Residential Program Questions

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.

What is the purpose of the Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs?

To equip you as a leader and teacher in a variety of educational ministry settings within God's Kingdom—local church, educational institutions, and ministry organizations throughout the world. We are dedicated to striving for excellence in teaching, leadership, and research, in service to God and His kingdom.

What is the difference between the Ph.D. and the Ed.D. programs?

The Ph.D. Program equips the "Researcher-Teacher" with the research, integration, and teaching skills to contribute to their discipline and prepare others for ministry leadership roles. This is the preferred degree for full-time teaching at most Christian higher education institutions.

The Ed.D. Program equips the "Leader-Teacher" with skills in research assessment and application to educational ministry concerns. The program provides the same training in critical thinking theological integration, and teaching as the Ph.D. program, but with a more applied focus. This may fit well the needs of ministry leaders and some teachers.

What is distinctive about these programs?

Critical Thinking and Theological Integration: An integrative synthesis of social science data within a Christian world-view perspective is inherent in both of Talbot’s doctoral programs (Ed.D. and Ph.D.). You will have the opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary study of human development, the teaching-learning process, spiritual formation, issues of leadership and administration, and biblical approaches to Christian education.

Areas of study within the Programs: Draw upon many elective areas to shape your studies at Talbot School of Theology.

Christian Formation
Christian Higher Education
Curriculum Development
Leadership and Administration
Teaching Foundations and Processes

Diverse University Resources:  Biola University offers graduate programs in theology, psychology, and intercultural studies.  Our library offers a strong collection of resources in these fields, and our inter-library loan program, and Link+, provide access to a wealth of material in libraries across the state and the nation.  In addition, our students have the opportunity to take an elective doctoral course in the Intercultural studies if it supports their program goals.

Respected Faculty Available to Students:  Our faculty are respected in their discipline areas and give time to research, writing, and speaking, and they are active on campus and available to meet with you outside of class to discuss course and ministry issues. Regularly scheduled social times with students and faculty provide opportunities to interact and strengthen our sense of community.

Encouragement of Holistic Growth: While the doctoral programs provide knowledge and skills to help you serve as a leader and teacher in educational and ministry settings, we recognize that the formation of the person who serves is most important. Our faculty encourages and promotes both academic excellence and spiritual growth in our students.

Hybrid Distance Program: The Ph.D. "Current Faculty Track" program is available to qualified applicants who teach part- or full-time in Christian higher education institutions. The Ed.D. "Hybrid Distance Program" is available to qualified persons in ministry leadership positions as well as current faculty members. Class sessions are held on campus during one week in November and one week in March. These tracks in our programs are fully ATS approved.

Who are the faculty, and how do they relate to the students in the Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs?

Talbot's doctoral programs are served by several faculty members in the Department of Christian Education. We seek to develop collegial relationships with students, encouraging personal and professional development, both in and outside of class.

Doctoral Program Faculty

  • Dr. Orbelina Eguizabal: Professor, Leadership and Administration, Higher Education
  • Dr. Octavio Esqueda: Professor, Teaching and Higher Education
  • Dr. Klaus Issler: Professor, Christian Spirituality and Educational Foundations, Educational Process and Design
  • Dr. Kevin E. Lawson: Professor, Educational Foundations, Research

What are the major components of the Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs?

  • Course work - Ph.D.: 45 semester units, consisting of 21 units of required courses and Candidacy Exam and 24 units of electives.
  • Course work - Ed.D.: 41 semester units, consisting of 20 units of required courses and Candidacy Exam and 21 units of electives
  • Candidacy Exam: A three-unit capstone course taken in the final semester of coursework.
  • Dissertation: Completion and defense of a dissertation proposal and the dissertation. The requirements for this differ between the Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs.

When are classes held, and what are they like?

During the semesters, classes are block-scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening, Monday through Thursday, meeting once a week. During November and March, hybrid courses meet daily for several days and are scheduled 4-8 hours a day. These may be held in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings, depending on the faculty member's schedule. Classes tend to be small, with 5-12 students participating. Many operate in seminar fashion, encouraging extensive discussion and critical and integrative thinking.

How long does it take to complete the residential doctoral programs?

Ph.D. Program: If full-time, you can complete the necessary coursework in two and a half to three years, including the candidacy exam. The dissertation can be completed in another two to two and a half years. This means the doctorate can take from five to six years, depending on the level of additional demand you face.

Ed.D. Program: If full-time, you can complete the necessary course work in two and a half years, including candidacy exam. The dissertation can be completed in another year and a half. This means the degree can take about four years to complete.

What are the admission requirements?

Full details are available in the Talbot catalog and Ph.D./Ed.D. application packet. In general, the admission requirements include:

  1. Three years full-time vocational experience in educational ministry with evidence of leadership abilities.
  2. A Master of Arts in Christian or Religious Education (MACE, MRE) or its equivalent from an accredited educational institution. Equivalence is defined as a master's degree of at least 36 units in areas related to the Christian education ministry, including 18 units of graduate Bible and theology. (See the application form or catalog for details on course content areas.)
  3. Graduate Record Examination (minimum verbal score of 500 and analytic writing score of 4.5).
  4. International students whose native language is not English must submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL, iBT form) that are a total of 100 or above, reaching a required minimum for each of the four test scores (25 points each for Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing).
  5. Submission of a sample of scholarly writing. (See Admissions Requirements  for details).
  6. Submission of a Talbot School of Theology doctoral application online along with the $65 application fee.
  7. Submission of references: Three academic, one pastoral, one employer and one character.

Is there a way I can try out the program before completing my application?

You can apply to take one hybrid three-unit course during November or June as a "Master's Special Student." This must be discussed with and approved by the program director ahead of time, and assumes that an application for acceptance into one of the programs has been received. Only one course may be taken this way.

What opportunities are there for teaching or ministry nearby while I am a student?

Southern California is a good place to look for opportunities to serve in congregational ministry (paid or volunteer), and to teach adjunct in Bible institutes, colleges, and seminaries. The availability of teaching and ministry positions depends upon your ministerial and educational background, and denominational and ethnic ties. If you would like to explore these possibilities prior to applying for the program, please inform the admissions counselor about this, and ask him or her to let the Ph.D./Ed.D. program office know of your desire. Our ministry placement office may be able to help.

What kinds of vocations do Talbot graduates with these Doctoral Degrees enter?

About three-fourths of our alumni from the doctoral programs are currently teaching in Christian higher education settings here in the United States or overseas, with most teaching in the field of Christian education. Approximately one-third of these are involved in higher education administration (many also teach). Approximately one-fourth serve in leadership capacities in parachurch and mission organizations.


Biola University
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