Theology is the study of all types of religions. The PhD in theology is one of the highest degrees attainable in the field. There are many ways to use the PhD in theology, including becoming a member of the clergy -- a person who prepares and delivers sermons and provides spiritual guidance to parishioners. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that clergy members work in many industries, including religious organizations, hospitals and assisted living facilities.
With the doctorate in theology, you are eligible to enter the clergy. Clergy members conduct weddings and funerals, lead worship services and give moral guidance to members of religious groups, working with both large audiences and small groups alike. Those with a background in Catholic theology can find career options for ministerial service as youth ministers or catechists. In addition to the direct service of parishioners, clergy members also serve in executive positions, such as the synod or district office of a denomination. Clergy can also serve in hospitals, nursing facilities and in specialty areas, such as substance and alcohol abuse programs.
PhD programs in theology emphasize the development of teaching skills. Additionally, as a theology student, you take courses that give you specialized knowledge; therefore you are prepared to teach church history or other aspects of theology. Teaching theology in secondary schools may require additional teacher training. However, teaching at the university level is attainable with the doctor of theology. Notre Dame reports that some alumni who pursued higher degrees in theology have become high school teachers of religion or theology or university professors of theology.
You can pursue a career in television or print journalism with the Ph.D. in theology. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor listed the television and broadcasting industry as a employer of ministers and members of the clergy. One Oxford University theology graduate confirms that her theology degree enabled her to secure a position in the BBC's Religion and Ethics department, and she has produced television documentaries about Bible characters. Theology degrees may also lead to careers in print journalism since writers are needed to produce articles on current religious issues. Fuller Theological Seminary states that graduates of the PhD in theology program will develop proficiency in "original research and writing."
A doctoral degree in theology is also helpful if you want to find employment in social services or relief work. Catholic Relief Services, a humanitarian aid agency, hires people to work overseas to teach farmers to efficiently cultivate crops or establish loan programs for poor communities. Charitable trusts and foundations hire theology students, as do third-world charities. Some positions may be as consultants, rather than as employees. PhD degree programs teach research skills that equip graduates for careers as analysts or as government workers.
- Directory Degree.org: What are Popular Careers in Theology?
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012, 21-2011 Clergy
- Fuller Theological Seminar: Ph.D. in Theology, Before you Apply
- University of Notre Dame, Department of Theology: Careers in Theology
- Oxford University: What on Earth can you do With a Degree in ... Theology at Oxford?
Trudie Longren began writing in 2008 for legal publications, including the "American Journal of Criminal Law." She has served as a classroom teacher and legal writing professor. Longren holds a bachelor's degree in international politics, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in human rights. She also speaks Spanish and French.