Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Theology

Welcome to the Ph.D. program at Ave Maria University! These pages will introduce you to the mission, admission requirements, curriculum, faculty, and events of the program. Please explore these pages and then contact us with any questions.

Graduates of the Ph.D. Program will be conversant in the Catholic theological tradition, will possess the skills needed to do specialized research, writing, and teaching in the speculative disciplines of biblical, moral, or systematic theology, will possess the habit and unified vision of theological wisdom, and will obtain faculty positions in Catholic or non-Catholic institutions of higher education.

Sedes Sapientiae, ora pro nobis!

Thank you for visiting Ave Maria University website in order to learn more about our M.A. in theology. AMU is committed to the renewal and deepening of genuinely Catholic spiritual, intellectual, and cultural life. To enter our graduate theological programs is to embark on an exacting and exciting venture to deepen both one’s contemplative union with the Triune God and one’s understanding of the great truths of the Catholic faith.

To study theology challenges us to open our minds and hearts to Jesus Christ, the one Teacher who illumines everything by his very being as the Word of the Father in the Holy Spirit. To study Catholic theology is to realize that the Word Incarnate and the Holy Spirit inspired Sacred Scripture and continue to guide the Magisterium of the Church, whose Tradition directs us as we reach up to the great minds and hearts of the many saints and scholars who over the millennia have contributed to the quest for genuine holiness, wisdom, science, scholarship, and art.

If you decide to join our graduate program, it is their lives and writings that you will study. Fidelity to Catholic truth demands more—not less—commitment to deepening and broadening one’s intelligence to appreciate the unity of theological and philosophical wisdom, too often forgotten in the many specializations and fragmentations of contemporary academic culture. Our program emphasizes a contemplative pattern of study that initiates students into the great tradition of speculative wisdom, with its unifying theoretical vision of the whole of God’s creative and redemptive presence.

Dr. Dauphinais

100% Job Placement: 18 out of 18 Ph.D. graduates are teaching theology at the college, university, or seminary level.

One-on-One Instruction: Incoming classes are capped at four doctoral students per year to ensure individualized attention and mentoring throughout the Ph.D. program.

Colloquium: Weekly colloquia on the ancients and the moderns, focusing on the interplay between philosophical and theological inquiry, Christian and pre-Christian.

Year One and Two

Complete all required coursework and language proficiency courses or exams. By the end of Year Two, submit a comprehensive-exams reading plan to the program director, and schedule the written and oral exams for the following November. Prepare for comps over the summer.

Year Three – Fall Semester

Register for THEO 699: Residential Research & Dissertation (1 credit). Ask a faculty member to be your dissertation director, discuss and refine the topic, and begin your research. Serve as research assistant to an assigned faculty member (not necessarily your director). Take written and oral comprehensive exams in November as scheduled.

Year Three – Spring Semester
Register for THEO 699. Serve as a teaching assistant to an assigned professor, and attend an assigned undergraduate course throughout the semester. Ask two professors to be readers on your dissertation board (one of these may be external to the department or to the university). Submit your dissertation proposal to the program director and to the dissertation director. Once the proposal has been approved by your board, and both the proposal and the composition of your board have been validated by the entire Theology faculty, you may begin writing.

Year Four
Register for THEO 699. Teach one section of an undergraduate course per semester (normally THEO 105: Sacred Scripture, THEO 205: Sacred Doctrine, or THEO 400: Living in Christ: Moral Theology). Complete and defend the dissertation. The “Application for Ph.D. Degree” form is available from the registrar. It must be returned to the registrar, along with a check in the amount of the graduation fee, early in the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

Applicants must possess an M.A. in Theology or related discipline (such as Philosophy or Classical Languages) and should have completed at least 12 credits of undergraduate or graduate coursework in philosophy. They must also submit the following:

• Official GRE Score Report from ETS
• Seal-bearing transcripts (from all institutions attended)
• Completed online application

International applicants must also submit official TOEFL score results.

