The Doctorate in Historical Theology program studies the development of Eastern and Western Christian theology from the earliest Christian communities to the present. Through the emergence of theology as a science in the 12th century West, the discipline of theology became systematized and eventually located in the setting of a university.

Before, during, and after this development, however, the practice of theology included liturgical forms, preaching, treatises on the contemplative life and pastoral care, communal devotions, and diverse exegetical strategies. Throughout this history and increasingly in the modern West, the interplay between faith and reason and between philosophy and theology have remained central preoccupations. The doctorate in historical theology represents an achievement in theological scholarship and research. The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare graduate students to make significant contributions to knowledge in historical inquiry while broadening their understanding of other areas of theology. By means of research seminars, advanced level courses, language skills, comprehensives, and an extensive research project, the program is designed to develop graduates who are capable of thorough theological understanding and careful research.


  • A minimum of 36 hours of coursework after the M.A. degree
  • 18 hours (including TRS 760A: Theological Foundations) are to be taken in the historical theology at the 700-level (lecture) and 800-level (seminars). At least 12 of these 18 hours are to be taken in 800-level seminars which require major research papers.
  • 12 hours of electives that may be taken in any of the academic areas of the School of Theology and Religious Studies.
  • Six hours in a minor area outside the major area of concentration (see below). With the approval of the academic area director, these courses may be taken in other graduate schools of the University.
  • Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an inadequate background are encouraged to audit 600 level courses in order to complement their courses at the 700 and 800 level.
  • GPA: 3.0 or higher
  • Language requirements: Latin: reading knowledge
  • Greek: reading knowledge in either biblical or patristic Greek
  • German: reading knowledge of theological German.
  • A Romance language (French, Italian, Spanish): reading knowledge.
  • Comprehensive examinations.
  • Minor Area: Ph.D. students, in consultation with their faculty advisors, are to choose a minor area of concentration outside the major area of concentration. Appropriate minor areas of concentration include: systematic theology, moral theology, historical theology, biblical theology, spiritual theology, liturgical theology, comparative theology, canon law, church history, religious education/catechesis, and religion and culture. A student may choose another area for a minor with the approval of the area director. Students in historical theology should ordinarily take church history as the minor area of concentration. A minor area must be fulfilled by six hours of coursework.


  • 12 credit hours or more of undergraduate or graduate philosophy. Normally, these credits should be in four of the following areas: ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, modern philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics.
  • 15 credit hours or more of undergraduate and/or graduate courses in theology of religious studies at a B grade level or above. These should include courses in the Old and New Testaments, church history, and systematic and moral theology. Upon review of an applicant's previous studies, some prerequisite courses may be required at the discretion of the admissions committee.