The degree of Doctor of Theology has been designed specifically for those ministry professionals who wish to pursue advanced studies relevant to their own particular denomination including theology, denominational history, liturgy, ecclesiology, polity, hymnody, and spirituality.
This degree is a 30 credit program that may be completed in no less than two years and no more than four years.
- 24 credits (8 courses)
- 6 credits (thesis)
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- Baccalaureate degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
- Master's degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
- Five years of accumulated experience in a cognate field of ministry or vowed religious order.
- Completion of the Application Procedure.
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- 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.
- Completion of eight Units of Study: four required from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and four completed through the GTF, through other approved educational institutions, or through the use of transfer credit (Part or all coursework for this degree program may be completed through the annual Oxford Theology Summer School. Click here for more information.)
- Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral thesis.
- Fulfillment of language requirements if such have been determined by the Thesis Supervisor.
- Nomination and approval of Thesis Supervisor.
- 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).
- Successful defense of the doctoral thesis.
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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
Activation fee due within 30 days of acceptance
$1,200 due at time of registration for each course
Completion fee due prior to scheduling of the doctoral defense
Payment Plan Option
Students who are unable to make the initial activation fee may break that initial payment into 3 equal installments. If a student requests a mailed invoice as a reminder to make payment, there is a ten dollar fee per invoice.
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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.
The student will submit a thesis proposal to the GTF. This will be the first working document generated from the relationship between the student and the Thesis Supervisor. The proposal will include a brief description of the proposed thesis, a working title and a brief bibliography.
The Th.D. candidate must submit a 750-1,250 word (3-5 page) overview of the thesis at least three months prior to sitting for the oral defense.
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.
In conformity with the basic commitment of the Graduate Theological Foundation to serve the ministries of the various ecclesial traditions through programs of advanced professional education, the Th.D. thesis, as the culminating work of this degree, must always significantly relate to some aspect of ministry and must 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 the thesis 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.
There are several internationally recognized dissertation 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.
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.
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
The Doctoral Defense by Written Disputation
The defense of the doctoral thesis dates from the Middle Ages in Europe and has continued in a variety of forms to the present. The purpose of the defense is to provide the doctoral student an opportunity to demonstrate competency in the field of research by responding to questions posed by scholars who serve on the faculty of the degree-granting institution.
The GTF has done a thorough examination of the various doctoral defense protocols in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom and has settled upon a modified version of the Roman tradition known as disputations, i.e., a roster of faculty-constructed questions to which the doctoral defendant must reply.
Written disputation allows for the doctoral student to respond more formally and thoughtfully to faculty questions over a period of time. Additionally, this format allows the student to avoid the expense of travel required for an on-site oral defense.
Evaluation of the student thesis will occur within 90 days from submission of the thesis and all required documents and fees. Members of the Doctoral Committee will formulate and submit to the doctoral student a list of five formal questions to which the student must respond in writing by email within two weeks. The student responses will be reviewed by faculty within approximately two weeks. Upon review and acceptance of the written disputations, the doctoral student will be informed by email of his/her eligibility for graduation.
The student’s transcript will show the names of the Doctoral Committee, the title of the thesis, and the date successfully defended.
Doctoral Defense Scheduling
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 our offices:
- Thesis Proposal
- Thesis Cover Sheet
- Abstract and Biographical Statement
- Thesis Supervisor Report Form (this form is mailed directly to our offices by the Thesis Supervisor)
- One electronic copy of the thesis (PDF or MS Word format)
- Payment of all tuition and fees
Defense deadlines can be found here: Doctoral Defense Scheduling