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Guide to Theology PhD Programs

Table of Contents

The first ever PhD was awarded in the 12th century . While these days you can get a PhD in almost any field of study, in those early years the three main areas were law, medicine, and theology. If you’re interested in earning your PhD in theology, you’re embarking on a sacred, historical pursuit.

Even though this type of program has been around since the invention of PhDs, you probably still have some questions. In addition to the basics, this guide will review program structure, costs, coursework, dissertations, and more. We’ll end with a directory of over 150 programs for you to explore.

Let’s get started!

What Are PhD in Theology Programs?

A PhD in theology is a research-focused doctoral program for students who are interested not only in an exhaustive study of theology but also in making original contributions to the field through their own research. Theology, by definition, is the study of God. Students in these programs will spend about 4–5 years utilizing various modalities in pursuit of this topic.

You can earn your PhD in theology from many universities around the country. If you’re looking for an Ivy League education, you can earn your doctorate from a school like Princeton or Harvard . If you want to attend a doctorate program at a Christian university, there are excellent options like Wheaton or Moody . Or maybe you want something in between those options and are drawn to a school like Notre Dame . Whatever you value in a school, you have many possibilities!

PhD in Theology vs. ThD (Doctor of Theology) vs. DMin (Doctor of Ministry) Programs

When researching PhD programs, you will find variations in degree names. While there are many programs specifically labeled “PhD in Theology,” you’ll also discover others like “ThD” or “ Doctor of Ministry .” Let’s look at some similarities and differences between these three:

Yes Yes Yes
General theology. Usually includes study of non-Christian theologies. Targets Christian theology in specific. Not as much focus on world religions. Study of theology for the purpose of application to active ministry.
Tends to be more theoretical in nature. Tends to be more theoretical in nature. Tends to be more practical in nature.

One of the initial decisions you’ll need to make is whether you prefer to pursue a theoretical discipline or a practical discipline and if your interest lies exclusively in Christian theology or extends to the study of theology beyond Christianity.

PhD in Theology Program Overview

While there are several degree options, for the sake of simplicity, let’s look a little deeper into what your standard PhD in theology program might entail. There will obviously be great variations based on schools and the type of degree, but this overview should give you a good glimpse into what to expect.

Program Structure

A PhD program is typically structured into two main phases. First is the coursework and languages phase. Students take courses, complete assignments, and have exams or reviews. This usually takes around two years and, at some schools, can overlap a bit with the second stage.

Phase two is where things take a turn. After a couple of years of taking courses, students begin the two-to-three-year dissertation phase. This is where they undertake substantial research in order to produce original ideas, advancements, or theories within their scope of study based on their research findings. (We’ll cover more dissertation details in just a bit.)

Year Program Structure
Full-time courses, end-of-year reviews by the residence committee
Full-time courses, end-of-year reviews by the residence committee
Comprehensive exams and dissertation proposal
Dissertation study, defense, and possible completion
(If needed) continuation of dissertation study, defense, and completion

As an example, here’s a brief overview of the PhD program at Princeton .

Curriculum and Coursework

Because a PhD is so focused on original research and contribution, there are many variations on curriculum and coursework based on students’ individual pursuits. But let’s look at a sample program from Notre Dame to get a basic idea of what kind of coursework to expect.

Like most (if not all) PhD in theology programs, Notre Dame has language course mandates. They necessitate “basic competence in two modern languages and one ancient language.” All Notre Dame PhD students must fulfill these requirements regardless of their specific areas of interest.

After that it gets a bit more varied. Under the PhD in theology umbrella, Notre Dame has six areas of coursework concentration, from which each student must choose one: Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, History of Christianity, Liturgical Studies, Moral Theology/Christian Ethics, Systematic Theology, or World Religions and World Church.

Coursework comprises classes based on the student’s specific area of focus combined with intensive language studies.

Theology PhD Dissertation

As previously noted, the dissertation is a huge component of a PhD program. Within their particular area of focus, students will choose a research topic and spend years conducting original research in order to contribute new information to their field of study.

After completing research, students will compile a report, proposal, book, or other appropriate medium to present their findings. They must participate in a dissertation defense, which happens in front of a committee and other members of the school and/or community. Successful presentation and defense of their dissertation before the committee will lead to the conferral of a doctorate degree.

To get a feel for past dissertation topics and to read through some completed projects, check out these examples from Georgetown , Loyola , and Liberty universities.

How Much Do Theology PhD Programs Cost?

It may be surprising to learn that the cost of a PhD program can vary wildly, ranging anywhere from completely free to quite expensive.

Free? You heard right. Some colleges award full tuition funding or fellowships to students in good standing. Fellowship programs can offer free tuition, stipends, and even sometimes health insurance. In exchange, students spend at least a couple of years teaching or working as graduate assistants in undergraduate- or master’s-level programs. Check out Notre Dame or Wheaton for examples of this.

On the other end, some schools operate with a more familiar tuition model. Fuller’s entire program, for instance, is around $50,000 in tuition. Graduate Theological Union is substantially pricier at $37,200 per year. Some of these schools offer financial aid or scholarship opportunities.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Theology?

A PhD in theology can open many doors—especially when it comes to academia. More often than not, universities and colleges require professors to have a doctorate. Over 70% of PhD in theology graduates pursue a career in academia, with an additional 6% continuing to earn another post-doctoral degree.

That being said, graduates certainly aren’t limited to academia. Over 20% of graduates choose a different road. Other career paths include leadership positions within denominational organizations, author, pastor, head of large faith-based organizations, college president, government positions, and more.

It should be noted that earning your doctorate doesn’t automatically qualify you for these high-level positions. Often, along with a doctorate, jobs like these require plenty of hands-on professional practice. Make sure you’re earning real-world experience alongside your degree.

If you’re ready to start the next step and start working toward your PhD in theology, check out our program directory below to find the best one for you!

Browse Theology PhD Programs

158 Schools Found

Amridge University

Turner School of Theology

Montgomery, Alabama

Doctor of Ministry

Offered Online

Doctorate in Biblical Studies - New Testament

Doctorate in biblical studies - old testament, doctorate in interdisciplinary studies, huntsville bible college.

Huntsville, Alabama

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Biblical Leadership

International baptist college.

Chandler, Arizona

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

Phoenix seminary.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Harding university.

College of Bible and Ministry

Searcy, Arkansas

America Evangelical University

Gardena, California

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min)

Azusa pacific university.

Department of Theology

Azusa, California

Berkeley School of Theology

Berkeley, California

Bethel Seminary-San Diego

San Diego, California

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Biblical and Theological Engagement

Doctor of ministry (dmin) in church leadership, doctor of ministry (dmin) in congregation and family care, doctor of ministry (dmin) in transformational leadership, bethesda university of california.

Theology Department

Anaheim, California

Biola University

Talbot School of Theology

La Mirada, California

Claremont School of Theology

Claremont, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology

Fuller theological seminary.

School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences

Pasadena, California

Doctorate in Theology

Graduate theological union.

Department of Theology and Ethics

Doctorate in Theology and Ethics - Christian Theology Concentration

Doctorate in theology and ethics - comparative theology, doctorate in theology and ethics - hindu theology, doctorate in theology and ethics - islamic philosophy and theology, doctorate in theology and ethics - philosophical theology, doctorate in theology and ethics - theology and science, phd in christian spirituality, king's university.

Van Nuys, California

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) - Executive Leadership

Doctor of ministry (dmin) - messianic jewish studies, doctor of ministry (dmin) - spiritual formation and direction, doctor of ministry (dmin) - women in ministry leadership, pacific school of religion, santa clara university.

Jesuit School of Theology

Santa Clara, California

Doctorate in Sacred Theology

Southern california seminary.

Bible and Theology Department

El Cajon, California

The Master's University and Seminary

School of Biblical Studies

Santa Clarita, California

Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Counseling

University of redlands.

Graduate School of Theology

Redlands, California

World Mission University

Los Angeles, California

Doctor of Ministry in Christian Counseling and Spiritual Formation (DMin in CCSF)

Denver seminary.

Littleton, Colorado

Iliff School of Theology

Denver, Colorado

Doctor of Ministry in Prophetic Leadership

District of columbia, catholic university of america.

School of Theology and Religious Studies

Washington, District of Columbia

Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality

Doctor of philosophy in liturgical studies and sacramental theology, doctor of philosophy in moral theology/ethics, doctor of philosophy in systematic theology, doctor of sacred theology in biblical studies, doctorate of sacred theology in historical theology, doctorate of sacred theology in liturgical studies and sacramental theology, doctorate of sacred theology in moral theology/ethics, doctorate of sacred theology in systematic theology, howard university, pontifical faculty of the immaculate conception at the dominican house of studies, pontifical john paul ii institute for studies on marriage and family, doctor of philosophy in theology (ph.d.) in person, marriage, and family, doctorate in sacred theology (s.t.d.) in marriage and family, wesley theological seminary, ave maria university.

Ave Maria, Florida

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Barry university.

Department of Theology and Philosophy

Miami, Florida

Palm Beach Atlantic University

School of Ministry

West Palm Beach, Florida

Doctorate in Practical Theology

South florida bible college and theological seminary.

Deerfield Beach, Florida

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree

Southeastern university.

Ministry and Theology Department

Lakeland, Florida

Doctorate in Organizational Leadership - Ministry Leadership

Yeshivah gedolah rabbinical college.

Miami Beach, Florida

Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Honoris Causa

Beulah heights university.

Atlanta, Georgia

Columbia Theological Seminary

Decatur, Georgia

Doctor of Educational Ministry

Emory university, georgia christian university.

School of Divinity

Interdenominational Theological Center

Luther rice college & seminary.

Lithonia, Georgia

Mercer University

School of Theology

Macon, Georgia

Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary Federation Inc.

Chicago, Illinois

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Congregational Development

Catholic theological union at chicago, chicago theological seminary, doctor of ministry in preaching, garrett-evangelical theological seminary.

Evanston, Illinois

Loyola University Chicago

Doctorate in integrative studies in ethics and theology, lutheran school of theology at chicago, mccormick theological seminary, meadville theological school of lombard college, moody bible institute, doctorate of ministry in biblical preaching, northern baptist theological seminary.

Lisle, Illinois

Doctor of Ministry in Theology

Trinity international university-illinois.

