Doctor of Philosophy in Spirituality

Core Courses

  • DSC 6301 Pro-Seminar
  • History and nature of the academic study of spirituality, including a consideration of the role of second order reflection on spiritual experience. Research tools and resources. Methodologies and multi-disciplinary approaches in spirituality studies with the identification of their presuppositions and limitations. Critical and constructive reading of historical documents. Nature, purpose and writing of a doctoral dissertation. Identification of research subjects of interest to seminar participants and of methodologies appropriate to those subjects.

  • DSC 6302 Foundations for a Contemporary Spirituality
  • Contemporary Christian spirituality is an emerging area of academic study characterized by an interdisciplinary approach. Building on the Pro-Seminar in the first year, the Foundations course will help students understand those significant fields of research that influence and ground the study of spirituality and spiritual writing in the academy. The Foundations course will explore the some of the “classics” of western philosophical tradition, Catholic theological method and content, twentieth century anthropological, sociological, cultural studies and gender studies and educational theory. The goal of this course is to offer some principles and classical distinctions drawn from philosophy, anthropology, sociology, educational theory, and revelation that can help serve as a foundation within which to ground Christian spirituality.

  • DSC 7301 History of Christian Spirituality
  • A history of Christian spirituality from the early apostolic period through the patristic, medieval, modern and contemporary eras, by way of an in-depth examination of various individuals, movements, and themes; also, select reading from among their writing contributions to the Christian spirituality tradition. Part of the course will also address the process and skills required for writing academic-quality journal articles and other works.

  • DSC 7302 Hermeneutics of Religious Experience
  • Psychological and philosophical principles to help differentiate authentic religious experience from human pathology. Psychological and philosophical background drawn from major thinkers and the DSM-IV classification system as an aid to read religious experience more astutely.

  • DSC 7303 Contemporary Spirituality
  • An overview of the field of Christian spirituality today. A survey look at the various schools and movements that make up the complex whole of contemporary Christian spirituality and an in depth look at several of these schools and movements: Creation-centered spiritualities, Feminist spiritualities, Masculine spiritualities, Social Justice and Liberation spiritualities, Charismatic spiritualities, Traditional Roman Catholic devotions as spirituality, the impact of Eastern Religions on Christian spirituality, Native American spiritualities, Afro-American spiritualities, Centering prayer as a spirituality, Typologies and the Enneagram as spiritualities, 12-Step programs as a spirituality, recovery of the soul and the language of the soul as a spirituality, secular spiritualities. .

  • DSC 7304 Spirituality of the Trinity
  • DSC 7305 Seminar and Practicum in Teaching Spirituality)
  • Analysis and application of concepts inherent to teaching course material in higher education and to offering one’s students guidance in research and writing related to such material. Emphasis on the engagement of students through oral communication, creative expression, and communications media appropriate to the area of spirituality. Attention to the effective formulation and use of lectures, discussions, presentations, group work, projects, and assessment in accord with varying learning styles. Individual supervision and peer review of seminar participants’ instructional activities in ongoing placements and in anticipated instructional activity.

  • DSC 7306 Integrating Seminar
  • Integration can be described as the process of bringing together or combining parts into a unified, harmonious whole. This seminar provides a framework for integrating learning about spirituality, through an actual experience or spiritual practice. Students will be introduced to the concept of research and writing as a spiritual practice that can shape them intellectually and spiritually. They will be asked to relate readings about the spiritual discipline of writing, to their own process. More concretely, students will have the opportunity to integrate the content and skills acquired through courses in the PhD. in Spirituality program through self-examination. They will then formulate a preliminary research proposal and use this to design possible questions for their comprehensive exams.

  • DSC 9000 Comprehensive Examination
  • DSC 9001 Dissertation Proposal Writing
  • DSC 9003 PhD Dissertation: Research
  • DSC 9005 PhD Dissertation: Writing


  • DSE 8301 The Desert Tradition
  • The Christian desert tradition emerged in Egypt in the 3rd century C.E. and quickly spread to the deserts of Syria, Palestine, and beyond. This course offers an overview of the major figures in this movement – the desert fathers and mothers – as well as the primary themes that emerge from their writings. Particular attention will be given to the theological and spiritual significance of the desert tradition for contemporary spirituality.

  • DSE 8302 Franciscan Spirituality
  • DSE 8303 Dominican Spirituality
  • Thomas Aquinas describes Christian spirituality as a school in the perfection and elevation of human nature through its cooperation with grace. Dominican spirituality connotes a very complex historical reality of men and women, ordained and lay, celibate and married, trying to work together to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and to authenticate that proclamation through the witness of their own growth in personal in communal conversion. This course will explore some of the major historical figures and movements within the wider ecclesial movement known popularly known as the Dominicans. Students will investigate various modes in which the Order of Preachers emerges during the last eight hundred years in the Western Christian Tradition.

  • DSE 8304The Spiritual Vision of John of the Cross
  • The spirituality of the Spanish mystic, John of the Cross. The seminar will consist in a textual reading of three of his major works: The Ascent to Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, and The Living Flame of Love, highlighting and explicating his key ideas vis-à-vis the concepts of religious experience, grace, prayer, discernment of spirits, spiritual direction, healing, and paschal transformation.

  • DSE 8305 Ignatian Spirituality
  • DSE 8306 Thomas Merton: Monasticism as Recovery, Renewal, and Rebellion
  • This course is designed to cover the many components of Thomas Merton’s religious vocation, spirituality and extensive core of writings as they pertain to his understanding of monasticism. To that end, it will examine his signal accomplishments in the area of monastic ressourcement and aggiornamento, his translations of and commentaries on the influential monastics, and the evolution of his contemplative thought with its broad interfaith insights and initiatives. As a consequence of his rich and diverse literary and intellectual talents, we will study representative examples of his work drawing on standard prose works, poetry, diary entries, and autobiography.

  • DSE 8307 Contemporary Hispanic/Latino Spiritualities
  • See description under DMin Spirituality and Ministry.

  • DSE 8308 Contemporary African American Spiritualties
  • DSE 8309 Mysticism
  • This course is designed to examine the claims of the mystics to the possibility of experiencing spiritual union with ultimate reality. The focal point is Christian mysticism. In addition to analyzing spiritual experiences within the general understanding of human cognition, the course will emphasize the areas of historical/chronological development, key Christian mystics and their legacy of insights and wisdom.

  • DSE 8310 Spirituality of Kenosis

Continuation Status

    PhD students must register each semester for a particular course, or a section of the Doctoral 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.

  • DSC 9002 Dissertation Proposal Writing (Continuation Status)
  • DSC 9004 PhD Dissertation: Research (Continuation Status)
  • DSC 9006 PhD Dissertation: Writing (Continuation Status)
  • DSC 9007 Extended Status
  • A student enrolls in this status if there is any interruption in his/her academic work; an interruption requiring postponement of a student’s registration for a period of one semester or more. A student must notify the Program Director in writing for this status, with sufficient detail, at least one month before the student’s next scheduled course and/or registration. Since registration in this status indicates an interruption in the student’s work, OST faculty will generally not work with a student during this period.