The doctoral degree, established in 1984, is offered within the Department of Christian Education at Talbot School of Theology.
The Ed.D. degree program in Educational Studies is designed to equip the "leader-teacher" to give leadership in educational ministry settings and to teach in higher education settings. The program involves two and a half years of coursework (45 units), a candidacy exam, and a dissertation. The program is designed to be able to be completed in three and a half to four years in the residential program and five to five and a half years in the hybrid-residential program.
Students come to the program already having completed a graduate degree and with significant ministry experience in the field of educational ministry. In general, doctoral students are established within a particular ministry organization and return following completion of the program. A few students are in transition in their career path. The curriculum particularly encourages critical thinking, integrative synthesis of Scripture and social science data, and original research.
Courses typically follow a graduate seminar format requiring student initiative for significant participation in class discussion. Small class sizes of 6-12 students permit such a dialogical format, an important element for promoting critical and integrative thinking.
Program Areas of Study
In consultation with the program advisor, the student designs a program (24-semester-unit minimum) in light of educational background and vocational and research interests.
Students can study in several areas of faculty expertise, including:
Christian Higher Education
Leadership and Administration
Teaching Foundations and Processes
Note: In selecting a program of study, students may incorporate any electives offered (consult the twoyear projected schedule of courses). In addition, sufficient latitude in designing elective course assignments permits students to pursue a variety of research interests. Courses are usually offered on a rotating basis every two or three years.
The Ed.D. degree program is offered in the normal residential format, or with a hybrid residential format.
Courses are offered on campus in fall (late August to mid-December) and spring (February through May) semesters. A normal full-time load is three courses, or nine units of coursework. Residential students can also take elective hybrid courses offered in November and in the month of June.
For those who cannot locally access a doctoral program in education with Christian perspectives, we offer both of our doctoral degree programs in a special format. The use of blended online and residential coursework makes it possible for students to continue ministering with their current organizations while completing their Ed.D. in Educational Studies. Both the Ph.D. and Ed.D. blended programs utilize blended courses for four weeks of June and one week in November for four years. Coursework precedes and follows class sessions.
New groups of students begin the program every year in June. Students work through the core courses together, with some choice of elective options to fit their study interests. Contact the Graduate Admissions office for more information about the schedule.
As a result of this successfully completing the Ed.D. program, the student will exhibit the accomplishment of the following eight learning outcomes:
Creatively Generate New Knowledge
- Original Research. Competence in local field research, demonstrating skills with either quantitative or qualitative data collection and analysis methods and a commitment to ethical research practices.
Critically Conserve Valuable and Useful Ideas
Evaluating and Applying Research. Competence in research evaluation and application to Christian education settings.
Application of Knowledge to the Field. The ability to reflect on and apply knowledge from their studies (both general and focused) to educational/ministry contexts.
- Critical Thinking. The development of critical thinking, the ability to understand and evaluate critically the literature of the field of Christian education and related disciplines and to apply appropriate principles and procedures to recognizing, understanding, and evaluating issues and problems in this academic discipline.
Integrate Social Science and Biblical-Theological Data
- Theological Integration. The ability to think Christianly – competence in processes of biblical and theological research and in integration of theological and social science data in light of educational issues/concerns to inform educational theory development and practice.
Responsibly Transform Understandings and Application through Speaking and Writing
Teaching and Speaking Competences. Demonstrated teaching ability suitable for higher education settings incorporating clear and effective speaking skills.
- Writing Skills. Demonstrated writing skills to communicate with academic audiences and with educational and ministry practitioners.
Continue to Pursue Personal Spiritual Formation
- Spiritual Growth. A commitment to ongoing personal spiritual vitality and growth.
An important component of the Talbot doctoral program is the integrative synthesis of social science data within a Christian worldview perspective. Since both education and theology address the human condition, the doctoral faculty believe there is a great deal to be gained by an interdisciplinary study of biblical and theological knowledge, philosophical issues, human development, the teaching-learning process, and issues of leadership. Consequently, students are expected to come to the program with a sufficient background of theological training. (A minimum of 18 graduate units of Bible and theology is required. For those lacking these prerequisites, distance learning courses are available from Talbot School of Theology. Contact the Graduate Admissions office for further information.)
