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Doctoral Programs in Educational Studies

Talbot School of Theology


Talbot School of Theology offers two doctoral programs in educational studies — a Ph.D. and Ed.D. — each of which are designed to mentor and equip you as a leader and faculty in a variety of theological and Christian higher education settings and parachurch organizations within God’s kingdom throughout the world.

The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs have been empowering and mentoring theologically oriented educational leaders since 1984. As a doctoral student, you’ll join a Christian community of gifted scholars and practitioners striving to make contributions, from a distinctly Christian perspective, in scholarship for and in the practice of Christian educational studies.

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Our Programs

  • The Ph.D. in Educational Studies equips the “Researcher-Teacher” with the research and integration, as well as teaching and leadership skills to contribute to their discipline. Students will be able to teach and equip others for educational formation leadership roles and provide leadership to their institutions. This is the preferred degree for full-time teaching at most Christian higher education institutions.
  • The Ed.D. in Educational Studies equips the “Leader-Teacher” with skills in research assessment and application to educational concerns. The program provides the same training in conceptual thinking, theological integration and teaching as the Ph.D. program, but with more applied focus. This degree is intended for the needs of education leaders and some Christian higher education settings.

Doctoral Program Distinctives

Talbot School of Theology has been providing doctoral studies in the field of Christian education since 1984. These Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs bring together a number of strengths that benefit our students.

  • Critical Thinking and Theological Integration. We are committed to the integrative synthesis of social science research and theory within a Christian worldview. Theological reflection and integration are major features of our programs as we encourage an interdisciplinary study of human development, the teaching-learning process, spiritual formation, issues of leadership and administration, and biblical approaches to Christian education, theological education and Christian higher education.
  • Respected and Committed Faculty. Our richest resource is our faculty, who are respected in their discipline areas and give time to research, writing and speaking. They demonstrate both competence in the classroom and a commitment to ongoing study and educational leadership. All strive to stay current on educational concerns and to remain involved in worldwide ministry. The facultys' instruction and mentoring of students is the heart of the program.
  • The Resources of a Christian University Context. Biola University offers graduate programs in theology, psychology, intercultural studies and more. Our library offers a strong collection of resources in these fields, and our interlibrary loan program provides access to a wealth of material in libraries across the state and the nation.
  • The Development of Research Competence. There are many crucial and relevant issues and concerns in the world that demand careful study within a Christian worldview in order to provide wise and effective leadership and instruction for the future. We are committed to equipping our students with the tools they need to evaluate and apply current research and conduct their own research to strengthen the educational practice.
  • Choice Among Several Areas of Study. Draw upon elective areas to shape your studies at Talbot School of Theology, including: Christian higher education; theological education; leadership and administration; and teaching foundations and processes.
  • Emphasis on Spiritual Formation. While the doctoral programs provide knowledge and skills to help you serve as a leader and teacher in educational and ministry settings, we recognize that the formation of the person who serves is most important. We value “head, heart and hands” personal integration by providing opportunities for spiritual formation during the program.
  • Face-to-Face Engagement. Students complete a required course each fall and spring that includes a one-week on-campus intensive. Electives, which are based on faculty expertise on a range of topics, are offered in three formats: one-week intensives, online and weekly hyflex. Our experienced, full-time faculty also chair and mentor students in their dissertation research. We accept a limited number of applicants each fall term, permitting small class sizes for our doctoral seminars.
  • An International and Intercultural Student Body. The diversity of cultural, educational and ministry experience our faculty and students bring to the classroom enriches our discussion and stimulates our thinking with a wide variety of issues and perspectives. We are an engaging community of men and women with diverse backgrounds, experiences and nationalities.
  • A Well-Established Record of Impact. Since the doctoral program’s creation in 1984, over 200 graduates now serve in key educational and ministry roles worldwide. Learn more about our alumni success.

Program Goals

  • Demonstrate, from a Christian framework, an understanding of biblical and theological principles and research procedures derived from scholarly research and personal Bible study, that will inform both the student's scholarship for and the practice of Christian educational ministry, as well as the student's personal spiritual formation and growing relationship with God.
  • Demonstrate competency in critical thinking about and knowledge of the field of Christian educational studies and ministry that will guide the development of philosophies of ministry and knowledgeable utilization of social science research to inform the student's scholarship for and the practice of Christian educational ministry from an integrative perspective (theology, philosophy and social sciences) as displayed in both written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrate enhanced competence as a faculty member, in teaching suitable for higher education and other formal and informal settings in effective course design, in providing educational leadership in curriculum development, and a commitment to the vocation of academic scholarship in its dimensions of teaching, learning, research and service (this applies to both programs, but especially the Ph.D. program).
  • Demonstrate competence and ethical practices in designing and carrying out sound field research to address local or institutional needs.
  • Locate, analyze, critically evaluate, synthesize, and apply knowledge from the literature of the broad field of educational studies to address the needs of educational and ministry settings.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in carrying out biblical and theological research, integrating theological and social science data to inform and guide educational and ministry practice.
  • Demonstrate teaching abilities and skills suitable for higher educational settings.
  • Demonstrate the needed writing skills to communicate with both academic audiences and educational and ministry practitioners.
  • Give evidence of ongoing personal openness and spiritual responsiveness to God and a desire to continue to grow in relationship with God.