Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Intercultural Studies

  • 01.22.2016


The purpose of the PhD in Intercultural Studies program is to equip students for the vocations of teaching and research in theological schools, colleges, and universities, or for the academic study of missional and ministerial practice. It provides foundations in theory as the basis for original research and writing to advance missiological understanding and effective leadership, with a deep undertraining of human diversity, contextual realities and cultural change in ways that inform redemptive gospel-centered ministry in the contemporary world. Theological and historical social scientific disciplines are integrated at the highest academic level and brought to bear on the global and local mission of the church. Our mission is to cultivate academic excellence, cultural insight, and spiritual depth enhancing the personal and professional development of program participants. By doing so, the PhD in Intercultural Studies program will glorify God, the vision of GCU, and fulfil the mission of GCU, which is to train qualified students to be ministerial leaders with theological authenticity, and to educate them to be competent Christian leaders with Christian worldviews to serve the church, communities, and the world through excellent Christian higher education.

Areas of Concentration

Students may choose one of three concentrations for the PhD in Intercultural Studies program:

  1. Historical -Theological Studies This concentration focuses on three facets of theological study:
    1. historical research in any selected (relevant) period, persons, and events in the history of missions and world Christianity,
    2. biblical theology of mission, contextual theology, and contemporary theologies of mission,
    3. missional engagements with world religions and theology of religions. These studies are conducted from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  2. Global/Contextual Studies This concentration prepares students for the challenging task of utilizing social scientific (especially anthropology and sociology) theories and methods in the service of the global church and mission.
  3. Ministerial Development & Leadership Studies This concentration is designed to help students become scholar-practitioners of Transformational Development. Courses explore issues of justice, reconciliation, leadership, and poverty alleviation for the purposes of helping the Church care for the holistic needs of people around the world through the love of Jesus Christ.


The scholarly task in this field of doctoral studies is to grasp, with interdisciplinary knowledge and wisdom, those matters of diversity that impinge on human relationships and various understandings of reality, both for mission and to evaluate these in the light of biblical teaching. Globalization, migration, religious pluralism and other features of contemporary societies add to the complexity of the human experience and increase the challenges and opportunities of Christian ministry and gospel faithfulness. Intercultural studies is thus of critical importance not only in the context of historic cross-cultural mission work, but also in virtually every context including North America.
As you complete your degree, you will:

  • Acquire advanced academic knowledge of the discipline, research methods and theories in your field of study.
  • Explore mission theologies in both Western and non-Western mission fields.
  • Critically reflect on the learning, teaching and researching dimensions of theological scholarship in the church and academic communities.
  • Integrate a comprehensive interdisciplinary knowledge of appropriate scholarly literature to your area of study, including applicable skills.
  • Engage in scholarly research around an appropriate question, problem, or opportunity.
  • Establish strategic plans for ministerial success with a fresh perspective of postmodern and globalization, along with analytical tools to excel in planning, forecasting, setting objectives and determining courses of action that are compatible with cultural issues and dynamics.

Admission Requirements

Degrees and Transcripts

  • Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants must hold a Master of Divinity degree, Master of Arts in Missiology or Intercultural Studies, or equivalent from a fully accredited institution. Those who do not hold a Master’s degree relating to theological studies must take additional/approved elective courses.
  • Applicants must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher on the standard four-point scale.
  • Official transcript(s) from all previous degree-awarding institutions must be submitted in English or in a notarized translation.

Field Experience

Applicants must have at least four years of cross-cultural or intercultural work experiences in mission agencies, mission fields, or Christian ministries. Applicants who have teaching experience in a multicultural setting or its equivalent will be evaluated. Applicants must submit certification of their field experience.


Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation: one from a colleague or mentor in the field of cross-cultural or intercultural work, and one from an academic advisor, including former professors. Recommendation forms are provided by the Office of Admissions.

Academic Purpose Statement

Applicants must submit a two or three page statement including (1) their specific goals in pursuing a PhD degree; (2) their prospective research topics and areas of interest; and (3) their expectations for achieving their academic goals at GCU.

Academic Research Paper

Applicants must provide a sample of published writing or a recent academic research paper: Applicants must present evidence of potential for original academic research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of published writing or a recent academic research paper if nothing has been published, this writing sample should be 20- 25 pages, and use an academic writing format.


Admission Procedure


  1. Ph.D. Application Package (available on the GCU website)
  2. Official Transcripts
  3. Two Recommendation Letters
  4. Two-to-three-page Academic Purpose Statement
  5. Certification of Field Experience
  6. Academic Research Paper


  1. Applications for admission to the PhD program must be approved by the PhD Program Committee as well as the Office of Admissions. As noted above, applicants must submit the Admission Documents.
  2.  Each applicant must submit all necessary documents to the Office of Admissions, accompanied by a non-refundable application fee of US$100. All the original application documents must be received no later than 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student seeks enrollment. Applicants who have submitted all the required documents will be contacted for an interview with the PhD Program Committee.
  3. It takes approximately 30 days to process the application. After their portfolios are reviewed, applicants will be notified as to approval or disapproval of their applications.
  4. Leveling Evaluations: Each applicant’s portfolio will be evaluated by the PhD Program Committee, and applicants who do not have sufficient field experience in cross-cultural, biblical, theological, and/or historical foundation, or who do not meet the language competency requirement, can satisfy these prerequisites by taking additional/approved courses prior to matriculation in the program. Some students may be admitted on condition of completion of leveling work prior to matriculation in the program. As noted above, if applicants have taken courses in biblical languages for their MDiv, these requirements can be waived; however, those who have not taken courses of biblical languages must take additional courses to fulfil the biblical language requirement. These courses are offered at GCU. Also, applicants who do not have sufficient GRE or MAT scores must take the GCU Barrier Exam (GBE); finally, those who lack coursework in mission studies can take additional courses provided by GCU.

I-20 Admissions - International Students

International applicants who come with F-1 visas should follow the general admission requirements of GCU’s admission policies as prescribed in the Catalog.


For more information please download the catalog here