Th.D. Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Duke initiate the Th.D. program?

Duke Divinity School initiated the Th.D. program, in part, so that students could take advantages of the faculty and resources gathered here for study in areas of Christian practice that are outside of the scope of typical Ph.D. programs—such as worship, preaching, evangelism, and the arts.

Another major interest in the inauguration and design of the Th.D. program was a desire to deepen the ways in which we cultivate scholars, teachers, and pastors who embody the integrative theological task—ranging across the boundaries between the traditional academic disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and ministerial studies to resource theological reflection on matters of faith and practice in Christian communities.

A third goal in launching the Th.D. was to encourage scholarly studies that probe the intersections of interest between Christian communities and the broader society, or theology and the broader university—such as theology and health care, the theological undergirding of peacemaking and reconciliation, and the like.

Overall, the Th.D. program seeks to recognize the pastoral, moral, and ecclesial passions that drive many of the most creative, bright individuals to seek disciplined doctoral work in the first place.

What is the difference between the Ph.D. in Religion and the Th.D. at Duke?

The Th.D. at Duke is a rigorous research degree, just like the Ph.D. The most immediate difference between the two is that the Ph.D. is awarded through and supported by the Graduate School of the University, while the Th.D. is awarded through and supported by the Divinity School.

Consistent with the makeup of the University Graduate Program in Religion, the Ph.D. covers the range of world religions, including Christianity. The Th.D. focuses on Christianity, with specific attention to the ministries and practices of Christian communities.

While many Duke Divinity School faculty members are also members of the University Graduate Program in Religion, the Th.D. allows students to pursue their study under the direction of any regular-rank Divinity faculty person—including those in disciplinary areas outside the purview of the Ph.D., such as evangelism and pastoral care.

Are graduates of the Doctor of Theology program competitive in applications for academic positions?

Our graduates have been highly successful in obtaining teaching positions at academic institutions. We have found that seminaries, university divinity schools, and Christian colleges particularly value the integrative focus and work of our graduates, bridging the academy and the church, and bringing together different disciplines.

How is the Th.D. different from the Doctor of Ministry degree offered at other schools?

The Th.D. is an academic doctorate, equivalent to a Ph.D. in its rigor and research requirements, and designed to prepare students for a vocation of academic teaching and writing. The D.Min. is a professional doctorate, usually with research focused on a practice of the church, designed for clergy and lay Christian workers who desire to enhance their ministry in their ecclesial setting. Learn more about Duke Divinity’s D.Min. program.

How selective is the Th.D. program?

For the 2012 entering class of Th.D. students, the acceptance rate was 6.4%.

What is the minimum GRE score?

Recent median GRE scores are 167 for the verbal section, 155 for the quantitative section, and 5.5 for the writing portion. On the previous GRE scale, the median GRE scores are 710 for the verbal and quantitative sections and 5.5 for the writing portion.

What should I highlight in the personal statement for my application?

In addition to a brief summary of your preparation for doctoral studies, be sure to convey a clear sense of your focal research interest. It is also important to identify the persons on our faculty whom you perceive as contributing most directly to your course of study. We watch as well for expressions of interdisciplinary interests and commitment to scholarship that attends to and is in service of Christian communities.

Where can I gain a sense of ways to describe my focal research interest and how it might align with your faculty?

A sense of possible primary and secondary concentrations can be gained by consulting the profiles of current students. It is also helpful to read publications of our faculty and consult their description of their current research interests on their faculty page on the Duke Divinity School website. Finally, you could consider possible connections with the various Programs & Initiatives at Duke Divinity School, as described on our website.

Is there a separate financial aid application?

There is not a separate financial aid application for funding from the Divinity School. All students offered admission in the Th.D. program receive the same financial package of tuition, fees and stipend.

When will I find out if I have been accepted?

Students offered admission will be notified by April 1.

If I am accepted, can I defer admission for a later year?

In the Th.D. program, as in Duke’s Ph.D. program, it is not possible to defer acceptance of admission. Admitted applicants who decide not to matriculate in the year for which admission is offered may reapply for admission at a later time. In such cases, there is no guarantee of readmission or of the financial aid package. Those who reapply will be considered in the competitive pool of applicants for the year in which they choose to reapply.

If I applied last year and was not accepted (or declined acceptance), how do I apply again?

The Admissions Office keeps all application materials for a period of three years, so you can draw on these materials in reapplying. You must fill out a new application form and pay the application fee. However, you may request, in writing, that supporting documents used for your prior application be used again, eliminating the need for resubmitting transcripts, recommendations, etc. Of course, you should update your application with any materials that will make it more current—such as transcripts showing any further academic work; perhaps an additional recommendation; revised personal statement; or new GRE or TOEFL scores, should you decide to retake these exams.

How can I arrange a campus visit?

Visits to explore your interest in the Th.D. program are at your expense. These visits should take place prior to the application deadline for the year you are applying. The Admissions Office will provide some help in organizing the visit.

Is graduate housing available?

Generally, on-campus housing is not available for graduate students, though there are some opportunities for graduate students to serve as Graduate Assistants in undergraduate dormitories.

What do I do if I have additional questions?

Please contact the Duke Divinity Admissions Office with questions about the application and admissions process.  Please email Dr. Susan Eastman, Director of the Th.D. Program, with questions about the program itself.