PhD in Theological Studies Launches at Gordon-Conwell

Gordon-Conwell Launches Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies (PhD)

PhD banner featuring a student studying at the end of an aisle of library books.

Following approval from the Association of Theological Schools, the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary announces the launch of its first academic doctoral program. The Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies (PhD) will prepare global Christian leaders to conduct rigorous scholarship and teach theological studies while also cultivating spiritual depth and personal integrity. Prospective students may begin reviewing program information at, and applications for the inaugural Fall 2025 class will open this August.

For decades, Gordon-Conwell has offered a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program, the highest professional degree for men and women already successfully engaged in ministry. The PhD is an academic doctoral path that primarily seeks to support faculty development for seminaries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. It was developed as a response to the growing need for academicians to equip leaders for the Church in the Global South, as well as a response to the seminary’s strategic plan that emphasizes magnifying high academic standards, deepening spiritual and character formation in students, and extending global, missional engagement.

“Since our founding in 1969, we have equipped over 12,000 alumni to serve in more than 100 countries worldwide,” said President Scott W. Sunquist, who will also serve as a PhD program supervisor. “The launch of our PhD ushers in a new beginning for Gordon-Conwell that is firmly anchored in our historic commitment to the full development of our students, for the full flourishing of the global Church.”

“What makes our PhD unique is the integration of scholarly and theological formation with spiritual formation,” adds Dr. Adonis Vidu, PhD program director and Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology. “We believe in theology ‘done on one’s knees,’ and we envision a discipleship-like relationship between students and their faculty supervisors. We want to equip our student scholars to invest in the spiritual development of their future students and the Church through the academy.”

During the application process, students will select a faculty supervisor and either the Theology/Ethics or Mission/World Christianity concentration. They will work closely with their dedicated faculty supervisor for the duration of their studies, with coursework and dissertation work happening uniquely in tandem. Gordon-Conwell’s PhD faculty supervisors include Dr. Gwenfair Adams, Dr. Glenn Butner, Dr. Donald Fairbairn, Dr. Todd Johnson, Dr. Autumn Ridenour, President Scott Sunquist, Dr. Adonis Vidu, and Dr. Xiyi Yao. Collectively, their expertise spans Medieval and Byzantine theology to contemporary missiology, and ancient Asian Christianity to theological, philosophical, and social ethics.

Because of the seminary’s commitment to residential theological education and vibrant community life, the four-year PhD in Theological Studies begins with a two-year residency on Gordon-Conwell’s residential campus in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Upon completion of their residency and comprehensive exams, students return to their context to finish their dissertations.

President Sunquist shares that helping students graduate debt-free is another distinctive of the program. “We want our PhD graduates to be unburdened by debt, so we will have full-tuition fellowships for domestic students through the Partnership Program—a one-of-a-kind program focused on teams of prayer and financial support—as well as limited full fellowships for international students who demonstrate financial need.”

There will be a maximum of seven students admitted into the program per year. Those interested in receiving more information can visit the Theological Studies PhD page.