Trinity Evangelical Divinity School



Doctor of Philosophy (Intercultural Studies)

Our mission is to help leaders develop their God-given abilities to serve Christ by proclaiming his gospel to every nation.

The PhD (Intercultural Studies) provides an opportunity for those with significant intercultural ministry experience to develop research and leadership skills in the field of evangelism, missions, mission education, and missiology. The program trains evangelists, missionaries and world leaders for significant leadership positions in global ministries.

Doctor of Philosophy (Intercultural Studies)

Where can this degree take me?

The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy (Intercultural Studies) is to assist in the development of specialists in evangelism and mission-related strategy, research, and teaching for church, parachurch, and institutional ministry. Students are usually well established in intercultural ministries connected with the world mission of the church, whether at home or abroad. Participation in the program links them with a broad-based community of scholars and provides tools to promote lifelong learning. Many of Trinity’s PhD/ICS students participate in the program during sabbatical or other educational leaves from Christian mission organizations, colleges, seminaries, and churches. The admission requirements presuppose that the student has completed one or more graduate degrees and has had substantial recent experience in a mission-related ministry. Relatively few students are in major career transitions.

The program is designed for academic development of experienced persons in higher educational leadership development in institutional, church, and parachurch missions leadership. It is an academic doctorate with requirements and expectations comparable to American university and seminary research PhD standards. Comprehensive examinations and the formal presentation of the dissertation proposal take place during the second or third year.

Intercultural Studies defined

Intercultural studies represents a broad category of scholarly inquiries related to the differences and commonalities across cultures. Human commonalities are understood to be based on the oneness of humankind, and differences are understood to be the outgrowth of historical, geographic, and sociopolitical variability. The scholarly task in this field of doctoral studies is to grasp with knowledge and wisdom those matters of diversity that impinge on human relationships and understandings of reality and to evaluate these in the light of biblical teaching.

Socioanthropological inquiry is used to help understand the nature of intercultural relationships and to develop substantial awareness, knowledge of the skills of analysis and interpretation, and theoretical comprehension of the nature and consequences of sociocultural diversity. Effective human relationships and communication of ideas and images from one culture to another require an understanding of intercultural dynamics.

The foundation of the program is evangelical Christian theology, which provides the basis for the evaluation of the interaction between a given culture and the gospel in such areas as evangelism, church planting, and theologizing. The field of intercultural studies explores in scholarly modes the tasks that demand the proper contextualization of the biblical message and focuses on the missiological purposes of God in the world.

What will I study?

The PhD (Intercultural Studies) Program is designed as a program of four academic years, ordinarily requiring two years (four semesters) of classroom and seminar studies followed by a year of comprehensive examinations and dissertation research. The minimum number of courses and seminars is 60 semester hours, with a minimum full-time enrollment of 9 semester hours each term. Ordinarily a full-time student takes 9 to 12 semester hours. The program operates on a year-round basis, with full-load enrollment available in each of the two semesters and summer. Two semesters of enrollment constitute one academic year. Program courses are available each of the two semesters and summer in a variety of term-length and modular formats.

Seminars you’ll take include the following:

  • Foundational Courses - 27 hrs


    ME 9050 Prolegomena: Missiology as a Discipline 3 hrs
    ME 9250 Leadership Development and Culture 3 hrs
    ME 9930 Missiological Research Methods 3 hrs
    ME 9700 Theology of Mission and Evangelism 3 hrs
    ME 9610 Anthropology for Mission and Evangelism 3 hrs
    ME 9400 History of Missions in the Modern World 3 hrs
    ME 8815 Ethnicity: Modes of Inquiry and Analysis 3 hrs
    ME 8312 Christian Encounter with World Religions 3 hrs

    An additional course in research methods is required:

    ME 9922 Ethnographic Research Methods 3 hrs
    ME 9925 Historiographic Research Methods 3 hrs
    Note: If a participant’s dissertation research will be based on historical study, then ME 9925 should be taken. In all other cases, ME 9922 must be taken. Participants are encouraged to consider taking both.
  • Designated Electives - 12 hours

    Students select, with the approval of the program director and/or dissertation supervisor, four courses offered at or above the 8000 or 9000 level by faculty in the missions department. These courses should be related to the participant’s dissertation research and/or to the participant’s three field statements (the written part of the comprehensive examination) and must include careful attention to theory, method, and data.
  • Free Electives - 9 hours

    These will normally be ME courses, but an individual with a strong academic background in missiology or with special needs related to their dissertation may, with permission of the program director, take PhD classes from other departments.
  • Comprehensive Exam Preparation and Dissertation - 12 hrs

    ME 9975 Comprehensive Exam Preparation 3 hrs
    ME 9990 Dissertation Proposal Preparation 3 hrs
    ME 9991 Dissertation Research 6 hrs
    Note: ICS participants may take one to three semesters of Comprehensive Exam Preparation and one to three semesters of Dissertation Proposal Preparation in order to meet the 3 credit hours required for each course. ICS participants may take between two and six semesters of Dissertation Research to meet the 6 credit hour requirement, with no more than 4 hours being taken in a given semester.

PhD (ICS) Program Minors

Qualified students in the PhD (ICS) program will be permitted to take a 9-semester-hour minor in one of the other two doctoral programs. Qualified participants should (a) demonstrate strong master’s level preparation in their primary field of study and (b) secure permission for the minor and the courses to be applied toward the minor from their Program Director and from the director of the program in which they wish to do a minor. The 9-semester-hour minor is completed in the Professional Development component of the degree.

What are the prerequisites for admission to this program?

Applicants for the PhD/ICS program must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have earned a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree or appropriate master’s degree (totaling at least 48 semester hours) providing significant theological and missiological foundations from an institution maintaining academic standards similar to those of TEDS. Specifically applicants must have, at the graduate level, a minimum of 15 semester hours of Missions or Intercultural studies and 30 semester hours of Biblical/Theological studies, including a minimum of 6 semester hours of Old Testament, 6 semester hours of New Testament, 6 semester hours of Systematic Theology, and 3 semester hours of Church History.
  • Present evidence of potential for original academic research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of published writing or a recent academic research paper if nothing has been published.
  • Have completed at least three years of vocational ministry experience, preferably in intercultural ministry, with evidence of relevant gifts and abilities.
  • Present evidence of competence in two languages: (1) a contemporary field language or research language for bibliographic control; and (2) one biblical language. (In exceptional circumstances, the biblical language requirement may be waived.)
  • Give evidence of a superior intellectual ability in all previous accredited graduate studies.
  • Have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in previous graduate studies.
  • Provide recommendations from the following four people (to be submitted electronically through the online application): (1) Ministry Supervisor, (2) Professor from recent graduate studies, (3) Professional Colleague, (4) Lay person from church.
  • Submit a test score from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), preferably the latter, which will be taken into consideration among other factors in the application. Applicants whose first language is not English should submit scores less than two years old from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in addition to the MAT or GRE.