Graduate Theological Union

Liturgical Studies






Student Work


Francis Tae-Young Chung,
Creating a New Space: Gendered
Space and Worship in Korean
Church Architecture

Sharon R. Fennema, “Falling
All Around Me:” Worship
Performing Theodicy in the Midst
of San Francisco’s AIDS Crisis





Jennifer Davidson (Ph.D. '11),
Assistant Professor of Worship &
Theology, American Baptist
Seminary of the West



This Area of Concentration is available to students affiliated with the following schools: ABSW, CDSP, FST, JST, PLTS, PSR, SKSM


This program seeks to promote the study/understanding of Christian worship as lived and expressed through the churches' various traditions and cultures. The program has several goals:

  1. to ground students in primary areas of liturgical scholarship, history and sources, theology of worship, Christian initiation; Eucharist, worship and culture;
  2. to introduce the tools of scholarship, research and writing;
  3. to provide opportunities to explore other areas of liturgical studies (theology, history, ritual studies), including one area of specialization; and
  4. to afford the possibility of study of their specific liturgical tradition(s).

M.A. Requirements




The doctoral program in Liturgical Studies prepares students to do critical research in the historical evolution of Christian rites; to speak and think theologically about Christian ritual practice, both historical and contemporary; and to access the ritual strategies involved in particular liturgical events and ritual traditions. This will involve both familiarity with major figures, themes, and tasks in liturgiology, as well as an array of research skills including a critical use of primary sources, textual analysis, and conversance with a range of methods in the disciplines. With these skills, students will be prepared to address both the scholarly and pastoral dimensions of Christian worship through teaching (university or seminary settings), writing, and/or pastoral leadership, serving churches at the local, regional, or national levels.

Admissions Requirement

In addition to the other GTU requirements for admission, students must hold a master’s degree in Liturgical Studies or the equivalent study in another degree program at the master’s level.

Language Requirements

Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in one modern research language (e.g., French, German, etc.), other than his or her native language, and in one language of early liturgy (e.g., Latin, Greek, Syriac, etc.). In addition, students are expected to show competence in any other language(s) necessary for their planned area of specialization. Language requirements should be met early in the residence period (and must be completed before the student begins the comprehensive examination process) so that the language can be used in course work and research.

Course work

Students are required to complete four foundational seminars, which are offered over two-year period: Liturgical Methods Proseminar; one seminar in Liturgical History, and the seminar in medieval or reformation and modern; the seminar in Liturgical Theology; and the seminar in Ritual Studies as Liturgical Studies. Beyond foundational seminars, students are required to develop further expertise in at least one of three “interdisciplines” of liturgical studies, as well as to pursue work in one or more related disciplines. Therefore, students must: (1) complete additional course work in liturgical history, liturgical theology, and/or ritual studies; (2) take further course work in their related disciplines. The focus and extent of additional areas of study will be determined in consultation with the student’s academic advisor.

Courses frequently offered include: the history/theology of Eucharist; Liturgy of the Hours; Christian initiation, rites of the sick, death, and dying; liturgy and culture; liturgical aesthetics; sacramental theology; liturgy and architecture; as well as current topics across an ecumenical spectrum of worship traditions.

Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examinations consist of two timed examinations, and two essays. Each of the three interdisciplines of Liturgical Studies (liturgical theology, liturgical history, and ritual studies) must be the focus of each of the four exams. The student may choose which exam will focus on which interdiscipline.

  1. Timed exam based on bibliography produced by the faculty and supplemented by additional sources related to the student’s particular focus. This exam will demonstrate: a) familiarity with and knowledge of major figures, themes, and tasks in liturgical studies; and b) the fruit of a student’s specific research in each area. The student will choose the time frame of the exam (either four-hour closed-book or 24-hour take-home exam) and which of the three interdisciplines on which it will focus.
  2. A second timed exam as described above, but focused on a different interdiscipline.
  3. A 30-40 page essay demonstrating the student’s in-depth understanding of the remaining interdiscipline not focused upon in the two timed exams.
  4. A 30-40 page essay demonstrating integration of the student’s allied field and/or university discipline with liturgical studies.

An oral examination will follow covering the required bibliographies; the exams; and the essays produced by the student.


Within a few months of successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student is expected to submit a first draft of their dissertation proposal to the area faculty.

Allied Field Requirements

Allied field students can complete coursework requirements through one of two options:

  1. Take two courses in the area, focusing on one of three sub-disciplines (liturgical history, liturgical theology, ritual studies). OR,
  2. Take the liturgical studies Proseminar (offered each fall term) and one other course from any of the sub-disciplines.

In addition to taking two courses, students must complete the Comprehensive Examination process as a part of their particular area through one of two options:

  1. Take a written, closed book examination in liturgical history, liturgical theology, or ritual studies. OR,
  2. Write an essay that demonstrates the integration of the student’s area of expertise. This paper will be 30-40 pages in length.



Core Doctoral Faculty

MICHAEL B. AUNE • PLTS (Liturgical and Historical Studies) • Liturgical Theology/ies; Liturgy and  Christology; Theologies of the Lord's Supper; Historical Theology.

JOHN KLENTOS • GTU/PAOI (Orthodox Studies) • Orthodox history and theology; history and theology of Byzantine liturgy; Orthodox Christian spirituality.

LIZETTE LARSON-MILLER • CDSP (Liturgical Studies) • Sacramental theology; sacraments; liturgy & architecture; rites for the sick, dying & dead; liturgical history; early-medieval.

MARY E. McGANN, R.S.C.J. • JST (Liturgy and Music) • Ecology and Liturgy; Ecofeminist theology; Ritual Theory and Practice; Inculturation and liturgy; Women, spirituality and worship; Ethnographic research methods.

RUTH A. MYERS • CDSP (Liturgics) • Christian initiation; liturgical theology and missiology; worship in the Episcopal Church and Anglican communion; liturgical year; inculturation of liturgy.


Consortial Faculty

JENNIFER DAVIDSON • ABSW (Worship) • Worship and Pedagogy; Liturgical Spirituality; Liturgical Theology; Emergent Church; Intercultural Worship; Postmodern Worship; Constructive Theology; Liturgical Writing; Worship and Social Justice; Free Church Worship; African American and Asian Worshiping Traditions.

SHARON FENNEMA  PSR (Worship)  Queer theory, gender studies, and religious practices; postmodern culture, critical theories, and worship; ritual studies and social theory; North American liturgical history; the arts in worship.

EDUARDO FERNANDEZ, S.J. • JST (Pastoral Theology and Ministry) • Relationship between faith and culture; U.S. Hispanic theology and ministry; Hispanic religious expressions; celebration of sacraments in multicultural contexts Mexican history and the history of the southwest; relationship between art, spirituality, and inculturation.

PAUL JANOWIAK, S.J. • JST (Liturgical Theology) • Sacramental Presence in the Liturgy; Liturgical Spirituality; Liturgical Devotion as a Communal Practice; Preaching as a Sacramental Event.

LOUIS WEIL • CDSP (Liturgics) • Baptismal ecclesiology; The evolution of the theology of the Eucharist [historical & theological]; The evolution of Holy Orders in the life of the Church; Prayer Book development in non-Anglo provinces of the Anglican Communion.