Doctor of Philosophy in Theological and Ethical Studies

Pursue scholarship as teaching and writing theologians in the academy and the church


The PhD in Theological and Ethical Studies is based on an integration of theological and ethical studies, while allowing a student to have a major area of focus within the two. The concentration presupposes that these disciplines cannot ultimately be separated from each other in Christian understanding.


Theology Focus
Students with this focus pursue the study of selected classical and contemporary theological constructions, with attention to their grounding in the broad stream of Christian tradition. It focuses particularly on biblical and Reformation trajectories that take seriously the issues raised in the modern and contemporary eras. A significant dimension of this engagement is the awareness of how theology contributes to moral deliberation, discourse and ethical praxis.


Ethics Focus
Students with this focus pursue the study of theological ethics or Christian social and political thought; study of a specific issue such as gender, race and class relations, war and peace, technology and culture, with attention devoted to related contextual, historical, and theological issues.

Meet a Current Student

Emanuel (Ricky) Padillas is pursuing doctoral studies to construct a theology of mestizaje that recaptures the history of colonization, reshapes conceptions of metiza/o identity, and informs ecclesial pursuits of justice. His desire is to serve the Church through non-traditional educational ministries.

Emanuel Padilla

Degree Requirements


The PhD in Theological and Ethical Studies 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)

    • Readings in Theological Method (Required Course)


Readings in Theological Method (Required Course)


3 to 4 Courses in Minor (6- to 9-credit hours)


2 Elective Courses as needed (6 hours)


2 Research Languages and/or Research Tools


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 Theology and Ethics Faculty


As a teacher, I try to help my students become aware of the stake they have in the questions raised by theology and the responsibility they have to develop their own theology as best they can.


Dr. Nancy Bedford
Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology

Rev. Dr. Barry Bryant
Associate Professor of United Methodist and Wesleyan Studies

What and how I teach is therefore oriented toward promoting “holiness of heart and life” (Wesley) in the overlapping spheres of everyday living, academic reflection, congregational gathering, and public engagement.


Rev. Dr. Timothy Eberhart
Robert and Marilyn Degler McClean Associate Professor of Ecological Theology and Practice

I am privileged to be part of this faculty and with colleagues I regard with high respect as teachers and scholars. Our students are what make the Garrett experience significant, and I look forward to contributing further to their formation.


Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh
Harry R. Kenall Professor of Christian Theology and Postcolonial Studies

My approach to ethics is not one that starts with a list of do’s and don’ts. In the classroom, we address moral issues through reflection on personal experience, understandings of religious traditions, and investigation of current social and political justice movements to discern creative moral responses that fit our times.


Dr. Kate Ott
Jerre and Mary Joy Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics

I am deeply grateful to be part of a theological institution that embodies a longstanding global sensibility, a deep commitment to creative theological exploration, and a robust practice of interdisciplinary scholarship.


Dr. Hendrik Pieterse
Associate Professor of Global Christianity and Intercultural Theology

As a liberative ethicist, my pedagogy is grounded in the pursuit of justice and education inclusivity.


Professor Rudolph P. Reyes II
Instructor of Christian Ethics and Latinx Studies

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.