PhD in Theology

PhD in Theology

The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies was created by the Board of Governor in it meeting held on 29th March 2019 under the provision of the MLCU Act, 2005, Chapter 2, Section 7 (a) of the MLCU Act, 2005 and Statues 10.1 of the MLCU Statues & Rules, 2016.

The university aspires to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in disciplines and fields that will promote its vision and mission. The university’s mission emphasises its mandate to recognise its Christian legacy and its commitment to Christian institutions and the Christian community. Thus, Doctoral Studies in Theology is to enhance leaders’ capacity to serve in theological institutions, churches, and society. The doctoral research should aim to equip leaders to become more efficient in their discipline.

The university believes that the primary motivation for undertaking research must come from the doctoral candidate herself/himself and that the candidate should have a passion for solving a significant and specific problem. The university will play the principal role in designing the study and the candidate, and the supervisor will guide the domain discipline course work and the implementation of the study.

Objectives of the Doctoral Studies

  1. To enhance knowledge in theological and religious studies and other related disciplines with mastery in an academic field;
  2. To increase awareness and competence in teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities, and to instil a commitment to collaborative inquiry, to mentor, publication and other modes of transferring knowledge;
  3. To enhance the church and Christian institutional leadership capacity and build growth in one’s ability and dedication to social and theological diversity and its capacity to relate across difference.
  4. To build the capacity to conduct advanced scholarly research and writing that makes an original contribution to the discipline that is significant for religious communities, academy, and society.
  5. To enhance the ability to communicate one’s research appropriately to scholars within one’s discipline and other scholars, professionals, or publics beyond one’s field.

The Branches of Study and Eligibility


All eligible candidates will have to appear for an entrance test and interview conducted by the Martin Luther Christian University at Shillong main Campus in July and January of every year. The last date of submission of the application is First of July and January of the year (the dates will be indicated on the MLCU website). The application can be downloaded from the MLCU website. The dates for the entrance test will be announced on the website.

The entrance test will have the following components:

  1. English competency
  2. Research Methods / Methodological Approaches related to Field of Research
  3. Analytical skills
  4. Community Orientation

The candidate must submit a tentative research proposal to prove his/her competence in research methods before the entrance test. The interview will be held on the day after the announcement of the results of the written test. Those who pass the written test only will be called for the interview (the second stage of the entrance test). The interview will be based on the research proposal presented. The results will be announced on the same day as the interview. Those who pass the written test and the interview will be admitted into the PhD studies programme to do the coursework.


All applicants will submit the application fee along with the filled-in application form and required documents. On being eligible to appear for the entrance test, the candidate  will have to pay the entrance test fee.’

  1. Applicants who pass the entrance test and interview shall pay the admission fee and the first-year course fees together. After that, the annual course fees shall be payable for an additional two years.
  2. On approval of the research proposal, the candidate shall have to pay the registration fees.
  3. Candidates who do not complete the PhD within three years are required to pay additional fees for the subsequent duration of their PhD research,
  4. Candidates will be required to pay the examination fees along with the submission of the thesis.

Coursework for PhD Candidates

The university requires a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 16 credits of course work in compliance with the UGC. 

A) Each candidate admitted to the PhD studies will be required to take coursework prescribed by the Doctoral Committee. Ordinarily, the coursework shall consist of:

  1. Research Methods – Basic approach to Social and Theological Research Methods to develop a thesis proposal and a review of literature on the area of concern. This coursework is conducted at the Doctoral Centres for all Doctoral candidates (4 Credits)
  2. Methodological issues and Current Trends in research and theoretical framework for the subject and its research focus. This coursework component shall be undertaken under the supervisor’s guidance, who shall certify its completion. (4 Credits)
  3. The third paper will be prescribed by the supervisor related to his/her research field. (4 Credits)
  4. For Biblical studies (OT/ NT) candidates, competence in Biblical Hebrew or Biblical Greek or both languages’ requirement for doing his/her research will be tested by the supervisor and accordingly plan the candidates’ course work. (4 Credits or in place of no.3)
  5. The research proposal, guided and endorsed by the supervisor shall be presented in a seminar organised at the Doctoral Centres. (2 credits)
  6. The Coursework period commences from the date of the announcement of the results of the Doctoral entrance exams.

The Research Scholar should undertake particular languages on their own on the approval of the supervisor.

Biblical languages competency should be tested and certified by the supervisor.

