The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) prepares those entering the highest levels of research, seeking to become scholars and educational leaders in the Church. The Atlantic Coast Seminary Ph.D. combines the highest of standards of academic scholarship with ministerial and theological study.

Program Overview

Atlantic Coast Seminary has adopted the British Model for the awarding of the Ph.D. degree. British Universities award the Ph.D. on the basis of an acceptable thesis. At universities in the U.K., the term thesis is usually associated with the Ph.D. (doctoral) and research Master’s degrees. The term dissertation is the more common title for a substantial writing project submitted as part of a Master’s degree.

Depending on the country in which a university is located, the Ph.D. degree award may require the completion of specific courses and the thesis (dissertation). By adopting the British university requirements, the Atlantic Coast Theological Seminary Ph.D. curriculum has no courses in addition to the thesis requirement.

Choose your desired path to earning your doctorate:

  • Ph.D. by Thesis Only
  • Ph.D. by Published Works
  • Ph.D. with Focus

Thesis Only

The British Model Ph.D. requires only the thesis as described in the Ph.D. Thesis Details on the lower section of this page. The thesis only Ph.D. can be earned by applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

Applicants without the bachelor’s degree can transfer college credits, have credits granted for life-long learning or professional experience, and begin the fast track toward the Ph.D. degree. A master’s degree is not required to begin the thesis only Ph.D. program.

The thesis only Ph.D. for ABD applicants

The thesis only Ph.D. is the ideal choice for those who have completed all of the courses for the doctorate except the dissertation (thesis). This academic status is identified as: ABD ( All But Dissertation). The thesis only Ph.D. allows rapid completion of the doctorate for those who, due to time constraints or other reasons, were unable to write the dissertation in a previous doctoral program.

The thesis only Ph.D. as a Second Doctorate

Discuss the benefits of the Second Doctorate Privilege with the Admissions Counselor.

By Published Works

Applicants with a bachelor’s degree may register for the thesis only Ph.D. and submit their published writing(s) for evaluation and relevance to the Ph.D. thesis requirements. The Admissions Counselor will explain the criteria for acceptance of published writing(s). In some instances, the published writing(s) may be equivalent to the Ph.D. thesis requirement, or be sufficient to reduce the number of words/pages required in the thesis. Discuss this option with an Admissions Counselor.

With Focus

The Focus of the Ph.D. thesis, which must be in a religious or ministry context, determines the distinctive concentration and major area of research. It is in this manner that the doctoral candidate prepares the thesis as a precursor to practical implementation of the work. The Ph.D. degree certificate displays the major area of research which earned the Ph.D. degree award. E.g., Doctor of Philosophy in Theology.

Ph.D. Thesis Details

The thesis should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out research; that the candidate has shown originality and independence; and that the candidate has made a contribution to knowledge in the particular field.



The thesis shall be written in the English language.


The thesis shall be not less than 125 pages, exclusive of Abstract, Table of Contents, list of tables and illustrative material.

Preliminary Page

The first five preliminary pages must be the Title Page, Abstract, Dedication and Acknowledgements, Author’s Declaration and Table of Contents. These should be single-sided.

Title Page

At the top of the title page, within the margins, the thesis should give the title and, if necessary, sub-title and volume number. The full name of the author should be in the center of the page. At the bottom center should be the words “A thesis submitted to Atlantic Coast Theological Seminary in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and month and year of submission.


Each copy must include an abstract or summary of the thesis in not more than 500 words, on one side, which should be single spaced in a font size between 10 and 12.

Author’s Declaration

A signed declaration is required, stating how much of the work contained in the thesis is the candidate’s own work and how much of it has been conducted in collaboration with, or with the assistance of, others.

Table of Contents, List of Tables, and Illustrative Material

The table of contents must list, with page numbers, all chapters, sections and subsections, the list of references, bibliography, list of abbreviations and appendices. The list of tables and illustrations should follow the table of contents, listing with page numbers the tables, photographs, diagrams etc. in the order in which they appear in the text. 

How long should it take you to write your thesis?

The answer: not as long as you think. Most of the time academics confuse time with quality. When a project takes a long time, it’s almost always believed to be more valuable than one completed more quickly.

Most theses can be completed in six months or less, with two exceptions. The first (and most obvious) exception is when your study will require data collection or longitudinal research over a long period of time. For example, if your research design requires observation over a one year period, you won’t be able to complete the thesis in six months. The second exception is if you do not work on your thesis consistently.

These program objectives are in compliance with the federal government administration’s request to educational institutions to develop Fast Track degree programs which will place qualified persons into the workplace more rapidly than outdated traditional programs. We believe this also applies to ministry.

The Atlantic Coast Mission is to provide you with the courses, technology, and academic support to ensure that you obtain the specific knowledge, skills, and credentials to maximize your potential for the demands of the 21st Century.