PhD: Religious Education
Kathleen Beagles, Director
The PhD in Religious Education prepares men and women to be scholars and researchers in specialized teaching and discipling ministries of the home, the church, or the Christian college or university. All candidates further develop the core competencies of a religious educator and select an area of specialization for intense study and research using research methodologies of the social sciences.
- As a Christian Apologist-Develops and articulates effectively a philosophy of religious education.
- As a Pastor-Teacher-Uses and teaches appropriate methodologies for discipling across the lifespan
- As a Servant-Leader-Models the principles of servant leadership in the church, school, and broader community.
- As an Evaluator/Researcher-Conducts research, and analyzes and reports findings.
- As a Maturing Christian-Exhibits a growing maturity in understanding and portraying the love of Christ.
- As a Lifelong Learner-Demonstrates personal and professional development.
- As an Area Expert-Applies all relevant core competencies to the area of emphasis and teaches others to do likewise.
Areas of Specialization
- Christian Formation and Discipleship
- Theological Curriculum and Instruction
- Customized: See Curricula Requirements for Concentrations below.
Graduates with a PhD in Religious Education are prepared to serve the church in teaching and leadership ministries focused on the family, the church, or the school and to investigate contemporary religious education issues using social sciences research methodologies.
In addition to meeting the general admission requirements listed in the Graduate Programs Admission section and in the Seminary Admission Requirements , applicants must
- Hold an MA: Religious Education; an MDiv; an MA: Religion; or an MA degree in education or related area plus have 28 credits in religion (16 of which may be on the undergraduate level).
- Have 16 undergraduate or graduate credits in education or religious education.
- Show promise of future usefulness to church and society.
- Demonstrate the ability to handle doctoral-level work in English. See proficiency standards in the Graduate Programs Admission section .
- Complete and return the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire as directed.
Time to Apply. While early applications are recommended, the deadlines for application to the PhD in Religious Education program are as follows:
- For North American students: three months prior to the anticipated starting date.
- For non-North American students: six months prior to the anticipated starting date.
Items to Submit. In addition to submitting the items required of all graduate students , applicants to the PhD in Religious Education must also submit
- A 600-word statement of purpose, which includes their mission statement, a description of the journey that created a desire to pursue doctoral studies, and a vision of the professional accomplishments they foresee.
- A 200-300 word description of their area of interest for dissertation research and an explanation of this choice.
- A significant research paper (term paper, thesis, or research report), normally written during the master’s level studies. This paper should give evidence of the applicant’s ability to carry out research and to present the results and conclusions of such work in standard English and in an acceptable style.
Prerequisites. Students entering the PhD in Religious Education program should have a foundation in research methods of education and psychology and in basic statistics as evidenced by EDRM 505 - Research Methods and EDRM 611 - Applied Statistical Methods I or their equivalents. As part of the conceptual framework for the religious education program, EDFN 500 - Philosophical Foundations for Professionals; DSRE 605 - Issues in Religious Education; and DSRE 541 - Foundations of Biblical Spirituality are required.
Curriculum Framework and Courses Christian Apologist—6
- Electives in psychology, curriculum and instruction
- Elective in administration or leadership
Dissertation sequence (16):
Area of Concentration—19–21
Research is a major component of the PhD in Religious Education program.
Students should also select two methodologies from the following list:
At the time of their topic approval, students must show competency in the proposed research methodologies of their dissertation research. The research project from the course DSRE 887 - Applied Research is an appropriate way to demonstrate this competency.
- All course work taken at the Seminary should be at the 600-, 800-, or 900-levels; course work taken at the School of Education should be appropriate for doctoral level study.
- At least 51% of the student’s course work should be designed specifically for doctoral students.
- A minimum of 32 credits in approved on-campus doctoral course work (not including the dissertation) must be completed after acceptance into the doctoral program at Andrews University.
- Students must earn a 3.00 cumulative GPA for all course work in the degree program.
- Students must establish residency by taking a full-time load (8 credits) for two of three consecutive terms (semester or summer).
- Students must pass the comprehensive examination.
- Students must write and defend a dissertation.
