Affordable Distance Research Only PhD

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ZM12, May 30, 2020.

  1. ZM12

    ZM12 New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm about halfway through my MA in Theological Studies and am starting to look into PhD programs. I'd really like to avoid putting my wife and child through more coursework, so I'm hoping to do a research-only, UK-style PhD in Theology. We're also very rooted in our area and so would like to do distance/low-res if possible. Most of the UK schools that offer this are pretty dang expensive ($60k) so I'm looking for (1) ways to fund one of these spendier programs and (2) programs that are significantly cheaper. I know both London School of Theology and Trinity College Bristol are considerably more affordable, and I've also looked into South Africa Theological Seminary which is even cheaper. All of these look great, but I'm wondering if there are others I'm unaware of. Any tips for funding the spendier programs would be much appreciated as well.

    Thanks much.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I don't know about your area of study, but UK doctorates can be had for half of what you're quoting.

    Not sure what constitutes "affordable" to you.

    Please consider more than tuition. You'll spend money on books, computers, research, and (especially) travel to do residencies, thesis defense, etc.

    Oh, and the worst criterion you can apply to this topic is "affordable." It is an investment in your career, life, and identity. Making the wrong choice because it is cheaper could create a horrible outcome--even if you're successful in the program and graduate.

    I realize this doesn't add to your list of potential schools, but you're in the best position to do that. Good luck to you.
    RoscoeB likes this.
  3. Asymptote

    Asymptote Active Member

    What sort of theological focus do you seek to pursue?
  4. ZM12

    ZM12 New Member

    Thanks Rich, those are good thoughts. My concern with affordability is that I will already be taking on significant loans for my master's, so I'd prefer to take on $15k or less in loans for the PhD and try to pay the rest out of pocket, if possible.

    Asymptote, I'm wanting to study liturgics and theological aesthetics.
  5. CLSeibel

    CLSeibel Member

    There are several other South African institutions that have been known to allow doctoral students to work at a distance. In addition to UNISA, Pretoria, Stellenbosch, North-West, and Free State have all been known to take on doctoral students based elsewhere (I completed my PhD in practical theology through Pretoria in 2009). All of these institutions are reputable and quite affordable. In addition, there are a few universities in the Netherlands that will permit doctoral students in theological subjects to work from a distance. They may require a little bit of coursework at the beginning of the program and also likely will expect you to make periodic visits to campus; however, their doctoral programs generally are tuition-free. I assume your MA in theology includes a thesis. I can say fairly definitively that you won't gain entry to any overseas doctoral programs in a theological subject area without having completed a thesis (some may allow you to enter a lower degree-MTh or MPhil--and then promote you to doctoral level study after a probationary period. However, that is a more exceptional scenario). In addition, you'll need to come with a proposed research topic. The institution will assess whether the topic is appropriate for doctoral level work and whether they have the expertise within its faculty to support your research. Some institutions may actually expect you to submit a full research proposal as part of the entry process.
    RoscoeB likes this.

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