Dr. Thomas on WABE

PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric

Our Cause
To research, develop, and expose the untold treasures of the unique and indigenous American art form of African American preaching, in order to ignite a preaching renaissance to revive Christianity in America in the 21st century.

The PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric aims to develop practitioner-scholars with critical awareness of:

    • The history of African American preaching and other forms of sacred rhetoric in the United States
    • The theologies informing this history and practice
    • The signature skills involved in the practice of African American preaching and sacred rhetoric,
    • The gifts these traditions can offer the wider, global church, especially European American churches in North America.

The concept of the “practitioner-scholar” is key to the program. The program is geared toward producing practitioner-scholars deeply connected to the church and the academy (though not necessarily via tenure-track, full-time professorial positions). Graduates will be equipped to engage in scholarship from the perspective of their location in ministry, applying PhD-level research and analysis to the issues and possibilities that emerge in practice.

Though shaped by African American cultural values, the program brings African American traditions into dialogue with European American (and other) approaches.

Read the handbook for the PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric here

Course Work
All students must complete 14 courses (42 credit hours), including nine required courses and five electives.
The required courses are:

    • Research Methods and Doctoral Writing in Preaching and Rhetoric
    • History and Theology of African American Preaching 1750-1917
    • History and Theology of African American Preaching 1918-present
    • History and Theology of Preaching in Europe, North America, and the Global South
    • Homiletical Theory, Rhetorical Theory, and African American Preaching
    • African American Preaching, Theology, and Communicative Expression
    • Contemporary Pedagogical Methods
    • Rhetoric of the Torah, Prophets and Writings  and African American Preaching
    • Rhetoric of the Gospels and Letters and African American Preaching

In addition to these courses, a student may take up to two 3-hour blocks of Guided Research.

Note that the program emphasizes cohort-centered learning, with personal advisors assigned to each student. Instruction involves face-to-face intensives on the CTS campus with some online engagement.

Program Length
Residence in the PhD program takes place over three years: 2017, 2018, 2019. Years 1, 2 and 3 are spent completing the residence requirements. Year 4 is devoted to comprehensive exams, and in year 5, dissertation work begins. The typical program will run six to seven years, depending on the student’s success in moving through each stage. The maximum time limit for the program is eight years.

In addition, and to emphasize the role of practitioner-scholar, students will complete three assistantships: research assistantship (fall 2017), teaching assistantship (fall 2018), and two community teaching assistantships (spring, summer or fall 2019).

Application Deadline: August 1, 2016
Notification of Acceptance: October 1, 2016

Note to applicants: Please review the Program Overview for complete details before starting your application. To complete the application itself most efficiently, use the following checklists to  below collect information and gather your thoughts before starting the application. The Application form does allow for saving while you are completing it.

Program Costs

The following are the basic costs of the program.

Application fee (non-refundable)   $100
Tuition fees per year for 2017, 2018, 2019   $15,000
Tuition fees per year for 2020, 2021, 2022 $1,000
Technology fee (per year)         $170
Student Association fee (per year) $40
Continuation fee (per year) if you remain in the program past 2022
(Note: eight-year maximum)
Graduation fee $150
University Microfilms International fee (required) and copyright fee $55

Room, board, books, supplies, travel and other miscellaneous expenses are not included and are the responsibility of the student.

All students enrolled at Christian Theological Seminary are required to provide proof of health insurance. A student is not allowed to enroll at CTS without health insurance.

Fees for courses taken at other institutions beyond the three courses designated in the program and outside the official partnerships, taken either for transfer credit or Guided Research, are the responsibility of the student.

CTS offers some scholarship assistance to help students fund their studies. These resources are limited, and students are encouraged to work closely with the Director of Student Financial Services to identify ways to finance their program of study.

The new PhD in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric is fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.  It has not yet been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission; it is currently under review in the HLC’s accreditation process.

Application Checklist

Your completed Application must include the following:

    • Transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended (usually colleges or universities, technical schools, graduate schools, professional schools).
    • BA or equivalent degree from an accredited college or university
    • MDiv or education equivalent with a minimum GPA of 3.5
    • Summary of academic life to the point of application, including publications and academic/ecclesial public presentations
    • Personal statement describing intellectual history and interests and vocational objectives
    • Academic or other published paper with focus in the field of homiletics
    • Manuscripts of three sermons
    • Three references (two academic and one ecclesiastical)
    • GRE score
    • TOEFL score (applicants whose language of origin is not English or whose previous instruction was not in English)
    • Strategy for paying for the program
    • Other documents offered or requested in support of the application
    • $100 Application Fee

The following links are to forms referenced in the Application.