Doctoral Degree in Theology and Leadership (Ph.D.)
Rev. Rafael Capó
Vice President for Mission and Ministry,
Dean of the School of Theology & Ministry
Brad Bursa, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology
Vision: The PhD in Theology and Leadership offers students advanced theological formation preparing them for theological scholarship and research as well as for competent and effective ministry and leadership in the Church.
Mission: The PhD program in Theology and Leadership is designed to prepare candidates to make significant contributions to public knowledge through theological inquiry while forming them to become effective leaders grounded in Catholic Theological Ethics. By preparing knowledgeable and committed leaders, the PhD in Theology and Leadership program will form students known for their intellectual acumen, excellent leadership qualities, and their commitment to serve the local and global mission of the Church in the 21st century.
Theology at St. Thomas University: In an effort to meet the needs of our dynamic student populations, courses are offered in an online format. In addition to our 100% online course offerings, students are provided the opportunity to engage in two weekend retreat residencies during their program of study.
Student Residency Retreats are a key component of the program, as they create a community experience of theological and pastoral reflection, prayer and worship. Students can OPT for an in-person or online Retreat experience because St. Thomas University strives tobe inclusive of various types of student needs and expectations. Residencies, whether attended in person or online, will be crucial in developing students’ ministerial networks as well as enriching opportunities to engage other Christian leaders to discuss how Church leaders can address current ministry challenges, both local and global, in the 21st century.
At present, doctoral precandidacy coursework is delivered in a 100% online platform.
- In an effort to meet the needs of our dynamic student populations, the program is offered with highly accessible 100% online courses
- Courses in this program give you a competitive edge in your vocation, career, and spiritual formation by providing you cutting edge, innovative practical theological methods in order to solve and transform ethical dilemmas in society and church contexts.
- Graduates of our PhD program have gone on to serve as Catholic High School educators, Catholic University educators, Catholic University Campus Ministers, Lay Ecclesial Ministers, Public Speakers, Pastoral Associates, Priests, and Hospital Chaplains.
|Tuition Per Credit Hour||Technology Fee Per Course|
*Tuition costs are subject to change at any time.
Applicants must have a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or the equivalent, if the degree is from outside the United States.
- A graduate degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Divinity, or related field from an accredited institution in the United States, or the equivalent, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (official transcripts must be submitted)
- Online Graduate Application
- Curriculum Vitae with list of references
- Writing sample (e.g. a publication, MA thesis, MA research paper)
- Two confidential letters of recommendation speaking to the applicant’s potential for success in theological doctoral studies
- The first reference should be a priest, deacon, religious, or minister
- The second reference should be a professor, supervisor, or mentor
- Interview with program director and/or academic dean of Theology
- A brief personal statement explaining the reason for pursuing the degree (at least 250 words, not to exceed 500)
Applications will be accepted according to the following calendar:
|Term:||Start Date:||Application Deadline:||Interview Deadline:||Complete New Student Orientation (online) by:||Tuition Deadline:|
|Fall 1 2023||8/19/2023||5/1/2023||6/15/2023||8/1/2023||8/16/2023|
|Spring 1 2024||1/6/2024||10/1/2023||11/15/2024||1/1/2024||1/3/2024|
PhD Program in Theology & Leadership
Requirements 56 credits
The program consists of 56 academic credits. 32 credits are in core courses, 12 credits are taken from Leadership Electives Track, and 12 credits are granted for candidacy requirements.
Core Pre-Candidacy Courses
- STM 802 Intro Doctoral Research (1)
- STM 811 Contemporary Practical Theology (2)
- STM 812 Ecclesiology (4)
- STM 813 Evangelization & Mission (6)
- STM 862 Scripture Studies for Practical Theology (5)
- STM 911 Formation and Spirituality in Practical Theology (3)
- STM 912 Sacramental Theology (8)
- STM 913 Catholic Social Teaching (7)
Leadership Pre-Candidacy Courses
- STM 870 Catholic Leadership* (9)
- STM 871 Hispanic-Latino/a Leader
- STM 873 Education & Leadership
- STM 872 Business Leadership
- STM 874 Health Care Leadership
- STM 875 Addiction & Leadership
- STM 876 Sports & Leadership
- STM 877 Migration & Leadership
- STM 878 Environmental Leadership
Candidacy Course Sequence
- STM 961 Prospectus Seminar
- STM 971 Dissertation Seminar I
- STM 981 Dissertation Seminar II
- STM 991 Dissertation Seminar III
Program Learning Outcomes: The Ph.D. program is designed to accomplish the following four outcomes:
The Ph.D. program is designed to accomplish the following four outcomes:
Demonstrate expert knowledge of scholarly literature associated with the following four subfields of theology: Moral Theology, Systematic Theology, Ecclesiology, and, Practical Theology.