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Illinois

Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies

Korea doctor of ministry, university of saint mary of the lake.

Mundelein, Illinois

Wheaton College

School of Biblical and Theological Studies

Wheaton, Illinois

Doctorate in Biblical and Theological Studies

Anabaptist mennonite biblical seminary.

Elkhart, Indiana

Doctor of Ministry in Leadership

Christian theological seminary.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Concordia Theological Seminary

Graduate Department

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Grace College and Theological Seminary

Winona Lake, Indiana

Doctor of Ministry, Ministry Leadership

Oakland city university.

Oakland City, Indiana

Doctor in Ministry

University of notre dame.

Notre Dame, Indiana

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary

Ankeny, Iowa

University of Dubuque

Dubuque, Iowa

Saint Paul School of Theology

Leawood, Kansas

Asbury Theological Seminary

Wilmore, Kentucky

Doctor of Philosophy - Biblical Studies

Lexington theological seminary.

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Louisville, Kentucky

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

New orleans baptist theological seminary.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Maple Springs Baptist Bible College and Seminary

Capitol Heights, Maryland


Boston college.

School of Theology and Ministry

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Doctorate in Theology and Education

S.t.d. in christian spirituality studies, boston university.

Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology with Spirituality Studies Concentration

Gordon-conwell theological seminary.

South Hamilton, Massachusetts

Calvin Theological Seminary

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ecumenical Theological Seminary

Detroit, Michigan

Western Theological Seminary

Holland, Michigan

Luther Seminary

Saint Paul, Minnesota

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

St. Paul, Minnesota


Wesley biblical seminary.

Ridgeland, Mississippi

Aquinas Institute of Theology

Saint Louis, Missouri

Concordia Seminary

Covenant theological seminary, eden theological seminary.

Webster Groves, Missouri

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Kansas City, Missouri

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Theology

Doctor of philosophy in biblical studies, nazarene theological seminary, doctor of ministry in black leadership and ministry, doctor of ministry in spiritual formation and discipleship, doctor of ministry in transformative mission for changing contexts, saint louis university-main campus.

Department of Theological Studies

Doctorate in Theological Studies

Drew university.

Drew Theological School

Madison, New Jersey

Doctorate in Doctor of Philosophy - Bible and Cultures Specialization

Doctorate in doctor of philosophy - theological and philosophical studies specialization, new brunswick theological seminary.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Princeton Theological Seminary

Biblical Studies Department

Princeton, New Jersey

Doctorate in Biblical Studies

Colgate rochester crozer divinity school.

Rochester, New York

Fordham University

Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education

Bronx, New York

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

New York, New York

New York Theological Seminary

Doctor of ministry social justice cohort, nyack college.

Alliance Theological Seminary

Nyack, New York

Saint Vladimirs Orthodox Theological Seminary

Yonkers, New York

Unification Theological Seminary

North carolina, campbell university.

Divinity School

Buies Creek, North Carolina

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Doctor of Theology

Gardner-webb university.

Boiling Springs, North Carolina

Doctor of Ministry in Christian Ministries

Hood theological seminary.

Salisbury, North Carolina

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Supervision

Doctor of ministry (dmin) in community advocacy and social justice ministry, doctor of ministry (dmin) in leadership ministry, doctor of ministry (dmin) in pastoral theology and care, manna university.

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Shepherds Theological Seminary

Cary, North Carolina

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Doctor of Education - Christian Counseling Emphasis

Doctor of education - christian education emphasis, doctor of philosophy - applied theology track, doctor of philosophy - biblical studies track, doctor of philosophy - christian counseling track, doctor of philosophy - christian leadership track, doctor of philosophy - historical theology track, doctor of philosophy - pastoral theology track, doctor of philosophy - systematic theology track, doctor of philosophy - theological studies, doctor of philosophy - theology and worship track, doctorate of ministry - biblical and theological studies, doctorate of ministry - biblical counseling, doctorate of ministry - christian leadership, doctorate of ministry - ministry to women, doctorate of ministry - next generation ministry, wake forest university.

Winston Salem, North Carolina

North Dakota

Trinity bible college and graduate school.

Ellendale, North Dakota

Doctor of Philosophy - Practical Theology

Ashland university.

Ashland, Ohio

Methodist Theological School in Ohio

Delaware, Ohio

Payne Theological Seminary

Wilberforce, Ohio

United Theological Seminary

Dayton, Ohio

University of Dayton

Religious Studies Department

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology

Winebrenner theological seminary.

Findlay, Ohio

Family of Faith College

Global Awakening Theological Seminary

Shawnee, Oklahoma

Doctor of Theology (ThD)

Oral roberts university.

College of Theology and Ministry

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Western Seminary

Portland, Oregon


Clarks summit university.

Baptist Bible Seminary

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Evangelical Theological Seminary

Myerstown, Pennsylvania

Doctor of Biblical Studies

Doctor of philosophy in christian counseling, lancaster bible college.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster Theological Seminary

Missio theological seminary.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Trinity episcopal school for ministry.

Ambridge, Pennsylvania

United Lutheran Seminary

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Villanova University

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Villanova, Pennsylvania

Westminster Theological Seminary

Glenside, Pennsylvania

Korean Doctor of Ministry

South carolina, anderson university.

College of Christian Studies

Anderson, South Carolina

Doctor of Ministry in 21st Century Ministry

Bob jones university.

Greenville, South Carolina

Erskine College

Erskine Theological Seminary

Due West, South Carolina

North Greenville University

Tigerville, South Carolina

Doctorate in Ministry

South dakota, sioux falls seminary.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Freed-Hardeman University

Henderson, Tennessee

Lipscomb University

Nashville, Tennessee

Memphis Theological Seminary

Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South Christian College

Milligan university.

Emmanuel Christian Seminary

Milligan, Tennessee

Pentecostal Theological Seminary

Cleveland, Tennessee

Richmont Graduate University

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Spiritual Formation and Leadership

Sewanee-the university of the south.

Sewanee, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University

Doctor of ministry (d.min.) in integrative chaplaincy, abilene christian university.

Abilene, Texas

Austin Graduate School of Theology

Austin, Texas

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Baylor university.

George W. Truett Theological Seminary

Waco, Texas

Brite Divinity School

Fort Worth, Texas

Doctor of Philosophy: Biblical Interpretation (Ph.D.)

Dallas theological seminary.

Dallas, Texas

Doctor of Educational Ministry (DEdMin)

Grace school of theology.

Conroe, Texas

Houston Graduate School of Theology

Houston, Texas

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Missional Leadership

Doctor of ministry (dmin) in pastoral care, doctor of ministry (dmin) in preaching, doctor of ministry (dmin) in spiritual direction, oblate school of theology.

San Antonio, Texas

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in African American Pastoral Leadership

Doctor of ministry (dmin) in pastoral leadership, doctor of ministry (dmin) in spiritual formation in the local community, doctor of ministry (dmin) in spirituality and ministry, doctor of ministry (dmin) in u.s. hispanic/latino ministry, doctor of philosophy (phd) in spirituality, southern methodist university.

Perkins School of Theology

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie, Texas

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Leaderships

Liberty university.

Lynchburg, Virginia

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biblical Studies

Doctor of philosophy (ph.d) in theology and apologetics, doctor of philosophy (ph.d) in theology and apologetics and apologetics, doctor of philosophy (ph.d) in theology and apologetics and church history, doctor of philosophy (ph.d) in theology and apologetics and new or old testament biblical studies, doctor of philosophy (ph.d) in theology and apologetics and theology, south university.

Glen Allen, Virginia | Savannah, Georgia | Tampa, Florida

Union Presbyterian Seminary

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia Beach Theological Seminary

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Expository Preaching

Virginia theological seminary.

Alexandria, Virginia

Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality

Virginia union university, doctor of ministry (dmin) in community health and sustainability, doctor of ministry (dmin) in global leadership and institutional reform, doctor of ministry (dmin) in preaching and social concern, doctor of ministry (dmin) in worship and the creative arts, doctor of ministry (dmin) in youth and young adult engagement, virginia university of lynchburg, faith international university.

Tacoma, Washington

Nashotah House

Nashotah, Wisconsin



Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

Program Description

The Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies is a comprehensive and rigorous program designed to deepen your understanding of both the Old and New Testaments, while also equipping you with advanced research skills and theological insights. This program is tailored for individuals seeking a career in biblical research, seminary teaching, or those who aspire to elevate their pastoral sermon preparation to an expert level.

Core Components

Old Testament Studies: Deep exploration of the historical, cultural, and theological contexts of the Old Testament.

New Testament Studies: Detailed examination of the New Testament, focusing on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Pauline epistles, and the apocalyptic literature. Historical and Contemporary Theologies: Analysis of the development of Christian thought from early church fathers to contemporary theologians, with an emphasis on how these perspectives shape modern understanding of the Bible. Interpretative Strategies and Hermeneutics: Advanced study in biblical interpretation methods, including historical-critical, literary, and sociological approaches. Seminars and Colloquia: Regular participation in scholarly discussion boards with peers and faculty, fostering an environment of academic inquiry and debate. Capstone: Original research project that contributes significantly to the field of Biblical Studies. Literature review essay, and practical capstone

Enrollment Periods & Deadlines

The program is online, self-paced, with an expected timetable of 2-4 years to complete. Since it is self-paced students are able to finish earlier or later than the suggested timetable, without penalty. Students are to complete each course, in the order given, with no substitutions. 

Since this will be delivered via online course modules, we are able to accept new students year round without any enrollment deadlines. 

Admission Requirements

Students must show that they have been awarded a degree equivalent to a Master's degree from an accredited institution or verifiable Christian seminary or a resume showing 12+ years of extensive ministry experience with an accompanying written recommendation from the ministry listed on the resume.  Admission credentials are not reviewed until the student submits all work for grade and graduation, therefore we strongly urge every student to ensure they meet the admission requirements prior to joining the program. If you need a faculty member to confirm if they are eligible for the program, they are free to email or call the office. 

Credit Policy

This program does not accept transferred credits nor do any credits earned in this program transfer to other institutions

Grading System

This program operates solely on a Pass/Fail grading system. There are quizzes, discussion boards, and capstone projects. Students must pass each class for them to be eligible for graduation.  ​

Cost of Attendance

There is no tuition for this program. Textbooks are not required. There is no money required up front. There are a few small fees to process your graduation. 

