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

  • 01.22.2016


As an Asian-American Christian higher education institution, GCU has been serving Korean pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders in North America and from other parts of the globe and other non-Korean students, through various academic and professional degree programs, since 1993. The PhD supports GCU’s vision and mission by promoting rigorous scholarship committed to proclaiming and embodying the gospel of God’s Kingdom in various intercultural contexts, advancing theological and missiological research from non-Western Christian perspectives, and bringing Western and non-Western Christian heritages together to meet the various challenges and needs in the missional or ministerial endeavors in a largely post-Christendom era.

The PhD is intended to equip students for vocations of teaching and research in theological schools, colleges, and universities, or for the academic study of missional and ministerial practice.



The PhD offers courses primarily in the following three concentration areas of Intercultural Studies: (1) historical-theological studies; (2) global/contextual studies; (3) ministerial development & leadership studies. Students may choose a dissertation topic in one of these areas.



One of the primary goals of the PhD is to promote an advanced interdisciplinary knowledge of diversities that impinge upon both human life in general and Christian mission experience. Globalization, migration, pluralisms, and other aspects of contemporary societies make our life and experience in the world extremely diverse and complex; they not only intensify the challenges in our cross-cultural missions and Christian mission in our everyday life settings but also open doors for new opportunities to communicate and embody the gospel. Hence, the PhD is also purported to encourage critical assessments of existing intercultural approaches to Christian mission and developments of new ones to face the various challenges.

Having completed the PhD, students will have demonstrated:

  1. an advanced knowledge of the discipline and research methodologies appropriate to their chosen field of study;
  2. an ability to articulate mission theologies with both Western and non-Western Christian perspectives;
  3. an ability to discern and meet various contemporary challenges and needs in a cross-cultural mission field and/or in their everyday life settings.
  4. an ability to engage in learning, doing research, collaborating, and teaching in academic and ministerial settings;
  5. an ability to integrate a comprehensive interdisciplinary knowledge of scholarly literature and skills applicable to their chosen field of study;
  6. an ability to write a scholarly research work in their chosen field of study.





  • Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants must have a MDiv degree or an appropriate master’s degree such as MA in Mission Studies or Intercultural Studies (totaling at least 48 semester credits and with 3.3 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale) from an institution accredited by one of USDE recognized accrediting agencies or its equivalent. Applicants with a MA in Mission/Intercultural Studies or its equivalent from an institution accredited by one of USDE recognized accrediting agencies or its equivalent may also be accepted. Applicants must have, at the graduate level, a minimum of 15 semester hours of Mission/Intercultural Studies and 30 semester hours of Biblical/Theological studies, including a minimum of 6 semester hours of Old Testament, 6 semester hours of New Testament, 6 semester hours of Systematic Theology, and 3 semester hours of Church History. Those who do not fully meet these requirements may take additional/approved elective courses provided at GCU.
  • Official transcript(s) from all previous degree-awarding institutions must be submitted in English or in a notarized translation.
  • Students with a related PhD, ThD, DMiss, or DIS from an accredited institution may transfer a maximum of 9 semester credits from their degree program, upon approval by the PhD Program Committee.



Applicants must present evidence of potential for an original academic research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of unpublished writing or a recent academic research paper if nothing has been published. This writing sample should be written in one of the applicant’s contemporary research languages (preferably, Korean or English) and in an academic writing format, and should be 20-25 pages in length. 



Applicants must present evidence of competence in two languages: (1) one contemporary research language for bibliographic control; and (2) one biblical language. The writing sample may be taken as the evidence of competence of a contemporary research language. In exceptional circumstances, the biblical language requirement may be waived if the applicant’s transcript indicates course works that satisfy biblical languages requirements at the MDiv level. Those who have not taken courses in a biblical language must take required additional courses in a biblical language, provided by GCU. Competence in a second contemporary research or field language is not required for admission but will be required to qualify doctoral candidacy—whether prior to or during the period of comprehensive examinations.    



Applicants must have at least three years of cross-cultural or intercultural work experience (e.g., mission agencies, mission fields, or Christian ministries in an intercultural context). Applicants who have teaching experience in a multicultural or intercultural setting will also be considered. Applicants must submit a 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, such as a former professor. The recommendation forms may be obtained from the GCU Office of Admissions.



Applicants must submit a two-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.





Applications for admission to the PhD program must be approved by the PhD Program Committee, as well as by the Office of Admissions. As noted above, applicants must submit the following:

  • PhD application form (available at the GCU website)
  • Official transcripts
  • Sample research paper
  • Certification of field experience
  • Two recommendation letters
  • Academic purpose statement



Each applicant must submit all necessary documents to the Office of Admissions, accompanied by a non-refundable application fee of 100 USD. All the original application documents must be received no later than 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester in which student seeks enrollment. Applicants who have submitted all the required documents will be contacted for an interview with the PhD Program Committee.



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.



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 fulfill the biblical language requirement. These courses are offered at GCU. Also, those who lack coursework in mission studies can take additional courses provided by GCU.     



International applicants who come with F-1 VISA and I-20 should follow the general admission requirements of GCU’s admission policies as outlined in the Catalog.

download GCU For more information PhD Handbook