The Ph.D. in the History of Christianity and Church History prepares students for careers in research, writing, and teaching on the college, university, and seminary levels. Students in the Ph.D. program are expected to think critically about the ways in which Christianity has been studied over the centuries and to apply those insights to the study of their area of concentration. To do this effectively, students are expected to acquire advanced training in the original languages and to conduct their research in the primary texts. The program allows for students to complete coursework and to acquire competence in fields and disciplines relevant to their area of concentration.


It is expected that applicants to the program will have taken courses in the History of Christianity, Theology, Religious Studies, and in such related disciplines as History, Classics, and Philosophy.

Students entering with an M.A. degree will be considered for advanced standing in the program. Relevant bodies within the school may review the quality of a student's M.A. degree before granting advanced standing to a student. After such an evaluation, the student may be required to complete further work, including work in related disciplines.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program should include a sample of their scholarly work and should indicate in the statement of purpose how the proposed area of research draws upon the resources (i.e., areas of faculty expertise and/or special collections) of the university.


  • Ph.D. students are required to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours beyond the M.A.
  • At least 15 credit hours will be in the History of Christianity and Church History, 12 credit hours of which will be from courses taken at the 700 and 800 levels.
  • Among the 15 credit hours required is The Writing of Church History (TRS 724).
  • Four (4) seminar courses in which research papers are required and for which at least a grade of B+ is received, and in two (2) of which a grade of at least A- is received. Two (2) or more of these seminars must be in the Church History academic area.
  • The remaining 21 credit hours may be taken in another field in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, or from another school or department in the University, e.g., Philosophy, History, Semitics, Greek and Latin, etc.
  • The student's adviser will guide the student in selecting the courses appropriate to the student's area of concentration.


History of Christianity students must demonstrate reading knowledge of French and German by passing an examination administered by the area. Depending on the student’s area of concentration, competence in additional languages (e.g., Patristic, Medieval, and/or Ecclesiastical Latin; Patristic and/or Byzantine Greek; Syriac; Ethiopic, etc.) will be required. Competence in such additional languages will be demonstrated by passing an examination administered by the professor directing the student’s research.

In certain cases, another modern language may be substituted for French or German. Approval for such a substitution will be granted by the director of the academic area upon consultation with the Church History faculty.

Comprehensive Examinations

History of Christianity students are required to pass four written comprehensive examinations. Two (four-hour) examinations will be in the area of concentration, and two (four-hour) examinations will be in minor fields, one of which may be in another discipline (e.g., History, Philosophy, Greek and Latin, Semitics).