Diploma: $250 Capstone Review: $250 Diploma Priority Shipping: $45 International Shipping: $75

Every student enrolled in the program will be required to pay, at minimum the capstone and the diploma fee. International students must pay the international shipping fee, while the priority shipping fee is optional.   

The printed diploma could take up to 25 business days to receive. These timetables are even longer for international students. 

International Students

We do welcome international ministers to enroll into this program, however there will be a mandatory additional fee for shipping as indicated above in the Cost of Attendance section. 

Student Resources

Students enrolled in this program do not have the same access to student resources and Professors as other enrolled, full-time students of our seminary. This program is strictly correspondence based where the student will self-learn and has no option for one-on-ones with faculty unless the student wishes to purchase private tutoring from one of our Professors. 

Students enrolled in this program will not have access to our digital library for their thesis research, however, all required textbooks for this course is provided free of charge. 

Program Authorization

Queens College of Theology may legally offer this program pursuant to an exemption from the state authorization requirements by the University of North Carolina System. Please see the attached letter granting approval from the State. 

The State Authorization Unit of the University of North Carolina System Office serves as the official state entity to receive complaints concerning post-secondary institutions that are authorized to operate in North Carolina. If students are unable to resolve a complaint through the institution’s grievance procedures, they can review the Student Complaint Policy (PDF) and submit their complaint using the online complaint form at https://studentcomplaints.northcarolina.edu/form. 

For more information contact: North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints 223 S. West Street, Suite 1800 Raleigh, NC 27603 (919) 962-4550 To file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice, please visit The State Attorney General’s web page at: http://www.ncdoj.gov/complaint. North Carolina residents may call (877) 566-7226. Outside of North Carolina, please call (919) 716-6000. En Espanol (919) 716-0058. If you choose to mail a complaint, please use the following address: Consumer Protection Division Attorney General’s Office Mail Service Center 9001 Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 Students with a complaint should contact school administration immediately, and proper internal procedures will commence. Students will have the right to review the complaint and respond to allegations before them. 

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Top 10 Best PhD in Theology Programs [2024]

Lisa Marlin

A PhD in theology is an advanced degree that will allow you to gain in-depth insights into biblical and theological themes. With a doctorate in the field, you’ll be qualified to hold leadership or senior administration roles in the church, work as a pastor or youth minister , or teach theology or philosophy at a post-secondary level.

Read on to discover the best theology doctorate programs in the country and how many theology PhDs are incredible online doctorate programs .

Table of Contents

Best PhD Theology Programs

Boston university, school of theology.

Doctor of Philosophy Program

Boston University logo

Boston University’s School of Theology sets itself apart from other theology schools with its PhD with an emphasis on Christian traditions and the practices, histories, ethical values, and beliefs of Christian institutions. This PhD program offers three tracks: biblical and historical studies, theology, ethics, philosophy, and practical theology.

  • Courses:  Object relations theory for pastoral relationships, transformative faith formation & digital media, and political theology.
  • Credits:  44
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition : Full funding
  • Financial aid: Full tuition fellowship, stipend, scholarships, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 20.1%
  • Location:  Boston, Massachusetts

Dallas Theological Seminary

Doctor of Philosophy

Dallas Theological Seminary logo

Dallas Theological Seminary is a well-known non-denominational theological institution with a strong grounding in the Christian faith. Along with theology, it offers a range of programs that link arts, education, and media to religion and theology. Students can major in either biblical studies or theological studies.

  • Courses: Theological education in intercultural contexts, advanced old testament biblical theology, and modern theology & theologians.
  • Credits: 36 hours (61 for bachelor’s degree holders)
  • Tuition : $697 per credit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, loans, and military benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Location: Dallas, Texas

Grace Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry in Ministry Leadership

Grace Theological Seminary logo

With support from the Grace College of Liberal Arts, Grace Seminary, strives to mold students into valuable ministry professionals. This theology PhD program equips students with leadership skills for ministry administration, hiring, training, and mentoring.

  • Courses:  Current theological issues, team staffing, mentoring, coaching, and practice of ministry leadership.
  • Credits:  30
  • Delivery mode: Hybrid
  • Tuition : $2,088 per unit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships and fellowships.
  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Location: Winona Lake, Indiana

Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School

Doctor of Philosophy in Religion

Harvard University logo

Harvard Divinity School collaborates with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to offer programs covering all major world religions. It draws on faculty from many disciplines, such as history, anthropology, and philosophy, and theology. This doctorate degree in theology focuses on world religions, religious thought and traditions, and how culture relates to religion.

  • Courses: Judaism & the making of Christianity, Evangelism in America, and Hebrew bible studies.
  • Duration:  5-7 years
  • Tuition : $30,472 per year
  • Financial aid: Institutional grants and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 5%
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Calvary University

Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology

Calvary University logo

Calvary University offers students affordable education in religious studies and produces scholars with a biblical outlook on life and work. This PhD theology program develops bible experts skilled in the testaments’ original languages.

  • Courses: Hebrew intensive, exegesis in the Greek new testament, and biblical young earth creationism.
  • Credits: 60 (without biblical language courses) or 78 (with biblical language courses)
  • Duration:  4 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus and online options
  • Tuition : $347 per credit hour
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, tuition reduction, military benefits, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri

The University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

PhD Program in Religious Studies

University of Iowa logo

Iowa University’s Department of Religious Studies’ PhD program provides students with a comprehensive understanding of various religions and their changing faces in the modern world. This PhD program develops advanced theology practitioners as a standalone discipline and equips them with useful knowledge applicable to other fields like law, diplomacy, medicine, journalism , social advocacy, and counseling.

  • Courses: Genealogies of religion, Asian religions in the modern world, and methods and theories in religion.
  • Credits: 72 semester hours
  • Duration: 6 years (5 years for MA holders eligible for credit transfer)
  • Delivery mode:  On-campus
  • Tuition : $12,065 per year
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, fellowships, and teaching assistantships.
  • Acceptance rate: 84.3%
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Fordham University, Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education

PhD in Theology

Fordham University logo

The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University combines practical spiritual wisdom and academic knowledge to create leaders with a strong outlook on justice, solidarity, and service. This doctorate of theology offers five concentrations: bible, history of Christianity, Judaism & Christianity in antiquity, theological & social ethics, and systematic theology.

  • Courses: Biblical Hebrew introduction, history of Christianity, and theological anthropology & human diversity.
  • Credits: 36 minimum
  • Duration: 7 years average
  • Tuition : $960 per credit
  • Financial aid: Grants, scholarships, assistantships, loans, and veteran benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 52.5%
  • Location: New York City, New York

Liberty University

PhD in Theology and Apologetics

Liberty University logo

Liberty University is well-known for its various programs in theological and biblical studies, which features a rare collection of books worth more than $1 million, including a 111-foot 16th century Torah scroll and a functioning replica of the Gutenberg Press. This PhD program in Theology and Apologetics is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and designed for Christian students who aspire to become church leaders.

  • Courses: Theological method, apologetic method, and bibliology.
  • Credits: 57 credit hours
  • Duration:  3.5 years average
  • Delivery mode: Online (following initial one week on-campus)
  • Tuition : $410 per credit hour
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 50.1%
  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Columbia University in the City of New York, Department of Religion

PhD in Religion

Columbia University logo

Columbia University is one of the nation’s leading institutions for religious studies, giving students access to valuable sources of knowledge, including the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York Public Library, and the Asia Society, along with its own collection of ten million volumes. This doctorate program is not standalone — it starts with a MA or M.Phil. and ends with a PhD.

  • Courses: Economic theology, law & medieval Christianity, and theories of transmission & community formation.
  • Duration:  7 years
  • Financial aid: Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and stipend.
  • Acceptance rate: 6.7%
  • Location:  New York City, New York

The University of Notre Dame, Department of Theology

University of Notre Dame logo

The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology is internationally renowned for its excellence in Latino theological studies. With a strong focus on diversification and globalization, the department boasts close connections with the Church in Africa. This doctorate in theology offers concentrations related to Christianity, Judaism, world religions, and ethics.

  • Courses: New Testament and the Greco-Roman world, medieval Jewish-Christian encounters, and liturgical theology.
  • Credits:  42
  • Duration:  4-6 years
  • Tuition : $59,644 per year
  • Financial aid:  Full-tuition scholarship, stipend, fellowships, and assistantships.
  • Acceptance rate: 19%
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana

What Do You Need to Get a PhD in Theology?

The exact prerequisites vary depending on the program, but you’ll typically need a master’s degree in theology or a related field to apply. Some programs accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree, though you may need to complete extra credits.

To earn your doctorate, you must complete core and elective courses and pass exams, often including classical languages such as Greek or Hebrew. Most PhD in theology programs require you to conduct extensive research and complete a dissertation.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Theology PhD Program

Here are some important considerations for choosing your PhD in theology:

  • Niche: Do you want to study at a secular institution, or would you prefer a devout Christian or Jewish school? Explore specializations offered to ensure the program is aligned with your interests.
  • Career Goals: Do you want to work in academia or serve the church directly?
  • Costs:  Review the school’s tuition costs and weigh them against potential financial aid opportunities.
  • Format: Think about whether you have the capacity to study on-campus, or if you prefer an online or hybrid program to balance your doctorate with work or other commitments.

Why Get a Doctorate in Theology?

A doctorate of theology qualifies you to work in education, media, social work , and Church leadership. While you may start as a junior pastor, a PhD will help you progress into advanced leadership and managerial roles.

Even better, you might score a dual teaching and pastor role simultaneously. Finally, graduates are in high demand. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, professionals with a theology major boast one of the lowest unemployment rates , at less than 2%.

Doctors in theology may work in a range of jobs, including:

  • Senior Pastor ( $63,525 )
  • Professor, post-secondary/higher education ( $87,873 )
  • Pastor, Ministry ($48,095 )
  • Assistant Professor ( $70,459 )
  • Professor of Theology ( $84,724 )

Doctorate in Theology Key Facts

  • 1,946 PhD degrees  in theology were conferred in 2019.
  • Doctorates made up 7.8% of all theology degrees awarded in 2020.
  • Theology is a male-dominated field: of the total doctorates in theology, more than 72% were completed by men.

