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PhD in Theology

School of Mission and 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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Request More Information About the PhD in Theology

Joel Green


In the Center for Advanced Theological Studies (CATS), “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


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

Students participating in the hybrid modality complete the bulk of their coursework from a distance through synchronous and asynchronous participation in doctoral seminars. Hybrid modality students must complete 21 quarter units through hybrid coursework, which entails visiting campus on three separate occasions for approximately one week at a time.

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.


  • 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


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.


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

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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


  • 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 academic focus



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 theological studies track. 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 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 58-unit program of seminars and directed readings.

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