Ph.D. in Theology and Education

Designed for students who have already completed a master's in theology, this program prepares scholars in the interdisciplinary fields of religious education and practical theology. Through a partnership with BC's Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences and the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, students take courses in theology, education, and religious education. 

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At a Glance

Program Duration

The program can be completed in four years.


The minimum residency requirement for the Ph.D. in Theology and Education is two years.


Students perform 10 hours of service each week for two years as teaching assistants or M.A. thesis consultants.

Program of Study

Design a program of study customized to your research interests with the support of your advisor.


Take courses and work with faculty across three Boston College graduate schools.

Comprehensive Examination

Master key areas related to your field and dissertation as you prepare for oral and written exams.


Complete a dissertation that contributes to the field of religious education or practical theology. 


Participate in a range of retreats, days of reflection, and faith-sharing groups offered at CSTM.

Financial Assistance


All Ph.D. students receive a full tuition scholarship and a four-year stipend of $31,200/year.

Academic Program

Designed to prepare tomorrow's leaders in the field of religious education, the Ph.D. curriculum is an expression of practical theology. The program includes 48 credits beyond the master's degree.

Courses, advisement, examinations and dissertations focus on developing the following proficiencies:

Integration of scholarly reflection and practical educational concerns;

Development of a general level of competence in Biblical studies, systematics, ethics and practical theology;

Development of a general level of competence in the literature and practice of education, especially educational philosophy, educational history, and curriculum and instruction;

Development of a general level of competence in the social sciences most relevant to religious education, especially sociology and psychology;

Development of expertise in religious education as a field of scholarship and practice, including a) the contributions of theology, education, and the social sciences to religious education and b) the literature of religious education, including historical classics, contemporary writings, and ecclesial texts;

An ability to engage in research and write for various publics about religious education;

The ability to teach with creativity and active engagement in both academic and pastoral contexts.

Religious Education Faculty

Meet Our Ph.D. Students

Career Placements

Professor, Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne, Australia

Professor of Environmental Ethics, University of Portland

Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies, Candler School of Theology

Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Villanova University

Assistant Professor of Christian Education, Union Presbyterian Seminary



Professor, Mount Mary College

Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Xavier University

Director of Contextual Education and Congregational Partnerships, Boston University School of Theology

Professor of Christian/Jewish Learning, St. Joseph’s University

President, College of St. Mary



Frequently Asked Questions

Can I complete the Ph.D. in theology and education without living in Boston?
<p>You must reside in Boston for a minimum of two years while working on your Ph.D. <br /> </p>
I'm thinking about the Ph.D. in theology and education. How do you define religious education?
<p>Definitions vary, but BC's program is committed to education <i>from</i> and <i>for</i> a faith perspective on life, with the goal of nurturing people so they can live into a transcendent horizon: God. While grounded in a distinctly Catholic and Christian tradition, our program is honors diverse understandings of God. True to its name, the program takes both theology and education seriously and attempts to integrate them in service to the Church and world.<br /> </p>
What do you look for in candidates for the Ph.D. in theology and education? What kind of background and prior training?
<p>A master's degree in theology is required. Candidates should be well recommended by faculty who have taught them at the graduate level, and they should have a strong writing sample and a demonstrated interest in religious education, the interface of theology and education, and/or practical theology. Some experience in teaching or ministry is also vital. <br /> </p>
What if I want to focus my Ph.D. on a particular subdiscipline of theology (Scripture, moral theology, church history, etc.)?
<p>Yes, but you would need to take an education-oriented approach to that subdiscipline that considers not only how to understand it, but also how to teach it effectively. If you are interested solely in the study of systematic theology, Scripture, ethics, or another area,&nbsp;BC's Department of Theology in the Morrissey College of Arts &amp; Sciences&nbsp;offers a Ph.D. in theology.</p> <p><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/mcas/departments/theology/graduate/phd.html"><span class="btn btn-default btn-gold">BC Theology Department</span></a></p>


Application Requirements


Fall 2024 Deadline: January 11, 2024

Ph.D. students may only begin their studies during the fall semester.

Application Form

The application to CSTM must be completed online. Please note you can submit your application form once it is completed; you do not need to wait for all of your supplemental materials to arrive. 

Application Form

Note: Ph.D. applicants should already hold a master's degree in theology. If you do not, we encourage you to apply to one of our master's programs.