What is the Average Cost of a PhD in Theology?

The cost can vary widely, depending on the university or theological institution. Tuition can be anywhere between $6,000-$60,000, and living costs, books, and other expenses may total $5,000-$15,000 per year. Some universities offer full funding for deserving candidates, along with other financial aid options.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Theology?

A PhD in theology usually takes 3-7 years to complete, depending on the program and individual factors. You can expect to take longer if you’re admitted with a bachelor’s degree compared to already having a master’s qualification. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll find any one-year PhD programs  in theology.

Skills You Gain from Doing a PhD in Theology

Like any doctorate, a PhD in theology will allow you to develop skills such like:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Presentation skills

These programs will also help you develop a deep understanding of abstract concepts around divinity and how to apply them in the practical world.

Key Takeaways

A PhD in theology gives you the highest possible level of knowledge in theology. It will qualify you for leadership roles in the church or help you pass on valuable knowledge to others in an academic career. The best theology PhD programs help you reconcile the divine and the practical worlds to serve others.

Interested in a meaningful theology career? Check out our guide to the best master’s in theology !

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a phd in theology take.

A PhD in theology typically takes 3-7 years to complete, depending on the program.

Is a Doctor of Theology the Same as a PhD?

Doctor of Theology (ThD) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degrees are both doctorates. However, a ThD usually has a Christian focus, whereas a PhD can concern various religions. Additionally, ThD programs are most commonly offered by a Theology school, while you can earn a doctor of theology degree from science and liberal arts colleges.

What is a Doctor of Theology Called?

Common designations for a professional with a doctorate in theology include pastor, associate pastor, and professor in theology.

What Jobs Can I Get with a PhD in Theology?

The most common roles for PhD-holders in theology are leadership and managerial roles in the church or post-secondary teaching positions.

What is the Highest Degree in Theology?

A PhD is the highest degree in theology.

Can I Study Theology Online?

Yes, many universities offer fully online and hybrid theological doctoral programs for students who require more flexible study.

Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

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Fully Funded PhD Programs in Religion and Theology

Fully Funded PhD Programs in Religion and Theology

Last updated February 16, 2022

As part of the series on  How to Fully Fund Your PhD , here is a list of Ph.D. programs in religion and theology that offer full funding to their students. A Ph.D. in Religion and Theology opens the door to a variety of interesting careers. You could work as a college professor, take a variety of roles within religious institutes, and write for media publications, among many other opportunities.

“Full funding” is a financial aid pack for students that includes full tuition remission and an annual stipend or salary for the duration of the student’s doctoral studies. Full funding is not universal, so it’s a good idea to research the financial aid offerings of all the potential Ph.D. programs in your academic field, including small and lesser-known schools.

You can also find several external fellowships in the  ProFellow database  for graduate and doctoral study, including opportunities for funding for dissertation research, fieldwork, language study,s and summer work experiences.

Would you like to receive the full list of more than 1000+ fully funded programs in 60 disciplines? Download the FREE Directory of Fully Funded Graduate Programs and Full Funding Awards !

Boston University, Ph.D. in Theological Studies (Bostom, MA): All students admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy program are awarded full-tuition fellowships plus a generous stipend for the first five years of study. The Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan program is also open to students in the Doctor of Philosophy program.

Brown University, Ph.D. in Religious Studies (Providence, RI): Our students receive six years of full funding; additional funding is possible but not guaranteed.

The University of Dayton, Ph.D. in Theology (Dayton, OH): Most students receive full funding for five years — full-tuition remission with a substantial assistantship stipend — which is awarded on a competitive basis.

Duke University, Ph.D. in Religion (Durham, NC): Currently, our program is set up to pay fellowships on a 9-month basis for the first 5 years. Summer funding is guaranteed in summers 1 and 2 of the program. Students who no longer have guaranteed summer funding are encouraged to apply for competitive funding both internally and externally.  All students must have proof of health care, and the program is prepared to cover the cost of up to 6 years of health insurance if needed.

Fordham University, Ph.D. in Theology (New York, NY): In 2009, the Fordham University Theology Department began offering Ph.D. students full funding for their doctoral studies. As part of the Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) program, every second-year Ph.D. student will have an opportunity to work with at least one faculty member in a Fordham undergraduate classroom prior to teaching on his or her own in the third year.

Georgetown University, Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies (Washington, D.C.): Students admitted to our program receive five years of full funding, which includes tuition, health coverage, and a generous stipend. Our program also allocates funding for conference travel, and our current students regularly present at national and international conferences. Current students have also received grants and awards from outside fellowships for summer language study and dissertation research.

Northwestern University, Ph.D. in Religious Studies (Evanston, IL): Northwestern University provides all graduate students in the humanities with the same standard package of guaranteed funding. Currently, this includes the following: five academic years of tuition and stipend, five summers of study stipend, health insurance, and a U-pass for public transportation.

Stanford University, Ph.D. in Religious Studies (Stanford, CA): All Religious Studies Ph.D. students receive five years of funding, which includes fellowship stipends or teaching assistantships, and tuition for the academic year.  In addition, students receive three funded summers of support.

Syracuse University Fully Funded PhD in Religion (Syracuse, New York): All admitted PhD students will receive five years of stipend funding, including a full tuition scholarship, for working as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Religion.

University of Notre Dame, Ph.D. in Theology ( Notre Dame ,  IN): Full-time students in good standing are eligible to receive a 12-month annual stipend (an amount of $23,000 for students starting in 2018-2019) for up to five years and a full-tuition scholarship for up to eight years.

University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. in Religious Studies (Philadelphia, PA): The typical doctoral program in Religious Studies is funded over a five-year period, over which students are expected to engage in coursework, complete teaching assistantships, and attend the graduate colloquium. Requirements for the program include a minimum of two languages, qualifying examinations, preliminary examinations (with an oral examination component), and an oral dissertation defense.

Wheaton College, Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies (Wheaton, IL): A full-tuition scholarship, as well as a research fellowship, for each of the six students accepted per year, will enable each student to devote himself or herself to advanced learning as a fully involved member of the academic community.

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  • Doctor of Philosophy [Biblical Studies]

how much does a phd in theology cost

  • Degree Plans

Asbury Theological Seminary’s 48-hour (plus dissertation work) Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies focuses on either the  Old Testament or New Testament in the context of the entire biblical scholarship.

What to Expect from the Degree

The following is an overview of the degree requirements:

  • Successful completion of 48 credit hours as outlined in the Academic Catalog with a cumulative grade point average of 3.30/4.00 or higher);
  • Approval of the Research Readiness Review at the end of the first academic year
  • Attendance of the weekly school seminars and the annual interdisciplinary colloquium of Advanced Research Programs.
  • Modern and Biblical Language Requirements as outlined in the academic catalog.
  • Passing of the comprehensive examinations
  • Approval of a dissertation proposal
  • Completion and successful defense of the dissertation

*Refer to the Academic Catalog for a detailed and full list of graduation requirements.

Admissions Requirements

  • Application Form .

Accredited baccalaureate degree; accredited Master of Divinity degree or accredited Master of Arts degree with concentration in Biblical Studies. Accreditation is required by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or holding membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.

Official transcripts of all postsecondary schools attended, sent directly by each institution to the Asbury Seminary Admissions Office.

A nonrefundable $50 (US) application fee that includes processing of the application and a personal background check.

Four professor or other scholar references completed on the Admissions Office form at asburyseminary.edu.

A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.50/4.00 for baccalaureate and graduate work is required for admission. The grade point average as calculated by the Admissions Office at Asbury Seminary shall be considered the official grade point average for admission.

Submission of a scholarly essay, representing an example of the applicant’s ability to do independent research and reflecting a research interest appropriate to the degree program, approximately 25 pages in length, completed within the last three years. (Please note: writing samples must be submitted in .pdf format, with the applicant’s 6-digit prospective student ID number in place of their name throughout the paper. The prospective ID number should also be the filename of the document. If papers are not submitted within these guidelines, they will be returned to the applicant for proper formatting.)

Personal history essay, including a purpose statement noting reason for Ph.D. pursuit, vocational understanding and research specialization. Specific guidelines at asburyseminary.edu.

A resume or CV detailing education, language skills, and work/ministry experience.

Intermediate-level competency in Biblical Hebrew or Koine Greek, and at least an introductory-level competency in another Biblical language.

Facility at an introductory level with German and French (or a second research language cognate to student’s area of study.)

  • For native speakers of English, an official score report from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. International applicants may submit the GRE in lieu of the TOEFL or IELTS but are not normally required to submit both scores.

For applicants whose native language is other than English, an official score report from the TOEFL or IETLS must be submitted. TOEFL scores of 600 paper or 90 internet-based or an IETLS score of 7.5 are expected. Normally, TOEFL or IELTS will not be waived.

The Admissions Committee may request the applicant to submit additional materials and/or schedule an interview with a seminary representative.

Personal History Essay:

  • Share your life story and at what point you began your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Talk about your growth since that time and what brings you to apply to Asbury Seminary’s Advanced Research Program.  Include your thoughts on how you would like to see your faith grow during your time in this program. (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  • Please describe your ministry and vocational experience, including positions held and dates of service.  (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  • Statement of Purpose – Describe briefly the reasons you are prompted to pursue study in the particular program area you have chosen and what you hope to gain through the program.  Give specific goals, and personal or professional needs. (350 to 500 words maximum)
  • State your preferred concentration in the program you have chosen (Old or New Testament).
  • Give a short summary (15-20 words) of your research interest.
  • Provide a brief reflection indicating possible research interests. This reflection should start with a summary of your interests in less than 20 words. (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  • List the language(s) (including English) used in your research and/or ministry and indicate your relative proficiency.
  • (Optional)  If you feel your cumulative grade point average or academic test scores do not adequately reflect your abilities to flourish at Asbury Seminary, please explain.
  • (Optional) If you are married, describe your spouse’s attitudes toward your plans for seminary education and future ministry.
  • Please attach a resume or CV.

Learn more about what other graduates of Asbury Seminary are doing.

how much does a phd in theology cost

Esteban Hidalgo Scholar. Research Assistant. Online instructor at Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico.

The following degree plans have been approved for the 2024-25 academic year. Download the PDF below to see a full listing of all your degree requirements.

