Doctor of Philosophy [Intercultural Studies]

Asbury Theological Seminary’s 48-hour (plus dissertation work) Doctor of Philosophy in Intercultural Studies advances your knowledge in the theological, contextual, spiritual and strategic literatures in the field of missiology. Students acquire a comprehensive knowledge of missiology as an interdisciplinary study combining approaches of historical, theological, sociological, anthropological and evangelistic studies and practices. Then, they focus on one of the four concentrations: Contextual (anthropological) Studies, Development (including socio-economic and leadership) Studies, Evangelization Studies, and Historical-Theological Studies. For further information on these concentrations, please see “Tracks.”

What to Expect from the Degree

  • The following is an overview of the degree requirements:  
    • Successful completion of 48 credit hours as outlined in the Academic Catalog with a cumulative grade point average of 3.30/4.00 or higher
    • Approval of the Research Readiness Review at the end of the first academic year
    • Active attendance of the weekly school seminars and the annual interdisciplinary colloquium of Advanced Research Programs.
    • Passing of the comprehensive examinations
    • Approval of a dissertation proposal
    • Completion and successful defense of the dissertation

*Refer to the Academic Catalog for a detailed and full list of graduation requirements.

Admissions Requirements

Application deadline: January 5

  • Application Form.
  • Accredited baccalaureate degree; accredited Master of Divinity degree, or an academic or professional (two-year or 60 credit hours) Master of Arts in an appropriate theological discipline. Accreditation is required by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or holding membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.

  • Official transcripts of all postsecondary schools attended, sent directly by each institution to the Asbury Seminary Admissions Office.

  • A nonrefundable $50 (US) application fee that includes processing of the application and a personal background check.

  • Four professor or other scholar references completed on the Admissions Office form at

  • A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.50/4.00 for baccalaureate and graduate work is required for admission. The grade point average as calculated by the Admissions Office at Asbury Seminary shall be considered the official grade point average for admission.

  • Submission of a scholarly essay, representing an example of the applicant’s ability to do independent research and reflecting a research interest appropriate to the degree program, approximately 25 pages in length, completed within the last three years. (Please note: writing samples must be submitted in .pdf format, with the applicant’s 6-digit prospective student ID number in place of their name throughout the paper. The prospective ID number should also be the filename of the document. If papers are not submitted within these guidelines, they will be returned to the applicant for proper formatting.)

  • Personal history essay, including a purpose statement noting reason for Ph.D. pursuit, vocational understanding and research specialization. Specific guidelines at

  • A resume or CV detailing education, language skills, and work/ministry experience.

  • Demonstrated capability for languages (biblical research or field languages) other than English. This capability can be demonstrated by transcripts showing 12 credit hours (college or graduate) of language study (normally in a single language) with a grade of “B” or better, or by documented proficiency in any language(s) or other research tools necessary for the dissertation research.

  • For native speakers of English, an official score report from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. International applicants may submit the GRE in lieu of the TOEFL or IELTS but are not normally required to submit both scores. 

  • Although not required, experience in cross-cultural ministry at home or internationally is desirable, and may be taken into account in the admission process.

  • For applicants whose native language is other than English, an official score report from the TOEFL or IETLS must be submitted. TOEFL scores of 600 paper or 90 internet-based or an IETLS score of 7.5 are expected. Normally, TOEFL or IELTS will not be waived.
  • The Admissions Committee may request the applicant to submit additional materials and/or schedule an interview with a seminary representative.

Personal History Essay:

  1. Share your life story and at what point you began your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Talk about your growth since that time and what brings you to apply to Asbury Seminary’s Advanced Research Program.  Include your thoughts on how you would like to see your faith grow during your time in this program. (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  2. Please describe your ministry and vocational experience, including positions held and dates of service.  (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  3. Statement of Purpose – Describe briefly the reasons you are prompted to pursue study in the particular program area you have chosen and what you hope to gain through the program.  Give specific goals, and personal or professional needs.  (350 to 500 words maximum)
  4. Research Interests
    1. State your preferred concentration in the program you have chosen (Contextualization Studies, Development Studies, Evangelization Studies, or Historical-Theological Studies).
    2. Give a short summary (15-20 words) of your research interest.
    3. Provide a brief reflection indicating possible research interests. This reflection should start with a summary of your interests in less than 20 words. (350 minimum to 500 words maximum)
  5. List the language(s) (including English) used in your research and/or ministry and indicate your relative proficiency.
  6. (Optional)  If you feel your cumulative grade point average or academic test scores do not adequately reflect your abilities to flourish at Asbury Seminary, please explain.
  7. (Optional) If you are married, describe your spouse’s attitudes toward your plans for seminary education and future ministry. Please attach a resume or CV.

We offer four Intercultural Studies concentrations that include:

Contextual Studies

The contextual studies concentration prepares students for the challenging task of utilizing anthropological and sociological theories and methods in the service of the global church. Courses in this concentration deal with issues of sociocultural change, ethnicity and gender, immigration and missions/ministry, urban anthropology and ministry, linguistics, and ethnographic methods. The goal of the concentration is to assist the student to integrate theology, the social sciences, and mission. Graduates with this concentration are prepared to work in a number of ministries, including church planting, cross-cultural and intercultural missions, Bible translation, inner city and urban ministries, and university/seminary teaching.

