Our doctoral program offers a distinctive research focus on the various practices and praxis of Catholicism in the United States.
The University of Dayton program is unique. Theology is at the center, but you must examine other disciplines and practices to build a core of knowledge and understanding. You'll have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of theological and religious issues and practices within the field of the American Catholic experience, and you'll develop the ability to conduct theological research in interaction with the humanities and social sciences.
The doctoral program serves students preparing to teach in colleges and universities as well as those intending to work in research and policy positions in church administration.
The Ph.D. requires 90 credit hours, 30 of which may be at the master's level and 30 of which may be dissertation hours. The remaining 30 hours are selected from the doctoral courses offered.
Applicants to the theology program should submit the following information in addition to the online application:
- Official academic records of all previously attended colleges or universities must be submitted directly from the colleges or universities to the Office of Graduate Admission Processing. Hand-carried transcripts, official copies marked Issued to Student and unofficial copies are not acceptable.
- Three letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
- A personal statement explaining applicant's desire to study theology at the University of Dayton.
- An official GRE test score with a minimum verbal score of 600 for tests taken prior to August 1, 2011 or 160 for tests taken on or after August 1, 2011.
- A sample of academic writing, such as a research paper, published article, or excerpt from published book or thesis. (25 pages maximum)
Additional requirements apply for international students.
Applicants to the program will ordinarily have completed an M.A. in theology or religious studies. Applicants with a B.A. in theology or religious studies may be admitted to the program but will be required to complete the prerequisites ordinarily required for the M.A. degree and to complete the core of the M.A. program as part of their doctoral work. Applicants should have a minimum of 3.5 grade-point average in graduate work.
- All doctoral applicants are considered for graduate assistantships in the Department of Religious Studies. No additional application materials are needed.
- All application materials are to submitted no later than February 1. When submitting your online application, please submit the application itself first and then submit all supplemental materials.
- Candidates for the doctoral program are admitted in the fall term only.
Program requirements can be found in the online Catalog. Simply select the area of study and click "Explore".
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an M.A. in theological studies?
Many things! Those with experience in ministry pursue the degree in order to enhance their understanding of the tradition and advance their working knowledge of youth ministry and religious education. Others use this program to develop a content area for teaching, or as a springboard into a Ph.D. program. Still others use the master's program as a way to explore their own faith.
Does the M.A. in theological studies require a thesis?
No. Students may choose to complete a six-credit thesis, a three-credit comprehensive project or 36 semester hours in course work with a faculty-reviewed research paper. Those going on to a Ph.D. are encouraged to do a thesis. Others find the other final projects more rewarding.
What can I do with an M.A. in pastoral ministry?
The M.A. in pastoral ministry is designed to give the academic and practical basis for acquiring the competencies outlined for lay ecclesial ministers. In the Roman Catholic Church, the degree is the standard training required for pastoral associates in parishes. Pastoral associates undertake many ministries under the direction of the pastor or parochial administrator.
Does the M.A. in pastoral ministry require a thesis?
No. The M.A. in pastoral ministry does require a practicum experience and ongoing participation in the Pastoral Ministry Ongoing Seminar, as well as other practical courses.
I have heard that the Ph.D. is in "American Catholicism." Is this correct?
Not quite. The degree is a Ph.D. in Theology, with a focus on the U.S. Catholic experience. We think of theology as the organizing center of a web of the disciplines of religious studies, including historical, sociological, ethnographic, cultural and literary approaches. Our program requires basic competency in biblical studies, the history of Christianity, and theology and ethics. These are tested by general exams. Our program requires advanced competency demonstrated through a qualifying exam in the area of the dissertation and in the U.S. Catholic experience, the latter meant not to be a limit but a focus.
Are there language requirements for the degrees?
The M.A. degrees do not have language requirements, although languages other than English are useful both for research and for ministry. The Ph.D. requires rudimentary knowledge of Latin, a research language or languages appropriate to a student's research.
Can non-Catholics take these courses?
Yes. The University of Dayton is proud to be a Catholic and Marianist institution. As such, its academic posture has been called an "open circle" centered on the Roman Catholic tradition but certainly not limited to it. While the M.A. in pastoral ministry is shaped for those planning to do ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, the M.A. in theological studies and the Ph.D. in theology can be structured with somewhat different foci. A significant number of faculty and students in the Ph.D. program are non-Catholics.
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Graduate Programs in Religious Studies Website >>