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Doctor of Philosophy in Liturgical Studies (PhD)

The PhD in Liturgical Studies seeks to provide a strong foundation through historical, theological, and pastoral study, including multi-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives, so that students who complete this degree will be prepared to contribute significantly to the study and practice of Christian worship as college and seminary professors and as leaders in the Church.
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Gennifer Brooks
There is a great need for the proclamation of authentic good news in today’s church. The issues faced by 21st-century Christians have never been greater and we all need good news that is real and active in our world. - Dr. Gennifer Brooks

Commitment to Academic 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.

  • Substantial scholarship resources
  • Emphasis on pedagogical theories and methods
  • Opportunities for developing skills as teachers and scholars through serving as research and teaching assistants and developing a teaching portfolio
  • Home to one of the top ten theological libraries in the nation
  • Connected to faculty and libraries at the largest concentration of seminaries in the United States as part of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools
  • Partnership with Northwestern University libraries and faculty
  • Exceptional record of placing students in teaching positions at colleges and seminaries as well as leadership roles in the church

Renowned Faculty Dedicated to Rigorous Academics and the Practice of Ministry

Our faculty is one of Garrett-Evangelical's greatest assets. They are widely recognized for their expertise, scholarship, and leadership in the Church and academy. They represent most of the major denominations and a variety of theological perspectives. Our faculty members have published hundreds of books and articles, and several hold places of international recognition and preeminence in their fields.

Our faculty in the area of liturgical studies include:

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 the PhD at Garrett-Evangelical

The PhD program prepares teachers and scholars for seminaries, church-related colleges, universities, denominations, 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 (ACTS), which includes four seminaries with PhD programs; and other approved universities.

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

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.

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.

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Liturgical Studies is a 40-credit hour degree that includes:

  • Foundational Courses (7-credit hours)
  • Courses Liturgical Studies (24-credit hours)
  • Courses in Focus Area (9-credit hours)
  • Research Tools (2)
  • Qualifying Exams (4 written, 1 oral)
  • Dissertation Proposal
  • Dissertation and Defense

Note: PhD students are expected to complete a minimum of 3 semesters on campus at Garrett-Evangelical

PhD Teaching Certificate

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


Graduates of this program will be able to:

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


Meet Some of Our PhD Students


Meet a Graduate

Dr. Brent Peterson
Dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministries, Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho

Dr. Brent Peterson received a PhD in Liturgical Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2010. The following year he won the Outstanding Dissertation award from the Wesleyan Theological Society. Since 2007 he has served on the faculty of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU), and in 2016 was named dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministries at NNU. Dr. Peterson was drawn to Garrett-Evangelical because it “cares about people and the church” and its professors are nurturing, challenging, and always supportive. At Garrett-Evangelical, he found nothing of the proverbial “ivory tower” disconnected from the real world. Dr. Peterson is currently working with a colleague on a book on the atonement that will explore “the backside of the cross,” how “those who have been sinned against, the victims, can find healing from the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.” Having spent time with Syrian refugees in Germany and aid workers in Paris serving African refugees, Dr. Peterson sees signs of the kingdom of God “erupting all over the globe.” In the midst of the world’s great suffering, he wants to be “an agent of hope, peace, and reconciliation, especially to those marginalized and in despair.”


  • PhD, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • MDiv, Nazarene Theological Seminary
  • BA, Northwest Nazarene University

A Few of Peterson's Publications

Created to Worship: God's Invitation to Become Fully Human (Beacon Hill Press, 2012).

Postmodern AND Wesleyan: Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities, edited with Jay Akkerman and Thomas Oord (Beacon Hill Press, 2009).

“Making Time Stand Strong—Spiritual Formation Day by Day,” in Spiritual Formation, ed. Diane Leclerc and Mark Maddix (Beacon Hill Press, 2011).

Admission Requirements

  • Masters degree in religious or theological studies from an accredited college or university
  • Proficiency in the English language

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.