Academic Expectations: Doctor of Education (Spiritual Formation and Discipleship)

Our EdD is an advanced degree which will be recognised internationally. So holders of an AGST Alliance EdD will demonstrate that they have advanced human knowledge in some way through their scholarly research, and this is confirmed by independent experts, applying recognised standards.

Phillips and Pugh (How to get a Ph.D, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1987, pp. 18-19) give a good summary of what this means in practice:

The holder of a doctorate is someone who is recognized as an authority by the appropriate faculty:

  • you have something to say your peers want to listen to.
  • you must have a command of what is happening in your subject so that you can evaluate the worth of what others are doing.
  • you must have the astuteness to discover where you can make a useful contribution.
  • you must have mastery of appropriate techniques that are currently being used, and also be aware of their limitations.
  • you must be able to communicate your results effectively in the professional arena.
  • all this must be carried out in an international context; your professional peer group is world-wide. You must be aware of what is being discovered, argued about, written and published by your academic community across the world.

Thus, a successful EdD dissertation will demonstrate these skills by the candidate:

  • Able to explicitly set out substantive aims and objectives for the study and has clearly defined its scope, assumptions and limitations.
  • Mastery is reflected in the use and citation of primary and secondary sources.
  • Has clearly marshalled the evidence and formulated the problems raised by it.
  • Has dealt with the problems in an orderly and creative way.
  • Has demonstrated highly developed analytical, critical and synthesizing skills.
  • Arguments and supporting evidence are coherent and set out in a logical fashion.
  • The methodology is sound and appropriate to the aims.
  • Key terminology has been clearly outlined and consistently used.
  • Is original, in either (a) enlarging or modifying previous knowledge and/or (b) giving significantly new interpretation of the work of other scholars.

(Adapted from

If this seems to be daunting, don’t despair! We accept you into the EdD program because your previous study and experience has demonstrated that you already have some of these skills. They now need to be honed up further, with diligence and discipline.

(A good way to appreciate what a good doctoral dissertation looks like is to browse through completed dissertations in your field of research interest. You will find these dissertations in theological college and/or university libraries. Ask for suggestions from someone who teaches in your field of interest.)