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Doctoral Program

Our department offers a Ph.D. Program in Theology—encompassing the fields of doctrinal and moral theology—which is focused on the Roman Catholic faith tradition while adopting a decided ecumenical and global orientation. Students in this program seek to better understand the Catholic tradition by studying its biblical roots, historical development, and interaction with the religions and cultures of the world, and by listening to the other voices of human learning, including history of religion, philosophy, anthropology, spirituality, sociology, and 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 competence 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.

              Graduate Assistantships and Tuition Scholarships

              Each year the Department of Theology appoints a limited number of graduate assistants, normally for Ph.D. students. Assistantships include full tuition and fees, and a competitive multi-year stipend. Graduate assistants carry a full-time course load and fulfill requirements for their assistantships by completing work as a GA during coursework and as a Teaching Fellow during their third and fourth years of the program. All applicants for admission into the Ph.D. degree will automatically be reviewed as candidates for graduate assistant positions.

              The Department of Theology also awards full and partial tuition scholarships to qualified applicants. These awards range from 1-9 credits tuition remission per semester and must be reapplied for on a yearly basis.

              At their request, Ph.D. candidates may also be employed by the department on a part-time basis for teaching undergraduate courses.

              Financial Assistance

              Partial Tuition Discounts:

              MA in theology students may apply for partial tuition assistance as follows. These discounts may be utilized for one degree at Duquesne University, and students must re-apply for them annually. Forms are available through the university Financial Aid Office, phone 412-396-6607.

              50% Discount for Lay Ministers and Catholic School Teachers:

              Lay ministers employed at least part-time in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg, as well as Catholic school teachers in local dioceses, receive an automatic 50% tuition discount.

              50% Discount for Clergy and Vowed Religious:

              Ordained clergy of any denomination, and members of Catholic religious congregations, receive an automatic 50% tuition discount.

              50% Discount for Students over age 60.

              Additional Information

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

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