Director: Donald C. Guthrie, EdD

Purpose and Nature of the Program

The PhD (Educational Studies) Program is designed to further the development of leaders already serving in organizations such as higher education institutions, mission agencies, congregations, parachurch agencies, and relief and development agencies. The PhD/EDS supports an interdependent learning community comprised of leaders from a variety of cultures, countries, and backgrounds.

Program Outcomes:

Students graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Studies will be able to:

  • conduct research as an educational leader
  • collaborate as an educational colleague
  • reflect theologically as a practitioner
  • engage complex cultural frameworks as a global Christian

Core Competencies

Three foundational areas of professional competency provide the academic focus of the program: developing a research mindset and skill base; thinking as an educational leader; and theologically reflecting about educational issues against a broadly cultural and missiological framework. The intentional linkages between the PhD (Educational Studies) and the PhD (Intercultural Studies) provide opportunity to relate principles from theology and the social sciences to education, mission, and leadership.

Program Values

The international EDS learning community practices a fundamental commitment to and reliance on God’s truth as revealed in the Bible and Jesus Christ, God’s redemptive purposes in Christ, and the sustaining work of the Holy Spirit. The EDS community seeks to act on the reality that all persons are created in God’s image. Participants engage one another professionally, academically, and personally. They share resources and ideas and consult one another concerning specific issues and situations related to their ministry. The program style is collaborative rather than competitive, and mutual respect for colleagues and the diversity of perspectives is evident.

Learning is seen as lifelong, formal and nonformal in context, linear and narrative in approach, and participatory. The interdependence of theory and practice, the processes of dialogue and disciplined inquiry, and the integration of theology and the social sciences are viewed as normative. Faculty are committed to the effective progress and completion of the participants and, through the experiences of the program, seek to foster the cultivation of sustainable habits in thought, spirit, relationship, and service.

The Learning Culture

The appropriate outcome of doctoral education is seen to be the development of refined, sustainable habits of scholarship and professional leadership. Participants are expected to enter fully into the community of scholarship: giving and receiving ideas, information, sources and materials; entering fully into seminar discussions; and participating constructively in open hearings—their own and their colleagues’ oral comprehensive examination, presentation of the research proposal, and dissertation defense.

Participants are expected to read and research with a view to making a contribution to the literature of the field and to ongoing discourse—with doctoral colleagues and other academic professionals. Much that is written in the program should be considered as potentially publishable. Participants are encouraged to use the network of seminary and university libraries in the Chicago area and to engage the members of this international community in discussion about research and writing projects.

The dissertation research design that undergirds the PhD/EDS program presumes that a substantial base of descriptive research is necessary to generate hypotheses that will ultimately be explored through experimental studies. It is our perspective that experimental research conducted without a substantial base in description and inquiry is impoverished. Participants in the TEDS PhD/EDS program have generated a substantial body of dissertations, most of which have been descriptive or theological/historical in format. We will continue to encourage descriptive research as the primary mode of inquiry, but with appropriate guidance experimental studies could be built on these emerging categories of research findings.

The preferred learning environment is one that fosters a community in which all participants, students and faculty alike, are engaged in further development. It is also inherent in the program’s philosophy of cooperative learning that healthy interpersonal relationships enhance the academic endeavor. Therefore, faculty and participants, along with family and friends, are invited to take advantage of scheduled and spontaneous opportunities for social fellowship.

Program Design

Many PhD/EDS participants are involved in the program during sabbatical or other educational leaves from their place of service. Admission requirements presuppose that the applicant has completed one or more graduate degrees and has had substantial recent experience in an educational ministry. Relatively few participants are in major career transitions.

The PhD/EDS is designed as a program of 4-5 academic years (60 semester hours). Full-time participants may complete seminar work in two years followed by a year of comprehensive exam and proposal preparation and a year of dissertation research. The recommended full-time enrollment is 9 semester hours each term. The program operates on a year-round basis, with full-load enrollment available in each of two semesters and, normally, summer. Completion of 18 hours constitutes one academic year. Program seminars are offered in two-week modular, week-long modular and weekend formats.

The program incorporates particular conceptual areas to stimulate the participants’ professional capacities in research and educational leadership. Participants are challenged to integrate faith and learning at every step of the program as they engage these conceptual areas through a variety of experiences and academic seminars

The courses are threaded together in such a way that the broad foundational courses introduce subject areas that participants may examine more intensively in the primary elective focus areas. Thus, the 1, 2, and 3 credit elective courses provide opportunities to focus even more specifically on areas of interest previously studied in the foundational courses. 

