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Doctor of Theology (in Latin Doctor Theologiae, abbreviated D.Th. or Th.D. ) is a terminal academic degree in theology. It is a research degree, involving the publication of an original contribution to scholarship in the form of a dissertation, that is for most purposes the equivalent of a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology or a similar discipline. Th.D. programs are usually designed for theological scholarship within a religious tradition (most often, Christian), whereas Ph.D. programs are usually designed to study religious issues in the larger context of the liberal arts and humanities.

Depending on the school, there are more or less clear distinctions between the Th.D. and Ph.D., which may involve such matters as prerequisites, specific colloquia for each degree, language requirements, or which faculty supervises the degree (e.g., the Divinity School faculty for the Th.D., the Department of Theology Faculty in the graduate school for the Ph.D.). However, in recent decades there has been a trend in some institutions (e.g., Princeton Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary) to replace Th.D. with Ph.D programs in the same fields. In 2006 the Divinity School at Duke University initiated a new Th.D. program focusing on the inter-disciplinary study of the practices of Christian communities (worship, evangelism, arts, etc.).

The Th.D. should be distinguished from the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min), a professional degree rather than a strictly academic one, which focuses on practical issues of ministry and applied theology, and the Doctor of Divinity, which in North America is typically awarded only as an honorary degree, and which in the United Kingdom is a "higher degree" granted in recognition of a career of scholarship beyond degree.

In North America, those who hold a Doctor of Theology are considered academically qualified to serve as professors of theology or its cognate fields (e.g., biblical studies, church history) on academic or professional faculties. However, many are also employed in ministerial, administrative and other non-academic fields.

In many parts of Europe the abbreviation Dr. Theol. is employed, and has long been considered the equivalent of the Ph.D. in all academic respects. Recent changes in universities seek to replace Dr. Theol. with Ph.D. in the field of theology or cognate studies.

Though many Roman Catholic universities and theological schools offer both the Th.D. and the Ph.D., the more usual academic equivalent found among Roman Catholic clergy - and an increasing number of lay Roman Catholic theologians - is the S.T.D., (recently changed to S.Th.D. at many institutions) Doctor of Sacred Theology, granted by those Roman Catholic universities and theological faculties with a pontifical charter. The S.T.D. or its equivalent is the prerequisite or preferred prerequisite, even over a Ph.D. or Th.D., for a number of academic and administrative posts in the Roman Church.

The Th.D. can also be awarded as a religious-exempt degree.

In Roman Catholicism, there is a title sometimes used of historical figures, Doctor of the Church. This is an eminent theologian (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) from whose teachings the whole Christian Church is held to have derived great advantage, a key theologian. This is not an academic degree or title, but reflects the most Latin sense of the word as "teacher."

Some of the different abbreviations denoting the Doctor of Theology used in different countries:

Also of note:




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