Zinzendorf School of Doctoral Studies

Academics Overview

Doctor of Philosophy

Why This Program?

“We are very interested in working together with thinkers, leaders, and educators and helping them to get the tools they need to become excellent in their field. It’s a program, on the one hand, that is academic-oriented. At the same time, we also want to be very practical.”

Dr. Mark Wagner, Director of the Ph.D. program

Program Overview

The Ph.D in Global Theological Studies is designed to to enable the candidate to make an original contribution to theological and missiological scholarship in a global dimension. Meeting the admission requirements indicates that the student is qualified to undertake guided preparation with a supervising professor in the “examination phase”, and also to complete the required number of seminars with a grade of A or B.

Upon successful completion of a comprehensive “Doctoral Examination” before a committee, the student begins supervised research and writing in the “Dissertation Phase,” normally with the same supervising professor. Both the ‘Examination Phase’ and the ‘Dissertation Phase’ require participation in the annual colloquium by attendance and the oral presentation of a research paper or report.

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Global Theological Studies will be expected to:

  • Be conversant with some of the global issues in theological and missiological studies;
  • Have a grasp of research methodologies for their particular areas;
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to cultural and ethnic diversity with the need for appropriate contextualization;
  • Conduct original research to produce a coherent and cogently argued dissertation that makes an original scholarly contribution.

Area of Study

Established Ph.D. programs normally offer several disciplines within religious studies. Zinzendorf is concentrating initially on the admittedly broad are of Global Theological Studies. This allows for a variety of approaches while including cross-cultural, multi-national perspectives on the topic under consideration.

Dissertation Overview

Standards That Need to Be Met
  • The dissertation must be a major piece of independent scholarly research.
  • Topic and scope of the dissertation must be restricted and clearly defined. The problem which needs to be solved by way of academic research must be explicitly defined in the introduction, and the appropriate methods and logical steps to solve it need to be stated clearly.
  • Ready covered satisfactorily by others.
  • A dissertation must show ability to precisely handle the appropriate methods in the chosen field of research. The student has to work with the relevant sources, and must diligently document the use of primary and secondary sources. One cannot make claims without substantiation.
  • The dissertation should normally be between 250 and 300 pages in length plus footnotes, bibliography and appendices.

The style of the writing must be clear, professional and grammatically proper. It should follow the conventions of academic literature that are found in international scholarly journals and monographs.

The Use of Primary and Secondary Sources

These sources are the basis for Ph.D. research. Their nature and the methodology with them will vary widely with the topic, as does the length of discussion justifying their selection. Primary sources are either original documents, the recorded results of one’s own investigations or direct information from a person who is the object of study.

Secondary sources are (usually documented) references by others to such primary sources. Primary as well as secondary sources must be identified in such a way that they can be traced by the reader. In a dissertation, a student must use all primary sources that are relevant to the research and accessible. Use of secondary sources is appropriate:

  • If the primary source is not accessible,
  • To identify the source whenever arguments or information are obtained from it,
  • To inform the readers about opponents and supporters of a certain opinion;
  • When the source provides opinions or arguments that need to be challenged.
Research in Other Languages

All relevant sources in a dissertation must be processed in their original language. E.g. where patristic opinion is studied, it will be necessary to make use of the patristic texts (especially the writings in Latin or Greek) in the original languages. Requirements may be less strict when a dissertation does not involve a detailed study of patristic writings, but a more synthetic overview of opinion about a certain topic. It is acceptable to make use of translations of literature in a language in which the student is not fluent. However, when dealing with a very particular statement the student needs to check the wording in the original text when:

  • The editor of a translation signals different possible interpretations;
  • The translations contradict each other;
  • he students feels uncertain about the rendering in the translation;
  • The precise wording of a phase or statement is important for proving the student’s point.

Student should include in the research the directly relevant scholarly literature in the main European languages (English, German, and French). Interaction with literature in other languages is not only desirable but it is also indispensable particularly if the subject is pertinent for researchers within that specific language area.

Seminars Phase

The Seminars Phase requires 45 credits, each of which requires at least 30 clock hours of work, ten hours of which must be some kind of involvement with the faculty. Required and elective seminars, which usually include a component conducted at a Doctoral Colloquium as well as online, and approved independent studies supervised by a professor, are the ways these credits are earned.

The Doctoral Oral Examination

The Doctoral Oral Examination marks the culmination of the Seminars Phase and, if successfully passed, marks the transition to the Dissertation Phase. It demonstrates that the candidate has shown sufficient breadth of understanding the approach to Global Theological Studies to be ready to make a distinctive contribution to the field with an original dissertation.

Dissertation Phase

Upon completion of the Seminars Phase with the successful passing of the Doctoral Examination, the student submits a suggested title and thesis statement to register for the Dissertation Phase. Upon its acceptance the Doctoral Committee assigns the student to an Advisor from the faculty, usually one with whom he or she has taken seminars.. The Advisor supervises the student’s research and writing. The dissertation must demonstrate the student’s ability to do independent and original research that makes a valid and original contribution to the scholarly literature.