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Ph. D. In Theology

ORU's College of Theology and Ministry is excited to announce that we are opening the window for fall 2020 applications for its Ph.D. Program in Theology. The deadline for fall 2020 applications is 15 June 2020. This degree explores the contextual theologies of global Christianity with primary focus on the phenomenal growth and emerging scholarship within the global Spirit-empowered movement. It aims to equip scholars and practitioners to engage, impact, and serve the Kingdom of God.

 During the twentieth century, the geographical center of the church shifted from North America and Europe to the regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. Christians in the global South outnumber those in the Atlantic North. They also are no longer dependent on the West for the articulation of their theologies. Majority World Christians, of which a large segment are Pentecostals and Charismatics, are asking new questions about the way the Gospel intersects their cultures. While receiving a rich heritage from the Western church, theologians in the Majority World are making new and creative contributions attuned to their social locations. The literature on the globalization of Pentecostalism has grown in the past twenty years. Numerous studies have examined many issues surrounding the rise of non-Western theologies, including transnationalism, local religious traditions, and social engagement. We want to be part of the new thing that God is doing in global theological discourse.



The purpose of the PhD program is to contribute to the body of knowledge concerned with the growth of global Christianity and Spirit-empowered movements. The program addresses these six contemporary developments:

  • Current global shifts in Christianity. 
  • Academic studies of the integral relationship between Spirit-empowered Christianity and the growth of global Christianity 
  • Rising social engagement in Spirit-empowered movements and the widening range of cultural and social issues raised by academics and practitioners. 
  • The increasing interaction of Spirit-empowered movements with other religions. 
  • The heritage of ORU's global vision and theological heritage. 

Increase in the Holy Spirit’s movement amongst marginalized as opposed to inside the institutional church.

The program goals of the PhD in Theology are coordinated with specific learning outcomes that graduates of the program will be expected to demonstrate.

  • Goal 1: To enable students to acquire comprehensive knowledge of the disciplines of theological study with specialization in a particular area of study 
    • Outcome 1.1: Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in and a general mastery of their major area of specialization. 
    • Outcome 1.2: Demonstrate expertise in the specific area of theology by means of dissertation research.

  • G2. To provide students with the skills needed to engage in original research at the university and seminary level in their area of theological expertise and to contribute to the body of knowledge in the field through actionable research and publications.
    • O.2.1. Demonstrate a capacity to produce publication-worthy research and writing that contributes to the knowledge and advancement of the field 
    • O.2.2. Disseminate the findings of research through traditional and digital means.

  • G3. To engage students in a sustained exploration of the connections and interactions between the academic disciplines of theological studies and the practices of Christian ministry, mission, spirituality, and social engagement. 
    • O.3.1. Articulate knowledge of the interrelationships between the subject matter of Christian theology and the practices of Christian ministry and mission. O.3.2. Engage critically in theological reflection on Christian spirituality and social engagement.
    • G4. To equip students with pedagogical competencies that prepare them to teach and lead in their area of theological expertise in diverse academic and vocational contexts in local and global constituencies.

  • O.4.1. Demonstrate knowledge of learning theories and methods of assessment in order to help learners to think critically with global awareness and engagement. 
  • O.4.2. Demonstrate ability to teach and lead effectively in their area of concentration and in their chosen vocational context.

  • G5. To equip students to interpret and communicate knowledge with sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. 
    • O.5.1. Demonstrate an ability to interpret and to communicate knowledge from a charismatic perspective. 
    • O.5.2. Demonstrate an awareness of the distinctive characteristics of ORU’s constituency, the Spirit-empowered movement.  

