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Graduate Theological Education
Dirk Lange, Associate Dean Jeni Mullenix, Program Coordinator

Ph.D. Program

Preparing global leaders

The world is changing. The church is changing. Leadership demands are changing. Prepare yourself to lead in today’s global church and world. Our Ph.D. is designed for those who want to excel in the areas of theological education and church leadership, and also helps develop the skills necessary for work in research centers, non-governmental organizations, global multilateral organizations, human rights associations, and more.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is for the 2018-2019 academic year (fall semester start). The deadline to submit the pre-application has closed for this academic start date.
Program Overview

Luther Seminary’s Ph.D. Program is designed to be completed in four years. Each student will be required to be in residency for their first year (initial coursework) and fourth year (dissertation writing and defense). The second and third years of the program are to be spent in the student’s context, with the student returning to the seminary once for a 4-6 week period for the comprehensive examination and dissertation proposal workshops.

Domestic students will be strongly encouraged to propose, arrange and participate in a semester-long immersion experience during the second year. International students should have a qualified and institutional-approved instructor and/or institution in or near their home context with which Luther Seminary could partner to help oversee progress and provide appropriate contextual learning possibilities.


This Ph.D. program model is designed to give students flexibility to propose and engage in a course of study that is individualized, interdisciplinary, integrative, contextual and cross-cultural in nature. Students in consultation with their faculty adviser will craft a concentration that embodies their research interests. Examples of possible areas of concentration include:

  • Systematic Theology
  • Christian Ethics
  • Reformation Studies
  • Church History
  • Congregational Mission and Leadership
  • Liturgical Studies
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Pastoral Care and Counseling
  • Youth and Family Ministry
  • Christian Education
  • Global Christianity
Admissions Criteria

Admissions will be based on the feasibility of the research interest or area of study proposed and the willingness and availability of one or more Luther Seminary faculty to oversee the student’s work on a continuing basis through graduation. Students should have evidence of sufficient technological availability in their contexts to support distance learning. A Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree in theology, biblical studies, history or the arts of ministry, or Bachelor of Divinity degree (or its equivalent) from an accredited theological school, is required.

International Applicants

International applicants will be required to post an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score, or submit other evidence indicating reading, writing and listening skills in the English language sufficient for graduate study at Luther Seminary. Priority may be given to qualified applicants who are recommended and given funding by entities with which the program may develop strategic alliances, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation and their ecumenical partners and members.

Costs and Key Dates

Full scholarship and tuition are available on a competitive basis.

The deadline to submit the pre-application is June 1, 2017. Admission to the Ph.D. program is for the 2018-2019 academic year (fall semester start).