Coursework Scheme

sL. NO




Biblical Studies (OT & NT) 

1.     Methodological Approaches to Research (4) 

2.     Advanced Language requirements (4)

3.     Third Language (German/Spanish/ French) if needed as per the thesis requirement. (optional)

4.     Subject-specific requirement as per the Supervisors advise. (4)

Research Proposal Seminar (2)


Systematic/Contextual Theologies & 

History of Christianity  

1.     Methodological Issues in the specific discipline. (4)

2.     Literature search/ Annotated Bibliography (4)

3.     Subject Specific assessment paper as prescribed by the supervisor. (4)

4.     An additional essay (Optional) (4)

Research proposal Seminar (2)



Christian Counselling, 

Christian Education and 


1.     Research Methods (Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis)

2.     Computer application (SPSS & Leximancer)

3.     Literature search/ Annotated Bibliography

4.     Subject Specific paper as suggested by the Supervisor (Optional)

Research proposal Seminar (2)

B) The milestone given above is a tentative schedule for the PhD candidates. The stipulated period for coursework is six months to 12 months. However, a candidate is expected to complete his/her coursework and submit the research proposal to the Doctoral Committee through the Doctoral Centres before completing 18 months. The provisional admission given for the candidate will be withdrawn, and admission will be cancelled.

C) MPhil holders may be exempted, partially or entirely from the course work as per the decision of the ACTRS of MLCU looking into the merits of the candidate

D) The supervisor will certify the attainment of these competencies in the manner prescribed by the Doctoral Committee.

E) Candidates will be given the transcript on the completion of the coursework.

F) PhD level coursework taken at any other university, considered equivalent be awarded equivalent credits on the Doctoral Committee’s approval. Such candidates should submit their thesis proposal to the Doctoral Committee within three months of their admission.

G) If a candidate does not complete the prescribed coursework, the entrance test will be valid only up-to two years after which the candidate will have to re-appear for the entrance test.

H) The candidate shall not have simultaneous PhD Registration with the other Universities/Institutions.

Grading and Transcripts

  1. Grades will be awarded by the faculty conducting the courses or by the supervisor.
  2. The university shall issue a Transcript for the coursework at the supervisor’s recommendation after completing the coursework.

Research Proposal

The research proposal is pivotal in the candidate’s doctoral programme because it sets forth the major creative work which the doctoral candidate will undertake. The research proposal expresses the research goal that the candidate has in mind. The research proposal presupposes that considerable research has already been carried out in the research subject. It is a matter of judging how far the proposal should set forth the research’s actual conclusions. 

The candidate must present an acceptable Thesis Proposal within TWO months of the completion of the coursework. This proposal, which usually is around 20 – 25 pages in length, shall include the following:

  1. A statement of the proposed investigation area, justifying the topic’s significance, establishing the need for a new study, and showing how a contribution will be made to the subject.
  2. Literature Review is referring to their area of research and finding the gap for doing the research.
  3. Research Methods: An explanation of the method(s) to be applied in the research.
  4. A precis of the proposed content, indicating the sequence of topics (Chapters, and if possible, anticipated conclusion.
  5. An extensive bibliography.

Research Proposal Format

  1. Title
  2. Table of Contents (with page numbers)
  3. Introduction
  4. Statement of the Problem
  5. Research question (s)
  6. Objectives
  7. Hypothesis
  8. Operational Definitions
  9. Scope of the Research Study
  10. Literature Review with scholarly reference
  11. Methodology
    1. Area of the research study
    2. Research Design
    3. Sampling Design
      1. Sampling unit
      2. Sampling method

iii.    Sampling Size

  1. Methods of Data Collection
  2. Data Management
  3. Data Entry
  4. Data Analysis
  5. Ethical Considerations
  6. Annexure
  7. Questionnaire/ interview Schedule/ Observation Check List


  1. References in APA Style of Referencing, 6th Edition
  2. Gantt Chart
  1. Background of the scholar indicating educational qualification, experiences related to the field of study, scholarly presentations and papers within 200 words.

