Doctor of Theology
Doctor of Theology (Latin: Doctor Theologiae, abbreviated DTh, ThD, DTheol, or Dr. theol.) is a terminal degree in the academic discipline of theology. The ThD, like the ecclesiastical Doctor of Sacred Theology, is an advanced research degree equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy.
In the academic study of theology, often deeply rooted in the Christian religion, the nomenclature of doctoral degrees varies between Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Sacred Theology. However, Doctor of Ministry is generally understood as a professional doctorate, whereas Doctor of Divinity is a higher academic doctorate, often awarded honoris causa.
In the United States, some of the older theological seminaries began offering the ThD as an equivalent to the research Doctor of Philosophy. In Princeton Theological Seminary, for example, this practice was inherited from the German system of education since the professors involved in establishing the doctoral program were trained in German universities. Though the PhD was the doctorate of arts faculties in German universities (called the philosophy faculty in Germany, hence the Ph), Princeton Theological Seminary has since switched to using Doctor of Philosophy as its main designation. A similar shift happened at Harvard Divinity School in 2015. Due to the secular push in doctoral studies, some ThD programs have moved to other known accreditation, like the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) or choose to be only affiliates of accrediting agencies so they have more freedom to teach Christian Doctrine that is more practical for church ministry. For example, the only Association of Theological Schools accredited schools currently accepting students to ThD programs are Duke Divinity School and Evangelical Seminary.
In the United Kingdom, the Doctor of Theology is a relatively new academic doctoral programme. Certain universities have begun offering it as a form of research based professional doctorate, not unlike the Doctor of Education. Unlike the Doctor of Ministry offered by seminaries in the USA, the ThD/DTh is assessed at the same level as the PhD degree and requiring a thesis worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. To distinguish the more practical nature of the degree, some British universities have adopted the term Doctor of Practical Theology.
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