Doctoral Degree in Theology

A candidate undertaking the PhD in Theology delineates and investigates a question, a question that fascinates the candidate and captures their imagination.

Postgraduate - Full Time
3+ Years
Application Deadline:
01st June 2018
Course Start Date:
September 2018
Download Information


A candidate undertaking the PhD in Theology delineates and investigates a question, a question that fascinates the candidate and captures their imagination.


Under the supervision of a member of the Faculty of Theology, a candidate undertaking the PhD in Theology delineates and investigates a question or the aspect of a question in a way that permits her or him to acquire an overarching mastery and competence in their chosen theological discipline, so as to formulate a thesis, write a dissertation thereon, and thus contribute to the development of theological understanding. The Faculty of Theology currently supervises the PhD in Theology in all principal theological disciplines. 

Obtaining a doctorate is not just obtaining a more advanced degree—gaining a doctorate is gaining another life! Researching and writing a doctoral dissertation is not simply a question of more detailed and demanding study, it is the study of a question, a question that fascinates the candidate and captures their imagination. As well as academic ability, undertaking doctoral studies demands dedication, focus, and an ability to hold to one’s academic path. This is clearly not for everybody, but for those who endure in their research, the rewards are great: an overarching mastery and competence in their field of research, a deep insight not only into their sub-discipline, into the very character of theology or philosophy, an ability to frame and engage new questions and research challenges as they emerge.

The Maynooth doctoral candidate—be it for the PhD or the D.D. (S.T.D.)—has access to a very large, international, multilingual, research active, and diverse Faculty in the Catholic tradition that is part of a dynamic academic network across Europe’s premier theology faculties, in an institution where theology has been taught since 1795, with a contemporary research library (the John Paul II University Library) and a venerable archival library (the Russell Library), and sharing research facilities with a large State university on Ireland’s most beautiful and most peaceful University campus.

Are you considering a career in research? The PhD programme is an opportunity for those who want to further their studies after completing a master’s degree.  A PhD will qualify you to lecture in higher level education, conduct research and enter other fields where there are high standard for scholarly insight and advanced analytical thinking.

Career Outcomes


Course Structure

Programme of Study

Application Requirements

Admission Requirements

 A Master’s Degree in Theology of at least Second Class Honors Grade I or its equivalent
 The Faculty of Theology may also accept applicants whom it deems to have achieved an equivalent standard.
 A competence in at least two theological languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.
Postgraduate Degree students will normally be expected to register year by year on a continuous basis until they have completed their degree. Students wishing to suspend registration may do so only on the express permission of the Faculty. Upon registration, PhD students will be assigned a staff mentor to assist them in their choice of courses and thesis director.

Programme of Study

Candidates must normally complete at least three years of study, one of which must include four postgraduate seminar courses. Two of these courses will normally be Research in Theology: Historical and Methodological Approaches and The Soul of Theology.
Candidates must have or must acquire a good reading knowledge of a modern continental European language.
The doctoral dissertation, which forms the basis for the award of the degree, must be a substantial and original piece of research, which offers a notable contribution to the advancement of the theological sciences.
The dissertation must be prepared under the direction of a member of the Faculty of Theology on a topic approved by the Faculty.
Regulations for the PhD Defence

A defence of the dissertation is required for the awarding of the PhD.

The candidate shall in the first place submit three copies of the dissertation which may be ring-bound.
The examiners shall be the supervisor of the dissertation, an extern chosen by the Faculty, and a member of the Faculty appointed by the Faculty.The Faculty will also appoint a chairperson for the defence, and members of the Faculty are invited to attend.
The examiners may accept or reject the dissertation for defence.
The format of the defence shall be decided by the examiners but shall not exceed one and a half-hour’s duration.
The examiners shall make a written recommendation to the Faculty.
The dissertation may be accepted without change or with some modifications, or it may be rejected on the basis of the defence.
In the event of a successful defence the candidate must submit a hard-bound copy of the dissertation incorporating any changes which the examiners may require. Changes are verified by at least one of the examiners. The degree shall not be conferred until receipt of a duly revised copy has been confirmed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies.
A copy of the dissertation will be lodged in the College Library, and candidates will be invited to complete the following form: I hereby agree that the copy of my dissertation deposited in the Library shall be available for consultation under conditions laid down by the Pontifical University.
All dissertations shall remain the property of the University.