Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Years to Complete
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is designed to equip you for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities, and for advanced church leadership.
The depth of study and the breadth of research to reach the heights of your calling.
What Is a Doctor of Philosophy?
A doctor of philosophy, also known as a PhD, is a doctoral degree in a specific area of study. At Calvin Theological Seminary, this terminal degree is available in the area of theology.
What Is a Theology PhD Program?
Calvin Theological Seminary’s PhD focuses on Christian theology. The graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is designed to afford students advanced training in independent inquiry, academic research, critical analysis, and scholarly writing as they define their own theological positions in dialogue with other points of view. It is aimed at equipping scholars from all parts of the world for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities and for general ecclesiastical leadership.
Theology Doctorate Career Opportunities
An PhD can prepare you for many roles, including:
- Professor: Share your knowledge through undergraduate- or graduate-level teaching.
- Author: Curate your learning and research through written works.
- Center or institute staff: Serve as a leader for a faith-based center, institute, think tank, or other organization that values theology.
Learning in the Reformed tradition: Calvin Seminary is committed to the confessional and theological standards of the Christian Reformed Church, but students from all Christian traditions are welcome to apply. The academic freedom to probe the foundations of Reformed theology and to explore the validity of other approaches is a fundamental assumption of the PhD program.
Seminary PhD Concentrations
PhD concentrations are offered in the History of Christianity, Moral Theology (Ethics), New Testament, Philosophical Theology, and Systematic Theology.
- History of Christianity: If you love studying history and the life of the global church, this concentration offers you a deeper study of the development of Christian communities over time.
- Moral Theology (Ethics): For students who have a passion for ethical living, personally and communally, this concentration offers a philosophical and practical look at moral theology.
- New Testament: Does the life of Jesus, and the acts of the early church, excite you? Do you pore over Scripture with an eagerness to understand more deeply? This concentration offers an up-close look at the New Testament of God’s living Word.
- Philosophical Theology: If you are drawn to the work of thought provoking authors throughout time, energized by philosophical conversations with your peers, and curious about the implications of philosophy for the church and the world, this concentration is your key to open doors of the mind.
- Systematic Theology: What is theology? Why does it matter? What is the story being told in the whole of Scripture? Explore these questions and more through the systematic theology concentration.
Resources for Supporting Your PhD Studies
Calvin Seminary offers access to a variety of resources to supplement your PhD studies.
Centers and Institutes
The Hekman Library
The Hekman Library is home to more than 520,000 books, including an entire floor of resources devoted to theology, biblical scholarship, and ministry practices. As a PhD student you will receive a dedicated library study carrel.
Calvin Seminary Supports Students
Calvin Seminary offers a wide range of scholarships and other financial assistance.
Calvin Seminary offers a wide range of scholarships and other financial assistance. In fact, in recent years, nearly $1.5 million in scholarship funds were awarded annually. Doctoral Fellowships, Doctoral Assistantships, and Doctoral Tuition Scholarships are available to students in the PhD program at Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition, modest PhD living stipends are available on the basis of financial need.
Course Work and Outcomes
The PhD Program
Courses focus on areas of current faculty interest and research. They are designed to introduce students to proper research methods and their application as well as to important theological issues and developments.
Students are required to complete a total of twelve PhD courses for credit. Full-time students take six courses per year (typically three per semester) for two years. Part-time students take either four courses per year for three years or three courses per year for four years. At least three courses must be taken in the student’s discipline of specialization and at least two courses in each of the other three areas.
In addition to the twelve required PhD courses, students in the program must take seminar 903P, “Teaching Seminar,” during the first two years in the program and are expected to take seminar 902P, “Dissertation Seminar,” if they have completed the required PhD courses and reside in the Grand Rapids area. Students ordinarily will take the dissertation seminar during more than one semester. These seminars are offered on a credit/no credit basis and do not count toward the twelve required courses in the program.
Outcomes: Program graduates will leave the program with the following skills and competencies:
Called to Serve
Past graduates have applied their learning to a variety of ministry-based opportunities. Here are some of their stories:
Application Requirements and Deadlines
For the PhD Program
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program has some specific admissions requirements, unique to the program. Below are some of the specifics. If you have any questions, the admissions office is here to help.
Ready to Start?
Click on the button below to begin the application process.