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Hartford Seminary

International Ph.D. Program





Hartford Seminary, recognizing the desire of students to utilize our unique educational resources in working toward a Doctor of Philosophy degree and the importance of international diversity in higher education, has entered into a partnership with the University of Exeter.

Through this program, students will work toward their degree under direct supervision of a Hartford Seminary lead advisor with a University of Exeter faculty member serving as the second advisor. The standards and policies for the program will follow the model of United Kingdom Ph.D. programs and the degree will be awarded by the University of Exeter.

In the United Kingdom model, students working on a Ph.D. degree attend a limited number of courses and spend the largest portion of their time working independently under the supervision of their lead advisor. Consequently, students interested in this program must be highly self-motivated and sufficiently prepared in their area of study to conduct doctoral level independent research.

To insure a quality educational experience, this program will be limited in the areas of study and in the numbers of students admitted. Currently, the two tracks of study available to potential Ph.D. students are: Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Theology and Ethics. Students exploring this degree option should have a clear idea of the topic they wish to pursue in their research before applying.

Hartford Seminary values the relationship between the academic pursuit of knowledge and practical application. All areas of study will explore this relationship and doctoral dissertations must have both academic depth and practical value.

For additional information or an application packet, please contact the Ph.D. Administrator, at of the program is Dr. Najib Awad, Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Hartford Seminary. His website is

Required Course

In their transition year or first year of the program, all students will be required to enroll in PHD-700 “Research Methodology and Scholarly Development I” and PHD-701 “Research Methodology and Scholarly Development II.” Offered on alternate academic years, this year long course will be held weekly and will provide students with the tools for doctoral level research and opportunities for collegial interaction. The following topics will be included: a) Introduction to Research Skills; b) Using a Library Effectively; c) Logical Thinking; d) Quantitative and Qualitative Data; e) Writing Articles, Book Proposals, and Reviews; f) Developing a Career in Scholarship; and g) Theories of Religious Studies.

Annual Reports

Each student will produce an annual report of 2-3 pages on their progress for scrutiny by the IPC. This annual report will initially be submitted to their lead advisor who will add a covering report. This report must be received by the IPC for review at its May meeting.

United Kingdom Residency Requirement

To insure that all students receive direct exposure to the United Kingdom model and receive input on their research from faculty at the University of Exeter, students will be required to attend the University of Exeter for a period of three months. Ideally, this period should run concurrently with a regular University of Exeter semester. The student’s second advisor from the University of Exeter will serve as their lead advisor during the period in residence.

Language Requirement

Although there is no specific language requirement for the program it is expected that all students will already have or will acquire any and all languages appropriate, as determined during the admissions process or later decided by the students’ Hartford Seminary and University of Exeter advisors, for the research required for their specific dissertation. If the specific language needed for the Ph.D. dissertation is not offered at Hartford Seminary it will be the responsibility of the student to acquire the language on their own and at their own cost. Students may be required to complete an examination demonstrating sufficient proficiency in the language(s) to undertake the research before the upgrade examination may be scheduled. Language courses taken for credit do not count for credit in the program.

Transition Year

Most students will be required to participate in a transition year before formally starting their work in the Ph.D. program. This transition year will be comprised of the following components:

PHD-699: Ph.D. Research Skills Preparation, a course that consists of the following:

A day-long retreat at the beginning of the program where students will form personal bonds with other students and their faculty advisors. At this retreat, students and advisors will begin to map out their work for their first academic year.

The resulting plan will include:

  • Initial determination of the student’s academic area of focus. Basically a mission statement for their time in the Ph.D. program.
  • A schedule of taught coursework and independent studies to be taken at Hartford Seminary over the course of the academic year that will prepare the student for the tutorial focus of the Ph.D. program. (See #2 below for more information.)
  • An introduction to Ph.D. level scholarship, including a discussion of good academic writing and review of library resources.

A mid-year retreat where students will come prepared to discuss and assess three dissertations in their area of research interest.

An end of year retreat where students will reconnect, formally present their dissertation topics and bibliography for discussion with peers and advisors, and be further informed on how the next stage of the program will proceed. A revised thesis proposal will be required.


