Program Overview

The Claremont School of Theology offers a 48-unit Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology with two areas of concentration: Education and Formation, and Spiritual Care and Counseling. Both concentrations require examinations in modern research languages, qualifying examinations, and the completion of a dissertation.

Students applying to the Ph.D. in Practical Theology must have completed either a Master of Divinity degree or a master’s degree (ideally, in their chosen area of concentration, e.g., a master’s degree in Spiritual Care, Counseling, Religious Education, etc.).  Requirements regarding English competency examinations, course requirements, language/research tools, and field work are outlined below.

Common Requirements

The Ph.D. Resources and Documentation for Doctoral Students Intensive is a one-week, required non-credit course offered during the January Interterm that is taken by Ph.D. students during their first year of study. D.Min. students are encouraged, though not required to attend.

Early in their program, Ph.D. students receive intensive training on navigating library resources, adhering to particular standards of style, and appropriate documentation to assist them in writing expectations for doctoral study. Particular attention is given to The Chicago Manual of Style, as it is the standard used in all programs at Claremont School of Theology.

This intensive class covers research methods and resource, bibliographic styles and documentation, as well as issues related to plagiarism, copyright, fair use, and permissions.

All students must demonstrate competence in at least two languages relevant to their research. Students whose primary language is English must demonstrate competency in Spanish, Korean, French, or German.

Students must also demonstrate competency in either an additional research language or an empirical research method appropriate to their proposed dissertation topic. This language or empirical research method is chosen in consultation with the student’s academic advisor, and is in addition to the required research methods seminar.

The language requirements must be met before making application for qualifying examinations. The research languages and methods requirements are met by examination or by taking an approved course for academic credit and for a letter grade. All language examinations can only take place during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Courses taken to meet the research language or empirical research method requirements cannot be counted toward the academic units required for the degree program.

Education and Formation

The Education and Formation concentration integrates theology with educational theory and practice and/or with the processes and perspectives of spiritual formation. Students develop advanced competence in theoretical construction and practice and, through original research, contribute to the development of their chosen fields. Students with limited practical experience in the field may be required to participate in an appropriate practicum or internship at the discretion of their advisor.

Students who successfully complete their training in the Ph.D. in Practical Theology concentrating in Spiritual Formation and Religious and Interreligious Education will be able to:

  1. Articulate spiritual formation and religious and interreligious education within the discipline of practical theology and the role of the practical theologian.
  2. Demonstrate critical and constructive theological reflection regarding the processes and content of spiritual formation, religious education and interreligious education.
  3. Understand the theological and historical disciplines and social and behavioral sciences that undergird spiritual formation and educational practices, as well as the cultural and religious contexts in which such work occurs.
  4. Demonstrate skills in facilitation, design, teaching, consultation, administration, and assessment of programs related to spiritual formation, religious education and interreligious education.
  5. Shows a significantcapacity for ethical research, professional conduct, and/or competent leadership.
Core Courses – 20 units

Five 4­-unit courses from the following areas:

  • Spiritual Formation
  • Religious Education
  • Interreligious Education
Practical Theology – 8 units  
TIS4014Seminar in Practical Theology4 units
TIS4022Research Methods in Practical Theology4 units

Electives12 units

Three 4-unit seminars in one field below, or in two different fields below but closely related by topic:

  • Theology
  • Ethics
  • Sacred Texts
  • Religious History

Cognate Field8 units

Two 4-unit courses in a cognate field approved by your advisor (for example, a religious tradition other than your own, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, women’s studies, men’s studies, Asian American studies, African American studies, postcolonial studies, cultural anthropology, philosophy, neuroscience, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, social psychology, depth psychology, peace and reconciliation studies, meditation & conflict resolution, nonprofit administration).

TOTAL– 48 units

Exams must be passed in the following areas:

  1. History and Theory of Spiritual Formation, Religious Education, or Interreligious Education.
  2. Practice of Spiritual Formation, Religious Education, or Interreligious Education (Pedagogical Theory and Practice).
  3. Systematic Theology, Theological Ethics, Sacred Texts, or Religious History.
  4. Cognate Field (Students may request guidance for the cognate exam from any scholar with whom they have taken at least one of their cognate courses and who meets the following criteria: 1) holds a Ph.D. in a field other than Christian studies; 2) holds a faculty appointment at an accredited academic institution; and 3) is able to provide the exam according to program rubrics and procedures. Eligible scholars will be identified in consultation with the student’s advisor and are frequently selected from the faculties of the Claremont Colleges or Claremont Graduate University.)

Spiritual Care and Counseling

The Spiritual Care and Counseling concentration is designed to develop advanced competence in research and theory construction at the intersection of theological and religious studies, cognate disciplines (for example, the social sciences), and caregiving practices. In addition, in dialogue with research and theory building and to focus their program of study, students prepare for specialized ministries by choosing one of the three tracks in clinical education:

  1. Clinical Spiritual Care: prepares students for chaplaincies and ministries in public and private settings (for example, shelters and other residential services, social service agencies, programs for specific populations, such as the aging).
  2. ACPE (Association for Clinical Pastoral Education) Supervision: prepares students to work as certified supervisors in CPE programs accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
  3. Spiritually Integrative Psychotherapy: prepares students to provide Spiritually Integrative counseling and psycho-educational services in congregations, agencies, and other settings.
Students who successfully complete their training in the Ph.D. in Practical Theology concentrating in Spiritual Care and Counseling will be able to:

