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Doctor of Philosophy in Theological and Ethical Studies (PhD)

The PhD in Theological and Ethical Studies prepares students to pursue scholarship as teaching and writing theologians in the academy and the church. The concentration is based on an integration of theology and ethics, while allowing students to have a major area of focus within the two. It presupposes that these two cannot be separated from each other in Christian understanding.
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Hendrik Pieterse
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

Theology Focus

PhD in Theological and Ethical Studies students with a theology focus study 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

PhD in Theological and Ethical Studies students with an ethics focus study theological ethics or Christian social and political thought and study 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.

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 theology and ethics 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 Theological and Ethical Studies is a 40-credit hour degree that includes:

  • Foundational Courses (7-credit hours)
  • Courses in Area of Concentration (33-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 Our PhD Students


Meet a Graduate

Dr. Bernard Wong
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, China Graduate School of Theology

Dr. Bernard Wong is a 2015 graduate of Garrett-Evangelical with a specialization in Christian ethics. Since graduation he has been serving as Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong. It was the scholarship of Garrett-Evangelical professor Dr. Brent Waters that initially attracted him to the Garrett-Evangelical PhD program. Dr. Waters’ publications on subjects ranging from the modern family to issues posed by technology appealed to Dr. Wong’s own breadth of moral concerns. At Garrett-Evangelical Dr. Wong learned how to relate moral insight to concrete human situations. “The diverse faculty and student body,” he says, “showed me how the Christian faith can be contextualized in various social locations.” This has proven especially valuable as Dr. Wong seeks to do theology in Hong Kong, a diverse and growing city in the midst of political change. Dr. Wong wants to help the church respond to these changes “with a robust political theology.” At the same time, he is examining how the rapid growth of modern technology in Hong Kong is affecting human life in the city. “People are generally unaware,” he observes, “of how we've been formed by technology” and “how modern technology affects our moral decisions.” In his teaching and writing, Dr. Wong is seeking to help Christians think through the role of technology in their lives.


  • PhD, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • MDiv, China Graduate School of Theology
  • MS in Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • BA in Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A Few of Wong's Publications

“Unity of the Church in Times of Social Conflict.” In Reconciliation, ed. John Lui, 120-130. Hong Kong: Breakthrough, 2016.

“Anger of the Children of Peace,” Christian Times 1489 (February 17 2016).
和平之子的憤怒,時代論壇, 17 Feb 2016.

Ten Years: Isolation and Despair,” Christian Times, 1489 (January 29, 2016).
《十年》:隔絕與絕望,時代論壇, 29 Jan 2016.

“Hope and The Lord of the Rings,” Christian Times 1489 (January 20, 2016).
從《魔戒》看盼望,時代論壇, 20 Jan 2016.

“Hong Kong University, TSA, and the Church as an ‘Alternative Community’,” Christian Times 1477 (December 17, 2015).
“港大、TSA,與教會「另類群體」,” 時代論壇 1477 期, 17 Dec 2015.

“Imprecatory Psalms and the Culture of Cursing,” Christian Times 1473 (November 19, 2015).
咒詛詩與粗口文化,時代論壇 1473 , 19 Nov 2015.

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.