  • Doctor of Philosophy [Biblical Studies] PHD [BS]

Asbury Seminary is committed to providing you with a quality theological education and practical skills for a lifetime. We offer more than 400 scholarships annually and our Ministry Partners Program helps you graduate with minimal debt.

Cost of Attendance: 2023-2024

Ph.D. 48 credits $900/credit hour

 PHD900 (Continuation Fee Registration) $900/credit hour each Fall and Spring after post-coursework through degree completion 

$225 per semester $110 per semester
$200 one-time fee $200 one-time fee
$160 per semester $80 per semester


Postgraduate Support Scholarships are available to Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Theology students based on criteria of merit and need. 

  • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid  (FAFSA)
  • Complete the Asbury Financial Aid Application
  • Complete a Postgraduate Support Scholarship Application, including a 1000-word essay describing your passion for research and how it will equip you for the future.

how much does a phd in theology cost


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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 .

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Phd in theology: requirements, salary, jobs, & career growth, what is phd in theology.

A Ph.D. in Theology is a high-level academic degree that focuses on religious ideas, practices, and traditions.

It is the highest level of study available in the field of theology and is often undertaken by those who aspire to become experts in the topic or seek a career in academia.

The curriculum normally takes 3-5 years to finish and requires a large amount of research, critical analysis, and independent study.

A Ph.D. in Theology program may include courses in theology and culture, philosophy of religion, biblical studies, church history, ethics, and comparative religion.

How much money do people make with a PhD in Theology?

Salary for a Ph.D. in Theology might vary depending on criteria such as the individual’s experience, the location of the work, the type of employer, and the precise job duties.

Individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology can become professors or researchers in academia, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 per year depending on experience, rank, and institution.

Religious leaders, such as pastors, priests, or ministers, may also have a Ph.D. in Theology, however their compensation is often determined by the size and location of the congregation, ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 or more per year.

Individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology may also work in non-profit organizations, where annual salaries can range between $40,000 and $80,000, depending on the type of organization and the individual’s role.

What is expected job growth with PhD in Theology?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for professors and researchers in theology is predicted to be modest, with a projected growth rate of roughly 5% from 2020-2030. This can, however, vary based on the individual topic of study and the need for knowledge in that sector.

According to the BLS, job growth for religious leaders such as pastors, priests, or ministers is expected to be constant, with a growth rate of roughly 4% from 2020 to 2030. However, job growth may vary depending on the congregation’s location and size.

Individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology who work in non-profit organizations may also see consistent job growth, as there is a high demand for people with expertise in religious studies and related fields.

What can you do with a PhD in Theology?

There are various career paths that individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology can pursue.

1. Academic Career: Many people with a Ph.D. in Theology go on to work as professors or researchers. They can teach theology or religious studies courses at universities, seminaries, or other institutions of higher learning. They may also conduct research and publish the results in scholarly publications and books.

2. Religious Leadership: Theology Ph.D. holders can work as pastors, priests, or ministers. They may also work in religious groups in chaplaincy, counseling, or other capacities. A Ph.D. in Theology can provide a thorough study of religious literature, history, and dogma, which can be useful in various positions of leadership.

3. Non-profit Organizations: Individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology can work in non-profit organizations focusing on religion, social justice, or other related issues. They may work as researchers, program administrators, or in other positions that necessitate a thorough knowledge of religious studies.

4. Publishing and writing: Theology Ph.D. holders may work as writers, editors, or publishers. They can contribute to the area and educate others by writing books, essays, and other publications relevant to religious studies.

5. Consulting: Individuals with a Ph.D. in Theology may work as consultants for organizations that require religious studies expertise. They may offer suggestions on how to include religious diversity into their work or create religiously aware policy.

What are the requirements for a PhD in Theology?

The specific requirements for obtaining a PhD in Theology can vary depending on the institution and program, but generally, the following are common requirements:

1. Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree: Applicants to most PhD programs in Theology must have a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university. Although it is not usually required, certain schools may accept applicants with a Master’s degree in a related discipline.

2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants are usually expected to present certified transcripts of their undergraduate and graduate education, which demonstrate their academic performance and achievement.

3. Statement of Purpose: Applicants are typically expected to provide a personal statement or statement of purpose detailing their research interests, academic ambitions, and reason for pursuing a PhD in Theology.

4. Standardized Test Scores: Applicants to many PhD programs may be required to submit scores from standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or other related assessments.

5. Letters of Recommendation: Applicants to PhD programs in Theology are frequently required to provide letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources who may speak to the applicant’s academic talents, research potential, and eligibility for a PhD program.

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How long does it take to get a phd in theology.

The length of time it takes to earn a Ph.D. in Theology varies based on the program and the individual’s circumstances.

A Ph.D. in Theology degree typically takes 3-5 years to complete, but this can vary based on factors such as program structure, student progress, and dissertation requirements.

Furthermore, some programs may offer part-time or online options, allowing students to complete the program at their own pace while working or attending to other responsibilities.

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Do you need a masters in theology to get a phd in theology.

A Master’s degree in Theology or a similar discipline is usually required to pursue a Ph.D. in Theology. This is due to the fact that a Ph.D. degree in Theology builds on the knowledge and skills earned in a Master’s program.

Furthermore, many Theology Ph.D. programs require applicants to have a Master’s degree in Theology or a related field as a prerequisite for admission.

Some Ph.D. programs in Theology, on the other hand, may offer combined Master’s and Ph.D. programs, allowing students to complete both degrees concurrently.

Students can enter the program with a Bachelor’s degree and achieve both degrees in one integrated program in certain instances.

What are the Best PhD in Theology Degree programs?

1. duke university – ph.d. in theology 2. university of notre dame – ph.d. in theology 3. yale university – ph.d. in religious studies 4. princeton university – ph.d. in religion 5. harvard university – ph.d. in religion 6. university of chicago – ph.d. in theology 7. vanderbilt university – ph.d. in religion 8. emory university – ph.d. in religion 9. boston college – ph.d. in theology and education 10. university of california, berkeley – ph.d. in religious studies, leave a comment cancel reply.

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School of Theology and Philosophy

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Franciscan university of steubenville.

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Earn your doctorate of sacred theology from Franciscan University and specialize in one of five concentrations:

  • Systematic theology
  • Historical theology
  • Moral theology
  • Biblical Theology
  • Catechetics

The program provides three-fold formation:

  • Formation in theological research from the heart of the Church
  • Formation in teaching
  • Human formation through mentorship relationships with Franciscan University’s theology faculty

“Without theological research, we would not know or would not know so clearly or would not so well appropriate into our lives such truths as Christian marriage is an image of the Triune communion of persons, morality is not just a series of obligations but the way of authentic flourishing and happiness, and there is a moral remedy in ectopic pregnancy to save the life of the mother—to give just a few examples. Without our PhD program, meaningful theological research will remain undone, truths will remain or become obscured, and there will be an untold cost in the lives of countless Christians.

Read the full letter from Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, Vice President for Academic Affairs, here.

  • Academic writing sample.
  • GRE scores.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  • 3 letters of recommendation from previous professors.
  • How has your previous study prepared you to pursue these research interests at the doctoral level? Why would you like to pursue these research interests at Franciscan University?
  • How would a PhD in Sacred Theology from Franciscan University help you serve Christ and fulfill your vocation more effectively?
  • If English is not your native language, has at least one of your previous degrees been taught in English? If not, please submit a TOEFL score.

Registration for the program begins on February 1, 2024 . For more information, email [email protected] .

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2024–25 Tuition and health insurance rates

Harvard Divinity School cost is reviewed every year. Remember that approximately 90 percent of students receive some form of institutional financial support each year. For more information, see financial aid .

Tuition and health insurance rates for the 2024–25 academic year (September–May) are:

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(Note: HDS changed its doctoral designation from ThD to PhD in Religion. Those currently in the ThD program will continue to be candidates for the ThD; the first cohort of PhD candidates entered in fall 2015.)

$300 per semester
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5th year and beyond: TBD

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Estimated Indirect Charges (not billed)

  • This budget is based on a moderate cost of living in the Cambridge area.
  • The housing portion of the budget assumes shared occupancy of a two-bedroom unit in the surrounding community.
  • Married students and students with dependents should anticipate higher living expenses.  
Housing (off campus) $16,467
Food $5,241
Books and Supplies $1,020
Personal $4,365
Transportation $900
Average Loan Fees (Domestic Students Only) $141
  • The standard living expense budget is added to the Harvard Divinity School cost of tuition and fees to determine a student's total cost of education.
  • Financial aid funds are not intended to supplement expenses of family members; however, there are some exceptions that can be made to increase the budget, including dependent care costs and rent.
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Top 8 Online Doctorate in Theology Programs 2024

Find your perfect school.

online doctorate in theology

For many people, religion is a fundamental part of life. If faith is important to you, then studying theology could be a pathway to a fulfilling role in ministry, religious teaching, or church leadership.

Doctoral degrees in theology open doors to influential and meaningful roles in faith-based organizations, social services, and even academia.

These degrees are known as terminal degrees, meaning they’re the highest degrees one can earn in this particular field. In this ranking, we identify the top eight online doctoral degrees in theology and ministry.

Featured Programs


Our search for the best online doctorates in theology began with a list of two dozen colleges and universities that offer this credential in the United States. After an affordability and ROI filter was applied, our editors were left with just eight programs. We then applied our site-wide graduate methodology for rating advanced degree programs. The results constitute our final ranking of the best theology doctorates in America.

#8—Regent University

Virginia beach, virginia, phd in renewal theology.

Tuition : $16,128

The online doctorate in theology from Regent University is one of the more versatile programs in our ranking, featuring four distinct concentrations:

  • Practical Theology
  • Church History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Theological Studies

A two-week residency is also required per semester. The program’s culminating elements include a comprehensive exam and a dissertation. Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools.

  • Versatile curriculum
  • Lower graduation rate
  • Larger class sizes

#7—Saint Leo University

St. leo, florida, online doctorate of applied theology.

