Review Board, together with a developed proposal for the whole thesis.

On the basis of your progress and the prospects for your research, the Review Board will make recommendations on the continuation of your studies into the second year.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Research for a PhD will require you to undertake:

  • at least three years of full-time study
  • a thesis of up to 100,000 words

For admission to the PhD programme, you will need to show a proven ability to sustain independent research under supervision, normally in the form of a masters programme that includes a dissertation.

From the beginning, the British pattern of PhD studies focusses on working towards the thesis: there is little or no coursework. This means that from the start you need to be well-prepared in any special skills you need for your research project, including languages. You will also need to be competent in academic writing in English.

On the basis of your progress and the prospects for your research, the Review Board will make recommendations on the continuation of your studies into the second year. After that, you will have an annual review to discuss your progress.

Entry requirements

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Masters by Research and MPhil: A UK 2:1 honours degree with a mark of at least 65%, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject. You should also have academic training in the area of your research project.

PhD: A UK 2:1 honours degree, a minimum US 3.25 GPA, or its international equivalent, and a masters degree in a relevant area. The masters degree should demonstrate a high level of attainment, normally with both coursework and a research dissertation marked at 67% or above (or its international equivalent, e.g. US 3.7 GPA). You should also have academic training in the area of your proposed research project.'

We may also consider your application if you have other qualifications or experience; please contact us to check before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

  • Entry requirements by country
  • English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced ( CAE ) / C2 Proficiency ( CPE ): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE : ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS , TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE , in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

  • UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

  • Approved universities in non-MESC

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Fees and costs

Tuition fees, scholarships and funding, featured funding.

School of Divinity scholarships

Scholarships are awarded on academic merit. Most are open to all, but some are ring-fenced for applicants from certain parts of the world.

  • Awards are made for both masters and PhD programmes.
  • Typically, awards are for full or partial fee costs. Fully funded awards are exceptional and highly competitive.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

  • UK government and other external funding

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Search for funding

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 8952
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Dr Simon Burton
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • School of Divinity
  • New College
  • Mound Place
  • Central Campus
  • Programme: History of Christianity
  • School: Divinity
  • College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.

PhD History of Christianity - 3 Years (Full-time)

Phd history of christianity - 6 years (part-time), mphil history of christianity - 2 years (full-time), application deadlines.

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

  • How to apply

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit a formal research proposal as part of your application.

  • Research proposal guidance

You must also submit a sample of your written academic work (3,000-5,000 words).

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Doctor of Philosophy


Program Snapshot

Prepare for more faithful service to the church or the academy..

With a combination of academic excellence and personal mentoring in an environment of confessional scholarship, Ph.D. students at Southern Seminary are trained to advance Christian scholarship for effective kingdom ministry.

3 Reasons to Study the Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty supervision.

One of the most influential components of the Ph.D. process is the mentorship and guidance that comes from a faculty supervisor. At Southern Seminary, not only will you be supervised by a member of our world-class faculty, but you will also be paired with your supervisor from day one.

Proven Excellence

Ph.D. graduates from Southern Seminary hold more teaching positions at ATS member schools than any other evangelical institution. Our graduates are presidents of seminaries, professors, and faithful church leaders around the world.

Scholarly Community

Doctoral studies are most impactful in a robust community like the one you will find at Southern Seminary. Our faculty, current students, and graduates create a community where the highest level of scholarship is cultivated both in and out of the classroom.

Available Concentrations

Southern Seminary offers one of the largest selections of Ph.D. concentrations among evangelical seminaries today.

  • Biblical Counseling and Practical Theology
  • Biblical Spirituality
  • Biblical Studies
  • Christian Apologetics
  • Christian Missions
  • Christian Philosophy
  • Christian Preaching
  • Christian Worship
  • Christian Ethics and Public Theology
  • Historical and Theological Studies
  • Philosophy and Theological Studies
  • World Religions


  • Biblical Theology
  • Church History and Historical Theology
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Systematic Theology

Modular format allows students to study without relocating to Louisville.

Students will complete modular programs with trips to campus twice each year for doctoral seminars. Each seminar session will last two weeks. Travel to campus only required during the Ph.D. coursework stage.

Training at the forefront of Christian scholarship

Frequently asked questions.

Dr. Allison talking with group of students

Any concentration offered in a modular format does not require relocating to Louisville.

Winter seminars are typically held during the last week of November and the first week of December . Summer seminars are typically held during the second & third week of May each year.

Refer to the academic calendar for current year seminar dates.

If you do not have an M.Div. but you do have a M.A. or other masters-level divinity credit, you may submit a  doctoral equivalency evaluation  to the admissions office to find out if you qualify for SBTS PhD programs.*

  • A minimum master’s level cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is expected.

During the application process you will indicate your preferred supervisor and be asked to describe your research interest but both can be subject to change until you are accepted and enrolled in the program.

During your faculty interview and during on-boarding to the program (if accepted) you will have the opportunity to discuss and receive advising on both your supervisor and your research topic.

Your final research area(s) will be determined in close consultation with and approval by your supervisor, this generally occurs during the coursework stage of your program.

Admissions for the Ph.D. program consists of:

Initial Application Submission

  • All required materials must be submitted to the Office of Admissions by the appropriate deadline (see “Admissions” tab above for more information).

Entrance Exam and Interview

  • Students who are believed to have a reasonable possibility of acceptance are invited to participate in entrance exams and faculty interviews.
  • Exams and interviews are held remotely via Zoom (travel to campus not required) on the third friday of each month.
  • For more information on Entrance Exams, click here .

The Ph.D. program is structured for 48 months (4 years). Students who take longer than four years will be assessed an additional $2,000 fee for each semester of extension beyond the four-year limit.

During the PhD student stage (coursework stage), students will complete eight seminars, usually five seminars in their major and three seminars that may be completed in any area.

Some concentrations, such as biblical studies, historical and theological studies, and philosophy and theological studies , will require four seminars in each of two separate areas. All students will take the four general education courses, four colloquia, and four installments of Prospectus Development.

In addition, students must demonstrate proficiency in two research languages (for School of Theology concentrations) or research methodology courses (for Billy Graham School concentrations).

All students must complete 2 research languages related to their dissertation research during the coursework stage of the PhD program. There are 3 options for completing these languages:

  • Complete an online, video-based research language course offered by Southern Seminary (currently, Theological French and Theological Latin are offered).
  • Self-study and complete a proficiency exam administered by the Research Doctoral Studies office during the semester.
  • Complete a doctoral-level language course at another institution and have the transcript sent to SBTS after completion.

