PhD - PhD in Theology - Durham/VST

VST has partnered with the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University in the United Kingdom to deliver a PhD program in Vancouver. The Department of Theology and Religion at Durham is ranked third in the world by QS University Ranking. It is a department that is thoroughly engaged with the church through St John’s College and Cranmer Hall. This program, while suited to those with an academic vocation, is also suited for the clergy and other leaders who want theological depth and interdisciplinary research for the practice of ministry. The degree is granted by Durham University through the department of theology and religion.

Familiarize yourself with the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham.

Please note:
Additional scholarship funding for this PhD program is available through VST up to $5,000.00 a year. A list of funds and foundations that support doctoral students in theology is available through the financial aid office.

At this time, the PhD program is only available to students who are Canadian citizens or have Canadian Permanent Resident status.

Program Length
Distance Learning

Length of Program

The international research PhD program through Durham/VST is a residential program. It is a three-year program for full-time students and a six-year program for part-time students, although extensions may be granted by successful petition. Students who wish to apply to this program must live within commuting distance of VST. The expectation for both full and part-time students is that they participate in the academic culture of the school, in the classroom as teaching assistants, in the research colloquium, and in conferences hosted by the school. This program is for permanent residents and citizens of Canada.


Useful information – requirements, costs, expectations and faculty – about the PhD program in Theology and Religion at Durham can be found online: Durham University

Residency requirements are met through meetings with VST advisors on campus, and Durham advisors online.


Detailed Steps

  1. If you are interested in this PhD Program, please be in contact with Rev. Rebecca Simpson to make an inquiry. She will be interested in the area of your research and will direct you to an appropriate VST faculty member, who is able and willing to support your potential research. Rebecca and the VST faculty member will help you be in touch with a member of the Durham faculty who is able and willing to support your research as a second director of your work. If you are unable to find a director on the VST faculty and on the Durham Faculty who will support you in the proposed research, entry into the PhD program is not possible.
  2. A solid research proposal is the key to a successful application to this program. Before you apply you will need to have this prepared since it is a document required in the application. Durham University provides important guidance around a solid proposal: Durham Research Proposal Guidelines. You will develop this proposal with advice from your VST director and with the input of the second director from Durham. Yes, this is all before the formal application to the VST/Durham PhD program. This informal pre-application process will serve to strengthen your application and expedite your progress on the thesis if accepted. Once you and both potential directors are satisfied that you have a strong proposal, you can move to the next step.
  3. Students submit their research proposal through Rev. Rebecca Simpson to be considered by the VST Research Studies Committee – chaired by Laura Duhan Kaplan. Do not apply to Durham until you have received approval to do so from The Research Studies Committee at VST. This does not imply that the student is accepted to the Durham PhD program. It is an initial step. Once you have received approval of your thesis proposal from The Research Studies Committee at VST proceed to step 4.
  4. The student applies to Durham University, copying their full application to VST through the VST Registrar. Durham University, the Department of Theology and Religion, determines a student’s academic fitness for the program. The application procedure is detailed here: Apply to Durham University. The application requires care and an investment of time. Durham will inform candidates of the decision on their application in four to six weeks after it is submitted.
  5. Students accepted into the program at Durham will then also receive a formal acceptance to the joint VST/Durham PhD program from VST. Admission at Durham and VST are necessary for this program. And they will occur in that order – first Durham and then VST will notify you of your acceptance to the program.
  6. Student fees and tuition are invoiced by Durham and paid to the Vancouver School of Theology. Rates for the current academic year can be found here: Full Time or Part Time. A Postgraduate Research Degree in Theology & Religion is considered Band 1.  An international research PhD is expensive, and students should use research skills to secure funding through the sources available to them through Durham, VST and by using the inventory of funding sources provided to them through the financial aid office. A bursary to cover ‘student fees’ applied to their account at our school is available. Students applying to the PhD program by December 1st are eligible to access Durham’s student funding.  NOTE:  As the Ph.D is a program of Durham University, students are not eligible for Canadian student loans.

For further details regarding the application process, forms and dates, entry requirements and Durham based scholarships and funding see: Durham Research Programmes


Distance Learning

The PhD in Theology is a residential degree.