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Top Theology Phd Programs In The World

Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Get more information regarding Top Theology Phd Programs In The World, best theology schools u s news, phd theology programs, best old testament phd programs, phd in theology salary, phd systematic theology, best religious studies programs in the world & boston university phd theology

Top Schools with Theology PhD Programs: List of Schools

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Learn what schools offer doctoral degree programs in theology. Get details about three of the top schools, including their theology degree programs and options.

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • 1Harvard University
  • 2Westminster Theological Seminary
  • 3Western Theological Seminary
  • 4Wesley Theological Seminary
  • 5Virginia Union University
  • 6University of Saint Mary of the Lake
  • 7University of Dubuque
  • 8University of Chicago
  • Show more schools…
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School Overviews

Ph.D. in Theology programs consist of advanced coursework in religious studies and intensive, inquiry-based research. These programs can be found at top traditional universities and faith-based institutions. Three of the best schools at which to earn a Ph.D. in theology include Boston University, Catholic Univeristy of America, and Fuller Theological Seminary. Boston University and the Catholic University of America were both nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, while Fuller Theological Seminary is distinguished for being the biggest multidenominational seminary in the world.

Boston University in Boston, MA

Boston University‘s Ph.D. program in Theology differs from other programs of its kind due to the approach given to the subject, focusing on history, practice, belief, and community, with respect to the Church. The Boston University School of Theology offers a Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership program and a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology. Students in this theology Ph.D. program can choose from at least ten concentrations, including liturgical studies, mission and evangelism, church and society, congregational studies, and religion education. For 2017, Boston University was ranked #39 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA

In addition to a Master of Theology, the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary offers a Ph.D. in Theology. The Ph.D. in Theology is the highest degree awarded by the school and is designed to prepare graduates to teach at a college, university, or seminary. The school offers seven concentrations within the Ph.D. program. Fuller is the largest theological school in the world, serving over 4,000 students of 110 religious denominations and hailing from 90 countries.

The Catholic University of America in DC

The School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America offers a Ph.D. program for students who have already earned a Master of Arts in Theology or Religious Studies. Students must take the comprehensive exams in three separate areas of study and, from there, they research and write a dissertation based on their particular interests in the field of theology. Theology and religious studies courses focus on a wide range of topics, such as key historical periods in church history, literary analysis of the Bible, and the relationships between different religious groups. The school’s theological college is notable for preparing men to enter into the Catholic priesthood.

Top Theology Ph.D. Programs

Students can also earn a Ph.D. in Theology at several other top institutions.

School NameDistinctionLocation
Dallas Theological SeminaryThe student body is made up of individuals from over 70 denominationsDallas, TX
Duke UniversityStudents have access to several affiliated centers, including the Divinity School, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Duke Islamic Studies CenterDurham, NC
Emory UniversityThe student-faculty ratio at the Candler School of Theology is 9:1Atlanta, GA
Trinity International UniversityStudents have access to the Center for Theological Understanding, the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, and the Jonathan Edwards Center of MinistryDeerfield, IL
University of Notre DameAll graduate programs in the Department of Theology are accredited by the Association of Theological SchoolsNotre Dame, IN
Yale UniversityHas its own Divinity Library with a Day Missions Collection and a Ministry Resource CenterNew Haven, CT

Students who want to pursue advanced studies and academic research in theology can enroll in a Ph.D. theology program, which can be found at top-ranked universities, such as Boston University, as well as religious seminaries such as Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Theology degrees abroad

Theology is the study of religion, and it examines the different religions of the world, their impact on society and the human experience of faith. It combines elements of history, philosophy, anthropology and religious studies, and tackles difficult and complex questions around the meaning of religion and the nature of gods.

It’s a subject that is always relevant, and will give a number of important skills including debating, critical thinking and problem solving. Theology is a great subject to study abroad, as it means you could learn in a more culturally diverse environment, where you’ll experience different religions and cultures from home.

There are a huge number of theology degree programs available in many different countries around the world. Studying theology as an international student is a fantastic opportunity to get a great education, learn a new language and make lifelong friends.