Admissions Prerequisites

To be considered for admission in our Ph.D. program we require the following for applications:

  • For the PhD concentrations in Christian Apologetics, Christian Philosophy, Christian Ethics, Ethics and Public Theology, and Philosophy and Theological Studies, the 72 hours may consist of an M.A. or equivalent in the field (60 hours minimum in specific disciplines), with the addition of 12 credit hours in biblical languages
  • For the PhD concentrations in Christian Worship, Biblical Counseling and Practical Theology, Leadership, Missions, Evangelism, and World Religions, an M.A. or equivalent in the field (60 hours minimum in specific disciplines) may be acceptable.
  • Students requiring additional coursework may attend Southern Seminary as a “Doctoral Leveling Student” online or on-campus.
  • International transcripts will require an official evaluation from a NACES approved organization (World Evaluation Services is preferred).

*For more information about our equivalency standards, leveling options, or to request an equivalency review based on your master’s level work, please email  [email protected] .

Application Requirements

  • All applicants must receive a reference from the local church where they are a member. Family members may not complete this reference. If you are the pastor of your church, please select another church leader (associate pastor, elder, deacon, etc.) to complete the church recommendation.  Recommendation forms are automatically emailed to references via our online application.
  • Two additional academic recommendations. We suggest that a professor or a business acquaintance who can speak to academic performance complete the 2 additional recommendations required for doctoral students.
  • Transcription from the educational institution or institutions that conferred  any required degrees  should be submitted to the Admissions Office. Contact the registrar or academic records office of your previous institution(s). They may e-mail the transcripts (directly or via 3rd party such as Parchment) to [email protected] or mail copies to our physical address.  Transcripts must come directly from schools either electronically or in sealed/unopened envelopes.
  • A graduate level research paper  in the same field to which the applicant is applying  must be submitted along with the application.  You may upload this research paper directly onto the application.
  • $40 application fee –  paid after application submission.

Application Deadlines

All application materials must be received by:

September 1 – Spring matriculation

March 1 – Fall matriculation

Entrance Exams and Interviews

Entrance Exams are exams designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of the subject area in which they are applying and sometimes in related fields. Students will be notified soon after submitting all application components as to whether they are invited to participate in the entrance exam and interview.

Exams and interviews are held on one Friday each month  and are administered remotely (travel to campus not required). Click here to learn more.

Ready to learn more?

Prospective doctoral students are invited to visit Southern Seminary.

Program Cost

$1,000 down payment, and remaining balance due equally over 48 months.*

*Program tuition shown is for the 2023-2024 academic year. Additional fees are subject to the current fee schedule.

Financial Aid

Southern Seminary does not offer fully-funded scholarships or grants for the PhD program. Limited financial aid may be available for students that meet certain criteria. Click here to view our financial aid page to learn more.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate a thorough acquaintance with literature in area of specialization and the ability to engage critically and productively in this area.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate conversance with the literature in the general field of study and fields closely related to the areas of specialization.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to use standard research tools and methods in the chosen field of study.
  • Students will be able to plan and conduct research in the area of specialization and to communicate its results effectively.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of the professor inside and outside the classroom in institutions of Christian higher education.

Dr. Mohler in Alumni Chapel

Contact Admissions

Phone: (502) 897-4200

Text: (502) 305-3554

Email: [email protected]

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Theological Studies, Ph.D.

  • Learning Outcomes
  • Requirements
  • Contact Info

Saint Louis University's Ph.D. in Theological Studies trains scholars in one of two concentrations that reflect areas of research excellence and depth among our faculty: Christianity in antiquity and Christian theology. Students are formed as both scholars and teachers. 

Regardless of their concentration, students are expected to explore a wide range of methodological approaches and cultivate a range of skills vital for an ongoing career in research .  Alongside equipping students to specialize within their chosen concentrations, SLU's Department of Theological Studies mentors students in the craft of teaching through a variety of opportunities and experiences, including individualized supervision, workshops and diverse undergraduate teaching assignments.

Curriculum Overview

Christianity in antiquity.

The focal point of the Christianity in antiquity (CA) concentration is early Christianity, from its origins through the rise of Islam. This concentration deliberately bridges longstanding disciplinary boundaries between New Testament, patristics and early medieval Christianity, situating Christianity within the Greco-Roman world and the broader religious cultures of the Mediterranean.

Christian Theology

The focal point of the Christian theology (CT) concentration is Christian theology, broadly conceived. This concentration trains students to become Christian theologians by providing students with a strong background in the history of Christianity and the various subfields of Christian theology. Students in this area of concentration craft an integrated study plan in one of several major theological disciplines through coursework and individualized exams.

Graduate Handbook

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

Resources for theology students at SLU include the more than 37,000 microfilms of the Vatican Film Library, the archives of the Institute of Jesuit Sources and more than 150,000 volumes of the Divinity Library in the Pius XII Memorial Library (which contains 1.4 million books, journals and other media). The library also provides access to many key research resources, including the Patrologia Latina, Brepolis, Early English Books OnLine, ATLA, Catholic Periodical Index, J-STOR and Index of Christian Art, as well as electronic access to major journals and other indexing tools.

The Center for Digital Humanities creates products and tools to support teaching and research in historical theology. Theology faculty and graduate students are engaged in interdisciplinary work with other departments and centers at SLU, including the Department of Women's and Gender Studies and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies .

Graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers in academia, educational administration, museums, libraries, archives and nonprofit agencies. SLU's Department of Theological Studies is committed to the professional preparation of every graduate student.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program will have earned a master's degree in theology, religious studies, ancient history, or other closely related fields.

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Professional goal statement that should address why you are applying to SLU's Ph.D. program, what you intend to contribute to your field of study, and what kinds of careers you envision for yourself once you have completed your doctorate
  • A writing sample of no more than 20 pages that demonstrates an appropriately academic style of writing and contains an argument structured around a clear thesis

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate  English Language Proficiency
  • Financial documents are required to complete an application for admission and be reviewed for admission and merit scholarships. 
  • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
  • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University
  • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
  • Practical laboratory work
  • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
  • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
  • Any honors or degrees received.

WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application Deadline

Interested students should apply by Jan. 1.

Review Process

Applications are reviewed by the department’s graduate studies committee.

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

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Information on Tuition and Fees

Miscellaneous Fees

Information on Summer Tuition

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

Explore Scholarships and Financial Aid Options

  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of both the key primary sources and secondary scholarship relevant to their area of concentration.
  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the theories and methods that structure the study of theology and religion and give shape to the history of the discipline.
  • Graduates will be able to design and teach undergraduate courses within the major undergraduate courses in the department and develop into competent teachers.
  • Graduates will be able to communicate their scholarly arguments effectively in both written and oral formats.
  • Graduates will acquire the skills necessary to succeed on the academic job market as well as to flourish as successful academic professionals.
  • Graduates will be able to conduct independent research resulting in an original contribution to knowledge in their area of concentration.

Christianity in Antiquity Concentration

Christian theology concentration, non-course requirements.

Students typically  must acquire competency in French and German, and any other languages relevant to their research interests.