Foundations of Education

Participants examine educational issues through theological, historical, and social science frameworks to gain foundational perspectives on the contemporary tasks of educational leadership. Through theology, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, adult education, and organizational development participants engage educational concerns at fundamental levels of perspective and analysis, always with a view toward contemporary practice in a variety of cultural settings.

Primary Elective Focus Areas

Participants have the option of concentrating in one of the following focus areas: educational ministry in the local church; teaching and learning; leadership and organizational development; and contemporary issues. However, participants have freedom, in consultation with the program director, to configure their electives to best cultivate their interests as educational leaders.

Teaching Practicum

Participants design, teach and evaluate two (1) credit electives or one (2) credit elective under the supervision of an EDS faculty member. Practicum teachers will have already achieved candidacy, will teach in their research areas, and will often team teach these elective courses with EDS faculty members or other similarly qualified participant colleagues. 

Research in Education

Participants demonstrate a disciplined way of looking at the world: people, structures, societies, and institutions. The research seminars fulfill three basic purposes:

  1. the explication of research concepts and the basis for research method;
  2. the development of skills in research methodology; and
  3. foundations in literature.

For additional information on the design of the program and its requirements, see the EDS Handbook for Participants.

Instructional Modes

The Doctoral Seminar

The core of the formal course instruction is the seminar experience. The assumption is that ideas are not one’s own until they can be shaped into one’s own language and used in disciplined conversations. To facilitate dialogue, the instructor may provide for a common base of reading and reference by assigning preparatory work. Where required, participants are expected to have read assigned literature and other materials before the first seminar session.

Independent study

Reading Courses and Guided Research Courses may be taken by agreement with the faculty concerned. Since the ethos of the program is that of a learning community, we discourage independent study unless it is necessary. Independent studies will be approved for participants who have completed at least one semester in the program (or 9 credit hours of completed work), who have demonstrated the ability to read with understanding and to write lucidly, and who have submitted an appropriate proposal for the independent inquiry.

Nonformal experiences

Opportunities to engage in experiences that are outside the normal program are frequently possible. For example, professional conferences, ad hoc meetings with visiting scholars, and interdepartmental consultations are often part of the participants’ learning and professional development. These experiences may become a for-credit wrap-around option when they can be related to a seminar.

Residency Requirement

Courses, seminars, and colloquia for the PhD/EDS degree are normally completed on Trinity’s Bannockburn campus.

A residency requirement in academic research doctoral programs serves the following purposes for the participant:

  • Time to research and reflect upon the body of literature related to the dissertation topic.
  • Time for significant work on the doctoral dissertation itself. The search, selection, and refinement of a research problem and the building of a research design require concentrated interaction with faculty, colleagues, and other resources.
  • Intensive contact with faculty and colleagues in the program who provide the intellectual environment conducive to further professional development and sense of professional responsibility as a community of scholar/practitioners.
  • Opportunity for involvement in a variety of professional activities.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the PhD/EDS program are required to:

  1. Have earned an appropriate master’s degree (totaling at least 36 semester hours) with a strong representation of biblical and theological studies from an institution maintaining academic standards similar to those of TEDS. In particular, graduate work must reflect an acceptable amount of coursework in the biblical/theological disciplines (normally understood as at least 18 hours). Moreover, applicants must have completed at least 18 semester hours of graduate coursework in Educational Ministries and/or a related Social Sciences field relevant to the PhD/EDS program. In special circumstances, applicants with exceptional qualities or backgrounds may be permitted to apply without the aforementioned requirements reflected on their transcripts.
  2. Present evidence of potential for original research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of published writing or a recent academic research paper if nothing has been published.
  3. Have completed at least four years of vocational experience in ministry with evidence of relevant gifts and abilities. Preference is given to applicants in a leadership position commensurate with the degree and to applicants who demonstrate that the PhD will contribute in particular ways to continued development in their ministry.
  4. Give evidence of a superior intellectual ability in all previous accredited graduate studies. Whereas previous academic performance is considered seriously, we are also concerned about the applicant’s capacity for substantive academic and professional interaction with colleagues in the program.
  5. Have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in previous graduate studies.
  6. Submit a test score from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), preferably the latter, which will be taken into consideration among other factors in the application. Applicants whose first language is not English should also submit scores less than two years old from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in addition to the MAT or GRE.

Special Instructions for International Applicants

All international PhD/EDS program students, including students from Canada, are now required to enter the United States with an F-1 visa. PhD/EDS residential students (i.e., living in Bannockburn and registered for full-time attendance) must comply with the same visa requirements as residential master’s-level applicants (see Admissions section).

