Doctor of Philosophy (Christian Theology)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Christian Theology) is designed to prepare students for the teaching, writing, and leadership ministries of the Church and academy. It is a full-time degree that builds upon previous foundational theological study and encourages the development of valuable research and teaching experience.

Program Duration
Designed to be completed in 4 years


Approximate cost per year is listed above. For full details, visit our Tuition and Fees page.


Theological Studies (includes Church History)
Ministry Studies (includes Pastoral Theology & Preaching)
Biblical Studies (OT, NT, Septuagint)

Program Requirements

Years 1 & 2 Number of courses
Research Methods 1
Interdisciplinary course:
Biblical Theology (BS)
Theological Contours of Ministry (MS)
Ministry and Evangelical Thought (TH)
Pedagogical course 1
Courses in area of emphasis:
Biblical Studies (NT, OT, Septuagint)
Theological Studies (including Church History)
Ministry Studies
Modern language exam 1
Total courses 8
Vocational Practice
Years 3 & 4
Comprehensive exams + oral defence
Dissertation (80,000-100,000 words) + oral defence

Modern Language Exam

At least one modern research language, such as German or French, is required for all PhD students. Competence in modern languages is to be demonstrated through a language examination set by the primary and secondary advisors or other suitable person at McMaster Divinity College and is to be decided by the committee of advisors. This requirement must be met before students will be permitted to move into the dissertation phase of the program. The modern language exam should be completed by the end of the first year of study.

Comprehensive Exams

Three written comprehensive exams in the area of emphasis, as well as an oral defence, are required upon the completion of coursework.

Vocational Practice

Vocational practice is required in each term of coursework. It must create meaningful, intellectual, and reflective interaction between the area of emphasis and one’s chosen vocation.


Based on the area of emphasis, a dissertation (minimum 80,000 words) must be written demonstrating expert knowledge of the area and both presenting and supporting a new thesis regarding the subject area. The dissertation will be defended orally.

Faculty Supervision

From the outset, as part of the admission process, students work with a primary supervisor whose expertise and scholarly interests correspond with the student’s area of emphasis. In addition, each student has the support of a supervisory committee, which consists of the primary supervisor, a secondary supervisor, the Academic Dean, and any other members from inside or outside of the College as deemed appropriate. This committee will work closely with the student to assist in planning and approving the student’s program of courses and research, to decide on timing of comprehensive and language examinations, to provide the student with regular appraisals of progress, to decide when the student is ready to write the dissertation, and to give advice during this process.

Admission Requirements

Agreement with the McMaster Divinity College Statement of Faith.

Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or its educational equivalent, with at least a B+ average

Master’s degree from an accredited university or its educational equivalent (e.g. MA, MTS, MDiv, ThM) with at least a B+ average (students with concentration in Ministry Studies will normally have an MDiv degree)

At least ten term-long courses in the concentration selected for study, or related areas, with at least a B+ average in these courses

A major piece of written academic work (minimum 10,000 words), preferably a master’s thesis, in the student’s proposed area of specialization, written in English

Appropriate biblical language requirement

A student whose emphasis is Biblical Studies will have studied at least 12 units (four terms) of the major biblical language of his/her emphasis (i.e, Greek (NT) or Hebrew (OT)) and at least 6 units (two terms) of the other prior to beginning the PhD program. For students in Septuagint Studies, the requirement is 12 units of Greek and 12 units of Hebrew. All PhD students will be required to gain competency in one modern language (i.e. German, French) while enrolled in the program. Students may be required to gain facility in additional languages or higher competence in the biblical languages in light of her/his program of study as set by his/her committee.

Application Deadline

Winter Term  August 1
Fall Term        January 15
Save $25.00 on your application fee by applying by December 1 for Fall entry.