All doctoral students must take four written examinations. The first and second exams must be taken by the first Monday after Labor Day of year 2, and the third and fourth exams by the first Monday after Labor Day of year 3. Spring exams are typically scheduled for the first Monday of the final exam period.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 in all graduate/professional courses.

For additional questions regarding Ph.D. programs, please contact :

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  • Biblical Studies
  • Catechetics
  • History of Christianity and Church History
  • Historical and Systematic Theology
  • Liturgical Studies and Sacramental Theology
  • Moral Theology/Ethics
  • Pastoral Studies
  • Spirituality

School of Theology and Religious Studies

  • Historical Theology (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy in Historical Theology

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Historical Theology (S.T.L.)
  • Historical Theology (S.T.D.)
  • Systematic Theology (S.T.L.)
  • Systematic Theology (S.T.D.)
  • Systematic Theology (Ph.D.)

The Doctorate of Philosophy in Historical Theology represents an achievement in theological scholarship and research. The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare graduate students to make significant contributions to knowledge in historical inquiry while broadening their understanding of other areas of theology. By means of research seminars, advanced level courses, language skills, comprehensives, and an extensive research project, the program is designed to develop graduates who are capable of thorough theological understanding and careful research. The focus in the course work, comprehensive examinations, and research for and writing of the dissertation is on the thought and the works (including manuscripts) of individual theologians or schools of theology in their theological, philosophical, ecclesial, socio-political, and cultural contexts ranging from the first century to the present. A dissertation in Historical Theology should be a work of original scholarly analysis and interpretation that challenges, expands upon, modifies, and overcomes previous interpretations and that draws upon the methods of theological, philological, historical, philosophical, and literary interpretation. In addition and specific to the general requirements outlined for obtaining a Civil Degree, the doctoral degree in Historical Theology requires the following:


  • At least twelve credit hours of undergraduate or graduate philosophy. Normally, these credits should be in four of the following areas: ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, modern philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics.
  • At least fifteen credit hours of undergraduate and/or graduate courses in theology of religious studies at a B grade level or above. These should include courses in the Old and New Testaments, church history, and systematic and moral theology. Upon review of an applicant's previous studies, some prerequisite courses may be required at the discretion of the admissions committee.

Course Requirements

  • A minimum of thirty-six hours of coursework after the M.A. degree.
  • Eighteen hours (including TRS 760A: Theological Foundations) are to be taken in the historical theology at the 700-level (lecture) and 800-level (seminars). At least twelve of these eighteen hours are to be taken in 800-level seminars which require major research papers.
  • Twelve hours of electives that may be taken in any of the academic areas of the School of Theology and Religious Studies.
  • Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an inadequate background are encouraged to audit 600 level courses in order to complement their courses at the 700 and 800 level.

Students in Historical Theology are encouraged to take a minor (6 credit hours) in some area other than Historical Theology.  They are encouraged to select Church History as a minor area of concentration.

Language Requirements

Candidates for the Ph.D. must demonstrate a reading knowledge of the following languages:

  • Latin: Reading knowledge of Latin must be demonstrated by successful completion of the Latin Proficiency Exam administered by the Historical/Systematic area or by a course in Patristic or Medieval Latin. Ordinarily, the Latin requirement should be satisfied during a student's first fall semester in the program.
  • Greek: Reading knowledge of either biblical or patristic Greek must be demonstrated either by the successful completion of a reading course in biblical or patristic Greek-depending upon the student's area of concentration-or by an examination administered by the Historical/Systematic area.
  • German: Reading knowledge of theological German must be demonstrated either by passing an examination administered by the Historical/Systematic area or by passing TRS 504 Theological German.
  • A major Romance language: Reading knowledge of a modern Romance language (French, Italian, Spanish) must be demonstrated by passing an examination administered by the Historical/Systematic area.

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

The examination will be based upon a reading list drawn up by the student in consultation with the three members of the examining board. The list should include approximately fifty substantive titles drawn from both primary and secondary sources as well as works by authors in other Christian traditions. Titles may be books, or a combination of articles by a single author, equivalent to book length. The reading list in historical theology should consist of fifteen books in the student's major historical period, ten books in each of the two other historical periods, and fifteen books in the student's theological area. The structure of the comprehensive exam is explained in the Comprehensive Exam Handbook .

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Doctor of philosophy in biblical studies (phd), avg. completion time.

is between 4 - 4 ½ years for full-time students

Delivery Method

Why earn a phd in biblical studies through capital.

Our Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies will do much more than simply add two letters to the beginning of your name – it will transform the way you understand the Bible and do ministry.

In this terminal research doctorate, you will become a biblical scholar and gain deep insights into the Word of God. Through the program, students will expand their mastery of the original languages of the Bible, the cultural backgrounds of the Bible, the significance of the intertestamental period, and the history of hermeneutical frameworks and theological developments from the early church up to the present.

Course Length

Residency Requirement

Three 6-day residencies per year (locations vary)

Capstone Requirement

Research Dissertation Compare the Fundamental/Basic & Applied Research Approaches

PhD in Biblical Studies Program Cost & Financial Aid

See the Program Costs Explore the Financial Aid Options

Would You Like More Information?

Take a moment to request more information, and one of our admissions counselors will be in contact with you to provide you with further details or answer your questions.

Program Plan

Phd in biblical studies (60 credits).

Biblical Studies Courses 32 Credits

Education Theory & Practice Courses 8 Credits

The Dissertation Series 20 Credits

View the Academic Catalog for the complete curriculum plan, course descriptions and complete program details.

Schedule a Time to Chat

Want to learn more about this doctoral degree or LBC | Capital’s graduate education? Consider scheduling an appointment to talk virtually or in person with an Admissions Counselor who will be glad to answer all your questions about earning a doctoral degree.

Program Distinctives - What makes LBC | Capital's program unique?

This program blends the American and European model of PhD studies by devoting 40 hours to the coursework phase and 20 hours to the dissertation phase. Other things that set our program apart include:

  • It’s designed for life-engaged learners who need to maintain residency near their existing ministries and vocations.
  • Courses are delivered in a unique, blended learning model that combines online and face-to-face classes, including three face-to-face learning experiences each year.
  • This program uses the cohort model, which allows a group of students to travel the educational path together, supporting and encouraging each other throughout the journey. Admission is limited to 12 to 18 applicants per cohort group.

Career Paths

The PhD in Biblical Studies will prepare you for a wide range of service and ministry contexts. Here is a sampling of ministries of our PhD alumni serve in:

  • Lead Teaching Pastor in a church of any size
  • Director of a parachurch ministry or a missions organization
  • Professor of Bible or Theology in an institution of higher Christian education
  • Program Director in an institution of higher Christian education

Program Goals – In this program, students will…

  • Develop greater expertise in exegesis through advanced training in the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
  • Comprehend and analyze Scripture against the backdrop of the languages, civilizations, and literatures of the ancient world in which the revelation of God was first given to humanity.
  • Explore and evaluate the history of hermeneutical frameworks and theological developments from the early church to the present day in order to have a more informed understanding of the theological foundations of the church.
  • Be equipped to think and execute skillfully as classroom and online teachers in the rapidly changing higher education environment.
  • Be equipped to think and execute skillfully as research scholar and authors, honing the skills necessary to complete a doctoral dissertation.
  • Elect one of two approaches to research – the humanities approach most commonly employed in biblical scholarship or the empirical approach often employed in the field of education.