Tuition : $15,840

The online doctorate in theology from Saint Leo University is a rigorous 60-credit hour Doctorate of Applied Theology. Offered through the school’s College of Arts & Sciences, the degree requires 42 credit hours of coursework, a comprehensive examination, and a dissertation. Students may complete the program entirely online. St. Leo University is accredited to award doctoral degrees in theology online by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • High acceptance rate
  • Fully online

Cons :  

  • Low graduation rate
  • Less diverse

#6—Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, arizona, edd in organizational leadership: christian ministry.

Tuition : $10,138

The online doctorate in theology from Grand Canyon University is a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Christian Ministry. This research-based terminal degree features core courses such as:

  • Christian Ministry and Culture
  • Theology of Leadership
  • Practical Considerations in Christian Ministry
  • Leading Across Cultures

Doctoral candidates must complete both a residency and a dissertation before graduation. GCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award doctoral degrees in theology.

  • Required residency

#5—St. Thomas University

Miami gardens, florida, phd theology and leadership.

Tuition : $14,850

St. Thomas University offers a comprehensive 58-credit hour doctorate in theology. This PhD in Theology and Leadership is offered fully online and features core courses such as:

  • Sacramental Theology
  • Scripture Studies for Practical Theology
  • Evangelization & Mission
  • Formation and Spirituality in Practical Theology

Enrolled students will also take courses in the Leadership track, including:

  • Business, Theology & Leadership
  • Addiction & Pastoral Care

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredited St. Thomas University to offer this online doctorate in theology.  

  • Small class sizes
  • 100% online
  • Diverse student body

#4—Liberty University

Lynchburg, virginia, doctoral degrees in theology.

Tuition : $7,740

Liberty University offers several online doctoral degree programs in theology. Students interested in pursuing this terminal credential can choose from programs such as:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Practical Theology
  • PhD in Applied Apologetics
  • PhD in Bible Exposition
  • PhD in Christian Leadership
  • Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

The theology programs are offered completely online, and courses are taught by experienced pastors and church leaders. The asynchronous nature of the programs allows for maximum convenience and flexibility. Liberty University is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Maximum flexibility
  • High graduation rate
  • Diverse program selection
  • Less prestigious university

#3—Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster, pennsylvania, phd in biblical studies.

Tuition : $10,985

Lancaster Bible College offers a cohort-based doctorate in theology. This PhD in Biblical Studies is a hybrid option that requires annual visits to campus in addition to online coursework. Once enrolled, students will take classes such as:

  • Hermeneutics & Theology
  • Advanced Biblical Research & Writing
  • Learning and Teaching: Theory and Practice
  • New Testament Backgrounds

A research dissertation is required as a capstone experience. Lancaster Bible College is accredited to award doctoral theology degrees by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

  • Small cohort
  • Yearly visits to campus

#2—Oral Roberts University

Tulsa, oklahoma, doctor of ministry.

Tuition : $11,502

Oral Roberts University offers a doctoral degree in theology from its Graduate School of Theology and Ministry that can be completed in just three years. Technically a hybrid offering, half of the courses required for the program feature a 2 ½-day visit to campus for the purposes of completing a modular component. Enrolled students may concentrate their studies in one of two available specializations:

  • Church Ministries and Leadership Track
  • Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy Track with a Concentration In Moral Injury

Scholarships are available for eligible students.

  • Top-rated regional university
  • Scholarships available
  • Accelerated format

#1—Columbia International University

Columbia, south carolina, online doctor of philosophy in theological studies.

Tuition : $10,440

Columbia International University offers an accelerated online doctoral program in theology that can be completed in as few as three years. This ATS-accredited program can be completed entirely online and features course titles such as:

  • Issues and Methods in Theological Studies
  • Theological Studies Dissertation Research and Writing
  • Principles of Teaching, Learning, and Course Design
  • Research Language Competency

Students pursuing this terminal theology degree will do so alongside the guidance of a dedicated mentor. CIU holds institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Mentorship program
  • ATS-accredited

Types of Online Doctorates in Theology

If you’re interested in earning a doctorate in theology—online or otherwise—you should know that there are many different types of programs to consider.

Credentials: PhD Versus DMin

Generally speaking, there are two distinct types of doctoral degree programs in the field of theology—the PhD in Theology and the Doctor of Ministry (DMin). These degrees are similar in terms of curriculum but may differ in several other ways. Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing between these two credentials is your intended career goals. Those students who want to advance their leadership positions within a church or other faith-based organization should consider the Doctor of Ministry degree. Conversely, those who wish to obtain positions as professors or researchers in theology should opt for the PhD program.

Students who elect the PhD in Theology should be prepared for a longer period of study. While the Doctor of Ministry credential can be earned in 2-3 years, the PhD program could require 4 years or more. Furthermore, a DMin is more likely to be offered fully online. Online PhD in Theology programs often require visits to campus each semester or on a yearly basis.

Note that it is also possible to earn an EdD in organizational leadership degree with a concentration in theology or ministry like the program from Grand Canyon University featured in this ranking.

Modality: Online Versus Hybrid Programs, Synchronous Versus Asynchronous

You can still get a traditional doctorate in theology on campus, but if you wish to take advantage of the flexibility of distance learning, there are several options. For example, you can choose a fully online program for maximum convenience or a hybrid program if you wish to enhance your virtual studies. Within these categories, there are additional options. For instance, you can opt to study synchronously and attend online sessions in real-time. Conversely, an asynchronous schedule allows you to study and complete assignments according to your own schedule.

Curriculum Details for Online Theology Doctorates

Before selecting the right online theology doctorate for you, you’ll want to look at the curriculum details for each of the programs you’re considering. While there are some standard elements for this type of degree, each program is unique.

For example, one program may feature a prescribed curriculum—meaning you’ll be told which courses to take and when—while another may offer customizations within the curriculum guidelines. The latter program might allow you to concentrate your studies in a particular sub-field of theology, for instance, or choose from elective classes that interest you. Below, we list some examples of concentrations and core classes you can expect to see when searching for an online doctorate in theology.

 Sample Concentrations for Online Theology Doctorates

  • Church Ministries and Leadership
  • Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy

Sample Core Courses for Theology Doctorates Online

  • Issues and Methods in Practical Theology
  • Research Methods and Teaching in Christian Higher Education
  • Communication and Spiritual Guidance
  • Ministry Research and Analysis
  • Advanced Biblical Research and Writing
  • Evangelization and Mission


Typically, doctoral programs in theology are research-based and require a dissertation. A dissertation is a scholarly paper that documents a student’s extensive research in an area of academic study. While most programs require a dissertation as a culminating element at the end of the doctoral program, some allow students to work on the paper over the course of their studies.

Accreditation for Online Doctoral Programs in Theology

Accreditation is important when looking for any theology doctorate, but it can be especially crucial when selecting an online program. That’s because these programs can be particularly vulnerable to scams, including illegitimate degree programs from so-called “ zombie colleges ”.

To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, it’s important to do your due diligence. You can check for programmatic and institutional accreditation at the National Center for Education Statistics website. While institutional accreditation is a must, you can consider programmatic accreditation as an extra layer of credibility. Many of the best doctoral programs in theology are accredited by The Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

Frequently-Asked Questions About Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Pursuing a doctoral degree is a serious endeavor. You’re bound to have some questions prior to committing to a Phd or DMin program. Below, our editors field some of the most common questions prospective students have prior to enrollment. Keep in mind that the information here is general in nature and not intended to replace advice from an admissions counselor.

Q: Can I earn my doctorate in theology completely online?

A: Yes. Many of the schools in our ranking offer fully online doctorates in theology. Others require minimal campus visits, making these programs hybrid options.

Q: How much is tuition for a doctoral program in theology?

A: Tuition can vary widely from one school to the next. While conducting research for this ranking, our editors identified programs for less than $8,000 per year as well as those that cost more than $25,000 annually. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid may help students pay for these expenses.

Career Questions for Doctoral Degrees in Theology

Careers in theology are usually driven by a desire to make a difference in the world, not by dreams of prosperity. Still, it’s a good idea to know what your job prospects will be upon graduation from a doctoral degree program in this field.

Q: What can I do with a PhD in theology?

A: Graduates of PhD in theology programs typically work as clergy members or as postsecondary teachers in academia. Other leadership positions may be available in faith-based organizations, non-profits, and even the private sector.

Q: Where will I work with a doctorate in theology?

A: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most clergy members work for churches, home healthcare organizations, hospitals, social service organizations, and psychiatric and substance use facilities. Professors of religion and philosophy often teach at four-year universities and colleges.

Q: How much money will I earn with a theology doctorate?

A: Pay depends largely on the organization that employs you as well as the geographic region where you work. Still, PayScale reports that individuals with a PhD in Theology make $90,000 per year on average. Those with a DMin credential tend to make significantly less, with an average salary of $74,000.

Q: Which theology schools have the highest return on investment?

A: The schools in our ranking of top doctorates in theology with the highest return on investment, according to PayScale.com, are Grand Canyon University, Saint Leo University, and Regent University, respectively.

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How to Get a Doctorate in Theology

Last Updated: February 28, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Felipe Corredor . Felipe is a Senior College Admissions Consultant at American College Counselors with over seven years of experience. He specializes in helping clients from all around the world gain admission into America's top universities through private, one-on-one consulting. He helps guide clients through the entire college admissions process and perfect every aspect of their college applications. Felipe earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Chicago and recently received his MBA. This article has been viewed 95,036 times.

Theology is the systematic study of religion. Theologians research, analyze and discuss spiritual, philosophical and historical texts. Theological experts develop an understanding of religion, publish written works on tests of religious theories and explain a variety of religious topics.To get a doctorate (a Ph.D./doctor of philosophy degree) in theology, students must complete specialized training and coursework at a university, seminary or school of divinity after completing bachelor and master degree work prior.

Part 1: Learning Prerequisites for Ph.D. Programs

Step 1 Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

  • Get a practice test and take them to improve your score on the actual test.
  • The scoring scheme for this test changes from time to time.
  • Check your prospective program's guides for average accepted scores.
  • Scores older than ten years will usually not be accepted by your program.
  • Select the school(s) you are applying to for submission of your scores during the live test.

Step 2 Earn a master's degree in a similar field.

  • Examine your prospective Master's program's degree offerings for a religion or philosophy department.
  • Contact the Master's program's professor(s) for recommendations of their program as a starting point for an academic career in theological studies. Otherwise, they may be able to direct you elsewhere.
  • Look into the similar fields of history, literature, and anthropology for programs and classes that will benefit your studies.