Time Limits. All degree requirements must be completed within ten years of first registration for Andrews University doctoral course work. All course work and the comprehensive examination must be completed within six years of first registration. The dissertation must be completed within five years after passing the comprehensive examination. (The student who takes six years to complete course work and pass the comprehensive exam will be allowed four years to complete the dissertation.)
Full-time Status. For students who have not completed all courses for the degree, full-time status requires one of the following options:
- Registering for 8 or more credits of course work and/or dissertation and/or internship.
- Registering for 4 or more credits of dissertation.
For students who have completed all requirements for the degree except the dissertation, full-time status requires all of the following:
- Registering for one or more credits of dissertation or dissertation continuation;
- Doing “full-time” work on the dissertation or internship as defined by at least 24 hours a week or 720 hours per year and confirmation of same by the dissertation chair.
- All course work is campus-based and supported by online resources.
Bulletin Requirements. A student may choose to meet the requirements of any bulletin in force after acceptance into the doctoral program, as long as he/she maintains active status. If a break of enrollment occurs and the student is placed on inactive status, he/she must meet the requirements of a bulletin in effect after enrollment resumes.
Progression Through the Program
Course Plan. Upon acceptance into the program, the student is assigned an advisor by the director of the program. Normally within the first 16 credits of study the student and advisor prepare a course plan for completing the degree requirements. This course plan must be approved by the Religious Education 0ffice.
Comprehensive Examination. Early in their program, students should obtain a copy of the Comprehensive Examination Guidelines from the Religious Education office.
All prerequisites and regular course requirements of 48 credits or more must be completed before the student sits for the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination consists of eight sections, one of which may be given in a takehome format, one of which may be a portfolio presentation, and six of which must be written in a supervised environment. The examination occurs on the dates published in the academic calendar for School of Education doctoral comprehensive examinations. See also the Seminary Calendar .
Formal application to take the comprehensive examination should be made by the beginning of the semester preceding the semester the student intends to take the examination.
For more detailed information regarding the comprehensive examination, see the Religious Education Doctoral Handbook.
Advancement to Candidacy. Students should apply for advancement to degree candidacy when they apply to take comprehensive examinations and after they have
The student is advanced to degree candidacy after passing the comprehensive examination.
Dissertation Committee. Before the student registers for EDRM 880 - Dissertation Proposal Development or GSEM 854 - PhD-ThD Dissertation Proposal Seminar , the student—in consultation with his/her advisor —selects a tentative dissertation topic. The program director, in consultation with the student and advisor then appoints a faculty member knowledgeable about the tentative topic to chair the student’s dissertation committee. The student, the program director, and the doctoral committee chair collaborate in the selection of two other members to complete the student’s dissertation committee. All three members of this dissertation committee must approve the proposal before it is presented to the PhD/ThD committee. The appointment of the dissertation committee is subject to approval by the PhD/ThD committee, as are any changes to the committee.
At least six weeks before the dissertation defense, the director, in consultation with the dean of the Seminary, appoints an external examiner.
Dissertation Proposal. No later than the last semester of course work, students must submit to the PhD/ThD Committee a final proposal that is approved by their dissertation committee. Students defend their proposal before the Religious Education Doctoral Committee.
Two types of proposals are acceptable:
- A 10–15 page overview of the major elements of the dissertation.
- The first three chapters in tentative form.
Either format must include a clear statement of the problem, the research question/s, a preliminary survey of relevant literature, and the research methodology.
Dissertation Preparation. The dissertation prepared by the PhD candidate must
- Make an original contribution to scholarship
- Demonstrate the candidate’s competence for independent research
- Reveal the candidate’s familiarity with and proficiency in handling the relevant literature
- Present a logically organized, methodologically sound, and readable account of the investigation, findings, conclusions, and implications of the study.
See the Religious Education Doctoral Handbook for more information on dissertation preparation.
Oral Defense of the Dissertation. The candidate must orally defend his/her dissertation. The defense date is set and announced by the director of the Religious Education Program at least two weeks before the defense. No defenses are scheduled during the final two weeks of a term or during the interim between semesters.
See the Religious Education Doctoral Handbook for more information on the oral defense of the dissertation.