Click here to view the PHD Student Handbook


The structure of the program is modular. This format allows students to remain in their teaching and ministry context as an integral part of the learning experience. This goal is achieved by combining intensive residential periods of instruction with instructor mentoring facilitated via cutting edge educational technology. Each Ph.D. course consists of three sections:

1. Pre-residency
2. Residency
3. Post-residency

All courses will run the length of a full semester in the fall, spring, and summer. A student’s schedule must allow for ongoing participation throughout the entire semester. Pre-residential assignments generally include pre-course reading assignments, the use of online resources, and engagement in online dialogues with his/her colleagues. During the on-site residency of five days, students will participate in academic dialogue with the professor and classmates during class hours and have the opportunity to utilize the library research facilities after class hours. Students will only come to the ORU campus during the residential portion of each course. Hence, it will be necessary for students to travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for one-week periods during designated semesters. Some courses will be conducted by means of virtual presence, e.g., online using interactive video hook-up. Post-residential assignments will include the submission of a major research paper.

Credit Hours:
Coursework: 39 credits
Assessment 2 credits
Dissertation 9 credits
Health & Physical Education 1 credit

Total: 51 credits

Contextual Theology Track

At present the program has only one track, with more to follow. The contextual theology track explores the contextual theologies of global Christianity. Contextual theology utilizes a method of doing theology that takes into account these four facets of theological reflection:

Inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit
History of Christian doctrine
Cultural context of a particular nation or region
Global trends in Spirit-empowered Christianity.
Attention will be given to connections and interactions between theological studies and the global explosion of Spirit-empowered Christianity. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is important for the dynamic engagement of Spirit-empowered Christians within the diverse contexts of the world. The outcome will be original research that produces contextual theologies, prepares graduates to teach in higher education, and equips practitioners to engage the world with the Christian message.


General requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of all Ph.D. program requirements. 
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25. 
  • In good standing at the seminary. 
  • Completion of the three levels of assessment courses. 
  • Completion of research language requirements. 
  • Successful completion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations.
  • Completion of an acceptable and approved Ph.D. dissertation proposal/prospectus.
  • Completion of an acceptable and approved Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Acceptable oral defense of the Ph.D. dissertation. 
  • Register for graduation by submitting graduation application by January 30 of the same year.
  • Approval to graduate from the Doctoral Studies Committee, Academic Affairs Committee, and Faculty

Specific requirements

  • Comprehensive Examination
    After the completion of coursework, the student shall register for the Comprehensive Exams. Comprehensive exams will cover material from the courses. The exams will be graded Pass with Honors, Pass, Pass with stipulations, and Fail. If a student fails he/she may petition the faculty to retake the exam(s). A second failure results in termination from the Ph.D. program. After the successful completion of the Comprehensive Exams the student will prepare and submit the Dissertation Proposal.
  • Dissertation Proposal
    Students will work closely with an assigned dissertation supervisor to prepare a clear, coherent, and original proposal that complies with the guidelines set forth in the Dissertation Handbook.

Proposals will be evaluated and the following assessments offered:

  • Accepted, no revisions 
  • Accepted with minor revisions 
  • In Process, significant changes needed
  • Rejected (This will be rare, especially as the student works with the adviser; however, there will be one opportunity for a resubmission within six months.)

With the successful completion and approval of the dissertation proposal, the student will be assigned a dissertation committee comprised of a faculty mentor and two faculty readers whose research expertise is directly related to the projected research identified in the proposal.

  • Dissertation
    A research dissertation advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in global academic and ministry contexts. The student will work closely with his or her supervisor on the writing of the dissertation and on the submission of individual chapters. The supervisor will give timely critique and feedback and the student will be expected to make the appropriate changes and edits. When the dissertation is completed, the student will submit the final draft for review by his or her readers, in preparation for the Oral Defense. 
  • Oral Defense
    When the student’s dissertation supervisor confirms that the dissertation is ready for review, the dissertation will then be submitted to the ORU copy editor, who will work with the student as he or she corrects any content and formatting errors. The dissertation will not officially be accepted by the dissertation committee until approved by the ORU copy editor.

