Doctoral Programs in Educational Studies
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 teacher in a variety of educational ministry settings within God’s kingdom, including the local church, educational institutions and ministry organizations throughout the world.
The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs — both of which are offered in on-campus and hybrid formats — 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.
- The Ph.D. in Educational Studies equips the “researcher-teacher” with the research, integration and teaching skills to contribute to their discipline and prepare others for ministry leadership roles. 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 ministry concerns. The program provides the same training in critical thinking theological integration, and teaching as the Ph.D. program, but with a more applied focus. This may fit well the needs of ministry leaders and some teachers.
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.
- 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 ministry. Their 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. In addition, our students have the opportunity to take an elective doctoral course in the Cook School of Intercultural studies if it supports their program goals.
- The Development of Research Competence. There are many issues and concerns in the field of Christian education that need careful study if we are going 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 practice of Christian education.
- Choice Among Several Areas of Study. Draw upon many elective areas to shape your studies at Talbot School of Theology, including: Christian formation; Christian higher education; curriculum development; 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 and heart” personal integration by providing opportunities for spiritual formation in co-curricular ways during the coursework phase, with spiritual reflection retreats, and course assignments that support this process.
- 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 livestream/webinars. 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 students bring to the classroom enriches our discussion and stimulates our thinking with a wide variety of issues and perspectives. We see generally equal percentages of men and women, as well as U.S. and international citizens (mostly from Asia, Africa and Latin/South America). Present enrollment is approximately 60 students, with around 35 in the residential program and 25 in the hybrid-residential options.
- A Well-Established Record of Impact. Since the doctoral program’s creation in 1984, over 175 people have graduated with either a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. from Talbot. Our network of alumni and current students serving in 26 of the United States and territories, and in 19 countries within five continents around the world. Learn more about our alumni success.
- 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.