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

Over 90% of our doctoral 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 a teaching assistant to an assigned professor (not necessarily your director), and attend an assigned undergraduate course throughout the semester. Take written and oral comprehensive exams in November as scheduled.

Year Three – Spring Semester
Register for THEO 699. Teach one section of an undergraduate course (normally THEO 105: Sacred Scripture, THEO 205: Sacred Doctrine, or THEO 400: Living in Christ: Moral Theology). 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. Submit a degree application form and the graduation fee early in the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

Ph.D. applications are due by February 1st.

Applicants to the Ph.D. Program must possess an M.A. in Theology or a 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 submit:

  1. Official GRE Score Report from ETS
  2. Seal-bearing transcripts (from all institutions attended)
  3. Completed online application with $50 application fee
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Statement of intent (1500-words): intellectual autobiography, academic/research interests and goals, and Christian-ecclesial commitment
  6. Description of professional and academic experience
  7. Academic writing sample of theological or philosophical nature (minimum 8 pages)
  8. TOEFL Score Report from ETS (for international applicant if English is not the first language)

Those accepted into the program may be offered a tuition scholarship and/or stipend for research/teaching assistantships. Regardless, all students must pay the technology fee, the activities fee, and the graduation fee.

Graduate Enrollment Office
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

Fr. Romanus Cessario, S.T.D.

Adam Cardinal Maida Professor of Theology
Education: B.A., St. Stephen’s College; M.A., St. Stephen’s College; S.T.L., Dominican House of Studies; S.T.B., Dominican House of Studies; S.T.D., University de Fribourg; S.T.M., The Order of Preachers, Santa Sabina, Rome
Office: Henkels 3026
Phone: (239) 304-7935

Michael Dauphinais, Ph.D.

Fr. Matthew L. Lamb Professor of Catholic Theology & Chair of the Theology Department
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

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

Fr. Guy Mansini, S.T.D.

Max Seckler Chair of Theology
Education:B.A., Philosophy, Saint Meinrad College; M. Div., Theology, Saint Meinrad School of Theology; M.A., Religious Studies, Indiana University; M.A., Philosophy, Marquette University; S.T.D., Pontifical Gregorian University
Office: Henkels 3009
Phone: (239) 280-2594

Roger Nutt, S.T.D

Provost, 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

T. Adam Van Wart, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology
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

Jeffery M. Walkey, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology
Education: Ph.D., Religious Studies Marquette University; M.T.S., Theological Studies, Duke Divinity School; B.S., Management, Purdue University
Office: Henkel’s Academic Building 3004
Phone: (239) 304-7363
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Gideon Barr

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Moral Theology

Bradley Cypher

Year Entered: 2018

Major: Moral Theology

Minor: Systematic Theology

Michael De Salvo

Year Entered: 2018

Major: Systematic Theology

Minor: Biblical Theology

Brett Feger

Year Entered: 2019

Major: Systematic Theology

Minor: Biblical Theology

Marie Ferman

Year Entered: 2020

Major: Systematic Theology

Matthew Harte

Year Entered: 2021

Major: Systematic Theology

Mark Heffley

Year Entered: 2019

Major: Systematic Theology

Minor: Moral Theology

Aaron Henderson

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

Sarah Kaiser

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

James Kelly

Year Entered: 2020

Major: Systematic Theology

Andrew Kuenstle

Year Entered: 2019

Major: Systematic Theology

Minor: Biblical Theology

Kara Logan

Year Entered: 2016

Major: Systematic Major, Biblical Theology Minor

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Rev. Joseph Lugalambi

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Matthew McKenna

Year Entered: 2021

Major: Moral Theology

Minor: Systematic Theology

Taylor Payne

Year Entered: 2021

Major: Systematic Theology

Tyler Pellegrin

Year Entered: 2020

Major: Systematic Theology

Minor: Moral Theology

Michelle Petersen

Year Entered: 2017

Major: Systematic Theology

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

Email: graduatetheology@avemaria.edu

Graduate Enrollment Office
Ave Maria University
5050 Ave Maria Blvd.
Ave Maria, FL 34142