  1. Adopt an integrative, interdisciplinary approach to scholarship, clinical practice, and pedagogy in Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling.
  2. Articulate and integrate critical and constructive knowledge of the history, research methods, and emerging concerns of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care, and Counseling in ways that are appropriate to diverse religious and cultural contexts.
  3. Demonstrate skilled application of clinical theories appropriate for multicultural, intercultural, and interreligious spiritual care, counseling, and pedagogy.
  4. Practice liberative pedagogy and spiritual care at advanced levels in order to contribute to positive transformation of the world through original research, ethical professional conduct, and multi-culturally competent leadership.
Core Courses24 units

  • Four 4-­unit courses in history, theory, and method of Spiritual Care and Counseling
  • Two 4­-unit courses in clinical education – Clinical Pastoral Education,

ACPE Supervisory Training, or Spiritually Integrative Psychotherapy Residency

  • Additional 0­-unit clinical training courses.
Practical Theology – 8 units  
TIS4014 Seminar in Practical Theology4 units
TIS4022 Research Methods in Practical Theology 4 units

Electives8 units

Two 4-unit seminars in one field below, or in two different fields below but closely related by topic:

  • Theology
  • Ethics
  • Sacred Texts
  • Religious History

Cognate Field – 8 units

Two 4-unit courses in a cognate field related to spiritual care and counseling, and approved by your advisor (for example, a religious tradition other than your own, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, education, women’s studies).

TOTAL – 48 units

Prior to admission (or no later than the end of the first year of study), students must complete one unit of CPE in a program accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., with an evaluation acceptable to the professors in the field. Students will not be able to begin the clinical education portion of their program requirements until the prerequisite is met. No unit credit is granted for this unit of CPE.
In the first year of study, students in the Spiritual Care and Counseling concentration are required to participate in a 0-unit practicum. The purpose of the Practicum is to provide: exposure to the way Claremont School of Theology professors conceptualize the respective field; a structure for reviewing and updating basic issues and literature in preparation for doctoral study; and opportunity to observe and participate in the teaching of an introductory class, with an eye towards one’s own teaching. The practicum consists of auditing the course TSC3004 Theories and Practices of Spiritual Care. Students must audit the on-campus section of the course.
Students are required to gain admission to and take 3 units of CPE (in addition to the prerequisite unit of CPE) in one or more programs accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Students register for TSC4001/4002/4003 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE):

TSC4001 1
st ACPE unit of CPE
4 units
TSC4002 2
nd ACPE unit of CPE
4 units
TSC4003 3rd ACPE unit of CPE0 units
Students are required to gain admission to and take 3 units of CPE supervisory training. Students register for TSC4021/4022/4023 ACPE Supervisory Training:

TSC4021 1st supervisory unit4 units
TSC4022 2nd supervisory unit 4 units
TSC4023 3rd supervisory unit O units
Usually starting after 24 units of coursework is complete, students serve for 24 consecutive months as Residents at The Clinebell Institute for Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy (TCI). Students must have completed the prerequisite one unit of CPE in a program accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., with an evaluation acceptable to the professors in the field.

The sequence of courses is started only in the Fall semester and students normally register for the course Spiritually Integrative Psychotherapy Residency as follows:

First Residency Year  
TSC4044Fall4 units
TSC4045Spring4 units
TSC4046Summer0 units
Second Residency Year  
TSC4047Fall0 units
TSC4048Spring0 units
TSC4049Summer0 units

Spiritually Integrative Psychotherapy Residency

No other placements are allowed except those arranged by The Clinebell Institute. Clinical training begins in late August (the week prior to the School’s Fall orientation of new students) with a required three­-day staff meeting and orientation.

Students are expected to complete their required training without interruption. The clinical training program at The Clinebell Institute does not follow the academic calendar; due to the intensive nature of the training and the needs of clients, students are on a year­-round schedule and continue to serve their clients during school breaks, though vacation times are arranged through The Clinebell Institute. If students’ training must be interrupted due to unforeseen life circumstances, students must make up the time missed within 1 year from the time of interruption.

In addition to the weekly meeting time, students schedule clinical work, research and study in preparation for clinical service, individual and group supervision, and other training meetings as required.

Required Psychotherapy

The effective and ethical practice of spiritually integrative counseling depends upon the caregiver’s continual cultivation of emotional and spiritual resources, self-knowledge, and ability to use herself or himself for the care of others. Therefore, students concentrating in Spiritually Integrative Psychotherapy are required to be in weekly psychotherapy at their own expense for the duration of their clinical education. Students indicate that they have begun this requirement by requesting that a letter be sent by their therapist to The Clinebell Institute Training Director indicating that the psychotherapy has begun.  The cost of psychotherapy is also an additional expense to the student.

Qualifying Exams for Spiritual Care and Counseling

Exams must be passed in the following areas:

  1. History and Theory of Spiritual Care and Counseling.
  2. Practice of Spiritual Care and Counseling (Clinical Theory and Practice).
  3. Systematic Theology, Theological Ethics, Sacred Texts or Religious History.
  4. Cognate Field (Students may request guidance for the cognate exam from any scholar with whom they have taken at least one of their cognate courses and who meets the following criteria: holds a Ph.D. in a field other than Christian studies, holds a faculty appointment at an accredited academic institution, and is able to provide the exam according to program rubrics and procedures. Eligible scholars will be identified in consultation with the student’s advisor and are frequently selected from the faculties of the Claremont Colleges or Claremont Graduate University.)