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Guidelines for Research Doctoral Programmes

Guidelines for Research Doctoral Programmes

In 2021, the SG-GETE was revised to include standards and guidelines for doctoral-level research programs. However, the Doctoral Initiative Steering Committee (DISC) felt that an integral appendix would be useful, in which a focused overview and further details were provided in relation to the guidelines for research doctoral programs. This appendix serves this purpose.

1 – Introduction

There are several reasons why evaluating doctoral programs is important and beneficial. A few of the more pressing reasons include:

  • Doctoral education is costly and a significant investment by any school; thus, it is important to do well at equipping students for the kinds of research, teaching, and leadership in the church and in theological education needed in your region.
  • Doctoral education differs in some important ways from undergraduate and master’s level programs and needs to be assessed with different concerns in mind. Though similar in some respects, doctoral education programs cannot be treated or assessed as if they were the same as other kinds of academic programs.
  • Graduates will go on to serve in teaching and leadership roles, impacting the next generation of ministry leaders through their teaching, leadership, research, and writing. They should be equipped well for the tasks and challenges they will face, for the sake of those who are to come and for God’s Kingdom purposes.

Assessment, then, is an effort to be faithful to God with the resources He has entrusted to us for the fulfillment of the purposes for which doctoral programs were created.

Before getting into the specific guidelines we offer for assessing research doctoral programs, let’s first begin with a brief orientation regarding why this document was developed, what its purposes are, why assessment is important, the types of assessment that need to be carried out, and how to best use this document if you are: (1) school leaders doing self-assessment, or (2) regional accreditation reviewers tasked with assessing a school’s research doctoral degree programs.

There were three events that serve as a foundation for the development of these guidelines. First, in 2010, after several years of meetings, members of the ICETE Doctoral Consultation published The Beirut Benchmarks, a statement of the purposes and outcomes of research doctoral programs within evangelical theological institutions. This document, translated into several languages and available on the ICETE website, establishes basic expectations for quality research doctoral study and is useful for both program development and assessment.

Second, in 2015, Ian Shaw, Scott Cunningham, and Bernhard Ott, members of ICETE’s Doctoral Initiative Steering Committee (DISC), edited the book Best Practice Guidelines for Doctoral Programmes (Langham Global Library) as a guide for schools for developing research doctoral programs in the majority world context. This document provides more extensive detail on best practices in program design, resources, faculty work with doctoral students, and program administrative support needs.

To read the full document, click here.