Articulate expert knowledge of a specialized field of Theological Ethics by completing the ethics elective track.
Integrate practical theological methods and methodology in the dissertation.
Exhibit writing skills that meet the level of professional publication standards.
Program Learning Performance Indicators: Performance indicators are assessed using the dissertation and the oral defense of the dissertation.
A maximum of 9 doctoral Theology credits earned within the last 5 years with a grade of 3.0 or higher may be transferred, if earned from an accredited institution and at the discretion of the Dean.
Presents seminal works within Christian theology. This course provides theological background necessary for approaching doctoral work that integrates classics in the Catholic theological tradition. Empowers students to successfully communicate ideas and research through theological writing for their classes and their ministries. The course also covers how to construct professional theological writing, correct styles of documentation, and methods to improve writing, researching, editing, and revising processes.
Introduces major works within practical theology worldwide since the 1960s together with an exploration of practical theological method. Relates developments within practical theology to those within the larger discipline of theology. Students will develop a synthesis of contemporary practical theology suitable for work toward an eventual dissertation topic.
Explores the scriptural and theological foundations for an understanding of the belief and practice of the church. Classic and modern texts will be examined in order to understand bottom up ecclesiology as well as top down ecclesiology. The historical approach provides a context for examining different ecclesiological models in dialogue with practical theology in a global context.
Evangelization and Missiology introduces students’ to key areas of ministry in areas such as catechesis, sacramental prep, youth ministry, RCIA, adult faith formation, marriage preparation, community building events, multicultural ministry, social outreach, social communication, mission, and evangelization. This course introduces skills to identify community or parish needs and socio-cultural context, gather and synthesize data, reflect theologically, and plan an appropriate pastoral response.
Explores Scripture as a critical source and model for practical theology. Includes strong emphasis on the intersection of biblical study with critical issues in understanding culture and society. Students will be trained to bring a contextual understanding to the Scriptures as they analyze hermeneutical questions critical to biblical studies and practical theology.
This course will explore the theology and history of leadership in the Catholic Church. First, Jesus’ servant leadership model will be examined in light of scripture. Second, several leadership qualities of Saints will be examined. Last, Pope Francis book on leadership will conclude the course.
This course will explore the theology and ministry of Hispanic groups within the United States, the Hispanic theological experience that emerged out of a 20th century Latin American context, and their contribution to theology and ministry in a Catholic US context.
Students are introduced to the study of business ethics from both a Catholic theological perspective and contempoary leadership theories and practices. Students begin by examining contemporary business dilemmas, followed by ethical principles of Catholic Social Teaching in order to think about what type of leadership practices could prevent or resolve In analyzing contemporary business problems from Catholic theological and leadership perspectives students will engage in methodical theological reflection in order to propose personal and social conversion toward prophetic action.
The church engages in faith formation generally through its activities of service (diaconia), worship (leiturgia), community (koinonia), and proclamation (kerygma). These are the foundational dimensions of Christian life. While, this course will critically attend to the formational dimension of all these activities, much of our focus will be specifically on adult education, which more and more is considered the heart of church formation strategy. However, given the changes and transformations in contemporary society, this course will also explore an ecology of perspectives and methods for analyzing and practicing religious education. This course begins by laying the ecological foundations for religious education, then problematizes our praxis to reimagine religious education as a practice of redemption and hope. The course will compare and contrast classical/historical contemporary models of religious education while familiarizing themselves with the Catholic ecclesial tradition. From this vantage point they will identify what they consider foundational for their practice and articulate their own vision of the field as they engage in the transformative work that is religious education.
