Prepare to Teach the Next Generation — Earn an Accredited PhD in Practical Theology Fully Online
Our PhD with a concentration in Practical Theology prepares you to teach in postsecondary theological higher education both nationally and internationally. If you want a program that offers you the advanced knowledge and skills needed to research, write and make a scholarly contribution to the fields of Chaplaincy, Homiletics, Moral Theology, Pastoral Care or Pastoral Theology, the PhD (Practical Theology) program is for you. You will learn to:
- Research and write at an advanced level of biblical scholarship under the functional authority of Scripture.
- Make a scholarly contribution to the field of Practical Theology.
- Present research results in a professional, organized, coherent and structured manner in both written and oral form.
- Function responsibly in the context of a supervisory relationship while exhibiting CIU’s core value of Victorious Christian Living.
Why Choose Columbia International University
Our ATS-accredited PhD with a concentration in Practical Theology degree combines a research focus with individualized mentoring and online modality to create a quality doctoral experience that will prepare you to be a well-rounded scholar, make a significant contribution to scholarship in your discipline and teach in theological higher education both inside and outside the United States.
Benefits of our PhD (Practical Theology) Degree
Our fully-online, dissertation-focused, modified-European model PhD program is unique to doctoral education and offers you the opportunity to:
- Complete your entire program using fully online modality without relocating or coming to campus.
- Pay affordable tuition that saves you up to 50% of the cost of other seminary PhD programs and includes the cost of textbooks.
- Develop your skills in research, writing and teaching, while you pursue a wide variety of research topics.
- Focus your coursework on refining your anticipated dissertation topic before beginning your research.
- Engage in synchronous small group discussion sessions that foster a sense of community with your classmates.
- Work closely with a mentor whose areas of interest and expertise align closely with your dissertation topic.
- Develop a well-rounded understanding of the knowledge related to your discipline through tutorial discussions with your mentor.
- Engage regularly and intentionally with your dissertation mentor throughout the research and writing process.
- Complete your entire program in as few as three years.
The PhD in Biblical Studies program is for those who want to teach in post-secondary theological higher education both nationally and internationally. If you want to earn a Biblical Studies PhD online, speak with CIU today.
The Theological Studies concentration encompasses the broad areas of Historical Theology, Systematic Theology, and Apologetics. If you want to make an original and significant contribution to your area of study and, as a result, contribute to the understanding of a theologically-informed biblical worldview, earn your PhD in Theological Studies online with CIU.
What Will I Study?
- PTH 9200 Issues and Methods in Practical Theology
You will survey significant contemporary issues in Practical Theology, including areas such as chaplaincy, homiletics, pastoral theology, moral theology, and the pastoral cycle. You will then identify an issue and a method related to the area of your proposed dissertation topic and will explore each in depth.3.00 credit hours
- PTH 9400 Principles of Teaching, Learning, and Course Design
You will review biblical perspectives on teaching and learning, survey principles of adult education, and explore best practices of course design and development. You will learn how to design lessons and courses that go beyond the communication of content to the facilitation of learning and will apply those skills to the creation of a course related to the area of your proposed dissertation topic.3.00 credit hours
- PTH 9900 Practical Theology Dissertation Proposal
You will engage in guided practice of bibliographic (text-based) research that will prepare you to write a doctoral dissertation in Practical Theology. You will learn to craft a research problem, identify appropriate research methods, locate, evaluate, and document scholarly sources, structure argumentation, and write at the doctoral level. Building upon those skills, you will write a dissertation proposal that must be approved by the Dissertation Proposal Committee before you begin the dissertation research courses.3.00 credit hours
- Official transcript from accredited institution (all graduate level work)
- Completed MA, MDiv, or ThM with 3.5 GPA
- Submit Master’s thesis or major research paper, approximately 5,000–6,000 words (20–24 pages)
- Submit research proposal (approximately 500 words)
- Biblical languages: 4 semesters of either/both biblical languages
- 2 Academic References
- Interview with admissions committee
- *International requirements when appropriate
Career Path Opportunities
Career options include professions such as:
- Seminary Professor
- International Theological Educator
- Bible College Professor
- High School teacher
- What specializations are available in this program?
As a Practical Theology PhD student, you may choose to focus your study in the areas of Chaplaincy, Homiletics, Moral Theology, Pastoral Care, or Pastoral Theology.
- Is the program accredited?
The PhD program is accredited professionally by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), as well as regionally by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and nationally by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
- Is the program really fully online?
The entire PhD program uses online modality, so that you never need to come to the Columbia campus.
- Is the program synchronous or asynchronous?
The three foundational seminars are largely asynchronous, but with a synchronous component. Instructors facilitate two-hour discussion group sessions of six to eight students that meet five to eight times throughout each semester.
In February 2022 the ATS Board of Commissioners approved a three-year experiment to offer a non-residential PhD degree as an exception to Standard 5.15, through a combination of online courses (synchronous and asynchronous) and one-on-one faculty mentoring sessions.
- What does a Modified-European model mean?
The modified-European model combines the strengths of both the North American and European models. You enter the program with a preliminary idea of the topic for your dissertation, and the coursework in the three foundational seminars helps you refine your topic to be substantive, coherent and focused. After those seminars, you engage in your dissertation research, writing and defense, which comprises 80% of the studies.
- Is this program cost competitive with other ATS accredited PhD programs?
Total tuition for the program is 25–50% lower than the cost of other seminary PhD programs and includes the cost of textbooks.
- Do I receive a Bible software package as a student?
As a PhD student, you will receive a free copy of Accordance Bible Software that you may use as long as you are pursuing your doctoral studies. Upon graduation, you own the software.
- Do I have to know biblical languages for this program?
If you are pursuing work related to Practical Theology, you must show transcript evidence of having completed four semesters of Greek and/or Hebrew in any combination.
- Do I have to complete any research languages for this program?
In order to have as wide access as possible to scholarly literature related to your dissertation topic, Practical Theology students demonstrate proficiency in one theological research language as part of their PhD studies. The process of collecting a working bibliography for your dissertation usually helps you identify the specific language you will pursue.
- How long will the dissertation be?
The wordcount for your dissertation is 90,000–110,000 words, including the introduction, the body, the footnotes, the conclusion and the bibliography, but not the front matter.
- Who will my dissertation mentor be? Do I have a say in the decision process?
We will work with you to recruit a dissertation mentor whose areas of interest and expertise align as closely as possible with your topic. Since the majority of our mentors come from outside the seminary, the range of topics you may pursue is broad, and you have the opportunity to work closely with an expert in your field of research.