Th.D. degree

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Scott Cline, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. Scott Cline

    Scott Cline
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    Is a Th.D. the same as a Ph.D.in Theology? And why have most seminaries substituted the latter for the former? Are there any seminaries that still offer the TH.D.?
     
  2. Taufgesinnter

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    Just as the Ed.D., D.A., and D.Sc., the Th.D. and S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology) are approximately equivalent to the Ph.D. but not 100% interchangeable in all fields. While probably most seminaries used to offer the Th.D., because the Th.D. was traditionally looked at in academia as an easier degree to complete and attain, degree programs were switched to the Ph.D. for the prestige, and seminaries fell in line like dominoes. Both the Th.D. and Ph.D. require years of coursework followed by comprehensive written and oral exams, then years of research and writing followed by oral public defense of a dissertation. But again, the Ph.D. is seen as academically more rigorous (right or wrong) and thus more prestigious. Some schools, like Dallas Theological Seminary, tried to offer both degrees, but accreditation standards didn't allow for it the way they wanted to do it, so they picked the Ph.D. Others, like the Graduate Theological Union and the Toronto School of Theology, have retained enough of the traditional distinction between the two degrees that they've been allowed to continue offering students a choice of either the Th.D. or Ph.D. For either degree, a two-year (60-credit) M.A., or an M.Div. or Th.M. is prerequisite for admission.

    N.B. that the Th.D. is considered an advanced professional degree rather than an academic doctorate as the Ph.D. is. This is because the Th.D. was designed to be undertaken by ministers who sought to enhance their careers (including their preaching) with advanced scholarly study and research. As Boston University puts it: "The ThD degree program is offered to students wishing to enhance their knowledge and ministerial skills or teaching competence in certain advanced areas of theology and ministry. It has a stronger academic specialization than the DMin, but also differs from the PhD in its integrative character and clear connection to the church."

    From the GTU's website, emphasis added:

    "The GTU offers both the Ph.D. and the Th.D. degree. Both are advanced academic degrees intended to prepare students for professional careers in teaching, writing, and scholarship, as well as for leadership opportunities with religious organizations, social service agencies, foundations, museums, libraries, publishing, and in educational institutions....

    "The Ph.D. program places theological or religious studies in the context of university research disciplines, and students are required to engage such a discipline in order to provide an additional critical and theoretical dimension to their work. Most students pursue this dimension of their program by working with a faculty member from the University of California at Berkeley, just a block away from the GTU."

    A comparison chart of the Th.D. and Ph.D. programs at Harvard is available here:
    http://www.hds.harvard.edu/afa/thd_phd_comparison.html

    According to the website of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (the only recognized accrediting agency for seminaries), the following schools still offer the Th.D.: Boston University School of Theology, Boston, Mass.; Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass.; Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Ga.; Candler School of Theology of Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.; Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Ga.; (The) General Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.; Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary of Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Mich.; Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Cal.; and Emmanuel College of Victoria University, Knox College, Regis College, Toronto School of Theology, Trinity College Faculty of Divinity, University of St. Michael's College Faculty of Theology, and Wycliffe College, all of Toronto.

    The D.Min. was created as an advanced professional degree, building on the B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity)--called an M.Div. (Master of Divinity) in North America to give it more prestige--with an emphasis on practical ministry skills that don't need a great deal of advanced scholarship and research. Most ministers who get a doctorate probably get a Doctor of Ministry.
     
  3. Circuitrider

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    While I am not an expert on degrees, I believe there is an important difference between these two. The Ph.D. is a philosophy degree which can be added to most any masters degree, while the traditional Th.D. was purely a theological degree which required either and M.A. and Th.M. or M.Div. and Th.M. as prerequisites. Some schools have changed that requirement but theology was considered the ultimate discipline and therefore required the greatest training including two masters degrees as prerequisites. [​IMG]
     
  4. RandR

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    I seem to recall that a Th.D., much like an M.Div, was a combination of the academic and practical. Most schools have in essence "divided" it and offer two different degrees, one academic (Ph.D.) and one practical (D.Min).

    That may be too simple of an explanation, though.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    Both Circuitrider and myself have D.Min degrees. Don't know what his emphasis was; mine was Pastoral Counseling. It is a general degree for pastors, NOT for educators.

    It is probably the equivalent of the Ed.D. which is a generic educational degree where one may opt for an emphasis (like history, administration, etc)

    The Th.D. v Ph.D. would both be the higher (and much harder) academic degrees for teaching and research. Former for Christian/later in the secular world.

    I find it confusing, too, that many Christian seminaries and grad schools are opting for the secular Ph.D. denotation.

    Of course, I always see Ph.D. and think "piled higher and deeper". :eek:
     
  6. TomVols

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    I am making application to Whitefield Theological Seminary's ThD program. I like it and like 'Doctor of Theology' better, but that's my personal preference now. I was at one time going to enter a Ph.D. program, so I'm not allergic to that either.

    Some degree definitions are influenced by the affiliated accrediting agencies.
     

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