Students are introduced to the study of health care ethics from both a Catholic theological perspective and contemporary leadership theories and practices. Students begin by exploring foundational topics such as the relationship between faith and reason and the moral principles that govern the patient-professional relationship. Students then focus on ethical challenges concerning–but are not limited to–determining when human life begins (and its associated implications for medicine), treatment for critically ill newborns, genetic screening/testing, and the duties of health care professionals with regard to end of life care. In analyzing contemporary health care problems from Catholic theological and leadership perspectives students will engage in methodical theological reflection in order to propose personal and social conversion toward prophetic action.
Students will explore the reality of addiction in the 21st century through consideration of how the desires of people and societies can lead to unhealthy forms of addiction. These pathological relationships can be analyzed with resources related to scientific, theological, and philosophical perspectives. In analyzing contemporary problems of addiction from Catholic theological and leadership perspectives students will engage in methodical theological reflection in order to propose personal and social conversion toward prophetic action.
Students will explore how to use the intellectual virtue of prudence, as described by St. Thomas Aquinas, and used by Pope Francis, to develop a sense of faith that seeks understanding of the role of sports in contemporary US culture. In addition, students will learn to integrate the University of Notre Dame “Play Like a Champion” model with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, “Giving the best of yourself” document in order to form their sense of mission and vocation in life and sport. In analyzing contemporary problems in sports in the 21st century from Catholic theological and leadership perspectives students will engage in methodical theological reflection in order to propose personal and social conversion toward prophetic action.
About 200 million people in today’s world live in a country where they were not born. Migration as an endless motion surrounds and pervades virtually all aspects of contemporary society. Moreover, we often hear that historically America is a “nation of immigrants.” Amidst current waves of migration, the Catholic Church is looking for new practices of encountering and accompanying those who migrate in order to practice mercy and to welcome the stranger as Jesus instructs in MT 25:35-46. In this course we will seek to understand migration theologically, biblically, historically, and ethically in the broader framework of leadership.
In a time when the adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change are beginning to be felt, this course will form students to examine how to respond to a call to environmental issues from a Catholic theological perspective. Students will explore the principles of faith and reason and the resources of the Catholic tradition regarding stewardship, the common good, and the option for the poor and vulnerable in the context of leadership theory and practice. In analyzing contemporary environmental problems from Catholic theological and leadership perspectives students will engage in methodical theological reflection in order to propose personal and social conversion toward prophetic action.
Examines ecclesial and spiritual topics related to formational practice, especially in the context of religious education. Students will be trained to undertake a practical theological self-examination in order to understand how to use a practical theological method to integrate classic and contemporary theological sources for integrative religious practice.
Beginning with an examination of the sources of God’s self communication through revelation, this course focuses on mediation of God’s presence and the human responses in symbol and sacrament. Students also examine the history and evolution of belief and practice of sacraments in the Catholic Church in ordre to acquire the theological language of symbol, liturgy, and sacrament, and be able to translate it into language and concepts that are useful in pastoral contexts.
Students explore the field of Moral Theology within Catholic Social Teaching. Students will examine the history of the Church’s moral and ethical tradition from a practical theological perspective. We explore a number of critical political, economic, and cultural issues of moral importance with the goal of educating pastoral and lay ministers with knowledge of specific moral issues in the United States, and across the world; and what the Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches laity concerning ethical action in regard to moral issues.
Trains doctoral candidates to undertake and complete the writing of a dissertation prospectus in practical theology, including the creation of an appropriate literature review for their intended dissertation topic. Supports the process of integrating theological, philosophical, social scientific, and other appropriate methods within a unified practical theological method suitable for dissertation work in practical theology. The goal of the course is a successfully defended prospectus. This course is designed to be the sole course taken during the first semester of candidacy.
Trains dissertation writers in the art of practical theological writing and presentation while providing a collegial environment to facilitate and advance work on the dissertation. This course is designed to be the sole course taken during the second semester of candidacy.
Trains dissertation writers in the art of practical theological writing and presentation while providing a collegial environment to facilitate and advance work on the dissertation. This course is designed to be the sole course taken during the third semester of candidacy.
Trains dissertation writers in the art of practical theological writing and presentation while providing a collegial environment to facilitate and advance work on the dissertation. This course is designed to be the sole course taken during the fourth semester of candidacy.
For More Information
School of Theology and Ministry
Rev. Rafael Capó
School of Theology and Ministry