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.

The Patrick F. Taylor Graduate Programs in Theology challenge students to open their minds and hearts to Jesus Christ, who is Word of the Father and humanity’s one Teacher. To study Catholic theology on the graduate level is to “learn Christ” (Eph 4:20) in the company of the saints and scholars who over the millennia have contributed to the quest for holiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Guided by a highly qualified faculty, graduate students at Ave Maria University have the opportunity to read deeply in Sacred Scripture, the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, and the recent pontificates of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.

The Theology Department serves the university’s mission by offering graduate programs that are faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and academically rigorous. Over against the fragmentation of theology in contemporary academia, our programs inculcate an appreciation for the unity of theological and philosophical wisdom and the coherence of the truths of the faith. They emphasize a contemplative pattern of study that grounds the student in the tradition of speculative wisdom, with its unified vision of God’s creative and redemptive plan. In accord with the university’s mission, the graduate programs respond to the needs of Church and society by educating the next generation of Catholic educators.

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 graduatetheology@avemaria.edu or by calling Grace Farley  at 239-280-1629

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS FEBRUARY 1ST

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.

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

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

Fr. Matthew Lamb

Cardinal Maida Chair of Theology
Education: S.T.L., Theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Dr. Theo., Theology, Westfaelishe Wilhelms University, Muenster, Germany. Ph. D., Humanities, Honoris Causa, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Phone: 239-280-1629
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

Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the M.A. Program
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 3003
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

Michael Waldstein, Ph.D.

Max Seckler Professor of Theology
Education: B.A., Thomas Aquinas College; Ph.D. University of Dallas; S.S.L. Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; Th.D., Harvard Divinity School.
Office: Henkels 3009
Phone: (239) 280-2594
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download

Kevin Clarke

Third Year (Ph.D. Candidate)

Major: Biblical Theology

Research Interests: One focal point of Mr. Clarke’s research has been the Biblical hermeneutics in early Christianity (New Testament authors and Church Fathers), especially their use of the spiritual senses of Scripture. His primary focus is Maximus the Confessor and Maximus’s use of Scripture and the Fathers in the monothelite heresy. He plans to explore more thoroughly Maximus’s philosophy of nature and its place in his thought, whether Trinitarian, Christological, or soteriological. Mr. Clarke has published or forthcoming several articles, and he has an edited book coming out in 2018 on the Fathers of the Church and the capital vices.

Curriculum Vitae:  Download

Travis A. Dziad

Second Year

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 

Katie Froula

Third Year (Ph.D. Candidate)
Major: Systematic Theology
Research Interests:  Mrs. Froula’s research interests include: Trinitarian Theology; the Missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Relation of the Divine Missions to Sacramental Theology; the Trinity and the Spiritual Life; and the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Curriculum Vitae: Download Coming Soon

Arielle Harms

Ph.D. Candidate, ABD

Major: Moral Theology

Research Interests: Sacramental theology, Catholic social thought, bioethics, human dignity, virtue, natural law, the relationship between nature and grace, faith and reason, fundamental moral theology.

Ms. Harms’ dissertation discusses the intersection between natural law and virtue in in Aquinas moral theology and how that interconnection might be useful for public discussions of morality.

Ms. Harms has several published articles and conference presentations, and have experience teaching undergraduate and graduate level theology.  She currently serves as Director of Religious Education for Ave Maria Catholic Church and does consulting work for religious education programming and catechist formation for parishes and dioceses throughout the country.

Curriculum Vitae: Download

Jeremy Johnston

Second Year

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

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

First Year

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

First Year

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

Joshua Madden

Third Year (Ph.D. Candidate)

Major: Biblical Theology

Research Interests: Mr. Madden’s principal research interests lie in the field of biblical theology and the intersection between philosophy and theology, especially the implementation of a biblical exegesis informed by metaphysics. His dissertation focuses on St. Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on Isaiah, and its relevance for modern exegesis. Other specific interests include the general biblical exegesis of Thomas Aquinas, the theology of marriage and family, Christology, and faith as the foundation of culture.

Curriculum Vitae: Download

John O’Neill

Second Year

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

First Year

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. Roger Nutt, Program Director: (239) 280-1603
Grace Farley, Administrative Assistant: (239) 280-1629

Email: graduatetheology@avemaria.edu

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