• Caleb Kaltenbach

Distance Learning Ph.D. Programs in the United States

Updated: May 17


****This page is regularly updated****


I'm currently writing a series of blog posts about earning theological and ministry degrees at a distance. I realize few will actually read these posts and even fewer will care, but my hope is that I'm able to help at least one person think about their next steps with education.


The doctoral programs I've listed below are of an academic nature and do not account for professional doctoral programs such as the DMin, EdD, DML, DIS, DSL, D.Ed.Min., DMiss, etc. One of the universities listed below is not a Christian university, but nonetheless, I believe their degree will help Christian leaders. A majority of professional doctoral degrees offered by Christian universities or seminaries are already set up as "distance learning" programs. When I say "distance learning" I'm referring to Ph.D. degrees that are earned through a combination of online classes, independent study classes, one or two-week-long intensive/modular classes, live-streaming classes, cohort format, etc. (sometimes "distance learning" is also referred to as "hybrid" or "hybrid learning"). A couple of the Ph.D. programs are offered 100% online, but those are few and far between. Regardless of the school's distance learning format, each of the following schools is accredited by regional accrediting agencies (HLC, WSCUC, SACSCOC, etc.) and/or national accrediting agencies (ATS, ABHE, TRACS, etc.).


Most educational institutions offering Ph.D.s have similar admissions requirements. Though the GRE is required for some programs, an increasing number of schools no longer require the GRE for admission into their religious/theological Ph.D. programs (schools like Boston University, Brown University, Princeton University, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, etc.).

Considering the advancement of technology, increase in relocation costs, and mindset shifts because of the global pandemic, I believe more Christian universities and seminaries (even the ivy league schools) will move towards making some (or all) of their Ph.D. concentrations accessible via distance learning. In any case, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. If you’re intrigued by what you read, glance at some of the other blog posts in this series: obtaining an overseas PhD, earning an overseas masters degree, and where to earn a 100% online masters degree.


Anderson University

*Doctorate offered 100% online

Ph.D. in Leadership (concentrations: Business or Church Ministry)


Andrews University

Ph.D. in Leadership or Religious Education


University of Arizona

Ph.D. in Organizational Development and Leadership


Baylor University (Truett Theological Seminary)

Ph.D. in Preaching


Biola University ( Cook School of Intercultural Studies -or- Talbot School of Theology)

Ph.D. in Educational Studies, Intercultural Education, or Intercultural Studies


California Baptist University

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies


Carolina University (John Wesley School of Leadership)

Ph.D. in Leadership (Educational Administration, Ministry Administration, or Organizational Management)


Clarks Summit University (Baptist Bible Seminary)

Ph.D. in (concentrations: Bible Exposition, New Testament, Old Testament, or Systematic Theology)


Columbia International University (Columbia Biblical Seminary)

*modified European model- 2 classes while the rest is research

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, Educational Leadership, Intercultural Studies, Organizational Leadership, Practical Theology, or Theological Studies:


Concordia University Chicago

PhD. in Leadership (concentrations: Curriculum & Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, Educational Technology, Gerontology, Health & Human Performance, Higher Education, Organizational Leadership, Reading Language & Literacy, Special Education, Sports Leadership, or Teacher Leadership)


Concordia University Irvine (The Townsend Institute for Leadership & Counseling)

Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision


Dallas Baptist University

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies (concentrations: Business, Higher Education, Ministry, or Leadership)

Eastern University

*No counseling degree prerequisite for the Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy

Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy or Organizational Leadership


Evangel University (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary)

Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation & Theology (concentrations: New Testament Introduction & Biblical Theology, Old Testament Interpretation & Biblical Theology, and Biblical Exegesis & Systematic Theology) and Intercultural Studies (Missiological Studies or Relief & Development)

Evangelical Seminary (part of the Kairos Network with Sioux Falls Seminary)

*Their Th.D. is in-between a Ph.D. and D.Min., but I still listed it as academic

Th.D. in Biblical, Contextual, Historical, Missional, Next Generation Apologetics, Personhood, Restorative, Science & Christianity, or Semiotics


Faulkner University (Kearley Graduate School of Theology)

*MPhil degree earned en route to Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (emphasis in either Old Testament or New Testament)


Fuller Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Theological Studies (concentrations: Christian Ethics, Church History & Historical Theology, Liturgical Theology, Public Theology, Political Theology, Practical Theology, Systematic Theology, or Theology & Culture) or Intercultural Studies (concentrations: Anthropology, Bible & Mission, Children at Risk, History of World Christianity, International Development, Islamic Studies, Leadership, Migration Studies, Mission Theology, Missional Church, or Church & Society)


Gateway Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (concentrations: Old Testament or New Testament) or Theology (concentrations: Historical Theology or Systematic Theology)

Indiana Wesleyan University

Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership


Johnson University

PhD. in Leadership Studies (concentrations: Educational Leadership, Missional Leadership, Organizational Leadership, or Philosophy & Theology of Leadership)


Lancaster Bible College (Capital Bible Seminary)

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies or Leadership

Liberty University (Rawlings Divinity School)

*Doctorate offered 100% online

Ph.D. in Bible Exposition, Organizational Leadership, or Theology & Apologetics

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling & Education, Church History, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Practical Theology, or Theology


Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Apologetics, Biblical Counseling, Biblical Theology, Ethics, Historical Theology, Ministry, Missiology, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, or Systematic Theology


New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

*ThM degree earned en route to PhD

Ph.D. in Biblical Exposition, Biblical Interpretation, Christian Apologetics, Christian Education, Christian Leadership, Counselor Education and Supervision, Evangelism, New Testament, Old Testament, Theology


Oral Roberts University

Ph.D. in Contextual Theology


Pepperdine University

Ph.D. in Global Leadership & Change


Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, Historical Theology, or Systematic Theology

Regent University (Regent Divinity School)

Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies (focuses in Biblical Counseling, Marriage & Family Ministry, and Pastoral Counseling), Education (Christian Education Leadership), Organizational Leadership or Renewal Theology

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Apologetics & Culture, Applied Theology (concentrations: North American Missiology or International Missiology), Biblical Counseling, Biblical Studies (concentrations: Old Testament, New Testament, or Biblical Theology), Christian Leadership, Historical Theology, Preaching, Systematic Theology, Theological Studies (concentrations: Historical Theology, Philosophy of Religion, Christian Ethics, Public Theology, or Systematic Theology), Theology & Worship


Southeastern University

Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership


The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

*ThM degree earned en route to Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Apologetics, Biblical Counseling, Biblical Spirituality, Biblical Studies, Christian Ethics, Christian Philosophy, Educational Leadership, Evangelism, Historical & Theological Studies, Missions, Preaching, World Religions, or Worship.


Southern Evangelical Seminary

Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion


Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

*Most of the degree is offered using the FLEX format

Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling, Christian Education, Christian Ethics, Church History & Historical Theology, Church Music & Worship, Evangelism, Family & Generational Studies, Great Commission Apologetics, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Pastoral Studies, Philosophy of Religion, Preaching, Systematic Theology, or World Christian Studies.


Trinity International University (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

Ph.D. in Educational Studies or Intercultural Studies