Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Ethical Leadership

Graduates of the PHD program will develop an aptitude in scholarly theological research that is designed to promote real world practice of the Christian faith in the context of everyday life. Such pastoral and ministerial skills will serve the graduate in their vocation and profession that may include Catholic High School educators, Catholic University educators, Catholic University Campus Ministers, Lay Ecclesial Ministers, Public Speakers, Pastoral Associates, Priests, and Hospital Chaplains.

What differentiates this program from others is that it is fully online from first course to dissertation defense phase, but, flexible enough to allow in person gatherings if the student chooses to participate in Bi-Annual Retreats aimed to community building, professional networking, spiritual development, and academic advising. Moreover, this program is grounded in practical theological methodology used by Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope Francis. This innovative pastoral and lay ecclesial methodology, renews Thomas Aquinas’ description of the intellectual virtue of prudence, to form students with the theological know-how necessary to build bridges between various sources of the Christian intellectual tradition including: biblical wisdom, systematic theology from Doctors of the Church ranging from the Augustine, to Benedict, Aquinas, Francis and Clare, Ignatius of Loyola, and modern Catholic Social Teaching from the Magisterium, all aimed toward development of practical theological leadership in everyday sociocultural and ecclesial contexts.


Program Highlights

  • 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.
  • Course 1: Contemporary Practical Theology; 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.
  • Course 2: Formation and Spirituality in Practical Theology: Examines critical areas of formational practice, including religious education and proclamation, including preaching (didache, kergyma); spiritual theology; theological reflection; spiritual direction; and theological education. Students will be trained to collectively undertake a practical theological examination of their experience of formational and spiritual practice.
  • Graduates of our MA 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, Hospital Chaplains,


Career Landscape

People who complete a Masters degree in theology immediately see their earning potential rise. The difference between a Catholic educator with a BA compared to an MA can range from $10,000-20,000. If one examines job search engines such as and and one will quickly see there are scores and scores of open and unfilled jobs for candidates with credentials such as a Masters degree in Ministry and Leadership that would allow them to be employed as Hospital Chaplain, High School Theology Teacher, College Campus minister, Catechesis Director, Young Adult Ministry Director, Pastoral Associate, Mission Director.



The program consists of 54 academic credits. 36 credits are in core courses, 6 credits are taken from electives, and 12 credits are granted for candidacy requirements.

The Dissertation requirements include a Capstone Seminar to prepare for Candidacy Exams. Successful completion of the Capstone and Candidacy Examinations, together with the Doctoral Dissertation, result in granting of the PhD degree in Theology and Leadership.

Pre-Candidacy courses include (32 credits):

  • Contemporary Practical Theology (4)
  • Biblical Theology (NEW) (4)
  • Sacramental and Liturgical Theology (NEW) (4)
  • Ecclesiology (NEW) (4)
  • Formation and Spirituality in Practical Theology (4)
  • Moral Theology and Catholic Social Teaching (NEW) (4)
  • Evangelization, Catechesis and Mission (NEW) (4)
  • Capstone Defense Seminar (4)

Pre-Candidacy Leadership Courses (6 credits required):

  • Strategic Leadership and Global Change* (3)
  • Theory and Practice of Leadership* (3)

Pre-Candidacy Ethics Electives include (6 credits required, choose 2):

  • Ethics and Governance*
  • Environmentalism and Theological Ethics
  • Business and Theological Ethics
  • HealthCare and Theological Ethics
  • Addiction and Theological Ethics
  • Sport and Theological Ethics
  • Migration and Theological Ethics
  • Racism and Theological Ethics
  • Latin American Theological Ethics


Admission Requirements

  1. Online Graduate Application
  2. A Master’s degree in Theology, Religious Studies, or related fields with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
  3. A personal interview with the Program Director or the STU Dean of Theology.

*If you are a clergy member, please provide a letter of good standing from either your Religious Superior, Ordinary, Bishop, or Archbishop.


Transfer Credit

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.


For More Information

Dr. Bob Pennington
Director of Theology Programs
(O) 305.628.6515

Rev. Rafael Capó
School of Theology and Ministry
(O) 305.628.6525