Teaching the Teachers

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Teaching the Teachers

Franciscan’s PhD in Theology Program will launch fall 2024.

Winter 2024 | Jessica Walker

In This Article

After theology was introduced as a major at Franciscan University in 1976, it quickly grew to become the largest undergraduate theology program at any Catholic college in the United States. Now, almost 50 years later, hundreds of students each year are educated and formed through Franciscan University’s on-campus and online programs in theology and catechetics. They go forth to work in parishes and dioceses, serve as youth ministers, and evangelize wherever God calls them.

But the current crisis in faith calls for even more. It calls for more faithful teachers of the teachers. It calls for professors, religious, and priests at universities and seminaries who are well-equipped to pass on the fullness of the Catholic faith to other disciples who, in turn, will teach and preach around the world.

Franciscan University is ready to answer that call. It will welcome its first students to its new PhD in Theology Program in fall 2024.

“At Franciscan University, we have a wonderful legacy of providing faithfully Catholic undergraduate and graduate programs in theology and catechetics,” says Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Stephen Hildebrand. “The PhD in Theology Program builds upon our strengths and allows us to deepen and broaden our contribution to higher education, theological scholarship, and the Church.”

“We have this beautiful mission of the University to evangelize to the ends of the earth. In academia, one of the most significant ways to do that is by bringing the Gospel to the people who are going to teach the teachers,” says Dr. Jacob Wood, the director of the PhD in Theology Program. “Franciscan University’s doctoral program emphasizes the studying of theology by returning to the sources of the theological tradition and encountering them anew for the service of the Church today.”

Students can earn a doctorate in sacred theology and specialize in one of five concentrations: systematic theology, historical theology, moral theology, biblical theology, and catechetics.

An average course of study will be approximately five years, with two years of coursework in graduate-level classes and doctoral seminars, followed by several years of dissertation work. At the program’s outset, two doctoral students will receive complete tuition remission and an annual stipend; a limited number of additional students will also be accepted.

Wood notes the program provides a threefold formation: formation in theological research from the heart of the Church, formation in teaching, and human formation through mentoring relationships with Franciscan University’s theology faculty. This faculty includes esteemed scholars in topics such as the theology of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Theology of the Body, and more.

“There’s a great hunger in the Church for formation in the Catholic faith that is faithful, vibrant, robust, and alive. Only the Lord can ultimately satisfy that hunger, but he calls us to cooperate with him,” Wood says. “What the doctoral program gives us the opportunity to do is to form the workers for the vineyard, which will help us pursue our mission in Christ at an even greater level.”


For more information, contact the Admissions Office at 800-783-6220 or [email protected].

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