Theology program structure

Theology is a diverse subject, and can be approached differently by different universities and in different countries. So programs combine elements of ethics, philosophy, politics or history so make sure you check the content and curriculum of the program before you apply.

Many theology degrees are made up of compulsory modules and several optional or elective modules that you can choose yourself. This means you can easily tailor your degree to the subjects that most interest you.

It’s possible to study theology abroad at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Bachelor’s degrees are usually offered as a BA, and can be studied full time over three or four years depending on the country and whether or not the course includes an extra year abroad.

At postgraduate level, you can study for a master’s for one or two years, or a doctorate degree which can take up to four years. At the terminal degree level you can choose to study for a PhD or a ThD (Doctor of Theology). These are largely the same, but the ThD may focus more on Christian theology, and a PhD may cover other religions as well.

Typical theology modules and study topics include:

  • Religion in the modern world
  • Philosophy and religion
  • Religious history
  • Religious text studies
  • Sexuality and gender in theology
  • Women and religion
  • Theological ethics

Best countries to study theology

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Best universities to study theology

  • Trinity College Dublin
  • Dominican University College
  • University of Chichester
  • Liverpool Hope University
  • University of Birmingham

See all universities offering theology programs

How to study theology abroad

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religious studies programs in the world

Boston University, School of Theology

Doctor of Philosophy Program

Boston University logo

Boston University’s School of Theology sets itself apart from other theology schools with its PhD with an emphasis on Christian traditions and the practices, histories, ethical values, and beliefs of Christian institutions. This PhD program offers three tracks: biblical and historical studies, theology, ethics, philosophy, and practical theology.

  • Courses: Object relations theory for pastoral relationships, transformative faith formation & digital media, and political theology.
  • Credits: 44
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • TuitionFull funding
  • Financial aid: Full tuition fellowship, stipend, scholarships, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 20.1%
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Dallas Theological Seminary

Doctor of Philosophy

Dallas Theological Seminary logo

Dallas Theological Seminary is a well-known non-denominational theological institution with a strong grounding in the Christian faith. Along with theology, it offers a range of programs that link arts, education, and media to religion and theology. Students can major in either biblical studies or theological studies.

  • Courses: Theological education in intercultural contexts, advanced old testament biblical theology, and modern theology & theologians.
  • Credits: 36 hours (61 for bachelor’s degree holders)
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition$697 per credit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, loans, and military benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Location: Dallas, Texas

Grace Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry in Ministry Leadership

Grace Theological Seminary logo

With support from the Grace College of Liberal Arts, Grace Seminary, strives to mold students into valuable ministry professionals. This theology PhD program equips students with leadership skills for ministry administration, hiring, training, and mentoring.

  • Courses: Current theological issues, team staffing, mentoring, coaching, and practice of ministry leadership.
  • Credits: 30
  • Delivery mode: Hybrid
  • Tuition$2,088 per unit
  • Financial aid: Scholarships and fellowships.
  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Location: Winona Lake, Indiana

Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School

Doctor of Philosophy in Religion

Harvard University logo

Harvard Divinity School collaborates with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to offer programs covering all major world religions. It draws on faculty from many disciplines, such as history, anthropology, and philosophy, and theology. This doctorate degree in theology focuses on world religions, religious thought and traditions, and how culture relates to religion.

  • Courses: Judaism & the making of Christianity, Evangelism in America, and Hebrew bible studies.
  • Duration: 5-7 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition$30,472 per year
  • Financial aid: Institutional grants and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 5%
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Calvary University

Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology

Calvary University logo

Calvary University offers students affordable education in religious studies and produces scholars with a biblical outlook on life and work. This PhD theology program develops bible experts skilled in the testaments’ original languages.

  • Courses: Hebrew intensive, exegesis in the Greek new testament, and biblical young earth creationism.
  • Credits: 60 (without biblical language courses) or 78 (with biblical language courses)
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus and online options
  • Tuition$347 per credit hour
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, tuition reduction, military benefits, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri

The University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

PhD Program in Religious Studies

University of Iowa logo

Iowa University’s Department of Religious Studies’ PhD program provides students with a comprehensive understanding of various religions and their changing faces in the modern world. This PhD program develops advanced theology practitioners as a standalone discipline and equips them with useful knowledge applicable to other fields like law, diplomacy, medicine, journalism, social advocacy, and counseling.

