Degree Requirements

Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling (ThD) Degree Requirements

To qualify for the ThD degree, a candidate must complete the following requirements:

Credit Hours

The ThD requires 50 semester hours of academic and clinical practicum courses. Students must be continuously enrolled. Failure to maintain continuous registration will result in automatic termination from the ThD program. Students must complete the program within nine years. Extensions may be granted by the ThD committee only under unusual circumstances.

Students may not exceed the following limits:

  • 12 hours of transfer credit.
  • Nine hours for directed study.

Transfer of Credits

  • In planning the student’s program with her/his adviser or ThD program director, a stu-dent may request credit for work done prior to entry under the following guidelines:
  • Credit for prior academic and/or clinical training must be approved by the ThD Committee, in conversation office of academic affairs at Columbia. All transfer credit must have been done at a PhD or ThD level and a grade of B or better must have been given for the prior coursework. The student must be able to show that the work is relevant to the ThD program. The course work normally can be no older than five years old. No more than 12 credit hours may be transferred from either an earned degree or from other course work. All classroom work transferred in will be counted as elective credit. In the case of clinical practicum work, a student may receive advanced standing with credit for practicum work that was done in conjunction with licensure, clinical work for another degree, or prior enrollment at the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia’s practicum program. No more than eight credit hours will be awarded for this work and will be credited toward the basic practicum requirement. The student would be enrolled for the remaining nine hours of practicum work at the advanced residency level.
  • Credit for work done after entry into the program at schools and agencies not related to the ATA may be transferred to fulfill requirements for the ThD degree under the following guidelines:
    • Prior to registration for a course for which credit is to be transferred, the student must have written permission of his/her adviser or the ThD program director and the office of academic affairs at the student’s school of enrollment.
    • The student pays his/her own fees to the school where such work is done at institutions not related to the ATA. The number of credits to be allowed within this limitation is, in each instance, subject to the approval of the respective ATA school.
  • A limit of 12 semester hours is placed upon any work done at institutions not related to the ATA whether earned prior to enrollment or during enrollment in the program. All work transferred in will be credited as elective courses.

Directed Study
ThD students may register for directed studies with members of the ATA faculty for a maximum of nine hours. Prior to registering for directed study work, students must complete a Request for Directed Study form (available from the Candler Registrar website) and obtain the instructor’s signature.

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GPA Requirements

Grading of student work is based on the following scale: A= 4.0, B= 3.0, C= 2.0, and F= 0. Students must maintain a grade average of 3.0 or better to remain in doctoral programs. A grade of B– or lower in a core course or practicum is cause for review of the student’s progress. A course grade of F normally results in termination of the student’s program. Work extending over two or more semesters, such as practicums or project/dissertation supervision, receives an IP (in progress) at the end of each semester until the work is completed. All Candler students, including ThD students, are subject to Candler’s policy on incomplete course work, which can be found in the Procedures and Regulations section.

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Curricular Requirements

Core Seminar Sequence

The core seminars (four courses, three hours each) deal with personality theory and theological anthropology, historical and social dimensions of pastoral counseling, pastoral theology, theories and practices of psychotherapy and pastoral counseling, ethics, and the development of professional and multicultural competence.

Elective Courses

Elective courses (12 hours), selected in consultation with a faculty adviser, are required during the first six semesters of study.

Pastoral Counseling Practicum

Pastoral counseling practicum (17 hours) is required over the first four semesters of study. The clinical setting for the practicum normally is the pastoral counseling service of the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia, located at 1814 Clairmont Road in Decatur, Georgia.

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Examinations are undertaken following completion of all academic and practicum courses totaling 50 credits, and having earned at least a B average. The student will take a clinical performance exam (normally in May of the second year), showing competency in counseling. Following the performance exam, students will prepare for five qualifying exams, covering therapeutic relationship and personality theory, marriage and family theory, pastoral theology, socio-cultural dimensions of pastoral counseling, and ecclesiological and ethical dimensions of pastoral counseling. The five written exams are followed by a comprehensive oral examination. Students must enroll in ATA 497: ThD Exams Process each semester until successful completion of qualifying exams.

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Research Project and Dissertation

The research project and dissertation are undertaken at the end of the program of study. The student executes an approved research project that demonstrates ability to utilize theological and theoretical knowledge in relation to some problem of professional pastoral care and counseling. The project should contribute useful findings and insights in the student’s area of theological investigation. The student then writes a dissertation, reporting on, analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting the project. Following the successful completion of qualifying examinations, students must enroll in ATA499: ThD Dissertation Research until successful completion of the dissertation.

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ThD students initially are assigned a temporary course adviser. Later, the student works with a dissertation adviser, who chairs an advisory committee selected by the student and approved by the dissertation adviser. The committee consists of at least three persons, ordinarily two Candler faculty members and a member of another ATA school faculty. The committee is responsible for preparing examinations for the student and functions in an advisory capacity throughout the writing of the doctoral dissertation.

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