PhD/EDS nonresidential students (i.e., commuting to the Bannockburn Campus for each modular class) must also obtain an F-1 visa. F-1 visas will remain valid as long as reentry into the United States for the purposes of study occurs at least once every five months. A new visa will be required if reentry does not occur within this time period.

In order for a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) to be issued for PhD/EDS nonresidential students, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Applicants whose first language of instruction is not English must demonstrate English Language competency as measured by a qualifying score on the TOEFL.
  2. Applicants must be admitted to the PhD/EDS program as a nonresidential student.
  3. Applicants must submit a special PhD/EDS nonresidential Certification of Finances.

Admission Deficiencies

Participants lacking the prerequisites for entry into the PhD/EDS degree program (i.e., those holding master’s degrees with hours in a prescribed area deemed as insufficient), as determined in the application process, have several options for filling such deficiencies. Deficiencies need not be completed before beginning the PhD/EDS program, but must be fulfilled by the time 18 hours of coursework have been completed. Subsequent to admission, master’s-level work completed toward the fulfillment of deficiencies must be graded a “B-” or higher to qualify for fulfillment of deficiencies. Participants have several options for fulfilling such deficiencies as outlined in the EDS Handbook.

Advanced Standing and Transfer Credit

Advanced standing and transfer credit is not normally given for PhD doctoral study except as planned in advance in consultation with the director of the program.

Candidacy Requirements

Admission to the PhD/EDS program does not guarantee acceptance into candidacy for the degree. One of the primary tasks in the doctoral program is to assess the development of competencies and sustainable habits so the participant achieves candidacy and completes the program. This assessment takes place through the successful completion of courses, a comprehensive examination and the dissertation. See the EDS Handbook for Participants for further details on the comprehensive examinations and the dissertation.

To achieve candidacy, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Fulfillment of all deficiencies and prerequisites indicated as conditions for admission
  2. After the doctoral participant completes 18 credit hours, the program director will conduct a progress review with the participant to determine continuance feasibility. The review will have three possible outcomes: continuance, continuance with a negotiated progress plan, or non-continuance. If the participant receives a continuance with a negotiated progress plan, the participant will meet with the program director no later than after 28 credits hours are completed for another review to determine continuance feasibility. If at this time, the participant has made insufficient progress, the participant will receive a non-continuance outcome and be recommended to the ThM degree.
  3. Completion of 52 credit hours, including all seminars, comprehensive exams, and dissertation proposal preparation, with a grade of “B-” or higher in each seminar
  4. A cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or better
  5. Satisfactory completion of Comprehensive Examinations and the Dissertation Proposal, along with any conditions
  6. Acceptance of the Protection of Human Rights in Research Protocol

The Dissertation

The dissertation is to be a major work based on the empirical investigation of a well-defined and significant problem. This important component of the program is to include a substantial review of the research and conceptual literature underlying the inquiry. Courses appropriate to the mode of research proposed for the dissertation are required prior to the open hearing in which the dissertation proposal is presented. Appropriate procedures, based upon relevant theological, ethnographic, historiographic, or social science methodologies are to be used. The research is to focus on a specific problem in reference to a matter of human development, learning, institutional issues, decision making, culture and education, and so on.

The purpose of the dissertation is to demonstrate competency in research skills, to serve as the culmination of doctoral study, and to make a significant original contribution to the field. Findings must have potential value as contributions to the knowledge base in the field of educational ministry, broadly defined. The participant’s approach should be positive and constructive. The proposal must be approved by the Dissertation Advisory Committee and all procedures used with human subjects approved by the Human Rights in Research Committee before data collection may begin.

A final oral examination of the dissertation is conducted by the Dissertation Advisory Committee. It is in the form of an open hearing, which includes faculty and peers.

Graduation Requirements

Candidates for the PhD/EDS degree are required to satisfy the following graduation requirements:

  1. Recommendation by the faculty of eligibility for the degree on the basis of academic stature and evidence of Christian life and character during their time in the program.
  2. Successful completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours of approved coursework with a minimum cumulative grade point average for program coursework of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale), with no grade below “B-” applicable to the degree. A maximum of 20 percent of the coursework for the degree may be done through guided research or reading courses.
  3. Successful completion of the comprehensive written and oral examinations and dissertation proposal.
  4. Successful acquisition of candidacy.
  5. Submission of the Application for Graduation form to the Records Office.
  6. Successful completion and defense of an approved dissertation that exhibits the candidate’s ability to do competent research, to think critically, and to communicate effectively.
  7. Completion of all requirements for the degree within seven years from matriculation, or completion of additional program requirements as outlined under Statute of Limitations and Program Continuation.
  8. Settlement of all financial obligations to Trinity and any other ACTS seminaries with the Office of Student Financial Services.

