Doctor of Philosophy in Theology


Our PhD is designed to raise up scholar-leaders in various fields of Christian ministry. It is a fully-accredited online programme that provides the opportunity for ground-breaking theological research.

To be admitted to the PhD, you must have achieved excellent results in a relevant and accredited master’s degree, such as an MTh.

We are registered as a Section 21 company (Reg. no. 2002/005184/08), a PBO (18/11/13/2403) and an NPO (033-343-NPO. Our accreditation and Department of Higher Education registration provide assurance that the quality of our programmes is of the highest standard. Our programmes are therefore nationally and internationally comparable and the credits earned with us are truly “portable”, i.e. they can be transferred to other accredited, registered institutions. The increasing number of international students confirms the acceptability of our programmes around the world. Recently our MTh and PhD programmes were submitted to two of the most frequently used and highly recommended evaluators in the USA, namely the International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (ierf.org) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ International Education Services, and both confirmed that these degrees represent attainment of a level of education comparable to the equivalent degrees from a regionally accredited university in the United States. Our degrees are also recognised by the German website anabin.kmk.org which provides information about the evaluation of foreign qualifications.
The IQAS (International Qualification Assessment Service) in Alberta, Canada, an independent, secular assessment service used by many Canadian universities to establish the quality of foreign qualifications, has evaluated the SATS B.Th. as the local equivalent of a “three year Bachelor’s degree with a focus in theology”.

The PhD is a research degree that culminates in an original dissertation of 80,000- 100,000 words. The learning journey is divided into five phases.

Phase 1 begins when you enrol. It consists of two online courses: GEN4121 Theological Orientation and MRS5240 Research Concept Development.

Phase 2 requires you to draft and submit a formal research proposal, which you do in consultation with your appointed supervisor, a scholar specialising in your research area. The phase ends when SATS’ Research Committee approves your research proposal.

Phases 3-4 are where you conduct the research and write the dissertation, under the tutelage of your appointed supervisor.

Phase 5 is about examination! You submit your dissertation for internal and external examination, making the required improvements. You must also submit an article based on the thesis. The PhD journey culminates in the online oral defence. This takes place after the dissertation passes both the internal and external evaluation process. The student is required to defend his or her thesis by responding to questions posed by a team of experts in the chosen fields of study.

US Students

North American students find SATS’ Ph.D. in Theology programme relevant and affordable. By 2016 there were already ten Ph.D. graduates from the USA, with a further 32 enrolled students.

Recently our MTh and PhD programmes were submitted to two of the most frequently used and highly recommended evaluators in the USA, namely the International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (ierf.org) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ International Education Services, and both confirmed that these degrees represent attainment of a level of education comparable to the equivalent degrees from a regionally accredited university in the United States. Our degrees are also recognised by the German website anabin.kmk.org which provides information about the evaluation of foreign qualifications, as well as by the Brazilian and Argentinian governments.

On enrolment you will be required to complete RES6600 Theological Research Methodology, a course which culminates in the submission of your dissertation proposal to the Postgraduate Committee. You have a maximum of 12 months to submit your research proposal, failing which your registration for the Ph.D. will lapse.

If and when your dissertation proposal is accepted, under the guidance of your supervisor you will be required to write a  dissertation consisting of 80,000 to 100,000 words.

All work is submitted and returned via email, except for the final bound copies. Full details pertaining to the formatting of your dissertation are contained in RES6600. Your dissertation will be assessed by two independent External Examiners, as well as an Internal Examiner, your supervisor, and if it is successful, you will be awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree at the next Graduation Ceremony. The maximum duration of this programme, which is at level 10 on the Higher Education Qualifications Framework, is six years.

The minimum duration is two years, but the average completion time is 3-5 years. You have a maximum of six years to finish.

Several potential Ph.D. candidates from Africa have told us that the demands made upon them as Christian leaders prevent them, in their own country, from giving the attention that their Ph.D. studies would require. They have pointed out that the only solution is to leave their country for a short time in order to devote their full attention to their research.

If this is what it is like in your country, why not spend a month or two in Johannesburg, which would be a lot cheaper than going to the US or the UK? There are a number of guest houses close to the seminary, which of course has an excellent library and internet access, providing the perfect place for undisturbed research.

Click here to see the Doctor of Philosophy in Theology Pricing

Please bear the following in mind when assessing the financial implications:

  1. You pay at the beginning of each phase, so the tuition is spread over 3-5 years (the average time it takes to finish).
  2. The tuition fees are the total cost of the programme. There are no hidden costs, no travel costs, no accommodation costs, and no prescribed books to purchase. For many PhD programmes, these ‘hidden’ costs can easily double or triple the total cost.

To access our application form you may contact the Registrar of Postgraduate Studies, Marilyn Schott on postgraduate@sats.edu.za or simply click on Apply Online.
We look forward to being of assistance to you.

Please take extra care when completing the online application form not to use apostrophes, commas, inverted commas, brackets or slashes.

Kindly note that all fees paid to SATS are non-refundable and that prices are increased annually.

Your Course, Your Time, Your Pace