Ph.D. in Intercultural Education

Prepare for a career in intercultural education through advanced research and scholarship.

Program at a Glance

  • Program Credits:

    51-60 semester credits

  • Class Formats:

    • Modular (2 weekend formats)
    • Online (some classes)
    • On campus intensive (2 weeks in the summer)
    • Extension site intensive (2 weeks in January)
  • Average Completion Time:

    4.5-5.5 years

  • Accreditation:


  • Location:

    La Mirada, California, and up to half the credits in Chiang Mai, Thailand or Saint-Légier-La Chiésaz, Switzerland

Tuition & Financial Aid

Find information about tuition and financial aid opportunities.

Learn More

Photo - Kim Snider

[The Ph.D. program at Cook] has forced me to reexamine my own beliefs. Also I learned to read the Bible in a different way applying qualitative research concepts and analysis to scripture. I entered the program because I wanted credentials to teach in colleges and seminaries across the region and the degree has made that possible. I am able to oversee research projects and use my knowledge to help students. I am also convinced --due to the type of research I did that the Bible can be approached scientifically that good theory is mirrored in scriptural principles. I believe the reason that my dissertation experience was so meaningful and transformative was because my chair was willing to interact with me on a chapter by chapter basis for almost a year. This is where mentoring gets serious and is not for the faint of heart--especially when the faculty is dealing with isolated people in third world countries who have NO ONE to ask for advice or help.

Kim Snyder, Ph.D. ICE, 2011

Dr. Snyder is directing missionary prep training in the Asia Pacific region for the Assemblies of God denomination. She has taught in Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio and Immanuel Bible College in Cebu (both of which are located in the Philippines). She has also taught at the South Pacific Bible school in Fiji and has led missionary training in Missouri as well as in Mongolia.


This academic doctoral degree further equips experienced, educational professionals by deepening their understanding and application of relevant theoretical constructs in intercultural education. Graduates of this program often teach in higher education and lead educational institutions in intercultural contexts. Up to 21 credits of the coursework for this Ph.D. program can be completed at our Global Learning Centers. The remaining coursework can be completed during two-week modulars on Biola’s La Mirada campus.

Admission Requirements

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

  2. An accredited master's degree or its equivalent appropriate to the Ph.D. in Intercultural Education with a minimum GPA of 3.30.

  3. Three years of cross-cultural experience plus proficiency in a second language is preferred. Three years of teaching experience in a cross-cultural or multicultural setting or its equivalent is expected of students pursuing the Ph.D. in Intercultural Education.

  4. Applicants without intercultural/missions, Bible/theology, or educational studies may have additional coursework added to their program.

  5. Submission of the following: (a) a one-two page statement outlining vocational objectives and how the degree will relate to those objectives, with possible dissertation topic included;(b)a writing sample in the form of an essay or research paper;(c) three letters of references on forms supplied by the admissions office;(d) official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended.

  6. An oral interview with either the program director or director designate (may be completed over the phone) at the director's discretion..

  7. Application and all required materials must be submitted for Fall by January 31, for spring by August 31. Applications may be submitted after deadlines, along with an application fee of $65, but will only be considered if space and time allow. Late applications may be considered for admission to a later term.

Note: Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student's academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.

Program Requirements

The Ph.D. in Intercultural Education program requires a minimum of 60 credits past the appropriate master's degree, with 48 semester hours of course work and 12 semester hours of dissertation research.

The coursework includes four foundational course (12 credits), four specialized courses (12 credits), three electives or tutorials (9 credits), three Bible/Theology courses (9 credits), and two research methods courses (6 credits). The dissertation portion of the program includes two taught courses (6 credits) and allows students to devote six credits to independent research and writing. There is wide latitude for students to pursue their individual interests in elective courses (or tutorials) and ultimately in research for their doctoral dissertation.

If a student has completed a master's degree that does not contain the background necessary for the Ph.D. in Intercultural Education, the total program may be longer than 60 credits, as determined by the program director. A faculty advisor will guide each student in planning a program of study to serve his or her career needs. The degree offers an emphasis in either intercultural or multicultural education.

