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PhD in Theology

School of Theology, Center for Advanced Theological Studies

The PhD in Theology program at Fuller Seminary equips faculty and other leaders through the cultivation of research capacities and skills, global sensibilities, ecclesial commitments, theological discernment, personal and vocational formation, and the craft of teaching and learning.

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Joel Green

Faculty and Concentrations

Center for Advanced Theological Studies (CATS) PhD students declare a major concentration in one of the following areas: New Testament, Old Testament, or Theological Studies. “Theological Studies” is defined integratively, with students working in Christian ethics, church history and historical theology, liturgical theology, public theology, political theology, practical theology, systematic theology, and theology and culture.

Veli Matti Karakainen

RESIDENTIAL AND HYBRID STUDY

Students studying in the Theological Studies Concentration may complete their work either in residence on Fuller Seminary’s Pasadena Campus or in a hybrid format.

The Theological Studies Concentration requires 21 units of 800-level coursework completed as hybrid coursework. This involves residence on the Pasadena Campus three times over the two years of required participation in seminars for five-day periods of face-to-face instruction; these seminars are completed through distance-learning. An additional 19 units of 800-level coursework are completed through synchronous and asynchronous participation in seminars. The final 6 units of 800-level coursework are completed as a Directed Reading typically oriented toward the student’s research specialization.

Coursework for the New Testament Concentration and the Old Testament Concentration (46 units) is not available in a hybrid format, and must be completed in residence on Fuller Seminary’s Pasadena Campus.

Kyong-Jin Lee

Before You Apply

Fuller’s PhD in Theology prepares graduates for vocations as faculty in theological programs in seminaries, colleges, and universities; and as leaders in ecclesial and paraecclesial institutions and organizations devoted to serving the church in the world. The PhD program equips faculty and other leaders in several ways:

  • Cultivating research capacities and skills
  • Encouraging global sensibilities
  • Nurturing ecclesial commitments
  • Promoting theological discernment
  • Fostering personal and vocational formation
  • Training in the craft of teaching and learning.

GRADUATES OF THE PHD IN THEOLOGY PROGRAM SHOULD EVIDENCE THE FOLLOWING:

  • A comprehensive knowledge of their field of theological study
  • Research skills appropriate to an area of theological exploration, sufficient to engage in original research and writing that advances theological understanding in the service of the global church
  • Critical reflection on the vocation of ecclesially informed theological scholarship, particularly with regard to teaching and learning, as well as research
  • Hospitality toward diverse theological approaches and positions, traditional and emerging, characteristic of the church catholic
  • Capacities for the cultivation of theologically reflective practices of Christian discipleship
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Faculty Mentors

Explore a collection of videos featuring PhD faculty mentors discussing their areas of expertise and their thoughts on formational doctoral studies

Carly Crouch

Applying for Admission

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Applicants must have a first theological master’s degree with a foundation in biblical languages (either an MDiv or Fuller’s MA in Theology, or its equivalent, from an ATS-accredited school), and a cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.5 or above. Applicants wishing to have their transcripts assessed concerning this requirement should contact the Office of Admissions for details.

During the PhD program, students will need to acquire skills in up to three research languages (in addition to required biblical language requirements), as needed for their concentration. It is highly recommended that applicants begin their study of research languages prior to beginning the program.

To be considered for admission to the PhD in Theology program, applicants must submit an online application, essay responses, writing sample, three academic references, official transcripts from all prior post-secondary study, and GRE scores (taken within the last five years). Applicants for whom English is a second language must provide test scores from an approved English language proficiency exam. Some requirements vary by concentration and/or research area of interest. Learn more about application requirements for Fuller’s PhD in Theology.

Note: In light of COVID, the GRE has been made optional for Fall 2021 applicants to the PhD Theology program. Applicants who do not submit GRE scores will not be penalized. 

APPLICATION DEADLINES

Online application opens: August 1
Application and file completion deadline: January 2
Notification date: March 15

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MARK HATFIELD SCHOLARSHIP FOR FAITH AND PUBLIC LIFE

With a generous endowment from the donors, Fuller Theological Seminary proudly announces the Mark Hatfield Scholarship for Faith and Public Life. The scholarship will be given to select PhD students beginning their Fuller PhD program in 2021 whose trajectory of life and service will lead them to make a scholarly commitment to Christian reflection and engagement in public life. The research area of faith and public life includes, and not exclusively: (1) an investigation of the public engagement of theology, missiology, or psychology; (2) an examination of the theoretical and practical interactions of Christian churches with the public sphere; (3) and critical assessment of the nature, rationale, and methodologies of public theology.

This annual scholarship will be $50,000 per year per student (towards tuition, books, materials, housing. etc.) for up to five years for three PhD students, preferably one in each of Fuller's three PhD programs in the Center for Advanced Theological Studies, the Center for Missiological Research, and the School of Psychology & Marriage and Family Therapy. The selection of the recipients of the scholarship will be made by each program committee in consultation with the Robert Wiley Chair of Renewal in Public Life.

Applications for the Mark Hatfield Scholarship for Faith and Public Life are due February 1, 2021. For more information, contact joel@fuller.edu.

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Payton Lectures

Fuller Seminary's annual event brings in leading theologians from around the world for a multi-day series of lectures and conversations

Rowan Williams

Degree Completion Requirements

THE PHD IS AWARDED UPON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Research language requirements
  • Coursework consisting of 58, 800-level units through seminars or directed readings
  • Comprehensive examinations
  • A dissertation proposal
  • A scholarly dissertation based on research in the area of the student’s major concentration

ALTHOUGH EACH CONCENTRATION HAS SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS, A TYPICAL PROGRAM INCLUDES THESE COMPONENTS:

STAGE ONE

Stage One of the PhD program consists of 46 units of seminars and directed readings, including a methods seminar or foundational course in the student’s concentration. After 46 units have been completed, students will take four comprehensive examinations. Students who pass the comprehensive examinations will become candidates and move into Stage Two.

STAGE TWO

Stage Two of the PhD program consists of completing another 12 units of directed readings related to dissertation research and writing. Students will pass a dissertation proposal and write a dissertation demonstrating knowledge of field research, evidence of independent research, an original contribution to the field, and appropriate presentation and format.

  • Students will have a primary mentor under whom they design their 64-unit program of seminars and directed readings.
  • Faculty in each field may require a minor concentration; in fields that do not require a minor concentration, students may choose their own minor concentration, in which they may take no more than 18 units.
  • The PhD program requires that students spend at least two years in full-time study on the Pasadena campus. Part-time students must complete at least six 6-unit seminars and/or directed readings on the Pasadena campus.

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