Historical-Theological Studies

This concentration offers the following foci for research: (1) historical research of any relevant period, persons of interest, and events in the history of missions and world Christianity, (2) theology and mission including biblical theology of mission, contextual theology, and contemporary theologies of mission, (3) missional engagements with world religions and theology of religions. The concentration focus is marked either by a historical, inter-religious, or theological approach, or by a substantive approach that explores the history, religion, and theology in relation to mission and world Christianity.

Affirming that any missiological research should have strong historical and theological foundations, the concentration sub-field of Historical-Theological Studies also provides two foundational (core) courses for all the Ph.D. students in Intercultural Studies.

Development Studies

The development studies concentration helps students become scholar-practitioners of Transformational Development. Courses explore social justice, reconciliation, leadership, and poverty alleviation for the purposes of helping the Church care for the holistic needs of people around the world through the love of Jesus Christ. We think, discuss and practice development from a thoroughly biblical and missional perspective, and we encourage students to synthesize classroom learning with practicum and research opportunities for domestic and global development contexts. Graduates with this concentration will be well-positioned to teach in institutions of higher education, work for Christian non-governmental organizations, and help lead the Church toward engaging its diverse contexts filled with conflict and suffering.

Evangelization Studies

The Church’s very existence is bound up with its call to share the good news and make disciples (Mt. 28:19), and  Asbury Seminary’s Evangelization Studies concentration equips leaders for that mission. The Seminary’s commitment to participate in the mission of God, paired with state-of-the-art field research, scholarly deliberation, and experiential learning, distinguish our program academically and spiritually. Our instructors’ broad domestic and international experience in the church and academy complement stellar academic credentials. Scores of our graduates serve the global church as scholars, educators, researchers and organizational leaders in many intercultural contexts around the world. Our courses span a wide range of pivotal topics, including twenty-first century church planting, single cell and small church case studies, global urbanization and church planting, dynamics of interpersonal evangelism and holistic witness.

Download printable copy.

Hrs Course ID Course Name
Intercultural Studies Required Courses (15 credit hours)
3 MH902 Biblical Theology of Mission
3 MH900 History of Christian Missions
3 MD955 Integral Mission
3 MC971 Applied Anthropology and Missiology
3 MD980 Research Methods in Missiology
0 MS745 Seminar in Missiology (credit only)

Register and attend weekly for two years (four semesters, fall and spring)


Courses in Ph.D. Concentration (18 credit hours)

Students choose one concentration:

MD927 Public Theology and Global Development

Hrs Course ID Course Name
Contextual Studies Concentration
3 MC910 Contextual Theology
3 MC911 Christianity and Culture Change
3 MC975 Contextual Seminar: The Anthropology of Christianity
9 (MC9__) Concentration Elective
Development Studies Concentration
3 MD905 Foundations of Development
3 MD927 Public Theology and Global Development
3 MD913 Development Seminar: Transformational Development
9 (MD__) Concentration Elective
Evangelization Studies Concentration
3 ME914 Theology of Evangelism
3 ME915 Church Growth Theory and Practice
3 ME943 Evangelization Seminar: Perspectives of Evangelism
9 (ME9__) Concentration Elective
Historical-Theological Studies Concentration
3 MH910 Contextual Theology
3 MH968 Trends and Issues in World Christianity
3 MH977 Historical-Theological Seminar: Christian Witness and Other Religions
9 (MH9__) Concentration Elective

Intercultural Studies Elective Courses (15 credit hours)

Students choose five additional three-credit hour courses in World Mission and Evangelism (900 level) and CD920 is strongly recommended. At least two electives should be in doctoral seminars outside the student’s area of concentration. Courses below the 900 level and in Biblical Studies by permission of Dean of Advanced Research Programs through academic petition; may include a field based practicum.

Additional Requirements

  • Approved Review for Research Readiness by the end of May of the student’s first year.
  • Attend required, non-credit Advanced Research Programs Interdisciplinary Colloquium as scheduled until coursework is completed.
  • Cumulative GRP of at least 3.30/4.00.
  • Pass the comprehensive examination base on faculty approved literature in (1) the general field of missiology, (2) the student’s concentration (Contextual, Development, Evangelization or Historical Theological Studies), and (3) the theoretical and methodological aspects of the student’s chosen research.
  • Successful completion of a dissertation proposal.
  • Completion and successful defense of the dissertation.
  • Fulfillment of all degree requirements in not more than eight calendar years from the first term of enrollment.
  • Submission of all revised dissertation copies and finalization materials.

Asbury Seminary is committed to providing you with a quality theological education and practical skills for a lifetime. We offer more than 400 scholarships annually and our Ministry Partners Program helps you graduate with minimal debt.

Cost of Attendance: 2022-2023

Degree Total Credits Cost
Ph.D. 48 credits $875/credit hour
Coursework Total $42,000

 PHD900 (Continuation Fee Registration) $875/credit hour each Fall and Spring after post-coursework through degree completion 

Academic Year 2022-2023 All Campuses Fall/Spring All Campuses Summer
Technology Fee $210 per semester $105 per semester
Graduation Fee $200 one-time fee $200 one-time fee
Student Services Fee $150 per semester $75 per semester


Postgraduate Support Scholarships are available to Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Theology students based on criteria of merit and need. 

To apply

  • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Complete the Asbury Financial Aid Application
  • Complete a Postgraduate Support Scholarship Application, including a 1000-word essay describing your passion for research and how it will equip you for the future.