Below are some of the courses you’ll have an opportunity to take as a student in this program. Note: This list is intended to give you a quick glimpse into the program’s academic offerings, and should not be used as a guide for course selection or academic advising. For official program requirements see catalog for details.

Foundational Courses in Intercultural Studies (13 credits)

ISCL 700 Orientation to Graduate Intercultural Studies 1
ISCL 709 Intercultural Communication 3
ISAN 761 Culture & Transformation 3

Choose two of the following three classes:

ISCL 765 Cross-cultural Leadership 3
ISCL 742 History of the World Christian Movement 3
ISCL 703 Curriculum Design for Intercultural Contexts 3

Education Core Courses (12 Credits)

ISCL 823 Cross-cultural Teaching / Learning Strategies 3
ISCL 816 Educational Theory 3
ISCL 825 Comparative Human Development 3

Choose one of the following classes:

ISCL 815 Educational Philosophies in Global Religious Traditions 3
ISCL 885 Multicultural Education 3

Research Courses (6 Credits)

ISCL 803 Qualitative Research 3
ISCL 879 Research Design 3

Specialization Courses (9 Credits)

A total of 9 credits must be taken in Education/ICS electives and/or ISCL 873 Tutorial (ISCL 873 should be taken for 3 credits each time it is taken. ISCL 873 may be taken repeatedly to fulfill this requirement.)

Bible/Theology Courses (9 Credits)

Students may select Bible / Theology courses from a wide range of courses taught by the faculty at Talbot School of Theology or from among the theological integration courses offered by qualified faculty within the Cook School of Intercultural Studies. Students with no formal biblical / theological training prior to entering the program must have the selection approved by the program director.

Electives and Tutorials (9 Credits)

In consultation with their academic advisors, students are encouraged to complete tutorials related to their dissertation topic or select elective courses from the broad range of expertise available across the university campus in support of his or her particular research interests. Tutorials are arranged courses completed under the advisement of a faculty member.

Dissertation Writing (12 Credits)

ISCL 872 Foundations of Doctoral Research 3
ISCL 891 PhD Dissertation Proposal 3
ISCL 890 PhD Dissertation Research 6

Delivery System

Whether on our La Mirada campus or at our extension site in Chiang Mai, Thailand all required courses comport a two-weeks face to face modular component and semester-long interaction online. The two instructional components of the dissertation process (Foundations of Doctoral Research and Dissertation Proposal) are offered wholly online.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

All course and academic requirements for the Ph.D. in Intercultural Education degree should be completed within seven years, beginning on the date of the student's first registration. Petitions for extension beyond seven years will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students. At times students may need to interrupt their programs for a semester or more for a variety of personal or work-related reasons. This may be done with the consent of their respective PhD Program Director. Students must be continuously enrolled unless on an official Leave of Absence. Students who fail to register in any given semester without a Leave of Absence will be dropped from their respective doctoral program. Also, students on Leave of Absence beyond two consecutive semesters must reapply to their respective doctoral program.

Withdrawal & Re-admission Procedures

A student who must drop out of the school must go through the formal withdrawal process. To return to active status, the student should contact the program director and file a readmission form with the Office of Admissions.

Leave of Absence

Inactive students are those who have requested and been granted Leave of Absence from the program. A Leave of Absence may be granted upon petition for change of status if there is deemed sufficient reason for for interrupting the program and intention to return to the program.

A Leave of Absence must be renewed by petition each semester and may not exceed two consecutive semesters. A Leave of Absence longer than two semesters will require withdrawal from the program and a petition for readmission if the student later wishes to regain active status. Each leave of absence must receive the approval of the Program Advisor and the Dean of the CSICS. Students on leave are required to register for ISCL 893 Leave of Absence each term.

