Christian Theological Seminary Launches World’s First PhD Program In African American Preaching

Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas

Program to develop “practitioner-scholars,” not just tenure-track professors

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is launching the world’s first-ever PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric. The program will begin classes at the school’s Indianapolis campus in January of 2017.

The new doctorate program will focus on the special place and role that preaching has in the African American community, seeking to increase scholarship in the study of that role while also strengthening the contributions of the pulpit in the African American community.

“For people of color, the man or woman in the pulpit is often the heart and face of the community,” said Frank Thomas, who heads CTS’ Academy of Preaching and Celebration. “That is a unique role that carries a unique responsibility, and we want to prepare men and women who have both the scholarship and practical understanding to be worthy of that call.”

To that end, the program will differ slightly from traditional doctorate programs by emphasizing the training of “practitioner-scholars” rather than developing full-time, tenure-track professors, Thomas said. It is expected that graduates of the program will continue to engage in scholarship but will also actively participate in ministry.

“We expect these people to discern a deeper understanding of their own call, contribute to the understanding of the pulpit’s place in African America culture, teach, and strengthen the life and witness of a congregation,” said Thomas, an international authority in African American preaching and author of the influential book They Like to Never Quit Praisin’; God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching.

Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, President of CTS, added, “African American preaching is an American treasure, and the time has come for it to be honored and advanced by a dedicated PhD program. CTS is proud to be the first institution of higher education to acknowledge and fill that gap — and we couldn’t have done it without the leadership of Dr. Frank Thomas.”

The PhD program will recognize African American preaching as an art form, force for social change and area overdue for academic study. It has been approved by the Association of Theological Schools and the Commission on Accrediting, which accredits programs and schools focused on educating people for the ministry and the study of theological disciplines.

Program application materials and a complete curriculum are available now. Potential students should contact the CTS Admissions office at 317-931-2300 or

About Christian Theological Seminary
Located in Indianapolis, IN, Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is a fully accredited ecumenical seminary, open to all, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  It offers eight graduate-level degree programs, including programs in theology, ministry, and counseling, with specializations in ministries that emphasize the arts and programs for lifelong learning.  More than 30 denominations are represented among CTS faculty and students. Additional information about CTS is available at Follow us on Twitter @CTStweets