Doctor of Philosophy in Spirituality

The PhD (Spirituality) is an Oblate School of Theology initiative in response to an expressed interest and hunger for graduate formation in Spirituality. More and more people are interested in Spirituality and are seeking advanced academic training in the area. Few existing doctoral-level programs in Spirituality focus specifically on the long, deep, and rich history of the Judeo-Christian traditions in prayer, mysticism, and spiritual guidance. This program serves the church and society in an important way by providing doctoral-level scholars in the areas of prayer, mysticism, spiritual discernment, and spiritual guidance.
The Doctoral Program in Spirituality produces scholars with comprehensive knowledge of the overall discipline as well as a specialization in at least one particular area of Christian Spirituality. The specific approach is academic and theological from the Roman Catholic tradition, with openness to ecumenical and interreligious perspectives.


The goal is to immerse each student in the history and tradition of classical Christian Spirituality so as to give him or her the tools to assess religious experience, critically evaluate contemporary movements within Spirituality, help mentor others spiritually, do scholarly research and publishing in the area of spirituality, and develop a vocabulary to articulate both the human spirit and divine revelation more effectively.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an essential literacy in the discipline of Spirituality and apply critical tools needed for scholarly research as defined by the academy of theology
  2. Demonstrate a critical in-depth knowledge of two classical schools of Christian spirituality
  3. Comprehend the relationship between religious experiences across ecumenical and interreligious lines
  4. Identify resources to discern authentic religious experience from human pathology
  5. Articulate the Christian tradition in terms of other or multiple historical/cultural contexts

Admissions Requirements

A Master of Divinity degree, Master of Arts degree in Spirituality or Theology or the educational equivalent.

  1. Students who do not already have a graduate degree in Theology or Religious Studies are required to obtain the M.A. in Spirituality before applying to the program.
  2. Students who have completed an M.A. in spirituality in another institution will be evaluated and prerequisite courses may be required.

Degree Requirements

  1. At least 54 hours of doctoral-level course work: 36 hours of core courses and 18 hours of electives.
  2. A first-year doctoral seminar is required of all students.
  3. One modern language in addition to English OR an ancient language related to the area of specialization or research.

Language Requirements

  1. Beyond English, students need to demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one modern language.
  2. Depending upon their areas of specialization and their thesis topics, students may be required to show proficiency in another ancient or modern language

GPA Requirement

Students must maintain a 3.3 grade point average.

Comprehensive Exam

All students are required to take a comprehensive examination upon completing their course requirements and before submitting their proposals for a dissertation.


A student will be considered a PhD candidate upon

  1. completing all the course work
  2. successfully completing the comprehensive exam
  3. submitting a dissertation proposal that is accepted by the OST faculty.

Acceptance into the PhD Program does not imply acceptance to Candidacy for the degree. Upon admission, the administrators of the PhD program guide a student through the program requirements. Normally, once a student, the Candidacy status is conferred upon the student who completes all course work, the Comprehensive Exam, and whose doctoral proposal has been accepted by his/her DPC. A student must petition in writing for doctoral candidacy in conjunction with the DPC’s approval of the proposal.


A written dissertation is required of each student. (See Student Handbook for more details)

Time Limit

Each student is required to have completed all requirements for the degree within seven years of initial registration. Extensions may be granted by the Dean.

Continuation Status

Students must register each semester for a particular course, or a section of the dissertation to maintain current status in the PhD Program. If a student is ineligible or unable to register for a particular course in a given semester, the student will register for one of the continuance classifications. The PhD Administration will advise the student about the applicable continuance status. Please refer to the course descriptions in the back of this catalog for an explanation of the continuance classifications.

Withdrawal and Drop Policy

Students are expected to be enrolled in classes each semester until all courses are completed. If this is not done, extended status must be requested from the PhD Administration.
Withdrawal from the program after initial orientation must be requested in writing from the Program Director.

Personal Leave

Students in exceptional circumstances, such as military personnel while they are deployed or students facing exceptional personal, ministerial, or family stress, may contact the PhD administration about the possibility of personal leave.

Go to PhD in Spirituality Curriculum