Franciscan University introduces new PhD program

By Grace Ostuni
Staff Writer

Franciscan University announced the launch of a PhD program for Sacred Theology that will begin in fall 2024, making it the first doctoral program offered at the university. 

“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a number of years, about a decade in the making, and we were very, very blessed that it all came together this year,” said Jacob Wood, director of the program and associate professor of theology at Franciscan. 

“It is designed to be a program that comes from the heart of the Church and is at the service of the Church,” added Wood. 

The university’s press release explains that there will be five concentrations in the program: systematic theology, historical theology, moral theology, biblical theology and catechetics.  

For the first year, systematic theology and historical theology will be the only available concentration. 

“We’re blessed to have a faculty with a lot of experts on Thomas Aquinas, a lot of experts on theology of the body. We’ve got a lot of experts on the history of Biblical interpretation,” said Wood. 

The program takes approximately five years to complete. The first two years will consist of coursework and seminars, and the third year will be for a comprehensive exam and a dissertation proposal. 

The last two years of the program will be dedicated to writing the doctoral dissertation. 

“With the writing of doctoral dissertations, there’s an opportunity for the student to learn and do research not just from a textbook but from a person who is an expert with experience in that field,” said Wood. 

According to Wood, the PhD in Sacred Theology will be a residential program because the goal is  “to create a community of faithful scholars here, at our campus, with an integrated life of prayer and study.” 

In the next year or so, the university is hoping to have a doctoral program in ministry, pending accreditation.  

Wood added that Sacred Theology Program would have a large online component to cater towards those who would like a doctoral degree and are unable to stay in Steubenville.  

“One of our particular goals is to be at the service of the global Church, and to be able to bring students in from other countries, from other continents, and form them here, so that they can take the formation that we offer and bring it back to wherever they’re from. They can become the teachers of the teachers all over the world,” stated Wood.  

Because of donors, the university is currently offering two students a complete tuition remission and an annual stipend with health insurance.  

“We hope and pray that we will be able to serve Christ as one of the major options for faithful Catholics scholars who want to study at the doctoral level,” said Wood.  

Franciscan University is currently accepting applicants for the 2024-2025 academic year.