Step 3 Ask if there is a

  • Make sure you make any decisions on the "fast track" by your program's deadline.
  • Get an accurate list of the requirements of the doctorate program. Look for increased credit hours, dissertation requirements (the final written research composition you will produce), and course options.
  • Even without a "fast track" option, you may stay in your current school for the Ph.D. However, this may require a fresh application.

Step 4 Learn a foreign language.

  • Check your prospective program's course lists for what languages are regularly offered.
  • Get a schedule of when the official knowledge reading exams or equivalent tests are given each semester.
  • Ask your prospective program about their rules for passage of the language credit. Find out if a class and/or exam are needed to pass the credit.

Step 5 Write a Thesis that can work later.

  • Select a topic that adds to or fills a gap in the existing field. Don't "reinvent the wheel," and write about what's already been done. Find something new or find a different angle within a well known topic.
  • Save your research. The books (secondary sources), manuscripts, interviews, and archives you visit may help you again in your doctoral work.

Part 2: Applying to a Doctorate in Theology Program

Step 1 Choose the right program.

  • Read the faculty lists of the programs you are most interested in and narrow them down to the professors that cover the subfields of theology you want to study. [4] X Research source

Step 2 Contact the professor(s) that you might consider as advisors.

  • Introduce yourself and your ideas for the theological project you would like to work on with this faculty member.
  • Discuss the work you've already done--especially your master's program work. Engage the faculty member on theological ideas and see if you can form a good professional bond.

Step 3 Visit the campus.

  • Schedule time to meet with the professor(s) you may work with. See if you can at least with your potential major advisor to go over likely dissertation subjects, courses, and program expectations.
  • Visit the department you would study with. Find out what work the other religion, philosophy, and theology professors and grad students are doing.
  • Ask about religious organizations that work with the department or university that could contribute to your topic. Get their contact information. [5] X Research source

Step 4 Complete the application.

  • Submit transcripts from your undergraduate and master's program. Make sure they arrived at your prospective doctoral school by its application deadline.
  • Send writing samples. Most doctorate programs require a writing sample. This can sometimes be a research paper or a thesis chapter. You may also need to provide an additional original essay. Read your program's application requirements carefully.

Step 5 Apply to several programs.

Part 3: Completing the Required Coursework

Step 1 Choose your theology specialization.

  • Most universities require a major field to be taken along with several minor fields to improve a graduate's academic credentials.
  • Pick a committee. These professors will lead your minor fields and consult for your comprehensive exams in addition to your major advisor. They may or may not also serve on your dissertation committee.
  • Meet with your department's academic advisor and your major professor frequently to make sure you're satisfying the required credits for your major and minor fields.

Step 2 Select classes based on your major and minor fields.

  • Pick classes that also help your dissertation along with the research and papers that you will complete for them.

Step 3 Participate in teaching assistantships.

  • Instruct a class if you get the opportunity. This is both a practice for real teaching positions and a highlight for your job applications.

Step 4 Pass a comprehensive exams.

  • This test will cover the major/minor concentration fields.
  • Get questions and/or prepare with your committee members well ahead of time.

Step 5 Consult with your major professor after passing the test to plan your dissertation.

Part 4: Complete a Dissertation

Step 1 Write the prospectus.

  • Outline your ideas, theological problems, religious theories, sources, philosophical arguments, methodology, and working bibliography.

Step 2 Produce the outline.

  • Check your funding opportunities so they match the right stage of your work "pre-dissertation" while you're researching and others while you're in the writing phase near completion.

Step 4 Research your dissertation.

  • Request archivists for help in locating more information on your subject. They can find items that you might not find in catalogs.
  • Present at conferences to get early feedback on research and writing you do. You can do this even if your writing is not in its final form. You can exchange research and theological concepts you had not considered.

Step 5 Write your dissertation.

  • Try to write just a little daily, maybe a couple of hours. Otherwise, set aside blocks of time you know you won't be disturbed on particular days of the week.
  • Share parts of what you write to your major advisor, academic mentors, and/or graduate students at a similar level of progress. For graduate students, this can be mutually motivating.

Step 6 Defend your dissertation.

Community Q&A

Brian Salazar-Prince

  • Consider taking the GRE at least twice to improve your score. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Common foreign languages in theology are Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Network professionally wherever you go--conferences, archives, libraries, etc... Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure the classes you need will actually be offered each semester they are listed for. Otherwise, ask about independent study. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Check if the professor you are contacting is actually taking new doctoral students that semester. The university's department website should list this information. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Official Transcripts usually must be sent directly by schools, check with your prospective programs to make sure they received them and nothing was lost in transit. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Humanities doctoral degrees can often take 5-7 years even for students coming into a program with a master's degree already. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 2

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  • ↑ http://www.ets.org/gre/
  • ↑ http://www.bu.edu/academics/sth/policies/degree-requirements/
  • ↑ http://study.com/articles/Top_Schools_with_Theology_PhD_Programs_List_of_Schools.html
  • ↑ https://divinity.duke.edu/academics/faculty
  • ↑ https://theology.nd.edu/events/

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Fuller Theological Seminary PhD in Theological & Ministerial Studies

How much does a doctorate in theology from fuller cost, fuller graduate tuition and fees.

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How Much Can You Make With a PhD in Theology From Fuller?

theology who receive their doctor’s degree from Fuller make an average of $63,005 a year during the early days of their career. That is 66% higher than the national average of $37,867.

Does Fuller Offer an Online PhD in Theology?

Fuller doctorate student diversity for theology, male-to-female ratio.

Women made up around 15.9% of the theology students who took home a doctor’s degree in 2019-2020. This is less than the nationwide number of 22.6%.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

Racial-ethnic minority graduates* made up 15.9% of the theology doctor’s degrees at Fuller in 2019-2020. This is lower than the nationwide number of 33%.

Race/EthnicityNumber of Students
Black or African American1
Hispanic or Latino4
Native American or Alaska Native0
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander1
International Students16
Other Races/Ethnicities6

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how much does a phd in theology cost

The Cost of a Seminary Education in 2023

Which schools are the cheapest which ones are a bit pricier.

how much does a phd in theology cost

A couple week ago, I wrote this post about the state of seminary education using data from the Association of Theological Schools.

The Current State of Seminary Education in the United States

The Current State of Seminary Education in the United States

I didn’t go to seminary. I went to graduate school. I *almost* went to seminary, though. And just a few months ago I got invited to be on a panel at Wake Forest University‘s School of Divinity. I realized something very important during that visit - divinity schools are a completely different thing compared to graduate programs in something like political science.

They publish all kinds of useful data on their website about all of the current member seminaries. I see that there are 282 in the most recent dataset that are not just Protestant, by the way. There are also many Roman Catholic seminaries and some Jewish schools, as well.

I wrote in the prior post about the growth and/or decline in Full Time Equivalent enrollment in those seminaries over the last twenty years or so. What was most fascinating to me is that there were actually MORE seminarians in the data in 2022 then there were in 2003. As religion has declined, I would have expected that seminarians would have seen fewer students. But that clearly wasn't the case.

Today, I want to look at this data from another angle - money. The ATS tables included a helpful column that lists the tuition and fees for each school. Here’s how they describe that calculation:

Master of Divinity program full-time tuition charges plus other fees related to enrollment for the 2021-2022 academic year.

I obviously don’t work for ATS, so I don’t know any more specifics than what I shared with you above. But it seems like this is data on how much it cost to go for one year in the MDiv program. This excludes other items like room and board.

Let’s jump right in, shall we? Here are the most expensive seminaries in the data from 2021-2022. I added tuition together with fees to arrive at this number. And, I only wanted to look at schools with an FTE enrollment of 100 or more. The data gets weird when looking at school with only a handful of students.

how much does a phd in theology cost

The University of Notre Dame’s theology department is, by far, the most expensive school in the data. It’s price tag for tuition and fees in 2022 was nearly $59,000. The next closest is Notre Dame seminary, with a cost of $36,000. I’m sure there’s some quirk here that I don’t know about that makes Notre Dame’s theology school so expensive, so let me know in the comments why that is.

But the other thing I wanted to point is that there are a ton of Catholic seminaries on this list. Three of the top four. Four of the top five. Half of the top twenty schools are Roman Catholic. I must admit that I spent a good ten minutes searching the internet for what’s going on here. The conclusion I came to is that hardly any Catholic priests in training pay full freight tuition. I’ve read a bunch of different articles and posts on social media, and the gist seems to be that money shouldn’t pose an obstacle for a young man who really wants to devote himself to the priesthood. If any priest wants to spill his guts about student loans and seminary in the comments, feel free.

But, let me exclude the Roman Catholic seminarians and just look at the most expensive non-Catholic schools. Some really interesting stuff here.

how much does a phd in theology cost

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod takes the first and second position. Annual cost of attendance is nearly $35,000 in Concordia in Missouri or Indiana. There are a bunch of more “academic” seminaries here, too. Chicago, Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Yale are all at the top half of this list. The United Methodists make several appearances here, too. Duke, Claremont, Candler, and Boston are in the top fifteen.

That got me thinking, though. What denominations have the cheapest seminaries? And which ones are the most expensive? That’s pretty easy to figure out in the ATS data. The winner is the United Methodist Church at nearly $23,000 for tuition and fees at one of their seminaries. Roman Catholics are close behind at $21,000.

It’s interesting to note how many denominations in this graph are from the mainline. The aforementioned UMC is #1. But the ELCA is #3 and the United Church of Christ is #4. The Disciples of Christ are #6 and the Episcopalians are right behind at #7. The mainline seminaries are clearly more expensive than their evangelical counterparts.

how much does a phd in theology cost

In comparison, the Baptist seminaries are downright affordable. The average Southern Baptist seminary student is paying just over $8000 per year. The Anglicans are even lower at about $7000. I know that these are all sticker prices, by the way. I’m pretty sure almost no one actually pays the amounts listed on the ATS data website. But they don’t list discount rates anywhere that I can find them. So, this is as best as I can do.

But I also wanted to see how the cost of attendance has changed over time. So I grabbed the oldest data on the ATS site, which was from 2003 and compared the tuition and fees in both years.