Course Plan

The following is the proposed schedule for this degree program.

Meet the Faculty

Mark meyer, phd, professor, phd in biblical studies program director, samuel harbin, dmin, professor, chair of bible & theology department, douglas finkbeiner, phd, professor and mabs director, joe kim, phd, professor of bible & theology, debra johnson-cortesi, phd, assistant director of cml doctoral programs, professor, michael anthony, phd, adjunct faculty, hear from students about this phd program.

Listen to our students explain why they love our PhD in Biblical Studies, what made them choose it and how it is impacting them as ministers and professionals.

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Resources for the PhD Program

Here are some additional resources that may assist you in discovering more information about this program.

  • View the PhD Biblical Studies Prospectus (pdf)
  • Compare Our Doctoral Programs

Looking for Ways to Finance Your Doctoral Degree?

LBC’s Financial Aid Office can help you navigate the process.

Fuller Seminary

Degree Completion Requirements | Faculty

PhD in Theology

School of mission and theology, center for advanced theological studies.

The PhD in Theology program at Fuller Seminary equips faculty and other leaders through the cultivation of research capacities and skills, global sensibilities, ecclesial commitments, theological discernment, personal and vocational formation, and the craft of teaching and learning.

Rigorous Scholarship

Ecclesially Located

Diverse Learning Community


Request More Information About the PhD in Theology

Contact Information

Joel Green

Faculty mentors work with PhD students in three primary concentration areas, New Testament, Old Testament, and Theological Studies.

In the Center for Advanced Theological Studies (CATS), “Theological Studies” is defined integratively, with students in this concentration working with faculty mentors specializing in Christian ethics, church history and historical theology, public theology, political theology, practical theology, Pentecostal studies, systematic theology, and theology and culture.

Veli Matti Karakainen


Students may complete their work either in residence on Fuller Seminary’s Pasadena Campus or in a hybrid format.

Students participating in the hybrid modality complete the bulk of their coursework from a distance through synchronous and asynchronous participation in doctoral seminars. Hybrid modality students must complete 26 quarter units through hybrid coursework, which entails visiting campus on four separate occasions for approximately one week at a time.

Kyong-Jin Lee

Before You Apply

Fuller’s PhD in Theology prepares graduates for vocations as faculty in theological programs in seminaries, colleges, and universities; and as leaders in ecclesial and paraecclesial institutions and organizations devoted to serving the church in the world. The PhD program equips faculty and other leaders in several ways:

  • Cultivating research capacities and skills
  • Encouraging global sensibilities
  • Nurturing ecclesial commitments
  • Promoting theological discernment
  • Fostering personal and vocational formation
  • Training in the craft of teaching and learning



  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Theological Studies


  • Christian Ethics
  • Church History
  • Historical Theology
  • Liturgical Theology
  • Practical Theology
  • Public Theology
  • Systematic Theology
  • Pentecostal Studies
  • Theology and Culture (arts and media)


  • A comprehensive knowledge of their field of theological study
  • Research skills appropriate to an area of theological exploration, sufficient to engage in original research and writing that advances theological understanding in the service of the global church
  • Critical reflection on the vocation of ecclesially informed theological scholarship, particularly with regard to teaching and learning, as well as research
  • Hospitality toward diverse theological approaches and positions, traditional and emerging, characteristic of the church catholic
  • Capacities for the cultivation of theologically reflective practices of Christian discipleship

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Faculty Mentors

Explore a collection of videos featuring PhD faculty mentors discussing their areas of expertise and their thoughts on formational doctoral studies

Kara Powell

Applying for Admission

Admission requirements.

Applicants must have a first theological master’s degree with a foundation in biblical languages (either an MDiv or Fuller’s MA in Theology, or its equivalent, from an ATS-accredited school), and a cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.5 or above. Applicants wishing to have their transcripts assessed concerning this requirement should contact the Office of Admissions for details.

During the PhD program, students will need to acquire skills in up to three research languages (in addition to required biblical language requirements), as needed for their concentration. It is highly recommended that applicants begin their study of research languages prior to beginning the program.

To be considered for admission to the PhD in Theology program, applicants must submit an online application, essay responses, writing sample, three academic references, and official transcripts from all prior post-secondary study. Applicants for whom English is a second language must provide test scores from an approved English language proficiency exam. Some requirements vary by concentration and/or research area of interest. Learn more about application requirements for Fuller’s PhD in Theology.


Online application opens: August 1 Application and file completion deadline: January 2 Notification date: March 15

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Payton Lectures

Fuller Seminary's annual event brings in leading theologians from around the world for a multi-day series of lectures and conversations

Rowan Williams

Degree Completion Requirements

The phd is awarded upon successful completion of the following:.

  • Research language requirements
  • Coursework consisting of 58, 800-level units through seminars or directed readings
  • Comprehensive examinations
  • A dissertation proposal
  • A scholarly dissertation based on research in the area of the student’s academic focus


Stage One of the PhD program consists of 46 units of seminars and directed readings, including a methods seminar or foundational course in the student’s theological studies track. After 46 units have been completed, students will take four comprehensive examinations. Students who pass the comprehensive examinations will become candidates and move into Stage Two.

Stage Two of the PhD program consists of completing another 12 units of directed readings related to dissertation research and writing. Students will pass a dissertation proposal and write a dissertation demonstrating knowledge of field research, evidence of independent research, an original contribution to the field, and appropriate presentation and format.

  • Students will have a primary mentor under whom they design their 58-unit program of seminars and directed readings.

You May Also Be Interested In

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

The DIS helps experienced leaders integrate theory and practical research to effect change in their context of service

PhD in Intercultural Studies

The PhD ICS enables practitioners to build a missiological framework on top of previous graduate work in theology to produce a thesis and be equipped for intercultural ministry or PhD research

Doctor of Ministry

Fuller’s practice-oriented Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program encourages ministry leaders to think creatively, cultivate new skills, and nurture their hearts to pursue their calling with excellence and passion in an ever changing world.

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Get to know your admissions counselor | Joel Short

I came to study at Fuller in 2004 and have worked on Fuller’s admissions team since I graduated in 2007. I am inspired by the many people I meet who are seeking to change the world by changing hearts and minds. I am privileged to listen to so many wonderful stories and to help pour light on the path. I love history and enjoy books, podcasts, museums, maps, antiques and anything else that helps me understand how the past relates to the present and the future.

