PhD Theology

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Students interested in furthering their theology education can find Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in the subject online, although they are extremely rare. This terminal degree prepares graduates for leadership positions, including pastor, priest, missionary or professor.

Individuals aspiring to enter the clergy or teach at a seminary, college or university find a Ph.D. program in biblical or renewal studies to be a good foundation. Comprised of religious and philosophical studies, the curriculum covers such topics as New and Old Testament, bible exposition and global Christianity. Seminars, readings and research culminate in a student's dissertation. Prerequisites include a master's degree in a related field, such as religion or philosophy. Some programs require a degree of proficiency in Hebrew and Greek.

While many Ph.D. in Theology programs highlight Christian religion as a whole, some programs allow students to choose areas of concentration. Possible specialties include New Testament and systematic theology, although concentrations will vary by school. Since Ph.D. in Theology programs typically prepare students for academic positions, they often incorporate teaching practices into the curriculum. Theology programs of this level also emphasize research and critical reflection. Students will conduct independent research and craft a dissertation, which they need to successfully defend in order to qualify for graduation.



Theology Ph.D. program is usually completed within 4 years. This time frame takes into consideration courses, research and exams. At the end of the program, students must pass written and oral examinations and defend their dissertation. Some online programs may require short-term visits to campus in conjunction with online courses.
Students need computer and Internet access to use the online class management systems. Instructors combine traditional texts with audio and video presentations. Classmates and instructors communicate by telephone, e-mail and online chat rooms.



Applicants usually need a Master of Divinity for admission. Some schools will accept students who have master's degrees in closely related areas, such as theology or religion. A bachelor's degree in religion, philosophy and theology may be acceptable in certain programs. Students will likely have to demonstrate their proficiency in at least one foreign language, such as Hebrew, Latin or Greek.



Initial coursework may involve classes focusing on the history of biblical and theological studies. Students then develop individual programs of study by choosing concentration areas. Some courses may include the following:

  • Church and women
  • Spirituality and psychology
  • Christian philosophy
  • Virtues and ethics
  • U.S. theology



Graduates with a Ph.D. in Theology have a variety of career choices, including professor, youth pastor, priest or director.