ULS Launches Renewed Ph.D. Program in Public Theology and Witness

November 8, 2023

November 8, 2023

United Lutheran Seminary is launching a renewed Ph.D. program in Public Theology and Witness beginning in the 2024–2025 academic year. This initiative is a response to a growing need for more public voices trained at the highest level for theological engagement in society. The PhD in Public Theology and Witness will thus equip graduates for public intellectual theological vocations, including activism, politics, research, and ministry. Students will complete their coursework and research towards praxeological applications under the direction of field advisors who will help hone students’ skills in theological messaging, narrative sharing, storytelling, business acumen, and strategic communication.

The PhD program in Public Theology and Witness will be directed by the Rev. Teresa L. Smallwood, JD, PhD, the James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Associate Professor of Public Theology at United Lutheran Seminary. Instruction and guidance will be offered by the ULS faculty and a cohort of Senior Fellows, including Professors Rebecca T. Alpert, Katharine Henderson, Obery Hendricks, Jr., Mary Hunt, Stephen Ray, Cheryl Sanders, Susan Thistlethwaite, Emilie M. Townes, and others.


  • Two years of full-time coursework  
  • Required residence in Gettysburg, PA for the first academic year
  • Placement with a Senior Fellow in a praxeological context
  • Teaching experiences
  • Comprehensive exams, normally in the third year
  • Dissertation

Available Programs of Study:

  • Christian Traditions and Culture (including Systematic and Constructive Theology, Bible, and Church History)
  • Church and Society (including Racial Justice and Gender and Sexuality Justice)
  • Public Advocacy (including Policy, Communications, and Ethics)


  • Full-tuition scholarships for all students admitted into the 2024–2025 cohort
  • Generous scholarships available for campus housing
  • Optional compensated teaching fellowships
  • Other stipends are available, depending on student circumstances and areas of study

Application and Eligibility:

  • Admitted students must hold a master’s degree in a theological or related discipline at the time of matriculation
  • Admitted students must demonstrate experience in Public Theology-related work
  • Application opens on November 27, 2023  
  • Application deadline is January 31, 2024

For additional information, please contact admissions@uls.edu