As members of a Christian university community, program faculty believe that relating one's faith to an academic discipline goes beyond the theoretical and cognitive. Opportunities for fellowship, dialogue and worship are seen as vital parts of the total educational process. Talbot School of Theology sponsors a weekly chapel service. Various discussion times over meals, a student retreat and other social activities provide an opportunity for informal, out-of-class interaction with faculty and students. Students are also encouraged to become involved in one of the many local churches in the Southern California area.
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Enrollment is limited and admission is on a selective basis, therefore applications should be made as early as possible. Applications submitted after the deadline will usually be considered for the following year (residential program) or the next cohort (hybrid residential program).
The doctoral program seeks to admit applicants whose background clearly demonstrate scholarly aptitude, a commitment to the historic Christian faith, personal character and integrity, a service-oriented motivation toward endeavors of educational ministry and a deepening relationship with God. Biola University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnic group identification, gender, age or physical disability.
In order to be admitted to full graduate standing, the applicant must comply with the following:
- Have completed at least three years of full-time vocational experience in educational ministry with evidence of leadership gifts and abilities.
- Have earned a Masters degree in Christian or Religious Education (MACE or MRE) or its equivalent from an accredited educational institution. Equivalence is defined as an earned master's degree of 36 semester units of graduate study in areas related to the Christian education ministry, including 18 units of graduate Bible and theology.
At least one course in each of the following areas should have been completed: Philosophy or History of Christian Education, Human Development or Educational Psychology, Educational Administration or Leadership, Interpersonal Communication/Group Dynamics or Counseling, Curriculum Design and/or Methods of Teaching. A minimum GPA of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale in all previous graduate work is required. Students whose formal educational preparation does not include all of the required prerequisite coursework must complete them prior to enrollment.
Submit a completed Talbot School of Theology doctoral application form and $55 application fee. The form will provide a place to indicate either the residential or modular format.
Submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (expected verbal score of 500 and analytic score of 4.5). Information regarding GRE testing dates and location may be obtained by writing to:
Educational Testing Service, Box 955
Princeton, New Jersey 08591
or call 1-800-473-2255 to register.
Present evidence of potential for original academic research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of scholarly writing (with citations and bibliography), preferably related to education, of at least 10 pages. Applicants may be asked to be interviewed by the program director or the Doctoral Program committee as a requirement for admission.
Note: Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student's academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.
The Ed.D. degree requires 45-semester units including 21 units of core classes and a Candidacy Exam Capstone course and 24 units of electives, plus the dissertation. The student's advisor assists in planning the schedule of courses and supervises the student's progress in the program and the development of an elective program based on the two-year projected schedule of courses being offered. Up to 3 units of graduate course work directly related to the specialization may be taken in other departments at Biola University or transferred in from other accredited graduate institutions.
Doctoral Program Proposal
During the first term of study and in consultation with the program director, students identify the 24-unit electives program they will complete, along with the remaining core courses, to meet the 45-semester unit minimum requirement. Once approved, this schedule serves as the projected course of study. A copy of the Program Proposal is placed in the student's file. Modifications must have prior approval of the student's advisor.
During the final semester of coursework, the student also enrolls in the TTDE 877 Candidacy Exam Capstone course. The student completes the candidacy exam before engaging work on the dissertation. The candidacy exam evaluates the student's attainment of program study objectives.
Advancement to Candidacy
Official candidacy for the doctorate signifies an advanced stage in the student's progress and is characterized by self-directed research in the completion of a dissertation under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor. In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must have successfully passed the candidacy exam.
After passing the candidacy exam, the student will enroll in TTDE 891 Dissertation (3 units) for up to three semesters. A student must enroll for a minimum of two terms of TTDE 891 and must be enrolled in 891 or 895 Dissertation Extension the semester of graduation. Ed.D. dissertation students are considered full-time for a maximum of three semesters of TTDE 891 only. Doctoral students must submit a dissertation evidencing high attainment in scholarship. Detailed information may be found in the Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
Final Dissertation Defense
The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the student's dissertation committee and other invited guests. Detailed information regarding the defense and final submission deadlines for graduation may be found in The Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
All students must present an acceptable dissertation, satisfactorily pass their candidacy exam, and complete all coursework with a minimum 3.25 GPA to qualify for graduation. Beyond completion of academic requirements, Doctoral Program faculty must also recommend that the student is eligible for conferral of the degree on the basis of evidence of Christian life and character established during his or her course of studies. All financial obligations must be settled. Attendance at commencement ceremonies is required when the degree is granted unless approval has been received from the Dean to graduate in absentia (see the Doctoral Program Handbook for further details).
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