Duke Divinity’s Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) program provides students with academically rigorous training informed by an understanding of theology as critical reflection on Christian practice and belief in the light of holy scripture.

Entering students work within theological disciplines such as Bible, church history, theology, ethics, homiletics, and Christian formation, and also at the intersection of these disciplines with fields such as political science, peacemaking and reconciliation, medicine, and the arts. The program is intentionally interdisciplinary, and students have access to the resources of both the wider university and partner institutions (including UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Central University, and NC State University).

Like the Ph.D., the Th.D. at Duke is a rigorous research degree. The most immediate difference between the two is that the Ph.D. is awarded and supported by the Graduate School of the University, while the Th.D. is awarded through and supported by the Divinity School.

While many Divinity School faculty members are also members of the University’s Graduate Program in Religion (GPR), the Th.D. allows students to pursue their study under the direction of any regular-rank Divinity School faculty member—including those in disciplinary areas that fall outside of the purview of the GPR, such as homiletics, evangelism, and Christian formation.

We are now accepting applications for the Bowden Th.D. Scholarship in the Visual Arts, which provides five years of funding, including additional funds to support research and travel during the dissertation. More information is available here.

Program Overview

Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts is committed to establishing rigorous programs of study in theology and the arts at Duke Divinity School. One of the possible areas of concentration within Duke’s Th.D. program is theology and the arts, working with Professor Jeremy Begbie and distinguished faculty in the field. At any one time, DITA typically works with six students in the Th.D. program. The Th.D. provides students with academically rigorous training comparable to the demands of the Ph.D.

Degree Program: Th.D. in Theology and the Arts
Field of Study: Contemporary Visual Arts

Christina Carnes Ananias’ research focuses on the particular contributions that modernist and contemporary visual art bring to the practice of theology, and how theology informs the interpretation and practice of art-making. Carnes Ananias received her M.T.S at Duke Divinity School.

Degree Program: Th.D. in Theology and the Arts
Fields of Study: Liturgical Studies, Theology and the Arts

Glenn Stallsmith’s research interests include the praise and worship movement within the worldwide church, a subject he previously studied as an ethnomusicologist in the Philippines. Stallsmith’s dissertation focuses on the practice of extemporaneous prayer with American evangelical worship services. In addition to being a full-time student, Stallsmith is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and the pastor of two congregations.

Degree Program: Th.D. in Theology and the Arts
Fields of Study: Poetry and Poetics, Philosophy and Theology of Language

Brett Stonecipher works on philosophical and theological accounts of language, and poetry in particular. His research traces connections and kinships between ancient spiritual practices, philosophical treatments of language, and modern and contemporary poetry. Stonecipher studied literature as an undergraduate and worked as a journalist and teacher prior to earning his M.T.S. from Duke.

Degree Program: Th.D. in Theology and the Arts
Field of Study: Contemporary Christian Worship

Debbie Wong is interested in the theology that shapes worship practices—and vice versa—with an emphasis on charismatic and contemporary praise and worship. Wong’s research traces the development of these ways of worship with a particular eye towards Southeast Asia. Wong was, and remains, a practitioner of worship long before becoming a scholar of worship. She received her M.Div. from Duke Divinity School.

Degree Program: Th.D. in Theology and the Arts
Fields of Interest: Theological Anthropology, Ethics, and Literature

Sarah Neff’s research interests center around literary fiction and the role of attention and emotion in moral formation. She focuses on how descriptions of causality, temporality, and relationship in novels shape our ability to attend to and relate to others and the environment. She graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English Literature and Theater and has received an M.S.W. from UNC Chapel Hill and an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School.

Degree Program: Ph.D. in English Literature
Fields of Study: 20th-Century Poetry and Poetics, Theological Aesthetics

Will Brewbaker’s research takes place, most frequently, at the intersection of poetry and theological inquiry—especially as the two worlds meet in such diachronic and dynamic forms as the “dream vision” or the “Christian” epic. He holds an M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. His poetry has appeared in Narrative, TriQuarterly Review, Image, Washington Square Review.

Duke Divinity School’s Th.D. program boasts a superb placement rate, with graduates working at institutions such as United Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Baylor University, Loyola University Maryland, Eastern Mennonite University, North Park University, Westmont College, Abilene Christian University, Loyola University Chicago, and Whitworth University.

Director of Brehm Texas and Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

David O. Taylor received his Th.D. from Duke Divinity School in 2014. His dissertation, “Feeding and Forming: John Calvin, Materiality, and the Flourishing of the Liturgical Arts” was written under the direction of Professor Jeremy Begbie. Taylor joined the Fuller faculty that same year as an assistant professor of theology and culture as well as the Director of Brehm Texas, an initiative to revitalize the church and the arts. His most recent books are Glimpses of the New Creation: Worship and the Formative Power of the Arts (Eerdmans, 2019) and Open and Unafraid: The Psalms As a Guide to Life (Nelson Books, 2020). Read more on his personal site.

Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Bethany Theological Seminary

Joelle Hathaway received her Th.D. from Duke Divinity School in 2018 with a focus on theology and the arts and an emphasis in ecotheology and liturgical studies. Hathaway’s dissertation, written under the direction of Professor Jeremy Begbie, was entitled “Offering a Sacrifice of Praise: Human Vocation, Culture-Making, and Cultivating a Sabbath Imagination.” She has published several articles in online symposia as well as an entry in the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception. Her dissertation has now been transformed into a book and is forthcoming from Fortress Press, and she is awaiting the publication of several articles and essays. Read more on her personal site.

Research Editor to Dr. Edgardo Colón-Emeric, Dean of Duke Divinity School

Jacki Price-Linnartz received her Th.D. from Duke Divinity School in 2016. Her research interests lie at the intersections of ethics, theology, and the arts, and her dissertation was entitled “Christ the Mediator and the Idol of Whiteness: Christological Anthropology in T. F. Torrance, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Willie Jennings.” Her short fiction has appeared in Relief Journal and Dreaming Robot Press, and her research has appeared in ARTS journal, Word & World, Participatio, and The Art of the New Creation (IVP 2022)—the last of which draws on her dissertation to critique the theological underpinnings of the White Savior trope in blockbuster film. Read more on her personal site.

Assistant Professor of Worship Studies, Belmont University

Adam Perez received his Th.D. in liturgical studies with a secondary area in religion and the arts from Duke Divinity School in 2021. His research, conducted under Dr. Jeremy Begbie, focused on the history of contemporary praise and worship, music and worship in pentecostal-charismatic contexts, and American evangelicalism. His scholarly work has appeared in the journals Liturgy, Religions, The Hymn, The Journal of the Society for American Popular Music, Reformed Journal, and Christian Scholar’s Review, among other places. He is a contributing author to Flow: The Ancient Way to Do Contemporary Worship (Abingdon, 2020) and Essays on the History of Contemporary Praise and Worship (Pickwick, 2021). Read more on the Belmont faculty page.

Director, The Miller Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Tanner Capps received his Th.D. from Duke Divinity School in 2018. His research focused on theology and early modern studies, and he wrote his dissertation entitled “Vision in John Calvin” under the direction of Professors Jeremy Begbie and Sujin Pak. After completing his doctorate, Capps served as the Bruce Scholars Lecturer in the Honors College at UNC-Wilmington and as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at St. Andrews Presbyterian College. He has recently published work in constructive theology, social ethics, and visual studies with Political Theology, the International Journal of Systematic Theology, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Read more on the Miller Summer Youth Institute’s page.