[email protected] 626.584.5400

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Biblical Studies PhD Program

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  • PhD Program

Within Princeton Theological Seminary, the Biblical Studies Department regards its mission in the doctoral program as the preparation of biblical scholars and teachers in service to the church, whether as teachers in seminaries and divinity schools, colleges and major research universities, or as pastors of local congregations.

PhD Course of Study | Biblical Studies

In support of its programs, the department offers broad coverage in many of the areas and sub-disciplines in the field, with specific concentrations and offerings determined by the interests and expertise of the faculty. The driving force of the program both in Old Testament and New Testament clusters broadly around linguistic, historical, literary, and theological dimensions of textual and exegetical study.

The general aims of formal coursework are to develop familiarity with leading areas and methods of research and analysis in the study of the Old or New Testament, to acquire linguistic and historical competencies necessary to work expertly with primary sources, to prepare for the student’s Comprehensive Examinations, and to pursue specific interests relevant to the student’s scholarly development, especially in the area of the dissertation.

A typical course of study will include at its core requisite language study and a sequence of courses in biblical exegesis and theology, historical and comparative backgrounds, and reception history and consequences. In addition, a student will ordinarily take a number of electives, which allow him/her to shape his/her course of study according to personal interests. Interdisciplinary work or further specialist study can be taken from seminars offered by faculty in other departments at the Seminary or at affiliated institutions (e.g., Princeton University). Specific requirements for each of the subareas follow.

The Course of Study for Old Testament Students The program of study in Old Testament focuses on developing within students four core competencies: philology, history, exegesis, and hermeneutics. In order to achieve these competencies, the program of study in Old Testament features the following formal course requirements:

1. Ordinarily, students will take four seminars or courses per semester (the majority of which will be 4000, 5000 or 9000 level offerings). In a two-year residence, a total of 13 courses or seminars will consist of the following:

  • Four exegesis seminars or courses, normally one per semester
  • One seminar in biblical theology
  • One seminar in literary approaches to Old Testament interpretation
  • One course in the history, historiography, ancient Near Eastern background, or archaeology of the Old Testament
  • Two Accelerated Hebrew Reading courses (OT5010 and OT5011—not sequential), one in year 1 and one in year 2
  • Four semesters of the Old Testament Research Colloquium (see below)
  • Other courses as needed to attain the total number of 16 courses in a two-year residency (topical seminars, independent study, courses at Princeton University or other nearby schools)

2. As part of their first two years of residency, students shall attain and demonstrate competency (often through coursework) in Greek and Northwest Semitic (Aramaic, Ugaritic, Syriac, NW Semitic Epigraphy—see below under “Minor language competency”)

The Course of Study for New Testament Students The program of study in New Testament features the following formal course requirements: 1. Ordinarily, students will take four seminars or courses per year (5000 or 9000 level offerings). In a two-year residence, courses or seminars will come from the following core areas:

  • One seminar in Greco-Roman environment
  • One seminar in second temple Jewish environment
  • Two exegesis seminars or courses
  • Electives, which allow students to shape their course of study, such as interdisciplinary work, or further specialist study that can be taken from seminars offered by department faculty or from doctoral offerings by other Seminary and Princeton University faculty.

2. In addition, students shall attain competency in Hebrew, Greek, and one other ancient language, chosen from Aramaic, Syriac, Latin, and Coptic. Depending on the subject matter of a student’s dissertation, other language may be required.

Old Testament and New Testament Research Colloquia As a means to foster collegiality and to promote research, the department sponsors research colloquia in both Old Testament and New Testament. Six colloquia in each subarea occur over the course of the academic year. Participants include Seminary graduate students (required during residency) and faculty as well as interested visiting scholars and faculty from the local area. Papers are circulated in writing, usually two weeks in advance of the colloquium’s meeting. Each paper will be assigned two respondents. Faculty and students share responsibility for presenting papers and responses. Students in their first year are expected to give one response to a paper, while students in their second year will give one paper (often on a topic the student anticipates exploring in the dissertation).

Topic Statement In consultation with pertinent faculty members, a student will compose a two-page statement describing the general topic of the dissertation. This statement is to be submitted to the chair of the student’s Residency Committee in time for consideration by the department in its February meeting of the student’s second year. These topic statements are provisional and heuristic, serving both to aid in the student’s preparation of a thesis proposal in the third year and to guide decisions about the content of the student’s Comprehensive Examinations (especially Book-and-Block, Review Essay).

Comprehensive Examinations (for Old Testament doctoral students) Students may sit for Comprehensive Examinations upon successful completion of all residency requirements and the recommendation of their Residency Committee. There are a total of six Comprehensive Examinations, which normally are to be completed by the middle of the third year of graduate work. Some parts of these examinations are taken earlier (see below). The nature and form of the Comprehensive Examinations vary, but in each, the student’s knowledge and competence in a specified area of study is to be evaluated. The six exams are as follows: 1. Major Language Competency Attainment of competency in a student’s major language will be demonstrated as prescribed in the following:

  • Hebrew for students in Old Testament — (i) by May of the first year, either pass an exam in Hebrew prose or satisfactorily complete the Accelerated Hebrew Reading course and (ii) in May of the second year, pass an exam in Hebrew poetry. The department’s subcommittee on language study oversees all fulfillment of these exams.

2. Minor Language Competency For students in Old Testament, there are two components: (i) proficiency in Greek which may be demonstrated either by passing a competency exam in May (of either the first or second year) or by satisfactorily completing an approved course in Old Testament or New Testament that includes a substantial Greek component; and (ii) proficiency in Northwest Semitic, which may be satisfied through examination or successful completion of two courses, one from each of the following areas:

  • Northwest Semitic Epigraphy or Ugaritic
  • Aramaic or Syriac

[Faculty responsibility for overseeing these exams falls to the department’s subcommittee on language study.]

3. Old Testament Critical Issues Exam This comprehensive exam is normally to be taken early in the fall of the second year. A bibliography of important works will be given to incoming doctoral students with the expectation that they will begin reading through the bibliography during their first year and into the summer following the first year. The bibliography will include two sections: (a) classic and important current works of Old Testament scholarship (Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings, ancient Israelite religion), and (b) a reading of important ancient Near Eastern texts in translation related to the Old Testament. After the exam is graded by faculty examiners, the results will be discussed with the student and the student’s residence committee as part of the first-year review. The review normally occurs in the fall semester of the second year.