Leave of Absence

For extraordinary reasons (prolonged illness, serious family crisis, unusual work situation), a doctoral participant may be granted a leave of absence from the program. Request for a leave of absence is to be submitted in writing to the program director and the ADC for consideration. The letter must include the reason(s) for the requested leave of absence and be submitted during the circumstance, or as soon as possible after the event. A leave of absence may be granted on more than one occasion but not to exceed two years in total. Once approved, the leave of absence will not be counted against the program statute of limitations (seven years). Similarly, the leave of absence will suspend the time related to continuation fees.

Statute of Limitations and Continuation Fees

All program requirements (coursework and dissertation) for the degree are to be completed within seven years from matriculation. As long as the candidate is registered in each succeeding semester until the seventh year, continuation fees are not assessed. Since an approved proposal is one of the requirements for achieving candidacy, even if all other work is completed, continuous enrollment in the dissertation proposal preparation “course” qualifies for continuous enrollment.

If a PhD participant completes the fifth year of his or her program without achieving candidacy, continuation fees are assessed. As soon as the participant completes all requirements, applies for and is granted candidacy, continuation fees cease. The continuation fee is assessed for each successive semester not enrolled for courses, excluding summer. It is the responsibility of the participant to apply for candidacy once all conditions have been satisfied.

Participants who are convinced that they will be unable to finish in seven years may apply in writing prior to the end of the seventh year for a program extension, which will give up to a maximum of three further years for degree completion. Ordinarily, program extensions will be granted only to students who have completed the comprehensive examination. The application must include a timetable which will serve as the contract for completion of all work required for the degree. An extension will be granted only in exceptional circumstances and at the recommendation of the program director. Continuation fees are assessed until the dissertation is accepted. If the work for the degree is not completed within the contracted period, the participant will be dismissed from the program and must reapply. There is no guarantee that the participant will be readmitted—and if he or she is readmitted, further coursework may be required.

Program Withdrawal

In the rare occurrence that a doctoral participant may find it necessary to withdraw from the degree program, he or she must notify both the Academic Doctoral Office and the Records Office in writing of the desired change in program status. All fees accrued prior to program withdrawal are still payable in full.

PhD/EDS Program Minors

Qualified participants in the PhD/EDS program may take a 9-semester-hour minor in either the PhD/ICS or the PhD/THS programs. Qualified participants should:

  1. demonstrate strong master’s-level preparation in their primary field of study and
  2. secure permission for the minor and the courses to be applied toward the minor from their Program Director and from the director of the program in which they wish to do a minor.

The 9-semester-hour minor is completed in the Primary Elective Focus Area component of the degree.

Program of Study

The program of studies for the PhD/EDS is developed in light of the values, conceptual areas, and core competencies articulated above.

EDS Orientation
ES 9110Orientation to EDS Doctoral Studies1
Foundations in Education
ES 9700Biblical and Theological Formation of the Educator3
ES 9750Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education3
ES 9500Psychological and Sociological Foundations of Education3
ES 9175Leadership and the Development of Organizations3
ES 9200Adult Learning Foundations3
ES or MEInter-Cultural Studies Course3
Primary Elective Focus Areas with sample courses listed
Select 18-24 hours18-24
Educational Ministry in the Local Church:
Local Church as System
Intergenerational Education
Developmental Issues of Children, Youth, or Adults
Program Planning Dynamics in the Local Church
Teaching and Learning:
Curriculum Theory and Design
Teaching in Higher Education
Ethics in Education
Leadership and Organizational Development:
Higher Education Administration
Developing Emerging Leaders
Developing Collaborative Teams
Contemporary Issues in:
Current Issues in Educational Studies
Professional Development Practicum
Research in Education
ES 9910Foundations in Social Science Literature 13
ES 9915Social Science Research Design3
ES 9920Qualitative Research Methods3
Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation Preparation
ES 9990Dissertation Proposal Preparation0-3
ES 9975Comprehensive Exam Preparation0-3
Dissertation Research (a total of 8 hours of dissertation research is required.)
Total Hours60

EDS participants may take zero to three semesters of Comprehensive Exam Preparation and zero to three semesters of Dissertation Proposal Preparation in order to meet the 0-3 credit hours required for each course. EDS participants may take between two and six semesters of Dissertation Research to meet the 8 credit hour requirement, with no more than 6 hours being taken in a given semester.