Doctor of Divinity: Degree Program Information

A Doctor of Divinity is an honorary degree. The title is bestowed to individuals who have devoted their lives to theological pursuits or community betterment. In comparison, a traditional doctoral program in divinity, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Divinity, can provide scholars with advanced knowledge and expertise in a particular aspect of religious study. Aspiring professors or researchers in the field most often graduate from this type of program.

Essential Information

Theological seminaries and universities offer a Doctor of Divinity within the theology department. Aspiring professors or researchers in the field most often graduate from this type of program. Most PhD programs in divinity take between five to seven years to complete, are heavy on individualized research hours, and require the completion of a publishable dissertation. Students can also earn a Doctor of Theology (ThD) to learn how to apply theological teachings to religious communities. The majority of universities offering doctoral programs in divinity require students to choose one topic for exclusive study, such as philosophy of religions, religious ethics, history of Christianity or history of Judaism. Students are expected to do research and write a dissertation that explores new or unexamined ideas. Aspiring doctoral students are most often required to complete a bachelor's and a master's degree program in divinity, history, religious studies or a similar field before they apply. Many schools also require PhD students to display reading competence in at least two languages other than English.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's or master's degree in divinity, history or religious studies, fluent in at least two foreign languages
  • Program Length: Five to seven years
  • Specializations: philosophy or religions, ethics, history of Christianity or Judaism
  • Other Requirement: Published dissertation

Doctor of Divinity

The courses found within a doctoral degree program in divinity can vary greatly depending on which academic track a student is interested in pursuing. However, there are some common seminar topics that might apply to doctoral students in such a program, including:

  • Theology, philosophy and sociology of religion
  • Religious ethics
  • Introduction to Judaic civilization and elementary Hebrew
  • Gospel studies
  • History of Christian thought and modern Christianity in America
  • Religious ideologies and utopias

Employment and Salary Information

The majority of students who graduate from doctoral programs in divinity go on to earn positions in academia or research at colleges and universities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that philosophy and religious teachers held about 23,210 jobs in the United States in 2014, with an average salary of $63,630. Those with PhDs were expected to have the best job prospects, and the growth rate for postsecondary educators overall was predicted to rise by 19% between 2012-2022, which is faster than average for other occupations.

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