4. Book-and-Block Exam In order to prepare for an exam to be taken in the first week of the fall semester of a student’s third year, each student in the spring of the second year of residency shall choose a canonical book in which to specialize and shall indicate it to his or her Residence Committee Chair by April 1. Students will be expected to know all critical issues pertaining to the book. Based on the book they choose, students will also be prepared to be examined on the corpus of writings (the “block”) in which the book is situated. The exam will have both a written and oral component (The oral component will be conducted jointly with the oral component for the Exegetical Competency Exam [see below]). The nature of the written component will be negotiated between the student and the assigned faculty examiners before the end of May of the student’s second year. Old Testament students will ordinarily choose one of the following corpora:

  • Prophetic Literature
  • Deuteronomistic History
  • Wisdom Literature
  • Lyric Poetry
  • Apocalyptic Writings (including New Testament)
  • Ezra/Nehemiah/Chronicles

5. Exegetical Competency Exam This exam will ordinarily not cover material in a student’s area of specialization (as the Book-and-Block Exam is designed to). By the end of April of the student’s second year of residency, the department will assign faculty examiners who will notify the student of the book from which the exam passage is to be taken. Students are responsible for marshaling all necessary resources in advance of the examination, which will normally be set for the week immediately following the date of a student’s Book-and-Block exam in September, with joint oral to follow as soon thereafter as possible, though ordinarily no later than the end of September of the student’s third year. The exam is to be open-book, for which students are expected to use all the resources available to them to do advanced exegetical work. Students will be given one week to study a set passage (usually a difficult one); at the end of the week, students must be ready to discuss all aspects of the text including, as relevant, language, philology, textual criticism, literary issues, historical questions, theology, and a sufficiently persuasive close reading of the text using whatever method or combination of methods the student deems appropriate. The student is expected to demonstrate independence in exegesis, an ability to use all relevant languages, and knowledge of the primary and secondary literature. At the end of the week of study, students will turn in a copy of a seven-ten page essay (need not be polished) with an argument for their proposed close reading (including footnotes or endnotes), together with additional working notes on other exegetical aspects of the biblical text to the Office of Academic Affairs, PhD Studies. These will provide a partial basis for the ensuing oral examination.

6. Review Essay This essay is to focus on the status of the question of a particular issue in the field, normally a topic central to a student’s anticipated dissertation project. The essay is to involve a thorough review and evaluation of the secondary literature on the topic in question and is to show promise toward publication, either as an independent essay or as a part of the dissertation (often the “history of scholarship” chapter). Ordinarily, the essay is to be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs, PhD Studies before the Christmas break of the third year in the program. Faculty evaluations will be in writing and notification of pass or failure will be given by the end of the following January. Successful completion of these Comprehensive Examinations entitles a student to move directly to the Dissertation Proposal and the Dissertation.

Comprehensive Examinations (for New Testament doctoral students) Students may sit for Comprehensive Examinations upon successful completion of all residency requirements and the recommendation of their Residency Committee. A total of five Comprehensive Examinations (2 Language Competency requirements plus 3 Qualifying Examinations) are normally completed by the middle of the third year of matriculation. Occasionally some of these examinations, such as those in language competence, may be taken earlier. While the nature and form of the Comprehensive Examinations vary, each evaluates the student’s knowledge and competence in a specified area of study. The five examinations are as follows: 1. Major Language Competency Attainment of competency in a student’s major language will be demonstrated as prescribed in the following:

  • Greek for students in New Testament — (i) in May of the first year, pass an exam in New Testament Greek; and (ii) in May of the second year, pass an exam in Septuagint Greek.

2. Minor Language

Attainment of competency in a student’s minor languages will be demonstrated as prescribed in the following:

  • For students in New Testament, there are two components: (i) proficiency in Hebrew, which may be demonstrated by passing a competency exam in May (of either the first or second year) or by completing an approved course in Old Testament or New Testament, that includes a substantial Hebrew component; and (ii) proficiency in one other language chosen from the following possibilities: Aramaic, Coptic, Latin, or Syriac. Proficiency may be demonstrated through examination or through satisfactory completion of coursework during the student’s first two years of residency.

3. Qualifying Examinations

The student will be examined in each of the following three areas:

  • Second Temple Judaism and the Greco-Roman World;
  • Jesus, the Gospels, and Acts;
  • Paul and Earliest Christianity.

The student will be provided with a bibliography for each of these three areas at the beginning of matriculation. These bibliographies are established by the New Testament faculty; occasionally they may be altered to take account of a student's particular interests. A 3-hour examination is administered in each of these three areas of inquiry; normally one exam is given each week over a period of three weeks. The student's oral defense of all three examinations is administered by the New Testament faculty within a week or two after their written completion.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at franklin lakes united methodist church, new jersey, alison vanbuskirk, class of 2015.

“My call as a pastor centers on shaping a community where people can connect and be real with each other and God.”

AddRan College of Liberal Arts

Department of history, ph.d. program.

The Ph.D. program requires mastery of history in certain fields demonstrated by completing at least 30 credit hours of coursework beyond the MA (not including thesis or dissertation hours), satisfying a language requirement, passing testable and non-testable minor fields, presenting a portfolio, as well as writing and defending orally a dissertation that represents an original contribution to historical knowledge. 

Graduate Guide

The requirements for the Ph.D. include:

  •   30 hours of coursework beyond the MA
  • Courses include HIST 50963 (Historiography), if not previously taken, and HIST 80083 (History as a Profession). Students who have taken similar courses at other institutions may petition the graduate committee for a waiver and will need to take other courses in lieu of these hours.
  • At least two courses must be research seminars, one of which must be completed in the first year of the Ph.D. study
  • Demonstrated competence in a language other than English
  • A completed portfolio
  • The dissertation

Admission Requirements

Graduate Areas of Study

See where our previous graduates are now

Corpus Statue at the Billy Graham Center Wheaton College

M.A. in History of Christianity

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Why Pursue an M.A. in History of Christianity?

The History of Christianity program equips and mentors graduate students seeking general and advanced study in Christian History by providing training in historical research and writing, critical reading and analysis, historiography, foreign language study, faith integration, and vocation formation

Interested in an insider's look into our M.A. community?

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The History of Christianity program at Wheaton College provided opportunities to explore the richness and complexity of the history of the church. — Allison Brown M.A., '15, Writer and Editor, Museum of the Bible, Oklahoma City, OK

Why Study History of Christianity at Wheaton?

Historical training for the academy and the church.

Our program offers training in the discipline of Christian history by equipping students with a comprehensive knowledge of the Christian story across two millennia as it has intersected with social, political, economic, racial, gender, and cultural factors in the context of global history. To that end, students will receive training in social history, historical theology, and the history of biblical interpretation.

Explore History as Christian Vocation

Our program models and encourages methodologically sound integrative thinking for Christians in the field of history. Through mentoring as well as courses such as “Vocation Formation” and “Historiography,” graduate students will have opportunities to reflect, discern, and prepare for their calling. They will be encouraged and equipped to use their gifts as faithful scholars in a variety of contexts, whether for the academy, for the church, or for society. We believe that knowing Christian history is vital to the Christian faith and ministry.

Develop Expertise in a Christian Period

Though not required, interested students have the opportunity to select an area of emphasis in one of the three periods of study: Early Christianity, Reformation Christianity, or Modern Christianity. For those in pursuit of doctoral studies, this option of selecting an area of emphasis is highly recommended.

Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies

Explore the life and thought of the Christian church in its first seven centuries through the teaching, research, and publications of the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies.

Course Catalog

Find detailed information such as course requirements, course descriptions, faculty information, and a program overview for the M.A. in History of Christianity.

Remote and Residential Learning Options

The M.A. in History of Christianity is accessible for remote learners while retaining a robust residential experience on the Wheaton College campus in Wheaton, IL. The remote option will be available beginning fall of 2024. Please reach out to Graduate Admissions for more information.

Biblical and Theological Studies women enjoying a day out in Chicago

BTS Grad Women's Fellowship

The Biblical and Theological Studies (BTS) Grad Women’s Fellowship was started over a decade ago to provide a space for female graduate students in the department to meet together regularly throughout the year with female faculty, build relationships, provide support, and enjoy each other’s company. The group was started by Dr. Karen Jobes (Faculty Emerita) and is led today by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt and Rev. Dr. Amy Peeler. Food, fellowship, and prayer are the focus of our time together. If you are a female Bible and Theology student in an M.A. or Ph.D. program, please join us! Feel free to email [email protected]  with any questions.

Faculty Books

Calvin meets Voltaire by Jennifer Powell McNutt book cover

Calvin Meets Voltaire

Based upon a decade of research on the sources at Geneva's Archives d'Etat and Bibliotheque de Geneve, Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt provides the first comprehensive monograph devoted to Geneva's Enlightenment clergy.

Book Cover of Balm in Gilead

Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson

This collection of essays, coedited by Dr. Keith Johnson and Dr. Tim Larsen, brings together the reflections of theologians, historians, and literary critics in dialogue with the person and work of Marilynne Robinson. 

The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith by Timothy Larsen book cover

The Slain God

Despite being a major site of friction between faith and modern thought, the relationship between anthropology and Christianity has never before been the subject of a book-length study. Dr. Timothy Larsen examines the point where doubt and faith collide with anthropological theory and evidence. 

Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Service

Caesar and the Lamb

Caesar and the Lamb  by Dr. George Kalantzis focuses on the attitudes of the earliest Christians toward war and military service and tells the story of the struggle of the earliest Church, and the communities of Christ at the margins of power and society.

George Kalantzis - TowerTalk

Recent Biblical and Theological Studies News

Wheaton College IL students celebrate the first day of classes 2023

Learn more about the admission requirements to apply for the program.

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Possible Careers for M.A. in History of Christianity Students

In partnership with our Center for Vocation and Career, many of our majors find employment in church and parachurch agencies.

  • Colleges and universities
  • Junior colleges
  • Parachurch agencies
  • Religious organizations
  • Publishing houses

Alumni from the program have gone on to complete doctoral degrees at the following universities:

  • City University of NY
  • Florida State
  • Princeton Theological Seminary

Graduates of the program currently teach not only at confessional schools, but a variety of secular universities and colleges in America, as well as institutions of higher education abroad. Others have gone into teaching at high schools. Other students have entered into the publishing world, the creative writing and media field. A number of graduates serve in ministry with churches, mission agencies, charities, or para-church organizations.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Education and Congregational Studies

Study how christian faith is formed and embodied in communities of faith.

In the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Christian Education and Congregational Studies program students study how Christian faith is formed and embodied in communities of faith through the integration of insights from theology and the social sciences (psychology, education, sociology, anthropology).

Two key emphases of the program are:

  • The traditions and practices of Christian religious education in congregations and public life that empower persons for faithful living
  • The formation of youth in church and culture

Our interdisciplinary emphasis equips students to engage several fields in their research projects such as congregational studies, multi-cultural education, human development, qualitative research, history, and theology.

Meet a Current Student

Adriana (Dri) Rivera, MDiv is an educator with a love for the stories of the city and her people. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Christian Education and Congregational Studies with concentrations in Latina feminist theology and critical pedagogy. As a poet and part of the Puerto Rican diaspora, Adriana is interested in how language and stories (testimonios) can be used for decolonial and life-giving purposes in classrooms, congregations and communities.

Adriana Rivera

Degree Requirements

The PhD in Christian Education and Congregational Studies is a 40-credit hour degree program.

3 Foundational Courses (7-credit hours)

  • Hermeneutics
  • Teaching Seminar
  • Research Seminar

6 to 8 Courses in Major (18- to 24-credit hours)

  • History Theory, and Approaches to Christian Education OR History and Theories of Christian Education OR Approaches to Christian Education (Required Major Course)

3 to 4 Courses in Minor (9- to 12- credit hours)

2 Elective Courses as needed (6 credit hours)

Research Languages and/or Research Tools (2)

  • Research Language & Research Tool Option: One language related to field of research and one research tool related to field of research
  • Research Languages Option: If this option is chosen, then 2 courses in research must be taken as a part of regular course work.

Qualifying Exams

  • 4 written exams
  • 1 oral exam

Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation and Defense

Optional focus in African American/Black Religious Studies

To add a focus in African American/Black Religious Studies, a student would take a minimum of fifteen hours of courses with specific African American/Black content, as selected by the student in consultation with their advisor. Persons opting for this focus would have an African American/Black advisor or consulting co-advisor, or as a committee member. At least one of the student’s Qualifying Examination questions would be on a dimension of African American/Black religion. The student’s dissertation would incorporate some element relating to African American/Black religious life and thought.

Our Christian Education and Congregational Studies Faculty

phd in christian history

I believe the purpose of Christian education is to be emancipatory, to set people free to be children of God and co-creators with God.

Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Formation, Leadership and Culture

phd in christian history

Through my interdisciplinary approach to education, my areas of interest range from Paulo Freire’s work, critical pedagogy, global citizenship, intercultural and postcolonial studies, cultural-historical theory activity (Lev Vygotsky), and liberation theologies.

Dr. Débora Junker Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogies

phd in christian history

Garrett-Evangelical provides a unique space to discern and interpret one’s call, the coursework necessary to prepare for a variety of ministries, and the companionship necessary to sustain one on the journey.

Rev. Dr. Virginia Lee Associate Professor of Christian Education

phd in christian history

Church leaders are often bombarded with material that hints it is only by human effort the church will be effective. The study of evangelism starts with the assumption that God is active, and that our efforts are only to participate in what God is already doing.

Rev. Dr. Mark Teasdale E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism

phd in christian history

I consider learning a risk-taking (and inevitably painful) adventure in which we pursue knowledge (information), ground self in foundations of integrity (formation), and commit to live and act in ways that ensures essential well-being for all and for this planet (transformation).

Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran Associate Professor of Religious Education and Practical Theology

Degree Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of broad areas of their respective disciplines—primary sources, secondary sources, methods, and intellectual foundations
  • Demonstrate the ability to plan and conduct research and make contributions to their field
  • Develop research skills to carry into their future work as scholars
  • Demonstrate skills in oral and written communication to present and publish work in their field
  • Demonstrate competence in teaching their discipline in a designated course on pedagogy and through practical experience as teaching assistants
  • Demonstrate, through service in academy, church, and seminaries, the value of their discipline to the academy and community at large

Garrett accepts applications from students with a masters degree in religious or theological studies from an accredited college or university and proficiency in the English language.

In response to COVID-19 pandemic, PhD applications WILL NOT require GRE scores. Applications are due by January 20th.

Affording Your Education

Phd overview, housing opportunities.

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Yang Scholar Thomas Santa Maria on Mysticism and Miracles in World Christianity

Thomas Santa Maria

Thomas Santa Maria is a Yang Visting Scholar in World Christianity at Harvard Divinity School for the 2023-24 academic year. He has published in journals including the Catholic Historical Review , and the Journal of Early Modern Christianity . He comes to HDS from Yale University, where he was the Residential College Dean of Silliman College, and before that, a graduate student in renaissance studies and history. His work focuses primarily on the relationship between the body, emotions, and religion in the Early Modern period.

From Boston to Rome

I grew up around here in the Boston area. I went to the College of the Holy Cross, and one of my advisors was a Jesuit priest and professor in the history department. He was an Early Modern European historian. I said, “Maybe I can do that, too!” I was kind of like Saint Ignatius (of Loyola) who said, “I want to do what Saint Francis did or what Saint Dominic did.” And I have been able to do a lot of my research in Rome over the years.

The Catholic Reformation

The particular period I study is known as “the Catholic Reformation” or “the Counter-Reformation.” One can also simply call this period “early modern Catholicism” (1450-1773), as John O'Malley (a great Jesuit historian) did. Some major figures during this time are Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, and others.

The idea here is that Catholics in the inner circle in Rome—in the Curia—Catholics on the ground, priests, and laypeople were already thinking about ways to live more spiritual lives before Martin Luther ever posted the 95 Theses.

Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) is an interesting example, because many people look at him and think, “He was an anti-church guy!” This is due to the “Donation of Constantine” controversy, which is a text that Lorenzo Valla proved a forgery. It was a document that the popes used in order to say, “See, Emperor Constantine let Pope Sylvester have the Papal States, the authority to wear purple, the colors of kings, etc.”

Valla, taking insights from the Renaissance and especially Renaissance philology, was able to look at the Latin and say, “This was not written in the fourth century.” It was written in the ninth century, and he proved it was a fraud. Of course, the interesting thing is you might think Valla was excommunicated or burned as a heretic. No. He actually ended up being the papal secretary!

The Catholic Reformation was born out of the Renaissance, and one of the key ideas of the Renaissance is the dignity of man. A lot of people believe that once you have this great dignity of man and there's this new emphasis on how great the body is and how good creation is, that all these medieval things went away. But actually, they took off, and they are given new life, and I think one of the reasons this happened is because it took off around the world and within other cultures.

For example, take martyrdom in Japan. Many early Japanese converts to Christianity, as well as missionaries, were martyred there for refusal to reject tenets of the Catholic faith, or to stomp on crosses or other religious images. These martyrdom accounts electrified European audiences. Hearing about martyrs encouraged men to join religious orders and request to be sent on missions.

At the same time, there was another type of martyrdom at play, known as white martyrdom, or practicing intense self-mortification. Some converts to Christianity, Kateri Tekakwitha notable among them, were very zealous in their self-mortification. Hearing about converts like her may very well have spurred European Catholics to adopt these practices themselves with renewed vigor. In some says, it may have been competitive, but for sure it was a new age of asceticism.

Yang Scholars Program

What brought me to Harvard Divinity School was probably a little bit of a naivete, which is to say I think I didn’t fully understand what World Christianity is. World Christianity is a field that has a lot to do with the present and even the future as my brilliant colleague and fellow Yang Scholar Dr. Gina Zurlo would have it. This is to say that it's a major corrective to longstanding historiographic trends that present Christianity as a religion of the West when, in fact, increasingly today, Christianity is a religion of the Global South.

In fact, in a short time, China will be one of the countries with the highest population of Christians on Earth, even more so than Brazil, if Pew Research polls are correct. Of course, my research is different. I am looking at Christianity many centuries before—earlier than what most people looking at World Christianity study.

I think my initial naivete maybe has some insight, which is to say that there could be no World Christianity before there was an age of global missions. And that World Christianity—while it is future oriented—may also do well to look back to try and better understand the origins of not just how in the colonialist period Christianity changed many places, but how world trade changed Christianity, too.

During my time here, I've been fortunate in nearing completion of my first book. I’ve also been working on an article about bilocating nuns. While bilocation, meaning the ability to be in two places at once, had long been a supernatural grace that hagiographers recorded or saints experienced, there is no doubt that it flourished in early modernity, especially in Spain. Perhaps the most famous case is of Maria de Agreda, who bilocated nearly 500 times. That is, though her body never left her convent, she also travelled to the modern-day American southwest, where she claims to have evangelized the Jumano people. Interestingly, cases of bilocators also exploded in the new world. We have nuns who claimed that they were bilocating battling pirates in the Caribbean and even battles in the lowlands, in mainland Europe, as well as taking on missionary and catechetical activities in Asia for example.

Mysticism and Madness

I’ve had the opportunity this semester to teach my class, “Mysticism and Madness in the Early Modern World.” We're looking at what a lot of these mystics were saying and trying to understand what was so animating in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. We’re asking, “What does it mean to be a mystic?”

Although we think of “saints” and “mystics” as synonymous, in those times mysticism was read more under a hermeneutic of suspicion. So, if you're talking about a mystic, in all likelihood, you were talking about a heretic.

I think the students are enjoying it, and I'm certainly getting a lot out of it. I have students from a variety of different faiths and many of them are curious about issues of gender in all of this. So many of these great mystics were women.

There's a synod right now in the Catholic Church—the Synod on Synodality meeting—which is raising a lot of questions about the role of women in the church. Many of my Catholic students have gone into this class seeking insights from these mystics about a way to proceed with women in the church.

Advice for Yang Applicants

I say, “Apply!” There is an embarrassment of riches here in terms of resources—not just at the Divinity School but at the rest of Harvard University—and what HDS and Harvard are able to offer a person studying Christianity is immense. But it’s not just the available resources, another great benefit is in the students, faculty, and people that you can collaborate with.

There are so many people here interested in these questions, and they're not all at the Divinity School. So, I would encourage openness to conversation with colleagues here and elsewhere and in other departments, and to get involved in so many things at the University. It’s very fruitful.  

— Interview conducted and edited by Suan Sonna, HDS news correspondent

Editor’s note: This is final interview in our special series spotlighting the 2023-24 Yang Visiting Scholars in World Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. You can read more about Yang Scholars Gina Zurlo and Nathanael Homewood on the HDS website.

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