Doctor of Philosophy in History of Christianity and Historical Theology

Experience historical Christianity as a living, breathing, on-the-ground phenomenon


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in History of Christianity and Historical Theology focuses upon historical themes, issues, and methodologies. Students in the program will study a major historical emphasis, such as Christian origins and the Early church; the Reformations in Europe; the rise of the Reformation and the Wesleyan movement in England; the period of US Christian history; Wesleyan and Methodist Studies. Within these, more delimited time periods and subjects/themes would be selected for study and research, to include social context, theological developments, and key ecclesiastical and social issues.

Meet a Current Student

Peter J. Smith is a doctoral student in historical theology and a native of Athens, Ohio. His research focuses on the development of theological anthropology and soteriology in the 4th and 5th centuries, as well as the early articulation of Wesleyan theology. His master’s thesis discussed the anthropological implications of Athanasius’ doctrine of deification.

Peter Smith

Degree Requirements


The PhD in History of Christianity and Historical Theology is a 40-credit hour degree program.


3 Foundational Courses (7-credit hours)

    • Hermeneutics
    • Teaching Seminar
    • Research Seminar


6 to 8 Courses in Major (18- to 24-credit hours)

    • 6 hours are required in designated courses in applied historiography


3 to 4 Courses in Minor (9- to 12- credit hours)


2 Elective Courses as needed (6 credit hours)


Research Languages and/or Research Tools (2)

    • One in a language for academic research and a second research language or pertinent research methodology, plus all tools necessary to complete the dissertation.


Qualifying Exams

    • 4 written exams
    • 1 oral exam


Dissertation Proposal


Dissertation and Defense

Optional focus in African American/Black Religious Studies


To add a focus in African American/Black Religious Studies, a student would take a minimum of fifteen hours of courses with specific African American/Black content, as selected by the student in consultation with their advisor. Persons opting for this focus would have an African American/Black advisor or consulting co-advisor, or as a committee member. At least one of the student’s Qualifying Examination questions would be on a dimension of African American/Black religion. The student’s dissertation would incorporate some element relating to African American/Black religious life and thought.

Our History Faculty


In my courses, I want students to appreciate the past as something that is both distant from us and always with us. I want them to experience historical Christianity as a living, breathing, on-the-ground phenomenon.


Dr. Anna Johnson
Associate Professor of Reformation Church History

My goal is to make the historical authors, their worlds, worldviews, and their thought accessible to the twenty-first century student as much as possible.


Dr. James Papandrea
Professor of Church History and Historical Theology

Degree Outcomes


Graduates of this program will be able to:


    • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of broad areas of their respective disciplines—primary sources, secondary sources, methods, and intellectual foundations
    • Demonstrate the ability to plan and conduct research and make contributions to their field
    • Develop research skills to carry into their future work as scholars
    • Demonstrate skills in oral and written communication to present and publish work in their field
    • Demonstrate competence in teaching their discipline in a designated course on pedagogy and through practical experience as teaching assistants
    • Demonstrate, through service in academy, church, and seminaries, the value of their discipline to the academy and community at large

Next Steps


Garrett accepts applications from students with a masters degree in religious or theological studies from an accredited college or university and proficiency in the English language.


In response to COVID-19 pandemic, PhD applications WILL NOT require GRE scores. Applications are due by January 20th.