Upload the following three documents (.pdf or .docx) when submitting the application:

  1.  1. Professional and Academic Experience
  2.  2. Statement of intent (1500-words): intellectual autobiography, academic/research interests and goals, and Christian-ecclesial commitment
  3.  3. Academic writing sample (min. 8 pages)

• Three letters of recommendation
• $50 application fee (non-refundable)

Those accepted into the program will be offered a full tuition-remission scholarship and students may also be awarded annual stipends. They must, however, pay the technology fee, the activities fee, and the graduation fee.

A $150 enrollment fee (non-refundable) is required after acceptance into the program.

Fees paid by personal check should be made payable to  “Ave Maria University” and mailed to the Graduate Enrollment Office.

Questions regarding the Graduate Theology Program should be directed to or by calling Grace De Salvo  at 239-280-1629


GRE Score reports, Official Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation need to be sent directly from the testing service, educational institution, and individual reference to:

Graduate Enrollment Office
Attn: Helene O’Connell
Ave Maria University
5050 Ave Maria Blvd.
Ave Maria, FL 34142

• Twelve doctoral-level theology courses (48 credits), maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher
• Four courses (16 credits) in candidate’s major (systematic or moral)
• Three courses (12 credits) in candidate’s minor (biblical, systematic, or moral)
• Two courses (8 credits) in the remaining area (biblical, systematic, or moral)
• Two required courses: THEO 691 Ancients, and THEO 692 Moderns (8 credits)
• One additional course (4 credits)
• Reading proficiency in Latin, Greek, and one modern language (French, German, or Italian), demonstrated by proficiency exams or approved AMU courses (with a grade of B- or higher)
• Successful completion of oral and written comprehensive exams
• Successful defense of an approved dissertation

Candidates who are judged to have significant lacunae in their prior academic formation in theology or philosophy will be directed to take courses that complement the Ph.D. curriculum.

Throughout the residency candidates are expected to maintain full-time status and to devote themselves to studies as to a full-time occupation. They are encouraged to take advantage of the sacramental and spiritual life of the university as an integral element in their theological formation.

The tuition-remission scholarship and living stipend remain in effect throughout the four-year residency, provided the candidate is in good academic standing, maintains full-time status, and follows the above course of study in a timely fashion. If the dissertation has not been successfully defended by the last day of August following Year Four, the candidate will need to register for THEO 698 Non-residential Research & Dissertation, and pay tuition (1 credit hour) and any applicable fees, for each subsequent semester, in order to remain enrolled in the program until the dissertation has been successfully defended. The faculty is under no obligation to accept for defense any draft of a dissertation submitted more than eight years after matriculation.

Continuance in the program is subject to faculty review each semester. Candidates must maintain good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or higher) to retain the tuition-remission scholarship and the living stipend. If a candidate receives a final grade of C+ or lower in any course, he or she will be required to retake the course or, at the program director’s discretion, to resubmit selected assignments. A candidate who receives two or more grades of C+ or lower in a single academic year will be discontinued from the program.

If personal circumstances require the interruption of studies, the student should inform the program director immediately and must apply for a leave of absence. At the director’s discretion, a leave may be granted for a fixed period. A student who interrupts studies without an approved leave of absence is considered to have withdrawn from the program and must reapply if he or she wishes to return.

Gerald Boersma, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theology
Education: Ph.D., Theology and Religion, University of Durham; M.A., Theology, Ave Maria University; B.A., Religious Studies, Trinity Western University
Office: Henkels Academic Building 3003
Phone: (239) 304-7910
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Michael Dauphinais, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theology & Department Chair
Education: B.S.E., Duke University; M.T.S. Duke Divinity School; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame.
Office: Henkels 3005
Phone: (239) 280-2538
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download
Courses taught:
THEO 370 C. S. Lewis: Theological Apologetics
THEO 405/523 Triune God
THEO 522 Theology of Revelation
THEO 651 Theological Ethics
THEO 691/692 Colloquium on Ancients and Moderns

Fr. Robert Garrity

Assistant Professor of Theology
Education: B.A., English Literature, Aurora University, Illinois. M.A., S.T.L., Theology, The Catholic University of America J.C.L., Canon Law, The Catholic University of America S.T.D., Theology, The Catholic University of America
Office: Henkels 2068
Phone: (239) 280-2424
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Steven Long, Ph.D.

