The ThD helps students gain advanced understanding of appropriate theological and theoretical concepts. Under qualified supervision, they learn how to apply these concepts in pastoral counseling and how to promote professional integration of theory and skills in both pastoral care and counseling. In addition, each student designs and executes a research project as evidence of having the skills and creativity required for the role of pastoral counselor.
The ThD is under the immediate direction of the ThD committee of the Atlanta Theological Association. This allows Candler students to enroll in courses at Columbia Theological Seminary and the Interdenominational Theological Center.
In addition, Emory University offers a PhD program through its Graduate Division of Religion in the program in Person, Community, and Religious Practices. Through the PhD, students may pursue advanced studies in pastoral theology as preparation for primarily an academic career of research and teaching.
Students must complete the following to qualify for a ThD:
The supervision in pastoral counseling may be used to meet the requirements for counseling supervision of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Who administers the ThD program?
The ThD degree is offered by three of the member schools of the Atlanta Theological Association (ATA), which is a consortium of several theological schools in Atlanta. These include Candler, Columbia Theological Seminary, and The Interdenominational Theological Center.
How do I apply?
You should submit your application to Candler’s Office of Admission by January 15. Students being considered for enrollment will be asked to come to campus in late February for an interview. A phone interview can be arranged for international students or students who cannot travel.
Do I have to have Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) before applying to the ThD program?
Yes, CPE or another experience in supervised counseling is a requirement of the program. Four units of CPE are preferred. Two units may suffice with the permission of the ThD committee.
Do I have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to apply?
Yes, the GRE is required of all students and allows our program comparability with other doctoral programs. The GRE is one of many factors that are considered in an applicant’s profile and is not the sole criterion for admission.
Who makes up the faculty of the ThD program?
The faculty consists of academic faculty from the three participating schools and clinical faculty from the Care and Counseling Centers of Georgia (CCCG). CCCG is located at the intersection of Clairemont Road and Mason Mill Road in Atlanta, not far from the Emory campus.
What is the difference between Candler's ThD program in pastoral counseling and the PhD program in Person, Community and Religious Life (PCRL) offered by Emory's Gradate Division of Religion?
The ThD is comparable in rigor and workload to the PhD, but it is designed for those whose vocation is primarily clinical and theological. The program includes 21 months of supervised clinical training and does not require students to serve as graduate teaching assistants (TA). You can, however, apply for TA positions after your first year of coursework. The ThD program is conducted jointly by the ThD committee of the ATA and comprised of faculty from the three participating schools and the CCCG.
The PCRL program prepares teachers and scholars in religious education, homiletics, liturgy, pastoral theology, and practical theology. Students in the PCRL program do not receive clinical training in pastoral counseling and are required to serve as TAs. Emory’s PhD programs are administered through the Graduate Division of Religion at The Laney Graduate School and taught by Emory faculty.
Will the ThD program prepare me for licensure as a pastoral counselor?
Yes, in part. The clinical training, which occurs during the first two years, including the summer between the first and second year, provides basic proficiency in clinical skills. The academic courses meet many of the requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family counselor in the state of Georgia. However, students generally need to complete additional advanced clinical training and accrue the necessary number of clinical and supervisor hours for licensure. Since each state has its own licensing requirements, you need to be familiar with the requirements of the state in which you intend to practice.
Can I get an academic teaching job with a ThD?
Yes, recognizing that the current job market is limited and competitive. A number of our graduates are teaching, largely in free-standing seminaries, and most often in programs that include some kind of clinical training for master degree students.
Is financial aid available?
Candler offers an international student scholarship that covers full tuition for two years. This scholarship is available every other year. There are two other smaller scholarship funds available to Candler students. In addition, Candler will match outside aid from any source. The match is equal to the amount of each outside award check but cannot exceed $70 times the number of credit ours for which the student is enrolled that semester.
How long does it take to earn the degree?
The average length of time to finish the program is five to seven years. Coursework can be completed in two years of full time enrollment (50 hours of academic credit are required to complete the degree). This includes the clinical work. It generally takes a minimum of two additional years to complete the qualifying exams and the dissertation.
Can I work full time or be a fulltime parish pastor while in the program?
We discourage students form working full time during the first two years of coursework because of the intensity of the program. Some students work part time and/or decrease their course load to balance economic realities.