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How Much Does a PhD Cost?

how much does a phd in theology cost

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

Learn about our editorial policies

how much does a phd in theology cost

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How Much Does a PhD Cost?

Obtaining a PhD is a great way to open up your career options and fulfill personal goals. If you’re deciding whether to go back to your school for a doctorate degree, make sure to get a picture of what it will cost you beforehand so you can make an educated financial choice. In this article, we take a deep dive into how much a PhD costs, including non-tuition expenses and hidden costs. We also list the pros and cons of earning a PhD, as well as ways to fund your degree if it is the right choice for you. Let’s get started! 

What is a PhD? 

“PhD” is the abbreviated title for “Doctor of Philosophy.”  A PhD is an academic degree that qualifies the degree holder to teach at the university level or work in specialized positions in certain fields. PhDs generally focus on STEM research and teaching fields. 

Keep reading : Everything you need to know about a doctorate degree

How much does a PhD cost? 

It usually takes around eight years to earn a PhD at an average tuition cost of 81,000 . 

The true cost of a PhD is very dependent on the following factors: 

  • Choice of school
  • Field of study
  • Type of PhD 
  • Location of school
  • Dollar amount of student loans

Also see: What is the average amount of graduate school debt?

Other costs associated with receiving a PhD

Living expenses .

In addition to the cost of tuition involved in earning a PhD, there are numerous outside factors that add to the total spent. These predominantly include living expenses such as housing, food, insurance, and transportation. The cost of these necessities will vary depending on the state, city of residence, and number of years it takes to earn a PhD. Therefore, it is important to consider all these factors when planning to earn a PhD. 

Hidden costs of a PhD

Besides just the monetary cost of a PhD, receiving this degree has some hidden costs that can affect whether a PhD is truly worth it. Let’s look at some of the most important hidden costs.

Receiving a PhD takes a long time! If you want to earn a PhD, it will take up to eight years to do so. 

Delayed opportunities

Because receiving a PhD takes time, this means there may be work and life opportunities and experiences you miss out on or have to delay.

Lost income

While focusing on earning a PhD, you will need to focus on your education rather than maintaining a steady flow of income from a job. You will most likely not be able to hold down a full-time job while completing your PhD schooling. 

The chance of not finishing

Unfortunately, it is quite common to start but not earn a PhD. There are a lot of factors that hinder students from receiving their PhD, including the following: 

  • Realization they do not want a PhD
  • Lack of ability to pay for a PhD
  • Inability to maintain a school work balance

Ways to fund your PhD 

Luckily, prospective PhD candidates have numerous options to help them fund their education. Typically, PhD students turn to a variety of funding sources, including scholarships, grants, studentships, loans, and employer sponsorships. 

PhD Scholarships

There are a variety of scholarships out there intended for PhD students to help them on their academic journey. These funds can typically be used for tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Try checking out our very own Gutsy Graduate Scholarship to get started!

Grants are very similar to scholarships. They provide money for students for tuition and other academic expenses.


A “studentship” is a name that is most often used for PhD scholarships. Studentships are an opportunity for PhD students to receive funding in order to ease financial pressures. Traditionally, studentships are awarded based on merit and achievement. 

Loans are a common way of funding PhD students. The US Department of Education offers Direct PLUS loans as well as Direct Unsubsidized Loans to graduate and professional students. 


Graduate assistantships are opportunities to earn money while taking on a position that allows you to make connections and obtain skills in your field. There are various types of assistantships such as teaching and research assistants. Depending on your institution and professor, your role may vary widely depending on what your professor is working on. So, it is important to do your research before accepting an assistantship to determine if it is the right role for you. An assistantship typically functions as a job where you serve a certain number of hours and will be paid for your labor. 


Fellowships can vary widely depending on the institution; however it is essentially funding granted to students to help lower the cost of education. A fellowship is typically a merit-based scholarship for advanced study of an academic subject and is granted to the top candidates in their class. Graduate fellowships typically will cover the cost of tuition as well as a stipend to be used to cover the cost of living which makes graduate studies affordable for academically-driven students. 

Further reading : Assistantships vs. fellowships: What’s the difference? 

Employer sponsorships

In some cases, you may be eligible to receive employer sponsored funding to earn a PhD. In order to do this, you will usually need to demonstrate to your employer that receiving a PhD will also benefit the company as a whole. 

Also see: Top graduate school scholarships

Is a PhD worth it? 

The answer depends on the individual student’s goals and financial situation. There are many pros and cons associated with receiving a PhD. We include a few of the most common reasons below. 

  • Access to more prestigious and high-paying jobs
  • Development of skills
  • Networking opportunities 
  • Can make significant contributions to your field of study 
  • Financial costs/debt
  • Isolating and lonely experience for some
  • Stress associated with academic rigor
  • Limited job openings after graduation 
  • Loss of valuable job experience and opportunities
  • Length of time to earn a PhD

Some questions to ask yourself before pursuing a PhD

  • Why do I want a PhD? 
  • Am I financially prepared to fund a PhD?
  • What jobs will be available to me after receiving a PhD?
  • Do I have the prerequisites and experience to move forward to a PhD program? 

Related: What is a research university?

Overall cost of PhD

In total, earning a PhD involves a considerable investment of time and money. It can also put you in touch with incredible peer support, mentors, and resources, and be incredibly rewarding and help you start down the path towards your dream career. Be sure you are confident in your decision before starting your PhD journey, and best of luck to you! 

Also see: Grad school financing options

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Frequently asked questions about the cost of a PhD

Is there a difference in cost for phd’s in different fields, do ph.d. students typically receive funding, how can i lower the cost of pursuing a phd, scholarships360 recommended.

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In States That Won’t Pay for Obesity Drugs, ‘They May as Well Have Never Been Created’

Public employees in West Virginia who took the drugs lost weight and were healthier, and some are despondent that the state is canceling a program to help pay for them.

Dr. Joanna Bailey wears a red T-shirt and listens to the heart of a patient, who is also wearing red, with a stethoscope in an exam room of her clinic. Both of them wear surgical masks.

By Oliver Whang

Reporting from Pineville, Charleston and Morgantown W.Va.

Joanna Bailey, a family physician and obesity specialist, doesn’t want to tell her patients that they can’t take Wegovy, but she has gotten used to it.

Around a quarter of the people she sees in her small clinic in Wyoming County would benefit from the weight-loss medications, which also include Ozempic, Zepbound and Mounjaro, she says. The drugs have helped some of them lose 15 to 20 percent of their weight. But most people in the area she serves don’t have insurance that covers the cost, and virtually no one can afford sticker prices of $1,000 to $1,400 a month.

“Even my richest patients can’t afford it,” Dr. Bailey said. She then mentioned something that many doctors in West Virginia — among the poorest states in the country, with the highest prevalence of obesity, at 41 percent — say: “We’ve separated between the haves and the have-nots.”

Such disparities sharpened in March when West Virginia’s Public Employees Insurance Agency, which pays most of the cost of prescription drugs for more than 75,000 teachers, municipal workers and other public employees and their families, canceled a pilot program to cover weight-loss drugs.

Some private insurers help pay for medications to treat obesity, but most Medicaid programs do so only to manage diabetes, and Medicare covers Wegovy and Zepbound only when they are prescribed for heart problems.

Over the past year, states have been trying, amid rising demand, to determine how far to extend coverage for public employees. Connecticut is on track to spend more than $35 million this year through a limited weight-loss coverage initiative. In January, North Carolina announced that it would stop paying for weight-loss medications after forking out $100 million for them in 2023 — 10 percent of its spending on prescription drugs.

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    Financial Aid Calculator. 3909 Swiss Avenue Dallas, TX 75204-6411 PH: 800.387.9673

  16. Tuition & Fees

    Per semester. $3,638. Total. $29,100. Doctor of Counseling Program Fees. (paid monthly for 36 months, during which students are required to be continuously enrolled) Verified Southern Baptist Students. Per semester. $1,833.

  17. Theology Degree in 2024: Requirements, Costs, Career Options & Salary

    How much does it cost to study theology? AffordableColleges.com (Staff Writers, 2020) shows that Huntsville Bible College in Alabama is the most affordable school for a theology degree. ... If a graduate of theology chooses to become a minister, they are likely to take home an average of $113,493 annually. The lowest possible salary is $72,000 ...

  18. The Cost of a Seminary Education in 2023

    The data gets weird when looking at school with only a handful of students. The University of Notre Dame's theology department is, by far, the most expensive school in the data. It's price tag for tuition and fees in 2022 was nearly $59,000. The next closest is Notre Dame seminary, with a cost of $36,000.

  19. Doctoral Tuition and Costs Information

    Estimated Cost of Tuition. $12,875. $25,750. Tuition and fees are based on the 2024 - 2025 academic year and are subject to change. Graduate School of Theology & Ministry (Doctoral) Full-time for programs within the Graduate School of Theology & Ministry is 6 credit hours per semester and 18 credit hours per year (Fall, Spring, and Summer).

  20. Cost of Attendance

    3909 Swiss Avenue Dallas, TX 75204-6411 PH: 800.387.9673 Quick Links. Directory; Watch Chapel; Employment at DTS; Library; Hendricks Center

  21. Tuition fees

    24,500. N5R201. PhD in Marketing (with Integrated Studies) - Year 1 fee. PhD in Marketing (with Integrated Studies) - Year 2 fee. 14,500. TBC. 24,500. 24,500. *Due to the high teaching element of these programmes, fees are levied at the taught fee band in appropriate years.

  22. How Much Does a Ph.D. Cost?

    On average, the total cost comes out to $40,900 per year, including tuition and living expenses. [1] Students typically take 4-8 years to finish a Ph.D. program, so a doctoral degree can cost anywhere from $163,600-$327,200 before grants and assistantships. But you won't necessarily end up paying that total cost yourself.

  23. How Much Does a PhD Cost?

    It usually takes around eight years to earn a PhD at an average tuition cost of 81,000 . The true cost of a PhD is very dependent on the following factors: Choice of school. Field of study. Type of PhD. Location of school. Dollar amount of student loans.

  24. Some States Say They Can't Afford Ozempic and Other Weight Loss Drugs

    But most people in the area she serves don't have insurance that covers the cost, and virtually no one can afford sticker prices of $1,000 to $1,400 a month. "Even my richest patients can't ...