Professor of Theology
Education: B,A,, M.A., University of Toledo; Ph.D., Catholic University of America
Office: Henkels 3007
Phone: (239) 280-1664
Fax: (239) 280-1637

Roger Nutt, S.T.D

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of Theology
Education: B.E.S., Literature and Philosophy, St. Cloud State University.M.A., Theology and Christian Ministry, Franciscan University of Steubenville. S.T.B., S.T.L., S.T.D., Sacred Theology, The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome
Office: Henkels 3056
Phone: (239) 280-1603
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Thomas Scheck, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theology
Education: B.A. Moody Bible Institute;
M Div. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Ph.D., University of Iowa.
Office: Henkels 3027
Phone: (239) 280-1640
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download

T. Adam Van Wart, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology

With a research agenda concentrated primarily in the fields of systematic and philosophical theology, Dr. Van Wart’s current academic research queries the relationship between first and second order intentionality with respect to the Church’s speech and knowledge of God. Nonetheless, Dr. Van Wart enjoys teaching across the broad spectrum of theological fields, helping to habituate students into a deeper appreciation and understanding of the grammar of Catholic faith in all its holistic beauty.

Prior to joining the faculty at AMU, Dr. Van Wart earned a PhD in Religious Studies with a concentration in systematic theology from Southern Methodist University; a Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke University Divinity School; both a (4-year) Master of Theology degree and a Master of Arts in counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary; and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Texas Christian University. He is married to Megan, his bride of 17 years, with whom he has the great pleasure of raising three delightful children, aged 12, 8, and 4.

 Education: Ph.D., Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University, M.T.S., Theology, Duke University, Th.M., Systematic Theology Dallas Theological Seminary, M.A., Counseling, Dallas Theological Seminary, B.S. Psychology, Texas Christian University
Office: Henkel’s Academic Building 3008
Phone: (239) 304-7825
Curriculum Vitae: Download
Courses taught: 
THEO 109 Sacred Scripture
THEO 309 Christ and His Church
THEO 390 Catholic Bioethics
THEO 400 Living in Christ: Moral Theology
THEO 490 Senior Seminar
THEO 553 Systematic Theology & Eschatology
Research interests:
  • Systematic Theology
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Philosophical Theology
  • Grammar of Doctrine
  • Modern Catholic and Protestant Theology
  • Theology and Language

Gideon Barr

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Moral Theology

Research Interests: Natural Law, Metaphysics, John Henry Newman, Luigi Giussani

Michelle Bridge

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Systematic Theology, Sapiential Theological Method – particularly in the work of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, Trinitarian Theology, Theological Anthropology – particularly the Imago Dei, the Relation of Faith and the Intellectual Virtues Secondary Interests: Sacramental Theology, the Incarnation and the Liturgy, Ecclesiology and Mariology

Bradley Cypher

Year Entered: 2018
Major: Moral Theology
Minor: Systematic Theology
Research Interests: St. Thomas Aquinas; Anthropology and Virtue Ethics; Natural Law; Social and Sexual Ethics; Creation, Human Origins, and Original Sin; Theology of Grace and Divinization; Soteriology and Predestination; The Problem of Evil; Natural Theology; Faith and Reason.

Michael De Salvo

Year Entered: 2018

Travis A. Dziad

Year Entered: 2015

Major:  Systematic Theology
Minor:  Moral Theology

Research Interests:   Mr. Dziad is a Catholic theologian according to the tradition of Aquinas.  His academic interests include: the inspiration of Scripture and the theology of revelation, free will and Divine causality, experiential education and the seminar teaching method, and the universal vocation to holiness as rooted in charity.
Over the last eight years, Mr. Dziad has worked as a professional retreat master and backpacking instructor for Ave Maria University, Wyoming Catholic College, St. Joseph’s College Seminary, Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, and Camp Wojtyla.  Mr. Dziad also currently teaches AMU’s Campus-Track RCIA program.

