The doctoral program in theology forms theologians to excel in intellectual contributions to the church, the academy, and society. It is confessional in nature, and envisions theology as "faith seeking understanding." It recognizes that creative theological discussion and specialized research today require both serious appropriation of the great philosophical and theological traditions of the past and also ecumenical, interdisciplinary, interreligious, and cross-cultural cooperation.
The five-year program includes the following components. Areas of study define specific academic content:
- 2 years of coursework (12-16 courses), including courses through the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium
- Demonstrated proficiency in research languages
- First year Proseminar, including mandatory training in responsible conduct of research (RCR) and Title IX responsibilities.
- Area Colloquia
- Training in Pedagogy through BC’s Apprenticeship in College Teaching.
- Departmental service:
- Teaching Assistant for departmental faculty, four semesters, either years 2-3 or 3-4
- Teaching Fellow in the undergraduate Theology core curriculum, year 5
- Comprehensive exams during one of three exam periods in the student’s third year.
- Dissertation: Proposal due by September 30 of the student’s fourth year.
- Regular professional development seminars on a variety of topics.
- Optional: Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) through the School of Theology and Ministry, Catholic Health Care Track, Certificate in Digital Humanities, Certificate Program of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice.
The fundamental goal of graduate education in Theology at Boston College is to offer intellectual leadership to the academy, the church, and society.
The Ph.D. in Theology is intended to equip men and women both for academic vocations and for other ministries such as church and university administration, theological renewal, health care ethics, and other careers for which theological expertise is increasingly seen to be necessary. The courses of study offered towards this degree accordingly aim at nourishing a community of faith, scholarly conversation, research, and teaching that is centered on the appropriation of Christian life and thought, past and present, in ways that contribute to this goal.
The Doctoral Faculty endeavors to provide its Ph.D. students with an education which is integrative rather than narrowly specialized; which is set within the context of the Christian churches in all the richness of their ecumenical and confessional diversity and in their relation to contemporary culture; which is itself ‘confessional’ in nature; and for which theology is done as ‘faith seeking understanding.’ Nevertheless, the confessional background or stance of applicants, whether Christian or not, will not of itself influence any decision as to their admission.
Doctoral students are expected to:
- Acquire a rigorous mastery of the Christian tradition, enabling them to critically probe the foundations of various theological positions.
- Command the tools and techniques of research particular to their field and to organize and integrate their knowledge in such a way as to make an original contribution to the academic study of theology.
- Engage in ecumenical, interreligious, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural academic conversation as appropriate to their discipline.
- Acquire the skills and competencies necessary to present papers at appropriate academic conferences and to publish the results of their research in respected peer-reviewed journals.
- Acquire the skills and competencies necessary to succeed not only as an active scholar but as an effective teacher. This is achieved not only through service as Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows, but through certification upon completion of the university’s Apprenticeship in College Teaching.