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Differences Between a ThD and a PhD

ThD vs PhD

When it comes to theology, both a ThD and a PhD are equivalent degrees. The U.S. National Science Foundation considers the ThD and PhD to be equivalent doctorate programs. There’s no higher degree of study or accomplishment.

“ThD” stands for “Doctor of Theology” while “PhD” stands for “Doctor of Philosophy.” Though the ThD and PhD are equivalent doctorate programs, the main difference between the ThD from the PhD is that it is concentrated more on studying about Christian theology. On the other hand, a PhD is a doctorate program that may not only focus on studying Christian theology. Instead, a PhD may also cover other religions and practices.

It has been said that when it comes to education and future opportunities, both the ThD and the PhD can provide your same needs. The ThD and PhD also differ in which schools administer these types of doctorate programs. The college of religion or college of divinity of a particular university is the only one that can administer the ThD program; whereas the PhD program can be offered by colleges of liberal arts or humanities.

In order to take the ThD, you need an M. Div as a prerequisite; while in order to take the PhD, you need an MA as a prerequisite. It is also said that taking a ThD is far cheaper than taking a PhD. In this regard, some say that it is better to take a ThD since it still offers the same educational degree as that of the PhD. In some universities, the cost of undergoing the ThD program is less than a $3,000 than that of the cost of studying for a PhD.

If you are going to acquire a ThD, it specializes in the field of Christianity. This may include early Christian studies, the history of Christianity, the Old Testament and the New Testament. In some universities, the ThD program also covers the broad field of the ministries of Christian communities. On the other hand, if you are going to acquire a PhD, the students can choose from specialized fields which may not involve Christianity. The students are free to have their specialization in other religions such Islam and Hinduism. The PhD program offers courses that include a vast selection of the world’s different religions. Though both the ThD and PhD may cover different specialized areas, both doctorate programs are designed to prepare the students for various job opportunities like research and teaching.

Since you are pursuing a doctorate program on theology, you should be at least knowledgeable reading scholarly texts. For both the ThD and PhD degrees, the students are required to be proficient in two modern languages. This is in preparation for reading and interpreting scholarly texts. To be able to enter either of the doctorate programs, you need to be proficient first in one language. In terms of getting proficient with the second language, you can learn it during the first year of your graduate study. Another required language to learn is ancient languages because the early records and history of theology are mostly written in Hebrew and Greek.


  1. “ThD” stands for “Doctor of Theology” while “PhD” stands for “Doctor of Philosophy.”
  2. Both the ThD and PhD are equivalent doctorate programs as recognized by the U.S. National Foundation. Meaning, there is no higher degree and both are equal.
  3. The ThD covers only Christian theology while the PhD can cover specialization areas in Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism. A PhD does not only concentrate on the Christian religion.
  4. In order to take the ThD, you need an M. Div as a prerequisite, while in order to take the PhD, you need an MA as a prerequisite.
  5. Since you are pursuing a doctorate program in theology, you should be at least knowledgeable for reading scholarly texts.

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  • 1 Comment

    1. Can you get both degrees or would this be redundant?

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