Curriculum Vitae: Download 

Aaron Henderson

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Mr. Henderson’s research interests include theological anthropology, the nature-grace relationship, predestination, the theological virtues, ecclesiology, and the way in which Tradition is communicated (especially in the Sacred Liturgy). While he has a great appreciation for the Catholic philosophical/theological tradition as a whole, he is indebted especially to the Doctor Communis, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Jeremy Johnston

Year Entered: 2015

Major: Moral Theology

Minor: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Mr. Johnston’s research interests include: the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas; Ascetical and Mystical Theology, especially their reintegration into the discipline of  Moral Theology; the interrelation between the Acquired Virtues, the Theological Virtues, the Infused Virtues, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Theology of Christian Perfection; Post-Reformation Catholic Spirituality; Carmelite Spirituality, with a focus on the writings of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux; Johannine Studies; Mariology; Sacramental Theology and its relation to the Moral Life; Marriage, Family, and the foundations of Marital Spirituality; the thought of St. John Paul II, with special interest in his Theology of the Body; The Gift of Self in the Mystical Tradition; the Three Ages of the Interior Life; the Universal Call to Holiness; Eschatology; Spiritual Warfare; and Bioethics.

Curriculum Vitae:  Download Coming Soon

Sarah Kaiser

Year Entered: 2017

Daniel Lendman, STL, M. Theol., MA Phil.

Year Entered: 2016

Major: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Mr. Lendman’s principal research interests include Thomistic treatments of eschatology, anthropology, and Christology. Currently, his dissertation research is on the human soul as understood by Aquinas and the Catholic tradition, and the relation of this understanding to ancient Greek, particularly Aristotelian, thought. His research includes the patristic engagement with the above areas of inquiry and how various patristic approaches relate to that of Aquinas. A further area of interest is in Thomas’ treatment of the Pauline corpus in dialogue with contemporary Pauline exegesis.

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Kara Logan

Year Entered: 2016

Major: Systematic Major, Biblical Theology Minor

Research Interests: Miss Logan is interested in Biblical Theology, especially in the writings of St. Paul. She is also interested in Biblical Thomism, Second Temple literature, the Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, and engagement of contemporary New Testament scholarship. Her other interests include the role of women in the Church, John Paul II’s Biblical exegesis in the Theology of the Body, Catholic Social Teaching, and the New Evangelization.

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Rev. Joseph Lugalambi

Year Entered: 2017
Major: Systematic Theology
Research interests: Theology of the Body, Theology of suffering, Christology
Curriculum Vitae: Download

John O’Neill

Year Entered: 2015

Major: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Mr. O’Neill focuses in Thomistic Trinitarian theology, including the theology of the Divine Missions. He has worked on Thomas’s Trinitarian theology (MA) and the visible mission of the Son in the Incarnation (STL) and plans to write his dissertation on the visible mission of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The aim of his research is to show how a speculative grasp of Trinitarian theology sheds light upon and orders the whole theological project, especially in relation to the Divine Missions, the Imago Dei, and the Sacraments.

Curriculum Vitae: Download Coming Soon

Sean Robertson

Year Entered: 2016

Major: Systematic Theology

Research Interests: Mr. Robertson’s research interests include: Christology, especially as the foundation for sacramental theology; Soteriology in St. Thomas Aquinas; Christ’s knowledge; Theology of Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger; Latin patristic theology; and Liturgical theology.

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Dr. Michael Dauphinais, Program Director: (239) 280-2538
Grace De Salvo, Administrative Assistant: (239) 280-1629


Graduate Enrollment Office
Attn: Helene O’Connell
Ave Maria University
5050 Ave Maria Blvd.
Ave Maria, FL 34142