Doctor of Philosophy in
Intercultural Studies 

Deerfield, IL | Hybrid Online/On Campus

Flexible Format

The PhD in Intercultural Studies coursework may be completed by taking up to half of the program remotely. It is also possible to complete the PhD/ICS on a part-time basis as well. Course content may be delivered in person on campus and online in blended formats. This flexible learning model makes the program accessible to students who wish to complete their studies while remaining in their location of ministry.

Program Purpose

The Doctor of Philosophy (Intercultural Studies) seeks to develop the ministry and research skills of leaders involved in a wide variety of missional, cross-cultural, and educational ministries. Focus is upon deepening our understanding of human diversity, contextual realities, and cultural change in ways that inform redemptive, gospel-centered ministry in the contemporary world. Theological, historical and social scientific disciplines are integrated at the highest academic level and brought to bear on the global and local mission of the church.

Why study for a Doctor of Philosophy in Intercultural Studies at TEDS?

With a combination of intensive coursework, mentoring, and research, students can craft a stimulating, flexible, and individualized course of study suited to their professional goals and life situation. Up to half of the regular coursework may be completed remotely with synchronous courses and guided research. It is also possible to complete the program on a part-time basis. The combination of online and intensive courses on campus makes the PhD/ICS program accessible to students who wish to remain resident in their location of ministry. Participation in the program links students with a diverse, broad-based international community of scholars while providing tools that promote lifelong learning.

Where can this degree take me?

As an academic PhD program, students will strengthen their foundations in theory as the basis for original research and writing to advance missiological understanding and effective leadership. Our mission is to cultivate academic excellence, cultural insight, and spiritual depth enhancing the personal and professional development of program participants. Persons benefiting most from the program are typically engaged at home or abroad in ministries such as cross-cultural missions, multiethnic ministry, missional movement and organizational leadership, higher education, and evangelism. Additionally, our optional focus of Mission in Western Contexts equips today’s leaders through a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding contemporary cultures.

What are the prerequisites for
admission to this program?

Applicants for the PhD/ICS program must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have earned a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree or appropriate master’s degree (totaling at least 48 semester hours) providing significant theological and missiological foundations from an institution maintaining academic standards similar to those of TEDS. Specifically applicants must have, at the graduate level, a minimum of 15 semester hours of Missions or 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.
  • 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.
  • Have completed at least three years of vocational ministry experience, preferably in intercultural ministry, with evidence of relevant gifts and abilities.
  • Present evidence of competence in two languages: (1) a contemporary field language or research language for bibliographic control; and (2) one biblical language. (In exceptional circumstances, the biblical language requirement may be waived.)
  • Give evidence of a superior intellectual ability in all previous accredited graduate studies.
  • Have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in previous graduate studies.
  • Provide recommendations from the following four people (to be submitted electronically through the online application): (1) Ministry Supervisor, (2) Professor from recent graduate studies, (3) Professional Colleague, (4) Lay person from church.
  • Submit a test score from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), preferably the latter, which will be taken into consideration among other factors in the application. Applicants whose first language is not English should submit scores less than two years old from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in addition to the MAT or GRE.

What will I study?

The PhD (Intercultural Studies) Program is designed as a program of three to four academic years, requiring two years (four semesters) of classroom and seminar studies followed by one to two years of comprehensive examinations and dissertation research. The length of the program can be reduced by enrolling in full-time study during all three semesters (fall, spring, and summer). Part-time students need considerably longer to complete the program. The minimum number of courses and seminars, comprehensive exam and dissertation credit, is 60 semester hours.  A full-time student takes 9 to 12 semester hours. The program operates on a year-round basis, with full-load enrollment available in fall, spring and summer semesters. Program courses are available in a variety of term-length and modular formats, making study accessible to students who do not relocate to Deerfield. To insure that students not residing locally participate in the broader learning community, attendance at ICS fellowship meetings, academic hearings, and other community events while present on campus for coursework is expected.

