Christian Doctoral Program Options

Christian doctoral programs are available for students who are interested in conducting research in the field, as well as those who want to pursue faith-focused studies.

Overview of Christian Doctoral Degrees

Students interested in a Christian doctoral degree program can choose from two main courses of study. Students may first consider academic and research-based doctoral degree programs in Christian studies and related fields. These programs are intended for students interested in an academic study of religious texts and philosophies. They may be found at many 4-year colleges and universities. Alternatively, students looking for faith-based study may choose to enroll in doctoral degree programs that focus on the practice of Christianity and prepare students for careers related to the ministry. Religious schools and seminaries more commonly offer these programs.

Research-Based Programs

Example doctoral degree programs that are research-based include a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religion with an emphasis in the Christian faith or a Ph.D. in Theology. Some doctoral programs in literature might include coursework from religion or theology departments as well. These programs may allow students to develop their own curricula under the guidance of faculty advisors. They may choose to focus on topics that include:

  • Theological ethics and methods
  • Early Christian identity
  • History of Christianity
  • Biblical studies

Program Requirements

Students can expect to write and defend a dissertation based on their own research. In addition to the dissertation, students may be required to become proficient in a second language, such as Hebrew, Latin or Greek, in order to analyze religious texts in their original languages. Outside of their individual study, students in some programs may be required to assist professors with some of their undergraduate teaching duties.

Faith-Based Programs

Students interested in faith-based careers may choose to earn such degrees as a Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Theology or Doctor of Christian Philosophy. These programs help students strengthen their faith and conviction to the church. Students in these programs can expect to study:

  • Pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit)
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Church leadership

Program Requirements

In addition to classroom study, programs may require students to complete in-ministry work, guiding worshipers and building practical skills. Some programs may require completion of a research project similar to the dissertations found in other programs.

In some programs, students are also expected to declare a concentration in a particular field of interest, which can be relevant for different faith-focused jobs, like minister, missionary or counselor. Here are some possible specializations:

  • Biblical counseling
  • Christian ministry
  • Christian ethics
  • Global missions
  • New Testament Exposition
  • Christian worship
  • Black church leadership

Students who are interested in research-based doctoral studies in Christianity can enroll in a Ph.D. program, while those who intend to pursue a faith-based career can choose a Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Theology or Doctor of Christian Philosophy program.

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