Doctor of Divinity: Degree Program Information
Learn about the prerequisites, requirements and courses that are part of a PhD in Divinity degree program. Find out about career paths, the employment outlook and salary information for those pursuing this field.
A Doctor of Divinity is an honorary degree, and there aren't any typical doctoral programs open for student enrollment that lead to a Doctor of Divinity. It is instead bestowed upon individuals who have devoted their lives to theological pursuits or community betterment. It is usually offered by theological seminaries or universities with theology departments.
However, a traditional doctoral program in divinity, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Divinity, can provide scholars with advanced knowledge and expertise in a particular aspect of religious study. Aspiring professors and/or researchers in the field most often take such a program.
Most PhD programs in divinity take between 5-7 years to complete, are heavy on individualized research hours and require the completion of a publishable dissertation. Students can also earn a Doctor of Theology (ThD) to learn how to apply theological teachings to religious communities.
The majority of universities offering doctoral programs in divinity require students to choose one topic for exclusive study, such as philosophy of religions, religious ethics, history of Christianity or history of Judaism. Students are expected to do research and write a dissertation that explores new or unexamined ideas.
Aspiring doctoral students are most often required to complete a bachelor's and a master's degree program in divinity, history, religious studies or a similar field before they apply. Many schools also require PhD students to display reading competence in at least two languages other than English.
The courses found within a doctoral degree program in divinity can vary greatly depending on which academic track a student is interested in pursuing. However, there are some common seminar topics that might apply to doctoral students in such a program, including:
- Theology and philosophy
- Religious ethics
- Introduction to Judaic civilization
- Elementary Hebrew
- Gospel studies
- History of Christian thought
- Modern Christianity in America
- Sociology of religion
- Religious ideologies and utopias
Popular Career Options
The majority of students who graduate from doctoral programs in divinity go on to earn positions in academia or research at colleges and universities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that philosophy and religious teachers held about 22,880 jobs in the United States in 2012, with an average salary of $71,210. Those with PhDs were expected to have the best job prospects, and the growth rate for postsecondary educators overall was predicted to rise by 17% between 2010-2020, which is slightly faster than average.
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