Seminars you’ll take include the following:


Students select, with the approval of the program director and/or dissertation supervisor, four courses offered at or above the 7500 level by faculty in the missions department. These courses should be related to the participant’s anticipated dissertation research. Because the program ethos includes a learning community, we discourage independent study. However, with supervisory approval, up to four credit hours may be taken as guided research. Only under exceptional circumstances may additional guided research credit be taken, not to exceed a total of eight credit hours. Guided study is not normally permitted before the student has completed 24 credit hours of coursework.

Course Title Credits
ME 9050 Prolegomena: Missiology as a Discipline (Must be taken during the first year of study) 2 hours
Choose one
ME 9700 Theology of Mission and Evangelism 4 hours
ME 8720 Theology of Religions (with permission) 4 hours
Social Science
Choose two
ME 8815 Ethnicity: Modes of Inquiry and Analysis 4 hours
ME 9325 Sociology for Mission and Evangelism 4 hours
ME 9610 Anthropology for Mission and Evangelism 4 hours
Religion and Worldview
Choose one
ME 8380 Religion in the Modern World 4 hours
ME 8390 Gospel, Cultures, and Church in Western Contexts 4 hours
History and World Christianity
Choose one
ME 9400 History of the Expansion of Christianity 4 hours
ME 8450 History of Evangelism 4 hours
Research Methods
Choose two
ME 9922 Qualitative research methods  4 hours
ME 9060 Theories and Methods of Missiological Research 4 hours
Professional Development
Choose one
ME 9260 Teaching Mission and Evangelism in
Higher Education
2 hours
ME 8250 Leadership Development and Culture 2 hours
ES 9150 Teaching in Higher Education 2 hours

Students select, with the approval of the program director and/or dissertation supervisor, two courses offered at or above the 7500 level by faculty in the missions department. These courses should be related to the participant’s anticipated dissertation research. Because the program ethos includes learning community, we discourage independent study. However, with approval of the supervisor up to four credit hours may be taken as guided research. Only under exceptional circumstances may additional guided research credit be taken, not to exceed a total of eight credit hours. Guided study is not normally permitted before the student has completed 24 credit hours of coursework.


These will normally be ME courses, but an individual with a strong academic background in missiology or with special needs related to their dissertation may, with permission of the program director, take PhD classes from other departments.

Course Title Credits
ME 9970 Orientation for Comprehensive Exam
and Dissertation
1 hour
ME 9975 Comprehensive Exam Preparation 2 hours
ME 9990 Dissertation Proposal Preparation 3 hours
ME 9991
Dissertation Research 6 hours

Note: ICS participants may take between two and six semesters of Dissertation Research to meet the 6 credit hour requirement, with no more than 4 hours being taken in a given semester.

Program Values

The PhD/ICS program is committed to the full authority of Scripture and the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These core convictions must guide the church’s mission as it engages an increasingly complex world of rapid social change, religious pluralism, human diversity, and globalization. We thus believe that effective and faithful ministry demands more than ever the best integration of deep theological reflection, keen social scientific insight, and broad historical perspective. The ICS faculty represents a wide range of backgrounds, ministry experience, and academic expertise dedicated to working collaboratively with students in a stimulating and holistic learning community. The goal is not knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but academic excellence that addresses contemporary challenges for the greater glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom.

Intercultural Studies defined

Intercultural studies represents a broad category of scholarly inquiries related to the interface of human diversity and transformative gospel ministry. Human commonalities are understood to be based on the oneness of humankind, and differences are understood to be the outgrowth of historical, geographic, and sociopolitical variability. The scholarly task in this field of doctoral studies is to grasp with knowledge and wisdom those matters of diversity that impinge on human relationships and various understandings of reality 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 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. Socio-anthropological inquiry is used to help understand the nature of intercultural relationships and to develop substantial cultural awareness, knowledge of the skills of analysis and interpretation, and theoretical comprehension of the nature and consequences of sociocultural diversity. Such insight must inform the missional practice of the church. Effective human relationships, communication, Christ-centered personal and social transformation, contextualization of ministry, and engagement with people of other faiths all require an understanding of culture and social dynamics. The foundation of the program is biblically faithful theology, which provides the basis for the evaluation of the interaction between a given culture, the gospel, and the people of God.