Format Requirements

  1. Title Page: Font— 14 (Title page is page l)
    1. Title of the Study
    2. Submitted to: Doctoral Committee
    3. Date:
    4. Name of Scholar:
    5. Registration No:
    6. Middle Justification
  2. Left justification for all other pages
  3. Margins: I inch on top, bottom and right and left side margins
  4. Font: Times New Roman
  5. Font size: 12
  6. Space between lines: double spacing
  7. No of words — 10,000 to 15000 words’

Progress of the candidate

  1. The research proposal should generally be submitted to the Doctoral Committee within one year of admission and complete the prescribed coursework.
  2. If a candidate has not completed [the course work and has not] received approval for his/her research proposal from the Doctoral Committee within two years of admission, his/her candidature will be terminated.
  3. Upon approval of the Doctoral Committee’s research proposal, the thesis’s topic and the research study design shall be considered to be finalised. The Doctoral Committee should approve any significant change of the subject or considerable modification.
  4. After obtaining the Doctoral Committee’s research proposal’s approval, the candidate shall receive permission from the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). The research work may commence only after the consent of the UREC.
  5. A yearly progress report, approved by the supervisor, shall be submitted by the Doctoral candidates.
  6. A candidate shall give a presentation once a year of his/her work and submit a six-monthly progress report, approved by the supervisor for evaluation and further guidance.
  7. Each candidate is expected to present his/her work, or part thereof, at an appropriate academic conference, preferably national or international, and submit or publish the research work in a peer-reviewed journal.
  8. A pre-submission presentation, approved by the supervisor, shall be made upon completing the research work’s main part.
  9. The candidates on submission of the final research have to report the community’s findings in a suitable manner from which the data has been collected. The scholar shall submit a report to the Secretary, Doctoral Committee before the public defence.


During the course work, each Research scholar to be assigned a supervisor/advisor. A research scholar may secure a secondary supervisor/advisor if the research is of interdisciplinary or international supervisor.

The research candidate shall submit an annual progress report endorsed by the supervisor/ advisor. 

Research Supervisors/advisors are assigned by the Doctoral Centres and approved by the Doctoral Committee of Working Committee of the FTRS of the university to verify the standards in considering the UGC guidelines.

Suppose the Doctoral Centre is assigning a visiting research supervisor, Doctoral centre should send the research supervisor’s resume and get it approved by the Working Committee of the FTRS of the University either before or with the proposal submitted to the Doctoral Committee.


  1. Common Entrance Test & Interview held in MLCU – in the second week of June and the second week of January every year
    1. A Common Entrance Test will be conducted for all disciplines.
    2. Entrance Test and Interview to be conducted at the MLCU.
  2. Coursework period– July to April/ February to December.
    1. 4 Papers (16- 20 credits) to be facilitated by the Doctoral Centres.
    2. In the case of MTh., stream candidate, the course work is limited to 12 to 16 Credits, and the minimum period required for coursework is six months to one year.
  3. Research Proposal: The research proposal is to be submitted to the Doctoral Centres on the supervisors’ recommendation and a thesis proposal seminar to be conducted at the Doctoral Centres in the month of May/June.
  4. The approval of the research proposal should be obtained within 18 months from the date of admission.
  5. The ethical approval is also required from the University Research Ethics Committee after the research proposal has been accepted.

Progress Report – A progress report endorsed by the supervisor should be sent through the Centre to the Dean of Doctoral Studies. The progress report is to be sent every six months i.e. every third week of March and every third week of September.

  1. Progress Seminars – September of every year

They are facilitated by the Doctoral Centres and possibly one representative of the University is to be present.

  1. Thesis submission- Before the pre-submission submission the following have to be submitted:
    1. A soft copy is to be submitted to enable the University to check the format and if there is any form of plagiarism.
    2. Two spiral bound copies
  2. Pre-submission presentation

They are facilitated by the Doctoral Centres and one representative of university to be present.

  1. Final Submission — After correction of the thesis, submit four hardbound copies of the final thesis and a soft copy to be sent to the Secretary, Doctoral Committee of ACTRS of the University. Refer the format given in APA/SBL Style of writing.
  2. Public Défense – After receiving the examiners’ satisfactory comments and approval, a public Défense will be conducted at the MLCU Main Campus, Shillong, usually in July to facilitate the candidate’s joining the Annual Convocation the end of July.

Queries and final authority

  1. All queries are to be referred to the Secretary, Academic Committee.
  2. Final decisions on any matter about the coursework shall lie with the Dean and the Professor of the candidate who is subject only to the Academic Committee of Theology and Religious Studies of the University.

    Prof Dr Samuel Meshack
    Pro-Chancellor & Dean, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, MLCU

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