After completion of the formatting of the dissertation, the student must submit a copy of the dissertation to each member of his or her dissertation committee and any outside reader(s) appointed by the committee. When the dissertation committee and the outside reader(s) deem that the student’s dissertation meets the standards of the academy, his or her oral defense will be scheduled at a time most convenient for both the student and the committee. Often the defense will be conducted residentially, but the defense can also be conducted via a long-distance (i.e., Skype, Robot, Zoom) conference phone call. The student’s defense will be open to the university if conducted in person.

The Dissertation Defense s will be evaluated and the following assessments offered:

  • Accepted with distinction, no revisions 
  • Accepted with minor revisions 
  • In Process, significant changes needed 
  • Rejected (This will be rare, especially as the student works with the adviser; however, there will be one opportunity for a resubmission within six months.)


The application for admission can be accessed in the Graduate School of Theology and Ministry page on the ORU website ( Applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee, which is chaired by the Associate Director and includes the Director and a faculty member.

The following materials are required for the application packet:

  • Completed application 
  • Official transcripts of previous academic record

Credit Hours
Admission to the program shall require 72 credit hours of master's level studies (such as an ATS Board of Commissioners-approved MDiv, or first graduate theological degree providing equivalent theological background, or an educational equivalent from an institution of higher education accredited by a U.S. agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or approved by a Canadian provincial quality assurance agency. Comparable degrees from institutions outside North America may be accepted provided schools can demonstrate that they meet the Standards of ATS Board-approved degrees.

Applicants with less than 72 credit hours can be admitted to the program with conditional acceptance. These applicants will have options for leveling up to 72 credit hours. They can register for master's level courses at ORU or at other accredited institutions. These classes can be residential, modular, or online. Applicants with 60 master's credits can register for ORU PhD theology classes while completing leveling.

A minimum GPA of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale is required.

Official transcripts must be received directly from all colleges and universities tendered in their original sealed envelopes (international students see below). This also includes all schools and institutes, accredited and unaccredited.

GRE Exam
Applicants to the PhD program must have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) no more than five years preceding the application date. Preference is given to those whose verbal score is in excess of 160 (600 paper-based) and whose analytical writing score is in excess of 5.0. However, as an exception to the rule, students applying for entrance into the PhD program may petition for exemption from the Graduate Record Exam. Students petitioning for GRE exemption must do the following:

The prospective student must complete the “Petition for Ph.D. Policy Exemption” form, summarizing the argument of his or her petition and providing supporting documentation (see below).
The petitioner must provide evidence as to why the Admission Committee should approve the exemption. Evidence may come in the form of a doctor’s note stipulating why a student cannot take the GRE or some other form which substantiates his or her petition.
The petitioner must submit substantial proof of academic ability. We require a writing sample of at least 3,000 words with proper referencing and engaging in a theological topic at a high academic level.
The petitioner should assess the level of his or her readiness for the rigor of research, writing, and exams in a Ph.D. program, in lieu of the data that would have been provided by the GRE.
Complete petitions should be submitted to the Ph.D. Program Office - The Admission Committee will review each petition and render a decision in a timely fashion. The petition form can be found here.

Biblical Languages requirement
Two terms of either biblical Hebrew or NT Greek will be required of all students. Those who have not taken two terms of a biblical language may be accepted into the program based on the condition that they complete the biblical language requirement before the end of the first year of PhD studies. Proficiency will be based on a passing grade of at least 70% on the final exam of Hebrew 2 or Greek 2. ORU will offer the required biblical language classes in a totally online format.

Modern research language proficiency
The student must demonstrate proficiency in a modern language (germane to his or her research) during the first two years of PhD studies. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the completion of 6 credit hours (college or graduate) of language study or by passing a language proficiency test with a score of at least 70%. Proficiency will be awarded via transcript or official results of a proficiency test.

Writing Sample
A writing sample of previous academic work is required. The writing sample should be at least 3,000 words with footnotes and bibliography, completed within the past 3 years and reflecting both the ability to complete independent research and a research interest appropriate to theological studies. This writing sample will be evaluated on the basis of the clarity of the thesis, ability to sustain an argument, critical engagement with pertinent primary and secondary sources, and compliance with academic form guidelines, (e.g., Turabian).