Religious & International Applicants

Applicants who are Catholic diocesan priests or deacons or members of religious orders must submit a letter of approval and financial support from their bishop, major superior, or Provincial. Please select "Bishop/Major Superior" as the recommender type on the application form.

International Applicants

Application Fee

A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for every degree and non-degree application submitted.

Payment Options

  • Pay by credit or debit card via the web; You can pay the application fee at the same time your submit your application form.  However, if you do not pay the fee at the same time you submit your application, you can pay online at a later date through the Agora Portal. You must use your BC Username and password to log in.

  • Pay by check or money order made payable to Boston College, via regular mail.  Please include your check with a copy of your application form submission confirmation page and include your name and intended degree program.

Please note: The application fee cannot be refunded for any reason. If you qualify for a fee waiver, you should not pay the fee when you submit the application form. Fee waivers are granted to the following applicants: Jesuits, veterans, applicants currently completing a year of service or who are Pell Grant-eligible, and current CSTM students. We do not waive the application fee for other reasons.

Standardized Tests

The GRE is optional, but preferred.

Applicants who do send GRE scores should have them sent directly from ETS. Our GRE code is 2508.

English Proficiency Exam

All applicants for whom English is not their native language must also provide TOEFL or IELTS  test score results. Read more about special instructions for international applicants here. This webpage will also indicate under with criteria a waiver may be granted. Waivers must be approved in writing by the admissions office.


We require transcripts from all colleges, universities, seminaries, or theological schools that you have attended. Each transcript should contain a list of all coursework taken, grades/marks received, and, if applicable, degree granted and date of degree confirmation. If your college or university will send official transcripts electronically, they can be emailed to  Otherwise, transcripts must be mailed and be contained in a sealed, signed envelope. If the official transcript is not English, a translation should be provided with the official document. Please alert us if your transcript will be arriving with a different name than the one you are using on your application (e.g. your maiden name). Please note that a transcript is only considered official if received directly from the institution issuing it.

Please note that your application may be reviewed with unofficial copies of your transcripts. If you send unofficial copies, know that if admitted, you must sent official copies before you begin coursework. In addition, if you are currently finishing a degree, you must send a final, official version of the transcript upon graduating, and before beginning coursework at CSTM.

Mailing Addresses
For applicants using the U.S. Postal Service:
Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

For applicants using FedEx or UPS:
Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry
Simboli Hall
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135-3841


Ph.D. applicants are required to submit three recommendations using the online application system. 

Each recommender should be familiar with the applicant’s academic background and their capacity for success in a doctoral program.

Applicants who are Catholic diocesan priests or deacons, or members of religious orders must submit a letter of approval and financial support from their bishop, major superior, or Provincial. This is in addition to the other three recommendations. Please select "Bishop/Major Superior" as the recommender type on the application form.

Please be sure that your recommenders are aware of the application deadlines and online process, and choose them carefully to ensure that they can write on your behalf in a timely manner.

Writing Sample

A writing sample must be uploaded as part of the application. The sample should be an academic paper of around 25 pages.  


The resume must be uploaded as part of the application.  It is helpful if you highlight relevant teaching, research, ministry, service, and leadership positions you have held.

Personal Statement

The personal statement must be uploaded as part of the application.  The personal statement should be three pages in length, double-spaced.

Your statement should address the following:

  • The academic, professional, and personal development that has motivated you to apply to CSTM and the Ph.D. in Theology and Education. How has your education and/or experience impacted your discernment?
  • Your understanding of theological education and ministry in the context of the Church's mission, as well as the role and responsibilities of a theologian and/or educator today?
  • How you plan to apply your theological education.
  • Information outlining your specific area and field of academic interest, a proposed topic(s) for your research and dissertation, how your previous academic, professional, and/or pastoral experience has prepared you for studies within that particular field, and the CSTM faculty member(s) with whom you would like to work.
  • Given your experience, how you assess your principal strengths for theological education and/or ministry as well as your areas of needed development

Required Supplemental Essay

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." (attributed to the poet William Butler Yeats).

Write a 700 word essay (two pages, double spaced, 12 font) in which you propose a vision for research on teaching theology or religious education in ways that "light a fire" of faith in people's lives. Use this essay to briefly name some of your methodological and intellectual commitments.

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