The PhD in Practical Theology: Spirituality Studies Concentration

Spirituality studies is a fascinating and deeply rewarding field of scholarship that draws upon multiple disciplines. The Boston University PhD program in Practical Theology with a concentration in Spirituality Studies offers students a rigorous program with a high degree of flexibility to tailor coursework and research around particular interests. The program takes a particular interest in spiritual practice, religious experience, and spiritual traditions as we explore significant spiritual questions for contemporary living, drawing upon excellent faculty resources in practical theology, history of Christianity, liturgical studies, religious education, sociology of religion, psychology of religion, feminist and womanist thought, Latino/a theology, cultural theory, and congregational studies. Our approach includes careful attention to spiritual texts, contexts, practices, and traditions with interest in the intersections of spirituality, faith communities, culture, and public life. PhD students benefit from the rich resources of the Boston Theological Institute and may include BTI coursework with advisor approval. Boston University is a vibrant place for advanced studies in practical theology and spirituality with an established doctoral program, strong faculty, and the resources and on-the-ground research projects of the Center for Practical Theology. The PhD program in Practical Theology/Spirituality Studies aims to prepare excellent scholars and teachers of spirituality who will go out to serve in leadership in universities, seminaries and divinity schools, and faith communities.


Program Requirements:

  • 3 Core Courses in Practical Theology (12 credits)
    • Proseminar in Practical Theology
    • Advanced Research in Practical Theology
    • Ecclesiology (or alternate doctoral seminar in theology, approved by advisors)
  • 7 Concentration Courses in Spirituality (28 credits), approved by advisors. Courses include:
    • Classics in Christian Spirituality
    • Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
    • History of Western Christian Spirituality
    • Prayer and Social Engagement
    • Vocation, Work, and Faith
    • Sabbath: Theology and Practice
    • Spiritual Autobiographies
    • Spirituality and Leadership
    • Spiritual Foundations for Peace Building
    • Spirituality and Liberative Pedagogy
    • Spirituality, Medicine & Health
    • Religious Experience
    • Theology of Christian Mysticism
    • The Religious Thinking of Howard Thurman
    • Mysticism and Philosophy: Medieval Jewish
    • Islamic Mysticism: Sufism

Admissions Requirements

A master’s degree in theology is required for admission to the Ph.D. The application also requires a clear statement of research interests, transcripts, writing sample three letters of recommendation, and an interview. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Wolfteich ( early in the process to discuss research interests and program details. For further information about the admissions process, please also contact the Admissions Office

Related Faculty

  • Dr. Nancy Ammerman, (expertise in sociology of religion, congregational studies, spiritual narratives in everyday life)
  • Dr. Christopher Brown, (expertise in history of Christianity, Renaissance and Reformation, Lutheran piety, and hymnody)
  • Dr. Cristian De La Rosa, (expertise in Latino/a theologies, popular religion, cultural theory, and ministry)
  • Dr. Susan Hassinger (expertise in spirituality and leadership, spiritual direction, spirituality and conflict transformation, and Wesleyan spirituality)
  • Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore (expertise in religious education and spirituality, spirituality and youth, feminist theologies, spirituality and conflict transformation)
  • Dr. Shelly Rambo (expertise in constructive theology, pneumatology, feminist theology, and trauma studies)
  • Dr. Rady Roldan-Figueroa, history of Christianity (expertise in history of Christianity and early modern Spanish spirituality)
  • Dr. Steven Sandage (expertise in pastoral psychology and theology, spiritual formation, relational spirituality and forgiveness, empirical research in spirituality)
  • Dr. Wanda Stahl (expertise in spirituality and congregational life, spiritual direction)
  • Dr. Karen Westerfield-Tucker, (expertise in liturgical history and theology, Wesleyan liturgy and history, hymnody, and Methodist-Catholic dialogue)
  • Dr. Wesley Wildman (expertise in philosophy of religion, comparative theology, religion and science, religious experience)
  • Dr. Claire Wolfteich (expertise in spiritual practices and practical theology; history of Christian spirituality; theologies of work and family; spiritual autobiographies; Catholic spirituality; spirituality and public life)