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Ph.D. – Educational Studies

Talbot School of Theology

Overview

The educational studies Ph.D. program is designed for students interested in combining educational ministry leadership and teaching with a strong emphasis in developing a competency in research and the contribution of theory to the practice of educational ministry. Research training in the Ph.D. program is strong in selected areas of ongoing faculty research.

This doctoral degree, established in 1984 and offered within Talbot School of Theology’s Department of Christian Education, has a strong record of equipping educators for advanced positions of educational leadership, research and publishing. It involves two and a half years of coursework (42 credits), a candidacy exam (3 credits) and a dissertation. The program is designed to be able to be completed in five to six years in the residential program and as few as six years in the hybrid-residential program.

Students come to the program already having completed a graduate degree and significant ministry experience in the field of educational ministry. In general, doctoral students are established within a particular ministry organization and return following completion of the program. A few students are in transition in their career path. The curriculum particularly encourages critical thinking, integrative synthesis of Scripture and social science data, and original research.

Courses typically follow a graduate seminar format requiring student initiative for significant participation in class discussion. Small class sizes of five to 12 students permit such a dialogical format, an important element for promoting critical and integrative thinking.


Format Options

The Ph.D. degree program is offered in the normal residential format or with a hybrid distance format. Both formats incorporate a cohort approach, in which students work through the core courses together, with some choice of elective options to fit their study interests. New groups of students begin the program every year in November and March.

Residential Program

Courses are offered on campus in fall (late August to mid-December) and spring (February through May) semesters. A normal full-time load is three courses, or nine credits of coursework. Residential students can also take elective hybrid courses offered in November and March. (Note: Students are counted as full-time at six credits per semester.)

Elective courses in the fall and spring semesters are usually offered as weekly on-campus class sessions that permit face-to-face instruction. In early June, a one-week on-campus elective module is also scheduled. A few electives are available as online courses.

If full-time, you can complete the necessary coursework in two and a half to three years, including the candidacy exam. The dissertation can be completed in another two to two and a half years. This means the doctorate can take from five to six years, depending on the level of additional demand you face.

Hybrid Distance Program

For those who cannot locally access a doctoral program in education with Christian perspectives, Talbot offers both of its educational studies doctoral degree programs — the Ph.D. and Ed.D. — in a special format. The use of blended online and residential coursework makes it possible for students to continue ministering with their current organizations while completing their educational studies Ph.D. program. Teaching in a Christian higher education setting is required to qualify for admission to the “Current Faculty Track” Ph.D. program. Others in educational ministry roles may qualify for the hybrid Ed.D. program. Both programs utilize blended courses for one week in November and one week in March for four years. Coursework precedes and follows class sessions.

Elective courses in the fall and spring semesters are usually offered as weekly video-conference class sessions that permit face-to-face instruction. In early June, a one-week on-campus elective module is also scheduled. A few electives are available as online courses.

You can complete the necessary coursework and candidacy exam in four years. The dissertation can be completed in another two to two and half years. This means the doctorate can be completed in as little as six years, if the dissertation proceeds according to schedule.

Cohort Approach

New groups of students begin the program every year in the fall semester. Students work through the core courses together, with some choice of elective options to fit their study interests.


5–6 years
Standard Duration
This indicates the standard duration of this program. Completion time may vary by student depending on background and courseload.
45
Total Program Credits
Every program at Biola University features rigorous academics, biblically integrated curriculum and vocational preparation.
WSCUC / ATS
Accreditation
Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additional accreditations may apply to specific programs.

Program Requirements

The Ph.D. degree requires 45 credits, including 21 credits of core classes and a Candidacy Exam Capstone course and 24 credits of electives, plus the dissertation. The student’s advisor assists in planning the schedule of courses and supervises the student's progress in the program and the development of an elective program based on the two-year projected schedule of courses being offered. Up to 3 credits of graduate coursework directly related to the specialization may be taken in other departments at Biola University or transferred in from other accredited graduate institutions.

  • Doctoral Program Proposal
    During the first term of study and in consultation with the program director, students identify the 24-credit electives program they will complete, along with the remaining core courses, to meet the 45-credit minimum requirement. Once approved, this schedule serves as the projected course of study. A copy of the Program Proposal is placed in the student’s file. Modifications must have prior approval of the student’s advisor.
  • Candidacy Exam
    During the final semester of coursework, the student also enrolls in the TTDE 8950 Candidacy Exam Capstone course. The student completes the candidacy exam before engaging work on the dissertation. The candidacy exam evaluates the student's attainment of program study objectives.
  • Advancement to Candidacy
    Official candidacy for the doctorate signifies an advanced stage in the student’s progress and is characterized by self-directed research in the completion of a dissertation under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor. In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must have successfully passed the candidacy exam.
  • Dissertation
    After passing the candidacy exam, the student will enroll in TTDE 8960 Dissertation (3 credits) for up to five semesters. A student must enroll for a minimum of two terms of TTDE 8960 and must be enrolled in 8960 or 8970 Dissertation Extension the semester of graduation. Ph.D. dissertation students are considered full-time for a maximum of five semesters of TTDE 8960 only. Doctoral students must submit a dissertation evidencing high attainment in scholarship. Detailed information may be found in the Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
  • Final Dissertation Defense
    The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the student’s dissertation committee and other invited guests. Detailed information regarding the defense and final submission deadlines for graduation may be found in the Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
  • Graduation Requirements
    All students must present an acceptable dissertation, satisfactorily pass their candidacy exams, and complete all coursework with a minimum 3.25 GPA to qualify for graduation. Beyond completion of academic requirements, doctoral program faculty must also recommend that the student is eligible for conferral of the degree on the basis of evidence of Christian life and character established during his or her course of studies. All financial obligations must be settled. Attendance at commencement ceremonies is required when the degree is granted unless approval has been received from the dean to graduate in absentia (see the Doctoral Program Handbook for further details).

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