A Leave of Absence may be granted upon petition for change of status if there is deemed sufficient reason for interrupting the program and intention to return to the program. Inactive students are those who have requested and been granted Leave of Absence from the program. A Leave of Absence must be renewed by petition each semester and may not exceed two consecutive semesters. A Leave of Absence longer than two semesters will require withdrawal from the program and a petition for readmission if the student later wishes to regain active status. Each Leave of Absence must receive the approval of the Program Advisor and the Dean of CSICS. Students on leave are required to register for ISCL 893 Leave of Absence each term.


The Cook School of Intercultural Studies (CSICS) at Biola University has chosen to utilize a Portfolio Assessment System for its PhD programs effective Fall 2012-2013.  This system is designed as a means to help monitor student progress in developing as a scholar.  Before the end of the first semester at CSICS, students must create an e-portfolio on Canvas called "CSICS program portfolio" and send the link (URL) for that portfolio to  Students should upload or link the required components to their "CSICS program portfolio" on Canvas by January 21st for fall semester work and by June 21st for spring semester work.  For detailed instructions on how to upload work to the ePortfolio, click here.  For a detailed list of work that must be uploaded, plus the deadlines for students to upload that work, click here.   

Qualifying Examinations

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of their field of study by examination. The content of the written qualifying exams includes material from the core areas of the curriculum and the student's particular specialization. These exams are normally taken at the conclusion of all the coursework.

Admission to Candidacy

Official PhD candidacy indicates that students have completed all of the preliminary requirements and are now qualified to undertake original research contributing to scholarship in their respective fields through their doctoral dissertations.

To achieve candidacy, students must successfully complete the following: 1. Required coursework and the Graduation Procedures Check (or grad check); 2. Portfolio, approved by the doctoral committee; 3. Qualifying examinations; and 4. Defense of the dissertation proposal.

It is the responsibility of students to contact their advisors in order to ensure all candidacy requirements have been met. Upon completion of the requirements, students will be notified of their acceptance to candidacy. Candidates will select a chairperson from the graduate faculty to guide their dissertation research. Upon achieving candidacy, students may implement their proposed research plans under the supervision of the approved doctoral chairperson.

Students enrolled in ISCL 890 Dissertation Field Research or ISCL 891 Dissertation Proposal are considered full-time students. During the dissertation phase, doctoral students are considered full time for a maximum of four semesters.  If doctoral candidates have not defended their dissertations by the time all required dissertation credits are completed, they continue to enroll in ISCL 890 PhD Continuous Research for zero credits each semester credit the successful defense of the dissertation. This enrollment carries no academic credit but maintains the students’ continuous registration.

Students who fail to achieve candidacy may be offered a terminal M.A. degree and dropped from the Ph.D. program.


The dissertation process officially begins with the successful defense of a candidate’s proposal before one’s doctoral committee prior to beginning the student’s field research.

The doctoral dissertation is based upon research grounded in theory appropriate to the candidate’s concentration and conducted in some aspect of intercultural studies.

Dissertation Defense

The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the doctoral committee and other invited professionals. Successful defense of the dissertation completes the candidate's responsibilities for the degree which is conferred in the scheduled graduation ceremony immediately following the defense.

Graduation Requirements

All students must present an acceptable dissertation, have satisfactorily passed their qualifying exam and completed all required course work with a minimum 3.3 GPA to qualify for graduation. Students must meet with their department advisor and contact Graduate Graduation Counselor in the Office of the Registrar one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in Admissions, Registration & Graduation Requirements section).

Careers our grads have entered with a Ph.D. in Intercultural Education:

  • Professor at a university in the US
  • Provost at a university in the US
  • Administrator at a university in the US
  • Domestic missions
  • US Government service
  • School teacher
  • Management consultant
  • University administrator
  • CEO of a missions organization
  • Founder of a missions organization
  • Missionary educator
  • Missionary
  • Missions pastor
  • Pastor
  • Professor at a foreign seminary
  • Professor at a foreign university or school
  • Finance


Distribution of career types for COOK SICS grads with a Ph.D. in ICE*

Career Types Graph

*Data on 92 of 96 grads since 1989

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
© Biola University, Inc. All Rights Reserved.