GTU Adopts New Doctoral Program Curriculum

The Graduate Theological Union has adopted a new doctoral curriculum beginning in fall 2016 that builds on the strengths of the existing program while enhancing opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and interreligious conversation among students and faculty.

Dean Arthur Holder says, “With this new curriculum, the faculty is making the doctoral program more responsive to the diverse research interests and religious commitments that students bring to the GTU. Graduates of the program will now be even better prepared for their vocations of teaching, ministry, and service. And the streamlined exam structure will help them complete the program more quickly.”

Students applying to enter the PhD and ThD programs at the GTU in fall 2016 will be able to choose their fields of study from among more than thirty concentrations grouped into four interdisciplinary departments:

  • Sacred Texts & Their Interpretation: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Hindu Sacred Texts, Islamic Sacred Texts, New Testament, Rabbinic Literature
  • Historical & Cultural Studies of Religion: Anthropology of Religion, Art and Religion, Buddhist Studies, Christian Spirituality, Comparative Religion, History of Christianity, Hindu Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, New Religious Movements, Religion and Literature, Sociology of Religion
  • Theology & Ethics: Aesthetics, Christian Theology, Comparative Ethics, Comparative Theology, Ethics, Hindu Theology, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, Philosophical Theology, Theology & Science
  • Religion & Practice: Homiletics, Liturgical Studies, Missiology, Practical Theology, Religious Education

All students will take an introductory course on methods in the study of religion, a course on the art of teaching, and an interdisciplinary departmental seminar. Each student will work with a faculty advisor with expertise in the primary concentration to design an approach to additional course work at the GTU, the University of California, Berkeley, and other Bay Area schools. As in the current curriculum, proficiency in at least two research languages other than English will be required.

After completing coursework, the student will take four comprehensive exams that cover the 1) student’s primary concentration, 2) a secondary concentration, 3) a university discipline outside of theology and religious studies (or for ThD students, a tertiary concentration within theology), and 4) the background for the dissertation.

UPDATE - November 3: The academic sections of the GTU Website have been revised with more detailed information about the new doctoral curriculum, including pages for each department and concentration with links to the pages of related faculty.Interested students are encouraged to contact the Admissions Office to find out how to apply and explore which concentration might suit them best. Please call 800/826-4488 or 510/649-2460, or e-mail