  • Courses: Genealogies of religion, Asian religions in the modern world, and methods and theories in religion.
  • Credits: 72 semester hours
  • Duration: 6 years (5 years for MA holders eligible for credit transfer)
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition$12,065 per year
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, fellowships, and teaching assistantships.
  • Acceptance rate: 84.3%
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Fordham University, Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education

PhD in Theology

Fordham University logo

The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University combines practical spiritual wisdom and academic knowledge to create leaders with a strong outlook on justice, solidarity, and service. This doctorate of theology offers five concentrations: bible, history of Christianity, Judaism & Christianity in antiquity, theological & social ethics, and systematic theology.

  • Courses: Biblical Hebrew introduction, history of Christianity, and theological anthropology & human diversity.
  • Credits: 36 minimum
  • Duration: 7 years average
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition$960 per credit
  • Financial aid: Grants, scholarships, assistantships, loans, and veteran benefits.
  • Acceptance rate: 52.5%
  • Location: New York City, New York

Liberty University

PhD in Theology and Apologetics

Liberty University is well-known for its various programs in theological and biblical studies, which features a rare collection of books worth more than $1 million, including a 111-foot 16th century Torah scroll and a functioning replica of the Gutenberg Press. This PhD program in Theology and Apologetics is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and designed for Christian students who aspire to become church leaders.

  • Courses: Theological method, apologetic method, and bibliology.
  • Credits: 57 credit hours
  • Duration: 3.5 years average
  • Delivery mode: Online (following initial one week on-campus)
  • Tuition$410 per credit hour
  • Financial aid: Scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 50.1%
  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Columbia University in the City of New York, Department of Religion

PhD in Religion

Columbia University logo

Columbia University is one of the nation’s leading institutions for religious studies, giving students access to valuable sources of knowledge, including the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York Public Library, and the Asia Society, along with its own collection of ten million volumes. This doctorate program is not standalone — it starts with a MA or M.Phil. and ends with a PhD.

  • Courses: Economic theology, law & medieval Christianity, and theories of transmission & community formation.
  • Duration: 7 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • TuitionFull funding
  • Financial aid: Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and stipend.
  • Acceptance rate: 6.7%
  • Location: New York City, New York

The University of Notre Dame, Department of Theology

PhD in Theology

The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology is internationally renowned for its excellence in Latino theological studies. With a strong focus on diversification and globalization, the department boasts close connections with the Church in Africa. This doctorate in theology offers concentrations related to Christianity, Judaism, world religions, and ethics.

  • Courses: New Testament and the Greco-Roman world, medieval Jewish-Christian encounters, and liturgical theology.
  • Credits: 42
  • Duration: 4-6 years
  • Delivery mode: On-campus
  • Tuition$59,644 per year
  • Financial aid: Full-tuition scholarship, stipend, fellowships, and assistantships.
  • Acceptance rate: 19%
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana

What Do You Need to Get a PhD in Theology?

The exact prerequisites vary depending on the program, but you’ll typically need a master’s degree in theology or a related field to apply. Some programs accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree, though you may need to complete extra credits.

To earn your doctorate, you must complete core and elective courses and pass exams, often including classical languages such as Greek or Hebrew. Most PhD in theology programs require you to conduct extensive research and complete a dissertation.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Theology PhD Program

Here are some important considerations for choosing your PhD in theology:

  • Niche: Do you want to study at a secular institution, or would you prefer a devout Christian or Jewish school? Explore specializations offered to ensure the program is aligned with your interests.
  • Career Goals: Do you want to work in academia or serve the church directly?
  • Costs: Review the school’s tuition costs and weigh them against potential financial aid opportunities.
  • Format: Think about whether you have the capacity to study on-campus, or if you prefer an online or hybrid program to balance your doctorate with work or other commitments.

Why Get a Doctorate in Theology?

A doctorate of theology qualifies you to work in education, media, social work, and Church leadership. While you may start as a junior pastor, a PhD will help you progress into advanced leadership and managerial roles.