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 or by calling Grace Farley  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.

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

William Riordan, S.T.D

Professor of Theology
Education: B.A., St. Mary’s College of California; M.A., Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; S.T.L., S.T.D, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome).
Office: Henkels 3029
Phone: (239) 280-2535
Fax: (239) 280-1637

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

David Tamisiea, Ph.D. (Candidate)

Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of the Undergraduate Theology Program
Education: B.A., University of Notre Dame. J.D., University of Texas School of Law, Austin, TX. M.A., Ave Maria University, Ph.D. (Cand.), Ave Maria University
Office: Henkels 3004
Phone: 239-304-7363
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

Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, OP

Instructor of Theology and Research Fellow
Education: B. Phil, Ave Maria College; M.A., Ave Maria University; Ph.D., Ave Maria University
Office: Henkels Academic Bldg. 3008
Phone: (239) 304-7825
Fax: (239) 280-1637
Curriculum Vitae: Download

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


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