PhD (ICS) Program Minors

Qualified students in the PhD (ICS) program will be permitted to take a 9-semester-hour minor in one of the other two doctoral programs. Qualified participants should (a) demonstrate strong master’s level preparation in their primary field of study and (b) secure permission for the minor and the courses to be applied toward the minor from their Program Director and from the director of the program in which they wish to do a minor. The 9-semester-hour minor is completed in the Professional Development component of the degree.

Mission in Western Contexts Focus

The PhD ICS focus on Mission in Western Contexts is designed to develop leaders by deepening their missiological understanding, broadening cultural and global awareness, and exploring missional strategies. Participants will pursue original research at the highest academic level that advances missiological theory and ultimately contributes to the church’s fulfillment of its missionary mandate.Graduates completing this focus will be rigorously equipped to provide missiologically informed leadership in the following vocations:

  • Missional leadership in church or ministry organizations
  • Teaching evangelism or missiology in higher education
  • Equipping for missional and evangelistic ministries
  • Multicultural and ethnic ministry
  • Student and campus ministry
  • Advanced research, writing, and strategy planning

Course of Study

The PhD (ICS) program consists of two phases: coursework and the writing of the doctoral dissertation. Within the flexible framework of the PhD (ICS) curriculum the Mission in Western Contexts focus includes core courses such as:

Course Title Credits
ME 8390 Gospel, Cultures and Church in
Western Contexts
4 hours
ME 9700 Theology of Mission and Evangelism 4 hours
ME 9325 Sociology for Mission and Evangelism 4 hours
ME 8250 Leadership Development and Culture 2 hours

Participants also choose from regularly offered elective courses, such as:

Course Title Credits
ME 7510 Missional Church 4 hours
ME 7710 Contextualization 4 hours
ME 8310 Religious Pluralism and Mission 4 hours
ME 9085 Global Migration and Diaspora of
Faith Communities
4 hours
ES 9175
Organizational Leadership 3 hours
ES 9316 Innovation, Agility and Leading Change 2 hours

The writing of the doctoral dissertation is completed under the guidance of a TEDS professor who personally mentors the student in the design and execution of the research. A second dissertation reader provides input from the perspective of a complementary discipline, sometimes bringing specialized expertise from outside the regular TEDS faculty.


All coursework for the Mission in Western Contexts focus can be completed on a modular basis by taking one or two-week intensive courses on a full or part-time study basis. This allows students to commute to Deerfield for coursework, while remaining at their current place of residence.

Coursework can typically be completed with full-time study in two years, or with part-time study by taking two courses per semester (fall, spring and summer) in three years, or by taking one course per semester in four years. Comprehensive exam preparation and dissertation research and writing typically require at least an additional two to three years of work.

Learn More

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Special Instructions for International Students

All international PhD/ICS program students, including students from Canada, are now required to enter the United States with an F-1 visa. PhD/EDS residential students (i.e., living in Deerfield and registered for full-time attendance) must comply with the same visa requirements as residential master’s-level applicants (see Admissions section). PhD/ICS nonresidential students (i.e., commuting to the Deerfield Campus for each modular class) must also obtain an F-1 visa. This requirement represents a major change to immigration policy in the United States. Students who enter the United States to pursue the PhD/ICS degree without the F-1 visa potentially jeopardize their ability to complete the degree and reenter the United States. F-1 visas will remain valid as long as reentry into the United States for the purposes of study occurs at least once every five months. A new visa will be required if reentry does not occur within this time period.

In order for a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) to be issued for PhD/ICS nonresidential students, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Applicants whose first language of instruction is not English must demonstrate English Language competency as measured by a qualifying score on the TOEFL.
  2. Applicants must be admitted to the PhD/ICS program as a nonresidential student.

Applicants must submit a special PhD/ICS nonresidential Certification of Finances.

For more information

For further information about the PhD ICS program, curriculum, and admission requirements see the general program description or contact Dr. Manuel Rauchholz, PhD ICS Program Director, at [email protected]. For information regarding the focus on mission in Western culture contact Dr. David Gustafson at [email protected].


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