Theology Doctorate


I am thinking about getting a doctorate in theology, but I am not very good at learning languages, and every doctoral program I’ve looked at requires demonstrating reading proficiency in 3-5 languages (typically Greek, German, French, and either Latin or Hebrew depending on whether you’re specializing in Scripture). Are there any alternatives that are less intensive in their foreign language requirements?


It largely depends upon what it is you aspire to and what it is you hope to do with the degree.

If your intention is to commit your life to the academy, the knowledge of the languages is paramount because of the research that will be part of your life as an academic beyond lecturing – provided, of course, you are a committed academic – and the mentoring of your students would be impoverished without the languages. How can one supervise a student writing a thesis on a German theologian when you yourself are not expert in German?

If, on the other hand, your interest is attaining a terminal degree with the focus of your work being outside the academy…yes, there are other options.

I note you live in Delaware. Before I retired, I was made aware of what was then a new program in the United States at The Catholic University of America; it was just beginning…a professional degree and not a research degree. It was, as I recall, a D. Min. instead of the Ph.D. or the S.T.D. The Americans also have the Ed.D., which is again more professionally oriented.

I seem to remember the D.Min. having minimal to no language requirements – which is extraordinary to a European – but I have little experience with these American degrees and you would need to assess with an adviser there, in your country, if these degrees would coincide with your career aspirations.


Some schools are also more rigorous in their expectations of those same courses than other schools. The introductory Koine classes at the Biblicum are probably going to be more intense than at the average U.S. seminary, for instance. Some relevant institutions are linked with each other, and you could possibly do the language courses at an easier school. And actually, for many places they don’t even necessarily need to be affiliated!

Consider there are two entirely separate kinds of doctorate as well - secular and pontifical. Again, depending on what your timeline is and what you are looking to achieve, you’d want to figure out which you ought to seek.

If money is a concern… Consider coming to Europe. Some of the pontifical universities are basically free by American standards.


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