Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


This program has been designed specifically for those ministry professionals who have pursued both the theoretical and practical study of religious formation for children and adults alike but who now feel the need for further nurture and enrichment of their professional skills and interests. Religious education as conceived in this program is concerned with the educative process on all levels within faith communities: child and adult, continuing education projects for faith communities, and continuing education for ministry professionals. The Ed.D. is designed to allow each candidate to pursue his/her own line of study at a wide range of graduate institutions and centers of learning. This degree is a 36 credit program that may be completed in no less than eighteen months and no more than three years.

  • 30 credits (10 courses)
  • 6 credits (Exit Project) 

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Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
  2. Master’s degree in a cognate field of education such as theology, ministry, pastoral care or administration validated by a transcript.
  3. Five years experience in education.
  4. Completion of the Application Procedure.

Program Requirements

  1. Students are expected to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook of the year of their acceptance with a particular focus on their particular degree program.  Students are bound by the academic and financial requirements of the Handbook in use at the time of their acceptance.  The current Student Handbook, as well as past years’ Handbooks, can be viewed here.
  2. Completion of ten Units of Study:  5 required from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and 5 completed through the GTF, through other approved educational institutions, or through the use of transfer credit.  
  3. Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the doctoral project.
  4. Completion of the Doctoral Project and submission of one electronic copy including the Project Consultant’s evaluation forms. 

Study Options 

This program requires the completion of ten Units of Study. A Unit of Study is defined as 40 contact hours of instruction and is equivalent to a 3-credit graduate-level course, one Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, or 4 Continuing Education Units. Units of Study may be completed through the GTF, from other approved venues, or by using transfer credit. The Study Options button on the GTF’s website under the heading Academics lists the course offerings of the GTF and provides information about the various methods of earning Units of Study for your degree. NOTE: Click Here for Paper Guidelines 

Research Methodology

Research Methodology is a required course for all students. The Research Methodology course requirement is explained here.  

Transfer Credit

Any student wishing to have previously completed academic work evaluated for possible transfer credit or wishing to complete coursework through a venue other than the Graduate Theological Foundation for use as transfer credit toward a degree must contact the Office of the Registrar for approval. Students may use transfer credit to fulfill a maximum 50% of their Unit of Study requirements for this degree program.  Accepted transfer credit has the potential to decrease the total tuition paid by the student. Requests for acceptance of transfer credit are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. GTF transfer credit policy allows for a $600 tuition reduction per Unit of Study (3 graduate credits) fulfilled by transfer credit. 

Selection of Faculty Consultant and Nomination Procedure

Students select a faculty member of the GTF to serve as Project Consultant. This enables the student to receive helpful and pragmatic evaluative feedback from a member of the faculty in the developmental process of producing the Exit Project. The role of the faculty Project Consultant is responsive and suggestive rather than “supervisory” as is the case with academic thesis writing. The faculty person is encouraged to limit feedback to pragmatically helpful hints and suggestions and not to attempt any censorship of the project. The exercise of discretion with respect to time demands is very important for both the student and faculty member. The faculty Project Consultant must give final approval of the student’s work by submitting the Project Consultant’s Report Form. 

  • The student peruses the Faculty Details page and makes a selection.
  • The student completes the Faculty Project Consultant Nomination Form 107 (Forms).
  • Academic Affairs provides the nominated faculty member with Form 107.
  • The selected faculty member notifies Academic Affairs of acceptance of student nomination.
  • Academic Affairs informs the student and faculty member of relationship approval and contact information is provided.

Doctoral Committee 

In order to ensure the highest level of academic rigor and to provide constructive and helpful feedback, students enrolled in professional doctoral degrees at the GTF will have a Doctoral Committee assigned to them.  

Doctoral Committee for professional doctoral students submitting an Exit Project: 

Doctoral Project Consultant – The Doctoral Project Consultant will work closely with the doctoral candidate in the development of the project.  The project consultant has no responsibility for any copyediting of the manuscript, but is responsible for providing guidance regarding content and academic protocols.  The GTF expects that the project consultant must finally and formally approve of the doctoral project and submit the Doctoral Project Consultant’s Report Form. 

Faculty Reader –Upon submission of the doctoral project and receipt of the Doctoral Project Consultant’s report, the Faculty Reader will read and review the work.  The Faculty Reader will submit a brief review and evaluation of the doctoral project.  If the Faculty Reader has any major concerns regarding the acceptability of the work, those concerns will be brought to the attention of the Doctoral Committee Chair, the Doctoral Project Consultant, and the doctoral student. 

Doctoral Committee Chair – The Doctoral Committee Chair will write a final evaluation of the work which will be based on the Doctoral Project Consultant’s report, the Faculty Reader’s report, and the Doctoral Committee Chair’s own evaluation of the work.

Doctoral Project

The Doctoral Project is a translation into practice of the insights, values and creative concerns developed during the course of the units of interactive learning and the intervening periods of reading, reflection, and application. The project should directly relate the educational implications of the evolving relationships within the actual life of congregations or communities of faith and worship. Students wishing to discuss their Doctoral Project should feel free to contact the GTF. The Doctoral Project is a demonstration of praxis. Its structure, focus and content, therefore, allow for a wide range of differing forms appropriate to the actual area of the practice of ministry addressed. The form may range, for example, from newly developed educational courses to a research manuscript or instructional video. A note about the length of the project is impractical when speaking of video and audio cassettes, workbooks and manuals, as well as other hands-on praxis-based projects. For manuscript-style Doctoral Projects, however, the length would normally run from 35,000-40,000 words, double-spaced, footnoted, and with significant bibliographical references of at least 35 sources. It is also a recommendation for the bibliography to include an annotated listing of the 10-12 sources that were key to the development of the project. In keeping with the nature of the entire Doctoral Program as an open interaction with fellow professionals, the project is a demonstration of practice, an exploration of applied reflections, or creative work rather than a test submitted to prove competency. Once the final version of the doctoral project is approved by the student’s project consultant, one electronic copy must be submitted by the student to the Office of the Registrar.   

Professional Associations in Religious Education

Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana (AETH)
The Association of United Church Educators (AUCE)
Christian Educators Association International (CEAI)
The Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA)
Lutheran Association of Christian Educators (LACE)
National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)
The Religious Education Association (REA)

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