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  
TISXXXXPractical Theology Course From Another Area4 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.