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Doctoral Program

Duquesne offers a Ph.D. in Theology that is rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition and that adopts a decidedly ecumenical and global orientation. Students in this program seek to better understand the Christian tradition by studying its biblical roots, historical development, and interaction with the religions and cultures of the world. As students participate in the rigorous study of systematic theology, moral theology, and biblical theology, they simultaneously engage a range of disciplines and perspectives that enrich their thinking, including history of religion, philosophy, anthropology, spirituality, sociology, and the physical sciences.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will master and articulate contemporary theological systems and schools of thought at a very sophisticated level

  2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of foundational areas of Catholic theology so as to secure a teaching position in colleges and universities

  3. Students will bring ecumenical and global dimensions of Christian theology into dialogue with Catholic thought

  4. Students will present integrated and constructive theological arguments that critically engage and analyze historical and contemporary theological sources

The doctoral coursework, consisting of thirty credit hours in Bible, Doctrine, and Ethics, is designed to equip students with a broad and sound knowledge of the field. At the conclusion of the coursework, students undergo a rigorous Ph.D. comprehensive exam, which ensures that they have a secure grasp of the fundamentals in the various theological areas.  In the third year of their matriculation, doctoral students are given the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses and thereby accumulate valuable classroom experience. 


    • Completion of ten graduate seminars totaling a minimum of thirty credit hours with at least a B average.
      • Each candidate for the Ph.D. in Theology must demonstrate a reading competency in two foreign languages which are theologically relevant.
        • Each candidate for the Ph.D. in Theology is required to take a comprehensive examination upon completion of course work and satisfaction of the language requirements. Normally this exam is taken within one year of finishing course work. The comprehensive exam includes a research component, a written component and an oral component in each of four areas: Systematic Theology, Ecclesiology and Sacraments, General Moral Theology and an area of specialization chosen by the student and approved by the faculty.
          • A dissertation (6 credits), which makes an original and significant theological contribution in the area of contemporary Systematic Theology, written under the supervision of a director, and publicly defended before a three-person dissertation defense board which includes the director.

          A Sampling of Ph.D. Graduates

          Dr. Rufus Burnett, Jr.

          Assistant Professional Specialist, Academic Advisor, First Year Studies, University of Notre Dame

          Year of Graduation: 2016

          Dr. Burnett's dissertation, "Decolonizing Revelation: A Spatial Reading of the Blues", was selected for the Duquesne University Distinguished Dissertation Award for the Humanities and a book-length version of the work is forthcoming with Fortress Press.

          Dr. Elaine Heath

          Dean of the Divinity School and Professor of Missional and Pastoral Theology, Duke University

          Year of Graduation: 2002

          "I am so grateful for the education I received at Duquesne, which provided a fine foundation for my vocation as a theologian and now as Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University."

          Dr. Mary Beth Yount

          Associate Professor, Theological Studies

          Year of Graduation: 2012

          "I am grateful that Duquesne's broad diversity of doctrinal and moral theology, all taught in the context of a historical and global approach, enabled me to teach, publish, and present in multiple theological areas, from biblical foundations to phenomenological theory and even to venture into areas of other disciplines, such as the role of ritual theory in the anthropological sciences."

          Dr. James Menkhaus

          Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Theology, Gannon University

          Year of Graduation: 2013

          "My experience working with the Theology faculty at Duquesne University gave me excellent preparation as a scholar and a teacher. I was encouraged to develop my research skills, to produce publications, and to prepare lesson plans that advanced my teaching skills."

          Rev. Fr. Gabriel Mendy C.S.Sp., Ph.D.

          Vice Rector at Spiritan International School of Theology at Attakwu, Enugu, Nigeria

          Year of Graduation: 2009

          "An important outcome of Duquesne's comprehensive doctorate program in Systematic Theology is the ongoing quest it generated in me to explore the significance of St. Augustine's Theology of the Spirit on current magisterial and theological discourse in Communion Ecclesiology."

          Additional Information

          For information on the Ph.D. program, please contact:

          Dr. Elizabeth Cochran, Director of Graduate Studies
          Fisher Hall 620