Vocational Essay
A vocational essay of at least 1,500 words will describe the applicant's sense of calling and purpose leading up to his or her decision to pursue PhD studies. The essay will include the following components: a) personal testimony and spiritual journey; b) sense of calling to ministry and leadership; c) reason for pursuing a PhD; and d) prospects for making an original contribution to an academic field.

Resume or CV
Please include academic interests, educational track record specifying degrees earned, employment history, a list of published works, and at least 3 references.

Research proposal
It is important that an applicant begins the process of selecting an area of specialization. In this essay of 500-1,000 words, the applicant should reflect on his or her research interests. What are some of the questions that the applicant would like to explore? Does the applicant have in mind areas of study that have the potential to develop into suitable topics for PhD research?

Four completed Letters of Recommendation are required. These must be submitted to ORU by the person submitting the reference.

1. Two academic references
2. One professional reference.
3. One personal recommendation from a non-relative or co-worker

Signed Honor Code
Payment of Application Fee
Applications and all required documents must be received by ORU's Office of Admissions by July 15, 2019, to be eligible for the fall term.


English Language Proficiency
Applicants whose first language is not English must provide an official record of scores earned on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Only test scores earned within two years preceding the submission date of the applicant's current application are acceptable. TOEFL overall scores of at least 100 (Internet-based) or 600 (paper), or IELTS overall scores of 7.0 meet the minimum English language entrance requirements. This requirement can be waived if applicant can produce a letter from the registrar where the student’s previous degree was pursued stating that English was the language in which the entire degree was earned.

International Student Financial Guarantee Form
All international students are required to document verification of their financial support for the first year of study. Support must be verified prior to the University issuing a FormI 20. This form is needed for an applicant to be issued a student visa. A new financial agreement form with verification of funds is required each year. The guarantor must guarantee to meet the actual expenses incurred for each year the applicant is enrolled at ORU

SEVIS Transfer Request
This form is required of international students in F-1 Status transferring to ORU from another U.S. school.

World Educational Services (WES)
All International students are required to use this or another NACES approved service for quick and accurate evaluation of transcripts. All transcripts must be submitted directly from your undergraduate and graduate institution to WES for evaluation. More information is available at and

These are the minimal requirements. The Admissions Committee selects applicants with the strongest qualifications. Candidates who do not meet minimal requirements in some areas but are exceptional in others may be accepted. The overall combination of strengths that the applicant brings to the program is assessed in the admissions process.


Tuition : $675 Per Graduate Credit Hour
General Fee: $360 Per Semester (full-time students)
Technology Fee: $154 Per Semester
Tuition deposit: $150 A one-time deposit charged upon acceptance of Ph.D. entry
Comprehensive exam fee: $550 Required for the student to sit PRFT 920 Mid-Level Assessment: Comprehensive exam.

Tuition and fees are provisional and subject to change. Full-time is considered 6 credit hours/semester for doctoral level programs. The following is an example of what a full-time student studying 6 credit hours can expect to pay the following for one semester.

Tuition: $4,050 (6 credit hours @ $675)
General fee: $360 (6 credit hours = full time)
Technology fee: $154
Total: $4,564

For more information about tuition and fees visit:

Students must anticipate the following additional costs for which they are responsible:

Costs incurred from buying books and class materials.
Expenditure during visits to ORU for the class sessions, e.g. board, travel, food, and any other costs.
The student must also pay a $550 to sit PRFT 920 Assessment 2: Comprehensive exam.
The student is also responsible for the printing, binding, copyrighting of their dissertation. See below (all prices are subject to change).
The estimated cost of purchasing graduation regalia is $145.14. For more information of graduation go to

Dissertation fees

A student must submit four copies of their dissertation. As an example, a student with a 300-page dissertation who wants it copyrighted is looking at the following estimated costs:

300 pages x 4: $168
4 x binding: $48
Copyrighting (1 time fee): $55
Total: $271

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