In September 1981, the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology jointly inaugurated a program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in the Study of Religion. Although planned and staffed initially by the faculties from Iliff and the University of Denver's Department of Religious Studies, other faculty from the Graduate Schools of Professional Psychology, Social Work, Education, and International Studies as well as the departments of Anthropology, History, Political Science, Art and Art History, English, Psychology, and Philosophy at the University are currently involved in the program.
Recently, the Joint PhD Program was revised to make it more responsive to contemporary movements in theological and religious studies. It features a combination of six required courses for all students in the program and a great deal of flexibility and permeability between the subject areas making up specialized spheres of inquiry in the study of religion and theology. The revised structure gives educational breadth as well as opportunity for specialization.
The Joint PhD Program is designed to prepare persons for independent research and teaching in the fields of religious and theological studies. In the revised program, special emphasis is given to enabling students to be effective teachers in the study of religion and theology. Some will use these abilities as university, college, or seminary scholar-teachers. Others will find vocational fulfillment within the context of religious organizations, especially churches, institutes, counseling centers, government agencies and the like.
Special features of the program include doctoral colloquia, interdisciplinary team teaching, research seminars, independent study, special lectures and events, and a certificate program in Latina/o Studies.
Classes for the Joint PhD Program are offered in a traditional classroom setting at both the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology.