Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Description 

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is the universally accepted terminal academic degree.  The degree taken through the GTF allows students to specialize in several fields, including Islam, Judaism, psychology, biblical studies, historical studies, and theological studies. The GTF’s program seeks to address concerns in the context of overarching perspectives.  Specialties are removed from potential isolation and located in the large-scale dynamics of religious traditions and their ministries. Candidates for GTF degree thus seek a two-fold academic identification: as specialists in various fields and as those who undertake to relate such fields to the multiple dimensions of religion, religious experience, and religious traditions.

This degree is a 36-42 credit program that may be completed in no less than two years and no more than five years.

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Admission Requirements
  1. Baccalaureate degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
  2. Graduate degree or equivalent training in an appropriate field validated by documentation.
  3. Five years of accumulated experience in a cognate field of ministry.
  4. Completion of the Application Procedure.

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Program Requirements

  1. Students are expected to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook of the year of their acceptance with particular focus on their particular degree program.  Students are bound by the academic and financial requirements of the Handbook in use at the time of their acceptance.  The current Student Handbook as well as past years’ Handbooks can be viewed here.
  2. Completion of ten Units of Study:  five required from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and five completed through the GTF, through other approved educational institutions, or through the use of transfer credit
  3. Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral thesis.
  4. Fulfillment of language requirements if such have been determined by the Thesis Supervisor.
  5. Nomination and approval of Thesis Supervisor.
  6. Submission of an electronic copy of a doctoral thesis of 45,000-60,000 words (180-240 pages) and required forms (abstract, personal biography, cover sheet, Thesis Supervisor Report Form).
  7. Successful defense of the thesis before GTF faculty in Indiana, one of our satellite defense locations, or at Oxford during the Oxford Theology Summer School. 
  8. Attendance at the Convocation/Graduation (Non-US residents are exempt from this requirement).

Study Options 

This program requires the completion of ten Units of Study. A Unit of Study is defined as 40 contact hours of instruction, and is equivalent to a 3-credit graduate-level course, one Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, or 4 Continuing Education Units.

Units of Study may be completed through the GTF, from other approved venues, or by using transfer credit.

The Study Options button on the GTF’s website under the heading Academics lists the course offerings of the GTF and provides information about the various methods of earning Units of Study for your degree.

NOTE: For Paper Guidelines, please Click Here.

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Research Methodology
 
Research Methodology is a required course for all students completing a thesis.  The Research Methodology course requirement is explained here.
 
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Transfer Credit
 
Any student wishing to have previously completed academic work evaluated for possible transfer credit or wishing to complete coursework through a venue other than the Graduate Theological Foundation for use as transfer credit toward a degree, must contact the Office of the Registrar for approval. Students may use transfer credit to fulfill a maximum 50% of their Unit of Study requirements for any degree program.  Accepted transfer credit has the potential to decrease the total tuition paid by the student. Requests for acceptance of transfer credit are reviewed on a case by case basis.
 
 

Tuition
 
Total Program Cost amounts include all required courses if taken through the GTF.   The acceptance of transfer credit will decrease total program cost.
               
Total Program Cost:  $19,800
Degree candidates are bound by the regulations of the Student Handbook of the year in which they are accepted into their program of study. Tuition fees will not change during a student’s course of study, providing the student submits payments and papers on schedule and completes the degree program within the prescribed time. If the student does not conform to scheduled payment and/or paper submission deadlines, the student’s file will be deactivated. Upon reactivation, the student will be responsible for the tuition and degree requirements which are current at the time of reactivation.
 
Tuition payment schedule for Academic Doctorates
1/3 of total fees paid within 30 days of acceptance
1/3 of total fees paid within one year of the date of acceptance
1/3 of total fees paid prior to scheduling of the doctoral defense
 
Payment Plan Option
 
Students who are unable to make tuition payments in three installments may request to be placed on a payment plan.  The payment plan option allows the student to make small monthly or quarterly tuition payments for the duration of the degree program.  There is no interest charged on payment plans.  If a student requests a mailed invoice as a reminder to make payment, there is a ten dollar fee per invoice.

To make tuition and fee payments online click here.

If you have a question for the Bursar please click here or contact our office 9am-3pm EST. 


Language Requirement
 
In instances where the doctoral thesis topic requires competency in one or more languages as determined by the Thesis Supervisor, the student must produce either a transcript of two academic semesters of language courses or some other means of demonstrated competency to the satisfaction of the Thesis Supervisor and the Office of the President.
 

Thesis Proposal
 
The candidate will submit a thesis proposal to the GTF. This will be the first working document generated from the relationship between the candidate and the Thesis Supervisor. The proposal will include a brief description of the proposed thesis, a working title, and an exemplary bibliography. A form for this proposal is provided by the GTF.
 

Thesis
 
After completing all coursework, candidates undertake the research and writing of a doctoral thesis of 45,000-60,000 words (180-240 pages) in their field of specialization. It must be clearly a work of original academic scholarship making a contribution to the field of specialty. The thesis must be written in 12 point Times New Roman (or comparable) font, double-spaced and with the appropriate table of contents and bibliography. 
 
The basic commitment of the Graduate Theological Foundation is to serve the ministries of the various ecclesial traditions through programs of advanced professional education. The thesis, as the culminating work of the highest academic degree, must always relate significantly to some aspect of ministry and be an original and distinct contribution to the knowledge of a specific discipline or area of inquiry.
 
The thesis is shaped as a written work of original systematic research, which includes the substantive exposition of the theoretical basis and rationale of the subject, together with a demonstration of familiarity with the appropriate scholarly and professional literature. It should be noted that the written form of theses is to be in the style of actual scholarly publications; that is, the thesis as finally submitted is to be suitable for publication without being rewritten.
 
When the thesis in its final form has been reviewed and approved by the student’s Thesis Supervisor, it must be submitted to the GTF for final review and for forwarding to defense panel members.  One copy of the thesis, abstract, cover sheet and biographical statement must be submitted by email to the Office of the Registrar a minimum of three months prior to the intended date of defense.  Click here to fill out the form to request the email address of The Office of the Registrar.  After receiving both the completed thesis and the Thesis Supervisor Report Form, the GTF will appoint two additional readers, as the thesis is a demonstration of the capacity of the candidate to engage in significant professional scholarship and thus be a peer to other scholars in the field. 
 

Thesis Style Statement
 
There are several internationally recognized thesis styles acceptable in the academic community. In light of the fact that the GTF has a rather large international student body, the GTF has not adopted a single style form acceptable for thesis writing. The GTF will, rather, accept any of the internationally recognized styles, given that the student consistently employs the same style throughout the writing of the thesis. Those most commonly used but not required include Turabian, MLA, APA, as well as others known and recognized universally.
 

Doctoral Abstract
 
The Ph.D. candidate must submit a 750-1,250 word (3-5 page) overview of the Ph.D. thesis at least three months prior to sitting for the oral defense. A one-page biographical statement should accompany the abstract.
 

Thesis Supervision

When degrees first began to be awarded by universities in the twelfth century in Bologna, Paris, and Oxford, the doctor’s degree was recognized as a universal authentication of scholarship. The doctorate was not earned by attending classes but by sustained residency and demonstrated scholarship. The credential was awarded by the faculty of the university on the basis of a thesis which was submitted by the candidate and followed by an oral defense of the document before the gathered academic community.

Times have changed but much of the doctoral process has endured. The Graduate Theological Foundation requires a demonstration of academic research considered by the faculty to be an original work of scholarship and a contribution to the field. After the doctoral candidate has completed residency and language requirements (if required), the development of the thesis is initiated under the direct supervision of the Thesis Supervisor.

The Thesis Supervisor, in this style of learning, is specifically mandated to work closely with the candidate in the development of the thesis topic and through its evolving refinements leading to the finished product. The Thesis Supervisor is nominated by the candidate and approved Academic Affairs Committee, on the basis of academic qualifications at the doctoral level of training and experience.

Selection of Faculty Thesis Supervisor and Nomination Procedure
Students select a faculty member of the GTF to serve as Thesis Supervisor. This enables the student to receive helpful and pragmatic evaluative feedback from a member of the faculty in the developmental process of producing the doctoral thesis. The role of the faculty Thesis Supervisor is responsive and suggestive. The faculty person is encouraged to limit feedback to pragmatically helpful hints and suggestions and not to attempt any censorship of the thesis. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The faculty Thesis Supervisor must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Thesis Supervisor Report Form.

  • The student peruses the Faculty Details page and makes a selection.
  • The student completes the Faculty Thesis Supervisor Nomination Form 106 (Forms).
  • Academic Affairs provides the nominated faculty member with Form 106.
  • The selected faculty member notifies Academic Affairs of acceptance of student nomination.
  • Academic Affairs informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided.

Thesis Supervisor Roster


Doctoral Committee
 
Every student admitted into an academic doctoral program, either the Ph.D. or the Th. D., will be assigned a Doctoral Committee prior to the scheduling of the doctoral defense.  The members of the committee are as follows
  • Thesis Supervisor
  • Two Faculty Readers
  • Two Defense Panel members
  • Defense Chair
These six individuals are not asked to agree with the observations or conclusions drawn by the doctoral candidate in the thesis, but the committee must finally concur that the thesis is worthy of scholarly recognition based on traditional standards of scholarship, research and presentation. 
 
To read a full description of the Academic Doctoral Committee, members, roles, procedures, etc., please click here.
 

Doctoral Oral Defense
 
Orally defending the doctoral thesis is the last step in earning the academic doctorate. The intent is for the defense experience to be an opportunity for the student to demonstrate competency in the general field of study and expert scholarship on the topic itself. While institutions vary in terms of defense panel chair and composition, length of the defense, discussion protocol during the defense, and evaluation gradations, that the student has made an “original contribution to the field of study” is the primary requirement for a successful defense. At the GTF the defense panel is made up of three or more faculty persons conversant with the student’s thesis and chaired by a senior member of the faculty. The student’s thesis supervisor is customarily not present during the defense, thereby assuring objectivity in the evaluation process. The time taken is two hours or less and the levels of evaluation are (1) accepted as presented, (2) accepted with minor revisions, and (3) accepted with major revisions.
 
The doctoral defense will be scheduled no sooner than 90 days and no longer than 180 days from the time that all academic and financial obligations have been met. You will be notified by the Office of the Registrar of your eligibility to schedule a defense after the following have been received by the Office of the Registrar:
  • Thesis Proposal
  • Thesis Cover Sheet
  • Abstract and Biographical Statement
  • Thesis Supervisor Report Form answering the six key points within the thesis (this form is mailed directly to our offices by the Thesis Supervisor)
  • One electronic copy of the thesis (PDF or MS Word format)

For scheduling procedures click here.

Students wanting to defend in Oxford must complete all coursework through the Oxford Theology Summer School. Please contact the Office of the Registrar for information regarding this option.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies 

This is a 36 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
This Ph.D. concentration is designed for those interested in the academic and scholarly investigation of the Jewish and Christian scriptures employing a variety of methodologies including hermeneutics, textual and form criticism, historiography, archaeology, linguistics and exegesis. The social sciences are also considered viable tools in Biblical studies particularly as relates to the social matrix of textual formation.  Students may choose to complete part or all of their coursework for this degree program during the Oxford University Theology Summer School.  Students who complete all coursework during the summer school are eligible to have their doctoral oral defense held in Oxford.  For more information about this degree program option, please visit the Oxford and Rome Programs page on our website.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Church History 

This is a 36 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
This Ph.D. concentration is designed for those interested in the academic and scholarly study of the origins and development of Christianity from the times of the Apostles through to the present with recognition of key time periods such as the Apostolic Church, the Patristics, the Middle Ages, the East/West Schism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, denominational histories, the Vatican Councils, and the contemporary Church. Students may choose to complete part or all of their coursework for this degree program during the Oxford University Theology Summer School.  Students who complete all coursework during the summer school are eligible to have their doctoral oral defense held in Oxford.  For more information about this degree program option, please visit the Oxford and Rome Programs page on our website.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pastoral Psychology
 
This is a 42 credit program. 
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (Clinical Skills Assessment Practicum or Residential Institute)
  • 6 credits (thesis) 
The Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pastoral Psychology is designed to enhance and strengthen the pastoral care and counseling skills of ministry professionals working in fields such as institutional chaplaincy, pastoral ministry, and private practice.  This program is open to those who have been actively engaged in some form of professional ministry (parish, social service, community outreach, chaplaincy, etc.) for at least five years and who meet the Admission Requirements listed for this degree. The applicant must hold one CPE Unit at the time of application.  The degree is offered exclusively to the already credentialed ministry professional and is in no sense designed for those seeking to enter the field of counseling. Professional counseling and ministry credentials are viewed as prerequisites to entering this course of study with the GTF.
 
