May 26, 2024  
Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog 2022-2023 
Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Ph.D. in Practical Theology

54 Credit Hours

Program Faculty

Bryan T. Froehle, Ph.D., Program Director



  • Victor A. Copan, Th.D.
  • Bryan T. Froehle, Ph.D.

Associate Professors

  • Kyle D. Faircloth, Ph.D.
  • Ryan R. Gladwin, Ph.D.
  • Josh Malone, Ph.D.
  • Kathy Maxwell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors

  • Wanjiru M. Gitau, Ph.D.


Program Overview

Our vision for this degree comes from that of the founders of Palm Beach Atlantic University and the direction of our Board and President. It reflects our mission to serve Christ and his church in building up the Reign of God. The Ph.D. in Practical Theology Program was therefore developed by School of Ministry faculty and leadership under the guidance and encouragement of senior university leadership. It reflects long-term aspirations and vision. The design and planning of this program is the fruit of a dream that may be traced to the university’s founding in 1968, when “worship” was linked with “workship.” Just as right worship (“orthodoxy”) is necessary for a faithful Christian life, so too is right living (“orthopraxy”). Today it is commonplace for praxis to be seen as the basis for doing theology, or as the ancient Christian phrase would have it, lex orandi, lex credendi. This is precisely what the founders of the university saw at its founding: right action and right worship go hand-in-hand.

This focus on a theology of action, both as theologizing from the praxis of ministry as well as entering into the entire Christian theological enterprise from the standpoint of praxis, is at the heart of this doctoral program. We seek to provide robust scholarly formation through a community of teaching and learning that embraces spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions. Our approach to doctoral level training in practical theological scholarship emphasizes theological method and methodology, engages culture and context, plumbs theological and scriptural depth, and provides tools and training for transformative research, teaching, and leadership.

For this reason, our Ph.D. in Practical Theology Program allows for robust training in theological method, suitable for those who would take up leadership positions on theological faculties, serve as teaching pastors, and enter into other roles of leadership. Practical theology, as the name suggests, integrates theological research and method with the practical concerns of the church and ministry. It unifies the practical and theoretical through a deep attention to method, including training in social science methods.

Practical theology is both a theological field and a discipline. It is a way of doing theology that begins with a practical concern from experience, from what God is doing in people’s lives, the church, and the world today. In our own day, this approach to theological understanding and action is expressed in many ways, including practical theology and its focus on a theology of action that carries Christian witness further toward the fulfillment of God’s promises.

The Ph.D. Program in Practical Theology is built on a rigorous two-year of full-time pre-candidacy studies that emphasize deep theological formation, skills in method and methodology, and engagement with the lived experience of the church today. The program offers a collaborative educational approach that seeks to form a community of learners at the highest level, engaging theological and allied disciplines in critical conversation. Students are trained to produce original research that will launch their careers as scholars, educators, and transformational leaders. While others may apply, this theological doctoral program is designed for students who reflect diverse Christian traditions that affirm the Nicene Creed. As such, our program is as interconfessional as it is intercultural. Faculty teach, mentor, and pray accordingly.

The Ph.D. program forms students for creative and transformative scholarship that serves the church and academy while advancing critically important global theological conversations at the service of the larger society. The program provides a means to critically engage contemporary experience and pastoral reality in dialogue with Scripture and classic theological discourse. We are oriented toward producing scholars who embrace global cultural diversity while reflecting contextual sensitivity and creative imagination. In response to the joys and hopes, and even the grief and anxieties of our time, the Ph.D. in Practical Theology fosters a creative and critical conversation between the Christian tradition and the signs of the times. We see our program as a space where faith and theological knowledge meet in critical reflection on the experience of God’s action in the world, leading to personal, social, and ecclesial transformation in light of the Gospel.

The Ph.D. program in practical theology has the mission of forming scholars in research and teaching who will educate and inspire others to engage the contemporary church and world. We do so from the heart of practical theological method, integrating the lived experience of God’s action in the world with the depths of the theological tradition. We achieve this mission in part by engaging the global diversity of South Florida, a crossroads of the hemisphere and our globalized world at the dawn of the third millennium of Christianity.

The Ph.D. marks a natural point of culmination in the degree programs of the School of Ministry, a division of Palm Beach Atlantic University particularly vital given its identity as a Christian university. As the terminal academic research degree, the Ph.D. is oriented to the production and reproduction of knowledge at its highest levels. The Ph.D. builds on the expertise of our faculty and library resources that in turn reflect strengths in our diverse degree programs within and beyond the School of Ministry. Those programs include our Master of Divinity and Master’s in Christian Studies, as well as the Master’s in Intercultural Studies. The Master’s in Divinity is also available as joint programs with the Master of Business Administration degree or the Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree. Similarly, the Master’s in Christian Studies is offered jointly with the Master’s in Global Development. The new Master’s in Philosophy of Religion offers a specialization in apologetics. Just as these master’s level programs train for mastery, the diverse undergraduate programs of the School of Ministry focus on a comprehensive approach to theological knowledge, providing a firm biblical base in a manner that corresponds to Christian undergraduate studies. To learn more about the values and standards that govern our community, please consult the PBAU Navigator, the student handbook.

The Master’s in Intercultural Studies connects directly to the Ph.D. in practical theology given the overlap of disciplines and fields between intercultural studies in theology and ministry and practical theology. Indeed, the Master’s in Intercultural Studies program is designed from a practical theological perspective and perfectly complements the Ph.D. in Practical Theology Program. Taken together, these graduate programs establish a foundation for the development of new work on study of World Christianity and allied theological fields, a long-term goal of the School.


Degree Requirements

Ph.D. in Practical Theology Degree Requirements