Doctor of Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.) is an advanced research degree designed to develop scholarly leadership for Christian churches and for work in the community of theological scholarship throughout the world.

NOTE: New admissions to the Ph.D. program have been suspended until further notice, beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.

The Ph.D. degree is offered in:

The program is deliberately theological and confessional without compromising its commitment to academic excellence and accountability. Read more about Luther Seminary's Curricular Strategy, Mission and Vision.

Learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy degree at Luther Seminary. Several short topics are listed on this page (below). Here are links to additional topics:

Graduation Requirements


Graduation requirements include residence, entrance examinations, language examinations, library practicum, courses in the area of concentration and Elective Courses, area and interdisciplinary seminars, colloquia, comprehensive examinations, and a thesis.

Graduation requirements for each student are stated in the catalog published in the year of the student's enrollment in the degree program.

All students' progress will be reviewed upon completion of each year of study.



The first and second years of study are years of residence, requiring full participation in the Ph.D. program. A minimum load of the area seminar and one course each semester is required for the first three semesters. It is expected that all seminar and course requirements will be completed during the first two years of the program.

Two years' Ph.D. tuition must be paid to fulfill the residence requirement.

Library Practicum


All first-year PhD students are required to complete GR8000 Library Practicum, a non-credit course with pass/fail grading.

Ph.D. Colloquia

Ph.D. colloquia are scheduled regularly in each area throughout the year in order to bring students and faculty together to discuss topics related to the research of both students and faculty. Attendance at colloquia is required during the two years of residence.

Academic Standing and Procedures

In order to remain in good academic standing a student must receive a grade of B or better for work for which credit is given and satisfactorily complete all other requirements of the program as determined by the Graduate Committee. Unless otherwise noted academic policies and procedures as stated in the academic catalog also apply to the Ph.D. degree.

Leave of Absence

A student in good academic standing may petition the Graduate Committee for a leave of absence. If leave is granted, the student may resume study at any time during the period of leave without reapplying for admission. Leaves are not normally granted for more than one year.

Continuation Fee

Students in the Ph.D. program are charged a continuation fee of $600.00 per year after completion of the residence requirement. Failure to pay the continuation fee, without a request for leave of absence, terminates status as a student at Luther Seminary.

Time Limit

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to complete the degree within seven years of the beginning of the first semester of study after admission. Written consent of the thesis adviser and permission of the Graduate Committee are required to continue beyond this limit.


Attendance at commencement is expected. Graduating students not intending to attend need to notify the Office of Graduate Theological Education and the Office of the Registrar in writing by May 1. Recipients of the Ph.D. degree are entitled to wear the doctoral hood and gown approved by the seminary for this degree.