Individuals seeking licensure must comply with the requirements of the state in which they intend to be engaged in professional counseling as nomenclature is controlled by State Boards related to the various fields of counseling practice.  Visit this webpage, State Professional Counselor Licensure Boards and this webpage, State Licensure for Pastoral Counselors, for licensure details.  Students who are seeking to elevate their status within the profession rather than seeking to obtain licensure or certification will benefit from pursuing this Ph.D. in Clinical Pastoral Psychology.
 
Completion of the non-credit course Research Methodology is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral thesis.
 
The degree is completed by writing and defending a research-based thesis of 45,000 to 60,000 words before the GTF Faculty defense panel. A special feature of this Ph.D. in Clinical Pastoral Psychology is the requirement that prior to the defense of the doctoral thesis the student must attend either the five-day Clinical Skills Assessment Practicum at the GTF or one of the residential Institutes hosted by the GTF.  (If fulfillment of the one week residency requirement constitutes an extreme hardship for any student, that student should contact the Office of Student Services to explore other options.) 
 
The Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pastoral Psychology may be earned by the student who has one Clinical Pastoral Education Unit and by completing the following requirements:
 
Program Requirements
  1. Students are expected to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook of the year of their acceptance with particular focus on their particular degree program.  Students are bound by the academic and financial requirements of the Handbook in use at the time of their acceptance.  The current Student Handbook as well as past years’ Handbooks can be viewed here.
  2. Completion of ten Units of Study
  3. Attendance at a GTF Residential Institute
  4. Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral thesis.
  5. Fulfillment of language requirements if such have been determined by the Thesis Supervisor.
  6. Nomination and approval of Thesis Supervisor.
  7. Submission of an electronic copy of a doctoral thesis of 45,000-60,000 words (180-240 pages) and required forms (abstract, personal biography, cover sheet, Thesis Supervisor Report Form).
  8. Successful defense of the thesis before GTF faculty in Indiana.

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy 

This is a 42 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (Clinical Skills Assessment Practicum or Residential Institute)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
This Ph.D. concentration is designed for those in various forms of counseling ministries who wish to concentrate upon the classical schools of psychotherapy with special attention to the theoretical constructs and therapeutic modalities developed by Freud, Adler, Jung, Frankl, Maslow, Erikson, Rogers, and Sullivan. Whether within the parish context, a private practice, or an instructional setting, Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy will provide the ministry practitioner with insights and skills developed through a systematic study of these eight classical schools of psychotherapy. Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy is the study and treatment of dysfunctions in interpersonal relationships within the context of a spiritual worldview and ethos which provides a values-based framework for analysis and therapy.
                    
Course Requirements (E-Tutorials)
The student must take all ten of the E-Tutorials covering the classical schools of psychotherapy as well as the Research Methodology course. These courses should be taken in the following sequence.
  1. Classical Schools of Psychotherapy
  2. Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
  3. Alfred Adler and Individual Psychology
  4. Carl Jung and Analytical Psychology
  5. Viktor Frankl and Logotherapy
  6. Abraham Maslow and Humanistic Psychology
  7. Erik Erikson and Developmental Psychology
  8. Carl Rogers and Person-Centered Psychotherapy
  9. Harry Stack Sullivan and Interpersonal Psychoanalysis
  10. Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy
Completion of the non-credit course Research Methodology is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral thesis.
 
The degree is completed by writing and defending a research-based thesis of 45,000 to 60,000 words before the GTF Faculty defense panel. A special feature of this Ph.D. in Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy is the requirement that prior to the defense of the doctoral thesis the student must attend either the five-day Clinical Skills and Assessment Practicum at the GTF or one of the residential Institutes hosted by the GTF.  (If fulfillment of the one week residency requirement constitutes an extreme hardship for any student, that student should contact the Office of Student Services to explore other options.)
 
