Duke Divinity’s Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) program provides students with academically rigorous training informed by an understanding of theology as critical reflection on Christian practice and belief in the light of Holy Scripture.
Entering students work within theological disciplines such as Bible, church history, theology, ethics, homiletics, and Christian formation, and also at the intersection of these disciplines with fields such as political science, peacemaking and reconciliation, medicine, and the arts. The program is intentionally interdisciplinary, and students have access to the resources of both the wider university and partner institutions (including UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Central University, and NC State University).
Like the Ph.D., the Th.D. at Duke is a rigorous research degree. The most immediate difference between the two is that the Ph.D. is awarded through and supported by the Graduate School of the University, while the Th.D. is awarded through and supported by the Divinity School.
While many Divinity School faculty members are also members of the University’s Graduate Program in Religion (GPR), the Th.D. allows students to pursue their study under the direction of any regular-rank Divinity School faculty member—including those in disciplinary areas that fall outside the purview of the GPR, such as homiletics, evangelism, and Christian formation.
The curriculum for the Th.D. includes two academic years of full-time residency and completion of a dissertation that represents significant and original scholarly research.
The range and breadth of the Th.D. program is evident from a sampling of the dissertations completed. Recent graduates have investigated such topics as “The Censored Pulpit: Julian of Norwich as Preacher,” “Feeding and Forming: John Calvin, Materiality, and the Flourishing of the Liturgical Arts,” “Spiritualties of the Displaced: An Ethnographic Study of Homeless Lived Faith,” and “Lord, Teach Us How to Grieve: Jesus’ Laments and Christian Hope.” View a list of dissertation topics (pdf).
We designed the Th.D. program to deepen the ways in which we cultivate scholars, teachers, and pastors who embody the integrative theological task—ranging across the boundaries between the traditional academic disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and ministerial studies—to encourage and support theological reflection on matters of faith and practice in Christian communities.