Back to News →

The PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is now accepting applications to join its third cohort of students. Applications will be taken until June 15, 2022. The academic program, the world’s first and only of its kind, aims 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 and revive Christianity in 21st century America.

The PhD program was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in 2016 and welcomed its first two cohorts of students in January 2017 and January 2019, respectively. The program aims to develop practitioner-scholars connected to the church and the academy 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, and the gifts these traditions can offer the wider, global church.

“The PhD program has been like a rain shower in a parched desert. In diving into the fields of rhetoric and homiletics, my categories and methodologies have been expanded, my preaching has been enchanted, and my mind continues to be engaged,” said PhD student Rev. Watson Jones. Rev. R. Janae Pitts-Murdock, also a member of the program’s first cohort, explained that, “The unrelenting intensity of intellectual inquiry is consistently matched by the authentic collegiality of my cohort, the contagious vision of Dr. Frank A. Thomas, and the vital contribution that our research will make to entities well beyond the Church and the Academy. I am simultaneously humbled and energized at every turn.”

The PhD program grew out of the visionary leadership of Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas, Founding Director and the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary, and the unwavering support of the Christian Theological Seminary Faculty and Board of Trustees. Thomas serves as the Director of the program, and Rev. Dr. Courtney Buggs, Assistant Professor of Homiletics, serves as the Assistant Director.

More information about the PhD program, including how to apply, can be found here.