Coursework: Through a combination of taught courses and independent studies each student will take 6 three credit courses under the tutelage of core faculty members at Hartford Seminary. PHD-699 will count as one of these courses. Students must maintain a B+ average or better in all courses to remain in good academic standing.

Monthly meetings with the academic advisor to further define the student’s dissertation proposal and begin to develop a preliminary bibliography which will form the foundation for their first year of study.

Participation in the Seminary community which may include free attendance at all educational outreach events, special lectures arranged by centers, and unlimited auditing of courses not formally part of the student’s program where appropriate. Additionally, students will be invited to social events, activities and chapel services.

All applications will be reviewed by the International Ph.D. Committee (IPC), which includes representation from the University of Exeter and Hartford Seminary. Once approved by the IPC, the application will be forwarded to the University of Exeter for their approval.

Materials to be submitted by April 1:

  1. Application and Fee ($100).
  2. Personal Statement outlining the student’s reasons for applying to this program.
  3. Research Proposal providing information on the potential topic of the dissertation (including area of study, objectives and hypotheses, methodology, sources). Please refer to the University of Exeter website for more detailed information regarding the details of the proposal. (, Needs New Link
  4. Official transcripts of all prior academic work.
  5. A copy of the M.A. thesis or a major piece of academic writing.
  6. Three academic recommendations.
  7. Interviews with the proposed lead advisor at Hartford Seminary, the Program Director or Hartford Seminary’s Academic Dean.

Additionally, International Students must submit:

  1. Documentation showing full financial support for the entire cost of the program.
  2. Evidence of sufficient ability to work at this level in English (Generally, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600 (written version), 250 (computer version) or 100 (internet version) would satisfy this requirement.)

Please note that only the paper-based format is available for Ph.D. application. Application instructions and forms are available for download below, or by contacting the Admissions Office at 860-509-9512.

All applicants will typically have a Master of Arts degree from Hartford Seminary, although those with Master of Arts degrees in Religious Studies programs from other schools will be considered. The work done at the Master’s level must have provided the applicant with significant experience in the proposed research area. Students without the necessary basis for advanced study will be required to complete a Graduate Certificate or Master of Arts degree at Hartford Seminary before being reviewed for admission into the Ph.D. program.

Initially, all students will be admitted to the Master of Philosophy program of the University of Exeter. After successful completion of the first year of the program and the required exams, as outlined below, students will be upgraded to the Doctor of Philosophy program. Part-time students will take exams and be eligible for upgrade to the Ph.D. program after two years.

Application Instructions

The application to the International Ph.D. program is based on the University of Exeter’s regular graduate studies application. Since some of the terms are not standard to applications for U.S. schools we thought some explanation would be helpful.\

  1. Most students will be required to do the transition year. Therefore although you are applying this year, your “Proposed Start Date” will be September 2013. (Box #1)
  2. Please note that date of birth should be written in Day, Month, Year. (Box #2)
  3. Under Academic Qualifications “Type of Qualification” would be your degree type for example: B.A., M.A., M.S.W., etc. (Box #4)
  4. Professional Qualifications refers to certifications or professional exams and in most cases would not be applicable to the International Ph.D. program. Feel free to leave this section blank. (Box #5)
  5. Work Experience only needs to be listed if it is directly related to the field of study you wish to pursue. (Box #6)
  6. English Language: Unless previous advanced degrees have been done in English, international students should have a TOEFL score of at least 600 written or 250 computer. Documentation of this level of achievement should be included with the application. (Box #7)
  7. References: Please list the name and address of each reference (referee). It is your responsibility to follow up with your references to make sure they have submitted a letter. (Box #11)
  8. Feel free not to answer the question on which other institutions you have applied to. (Box #12)

There is a $100 non-refundable application fee that must be submitted with your application.

download the application in:   Word   PDF

Please make a copy of the completed application and all documents submitted for your records. Return your completed application to:

Hartford Seminary, Admission Office

77 Sherman Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06105

United States

*If you do not have Adobe Acrobat to download this document, you can obtain the free software at their web site.

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