Conjoint Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Theological Studies

A NEW DOCTORAL DEGREE - The "Conjoint" PhD (in Theological Studies)

The Toronto School of Theology (TST) expects to open a conjoint PhD degree program in Theological Studies to a class entering in September 2015. "Conjoint" means that the proposed PhD (in Theological Studies) will be offered conjointly by the University of Toronto and six TST member colleges. It will be administered by TST’s Graduate Centre for Theological Studies. 

Please note that this program has not yet been approved by the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance or the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities of the Province of Ontario. No offer of admission will be made to the new conjoint PhD program pending final approval by the Quality Council and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. Approval by the Association of Theological Schools is also required.

Program Features

The distinctive features of the new PhD program include the following:
  • It will support research projects supporting the Church’s reflection on God and the Church’s self-reflection. The theological inquiry of other faith communities can also be supported in some instances. 
  • The program will stress collaborative education among the entering cohort of students, with scholarly interchange across the traditional sub-disciplines of theological studies (Bible, history, theology, pastoral praxis).  
  • Courses and research projects will consider interdisciplinary, ecumenical, and global perspectives. Interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged. 
  • The program will give focused attention to issues of method in research and interpretation. 
  • The program will incorporate learning goals in educational theory, course design, and instructional practice. 

General Areas of Study

TST’s graduate faculty have specializations a wide variety of areas of study. Prospective students are invited to identify topics that connect with faculty in specializations within or across these areas: 

  1. The study of sacred and canonical texts, specifically, the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) or the New Testament (both involving languages; historical contexts and processes of development; related literature; subsequent theological interpretation, pastoral function and social effects).
  2. The study of articulated structures of belief—the structures, contents, premises, and implications of Christian belief and practice (foundational theology; systematic theology; historical theology; theological ethics; and philosophical theology).
  3. The study of the history of Christianity, understood in the broadest sense to include the variety of Christian traditions over the ages and throughout the world.
  4. The study of ecclesiastical practices (liturgy, homiletics, education and formation, pastoral care, spirituality), pastoral and other religious leadership, and the social organizations in which these occur (such as congregations, faith-based organizations, ecclesial bodies, and ecumenical and interfaith organizations).
  5. The study of the Christian faith in its relations with wider social and cultural contexts (social ethics; aesthetics; cultural studies; contextual theology; religion in the public sphere; comparative theology; and inter-faith dialogue).

Although Christian studies are at the core of TST’s mission, prospective students may choose to frame research topics in the context of other faiths. 

Program Structure

Applicants for admission will be asked to formulate a research topic and identify a prospective supervisor as part of the application. The Graduate Coordinator handling applications for admission will assist applicants in this process.

  • Entering students will have to provide evidence of competence in at least one research language other than English. Within a year of entrance, they must provide evidence of competence in a second research language other than English. Additional languages may be required for some research areas.
  • Eight (8) semester courses will be required of all students (three courses per semester are considered a normal academic load). In some cases, a supervisor may require additional courses. (For instance, additional work in Biblical languages and exegesis may be indicated for some students, depending on their research topic).
  • Among these eight courses, students are required to take a cohort course in "Research and Scholarship", a cohort course in "Area Studies and Educational Practice", and a course in Method.
  • Students must complete two qualifying examinations, each of them having a time-limited written component and an oral component. One of the qualifying examinations will focus on the student’s proposed research topic, and the other on a cognate area.
  • Students must write and defend a research thesis that makes an original contribution to scholarship.
  • The normal program length is 4 years; the maximum length is 6 years.

Program Policies & Procedures

Policies and procedures for the program are currently being developed, and will be posted on the TST website in the near future. 



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