Our doctoral program offers a distinctive research focus on locating the work of theology in history and culture with attention to the United States. Theology is at the center, but students examine other disciplines and practices. Students take courses in history, theology, and cultural studies and conduct theological research in conjunction with research methods from the humanities and social sciences. The Ph.D. requires 90 credit hours, 30 of which may be at the master's level. 30 hours may be selected from doctoral courses, and 30 hours will be dissertation hours. Dissertations focus on theological questions that arise from ongoing life of the church in the United States.
In the second year of study, students teach undergraduate introductory religion classes and can serve as instructors of advanced courses in later years. This intensive teaching experience makes our students attractive to potential employers.
The doctoral program prepares students to teach in colleges and universities as well as those intending to work in research and policy positions in church administration. Students graduating from this program have gone on to teach in a variety of academic positions, and have published numerous books and articles.
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
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 context. We think of theology as the organizing center of a web of disciplinary methods, including historical, sociological, ethnographic, cultural and literary approaches. Our program requires master’s level competency in biblical studies, the history of Christianity, and theology and ethics. Our program requires advanced competency demonstrated through a qualifying exam in the area of the dissertation and in U.S. Catholic studies, the latter meant not to be a limit but a focus.
Are there language requirements for the degrees?
The Ph.D. requires a tested competency of Latin and at least one modern research language
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 is 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.
Where have graduates of UD’s Ph.D. program received placement?
Students graduating from this program have gone on to teach in a variety of academic positions, and have published numerous books and articles.
Is an M.A. in Theology required?
An M.A. in Theology or its equivalent is optimal. A graduate degree in another discipline relevant to the focus of the program will also be considered.