In many cases, a Doctor of Divinity is an honorary designation that is given based on what an individual has achieved, but there are a few graduate degree programs that combine coursework with work experience requirements to award this title. Doctoral programs in theology, however, are usually Ph.D. or Th.D. programs with courses that are designed for persons with graduate degrees in a religious subject area. This article will focus on what both doctoral programs entail and the requirements for admission.
Information on Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology Programs
Doctor of Divinity Programs
It should be noted that in the majority of cases, the title of Doctor of Divinity is an honorary one given to persons with varying levels of graduate education who have shown an outstanding contribution in a religious capacity, such as through missionary service. In the handful of Doctor of Divinity degree programs that are available, students may be required to take up to 60 semester hours of courses that cover topics such as theology, meditation, philosophical ideas, advanced Bible study and world religions. Students in these programs may also need to complete an extensive professional paper that is focused on a specific area, such as new thought. In some cases, students have the opportunity to prove their expertise through competency-based courses in areas such as the Old Testament, the New Testament and theology. Doctor of Divinity programs may be completed via in-person or online formats.
Doctor of Theology Programs
These programs can award either a Doctor of Theology or a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology. Program curriculum may include up to 72 credit hours of doctorate level material, and students can earn their degree in a little over two years if enrolled full time. Doctoral programs that are focused on theology may offer areas of concentration, such as Christian ethics, New Testament, practical theology and systematic theology. Some of the topics that can be covered in these programs include global religions, religious traditions and the relationship between religion and culture. These doctoral-level programs in theology are generally research-intensive, and students will be expected to present an original dissertation that would be of significance to their area of study.
General Admission Requirements for Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology Degree Programs
Where doctoral programs in theology are concerned, applicants typically need at least a master's degree in an area such as divinity to be considered for admission. The programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.5, and applicants may be asked to submit school transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, a writing sample and passing scores on the GRE.
Doctor of Divinity programs, on the other hand, may require a bachelor's or doctoral degree in an area related to religious studies. Prospective students may also need to present documented proof of anywhere from five to 15 years of ministerial service.
The title of Doctor of Divinity may be earned in some programs if an applicant has the requisite academic and ministerial work experience. Individuals with a master's degree in an area such as divinity can earn an academic doctorate in theology by completing up to 72 credit hours of coursework.