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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program prepares teachers and scholars for seminaries, church-related colleges, universities, ecumenical agencies, and local congregations. While the program is centered at Garrett-Evangelical, it draws on faculty resources at Northwestern University; the Association of Chicago Theological Schools, which includes four seminaries with PhD programs; and other approved universities. You will not only receive individual attention from faculty members but also a curriculum that can be tailored to your area of interest.
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Dr. Amy Valdez-Barker
Garrett-Evangelical fanned the flame of my love for research and teaching. I will always be grateful to both the professors and my classmates who planted the seeds for the foundation of my faith in leadership for mission and ministry. -Rev. Dr. Amy Valdez-Barker (G-ETS 2006 & 2015)

Welcome from the Director

Dr. Wonhee Anne JohThe Garrett-Evangelical Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is dedicated to preparing teachers and scholars for seminaries, church-related colleges, universities, ecumenical agencies, and local congregations. While the program is taught by the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical, students may also take courses at Northwestern University and at any of four PhD-granting seminaries and universities in Chicago. The program provides individual mentoring by faculty and a flexible curriculum that students can tailor to their areas of interest. The Styberg Library and the Northwestern University Library, just steps away, provide an extraordinary collection of print and digital resources. PhD students come from all over the world to form an exciting and diverse class each year. 

 I welcome your interest in our program.

Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh
Professor of Theology and Culture

Six Areas of Concentration

Students may specialize in one of six concentrations with an optional focus in African American/Black Religious Studies available in any concentration:

Commitment to Excellence

With a rich history of scholarship, a strong reputation for teaching, and access to world-class academic resources, Garrett-Evangelical is committed to excellence throughout its PhD program. We are home to one of the top ten theological libraries in the nation. As a member of the largest concentration of seminaries in the United States, we offer abundant opportunities for students to develop skills as teachers and scholars. We were also selected as members of the first cohort of the Forum for Theological Exploration’s Institutional Doctoral Network. Our graduates leave with a knowledge and mastery of key approaches, scholarly literature, and research methods in their focused area and appropriate cognate studies. They are engaged in practices of research, teaching, and leadership and are theologians and practical theologians contributing to the missions of the Church and the academy.

Preparing Emerging Scholars to be Effective Teachers

The Garrett-Evangelical PhD program offers the opportunity for students earn a PhD teaching certificate. Through teaching seminars and workings, teaching assistant (TA) experiences, and TA case conferences, the PhD teaching certificate program equips PhD students to:

  • Be reflective practitioners in the scholarship and practice of teaching
  • Become a partner with other students in reflecting on and supporting colleagues as teachers
  • Reflect critically on teaching philosophies and practices
  • Foster relationships that will support and sustain participants over the year of the workshop and beyond
  • Fashion unique identities as teachers
  • Understand and navigate institutional cultures
  • Prepare a teaching portfolio in anticipation of future employment in college or theological school

Renowned Faculty Dedicated to Rigorous Academics and the Practice of Ministry

Our diverse and renown faculty bring a wealth of expertise and experience not only to Garrett-Evangelical, but to the church and our global community. They are members and leaders in local, national, and global organizations, denominations, and societies. They have published hundreds of books and articles, and several hold places of international recognition and preeminence in their fields.

Meet Our Faculty

Affording Your Education

100% Tuition Scholarships for all phd students

All students accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will receive a 100% tuition scholarship!

About Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Founded in 1853, Garrett-Evangelical is a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church with an ecumenical outreach. Faithfully embracing the future, we are committed to preparing skilled, bold and articulate leaders for ministry in the 21st century. On the campus of Northwestern University, upon the shores of Lake Michigan and on the outskirts of Chicago, Garrett-Evangelical is a place to nurture mind, body, and spirit. The seminary serves more than 400 students from many denominations and various backgrounds and its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

Meet Some of Our PhD Students


Meet a Graduate

Dr. Leah Gunning Francis
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis

Dr. Leah Gunning Francis received a Ph.D. in Christian Education and Congregational Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2009. From 2008 to 2015 she served on the faculty at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis as Assistant Professor of Christian Education and Associate Dean of Contextual Education. In 2016 she was appointed Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Dr. Gunning Francis’s vocational passion is to live and teach God’s vision of love and justice for society’s most vulnerable communities. In 2012 she won the prestigious Engaged Scholars Fellowship, which enabled her to conduct a study of the perspective of mothers of middle-class African-American young men—how they understand the risks posed to their children and what can be done to foster the wholeness and well-being of African-American young men. When the Michael Brown shooting occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, Dr. Gunning Francis engaged her students in discussion and public witness, then wrote a searching analysis of the event in Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community (Chalice Press, 2015). While a student at Garrett-Evangelical, she was impressed with faculty who were “highly respected scholar-practitioners.” These teachers “became invaluable mentors and friends who have deeply informed my own scholarly pursuits and pedagogical practices.” She also found “a community ethos at Garrett-Evangelical that supported relationality and growth,” an approach to life and learning that “has served me well throughout my career.” Dr. Gunning Francis has long made the tenets of social activism for racial justice the guiding threads of her teaching and scholarship. In her new role as dean, she is eager to lead conversations with colleagues, students, and constituents about new possibilities for enlivening the church’s witness for wholeness and social justice.


  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Fontbonne University
  • PhD, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • MDiv, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  • BS in Marketing, Hampton University

A Few of Gunning Francis' Publications

Transformative Mentoring as Redemptive Community in Educating for Redemptive Community, edited by Denise Janssen (Wipf & Stock Publishers, forthcoming).

Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community (Chalice Press, 2015).

Contributions to Feasting on the Gospels, ed. Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015).

Admission Requirements

  • $75 application fee
  • Three references
  • Official transcripts
  • NOT REQUIRED THIS YEAR: Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Scores
  • Research Statement
  • Professional Service/Resume
  • Recent Academic Paper
  • Pastoral Theology applicants must also submit a fourth reference from a CPE supervisor

Admission Process

Detailed information for the application requirements and process can be found here.

In response to COVID-19 pandemic, PhD applications WILL NOT require GRE scores for those applying during the 2021-2022 academic year. The TOEFL test will still be required for students who have not completed a previous degree in English. Those who are unable to complete the test due to COVID-19 should contact the admissions office for alternative options.

PhD applications are due by January 20. The admissions committee reserves the right to determine in its sole judgment whether an applicant is a suitable candidate for a specific concentration in the PhD program.