Individuals must comply with the licensure and/or board certification requirements of the state in which they intend to be engaged in professional counseling, as nomenclature is controlled by State Boards related to the various fields of counseling practice.  Visit this webpage, State Professional Counselor Licensure Boards and this webpage, State Licensure for Pastoral Counselors, for licensure details.  Students who are seeking to elevate their status within the profession rather than seeking to obtain licensure or certification will benefit from pursuing the Ph.D. in Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy.
 
This program is open to those who have been actively engaged in some form of professional ministry (parish, social service, community outreach, chaplaincy, etc.) for at least five years and who meet the Admission Requirements listed for this degree. The applicant must hold one CPE Unit at the time of application. The degree is offered exclusively to the already credentialed ministry professional and is in no sense designed for those seeking to enter the field of counseling. Professional counseling and ministry credentials are viewed as prerequisites to entering this course of study with the GTF.
 
TOPICAL SCOPE OF THE DEGREE CURRICULUM           
  1. Human Growth and Development including studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels.
  2. Social and Cultural Foundations including studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society.
  3. Helping Relationships including studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes.
  4. Group Dynamics, Processing and Counseling including studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics and counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches.
  5. Career and Lifestyle Development including studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors.
  6. Appraisal including studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.
  7. Research and Evaluation including studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal consideration in research studies.
  8. Professional Orientation including studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing. 
Note: Doctoral students are encouraged to consider professional membership in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) and/or the American Counseling Association. 
 

Doctor of Philosophy in Islamic Studies 
 
Description 
 
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is the universally accepted terminal academic degree.  This degree is designed for already credentialed and practicing ministry professionals.  The Ph.D. requires completion of a specialized curriculum in Islamic Studies coupled with the writing and oral defense of a doctoral thesis. Academic work may be completed in English or Arabic. Graduate Theological Foundation students in Islamic Studies are welcomed to participate in the Life of the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies in worship, fellowship, and study.
 
For more information on the Ph.D. in Islamic Studies degree program, please visit our Islamic Studies Department webpage.
 

Doctor of Philosophy in Pastoral Logotherapy
 
This is a 42 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (Practicum in Pastoral Logotherapy)
  • 6 credits (thesis) 
This concentration is offered through the Graduate Center for Pastoral Logotherapy.  For further information please click here.  

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Doctor of Philosophy in Pastoral Psychology
 
This is a 36 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
The Doctor of Philosophy in Pastoral Psychology is designed for those in ministry who are engaged in advanced study and research in the academic field of psychology as this reflects pastoral concerns of individuals and communities. The program involves graduate Units of Study designed to develop overarching perspectives on significant areas of theology and psychology, further graduate coursework in the candidate's specialized interest, a research thesis of creative scholarship, and an oral defense demonstrating professional competence in the chosen specialty.
 
Individuals must comply with the licensure and/or board certification requirements of the state in which they intend to be engaged in professional counseling as nomenclature is controlled by State Boards related to the various fields of counseling practice.  Visit this webpage, State Professional Counselor Licensure Boards and this webpage, State Licensure for Pastoral Counselors, for licensure details.  Students who are seeking to elevate their status within the profession rather than seeking to obtain licensure or certification will benefit from pursuing the Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology.
 
This program is open to those who have been actively engaged in some form of professional ministry (parish, social service, community outreach, chaplaincy, etc.) for at least five years and who meet the Admission Requirements listed for this degree. The degree is offered exclusively to the already credentialed ministry professional and is in no sense designed for those seeking to enter the field of counseling. Professional counseling and ministry credentials are viewed as prerequisites to entering this course of study with the GTF.
 

Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies
 
This is a 36 credit program.
  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
The Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies is designed for those in ministry who are engaged in advanced study and research in the academic field of theology as this reflects the dynamics of analysis, theory and application of the various dimensions of religious traditions. The program involves graduate Units of Study designed to develop overarching perspectives on significant areas of theology, further graduate coursework in the candidate's specialized interest, a research thesis of creative scholarship and an oral defense demonstrating professional competence in the chosen specialty.  Students may choose to complete part or all of their coursework for this degree program during the Oxford University Theology Summer School.  Students who complete all coursework during the summer school are eligible to have their doctoral oral defense held in Oxford.  For more information about this degree program option, please visit the Oxford and Rome Programs page on our website.