Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program Requirements

Admission Requirements 

Applicants must (1) hold the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, Master of Theology (ThM) degree, or Master of Sacred Theology (STM); (2) have an academic record that demonstrates superior ability; (3) satisfactorily pass a written examination in the field of their intended major and an oral examination of their Christian experience, scholarship, theology, achievement, and purpose; and (4) show evidence that they:

  • have saving faith in Christ 
  • are of proven Christian character
  • are endowed with appropriate spiritual gifts
  • adhere to the following doctrines: the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Christ, the spiritual lostness of the human race, the substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ, salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, and the physical return of Christ.

Applicants for the PhD degree who hold only the MDiv degree must complete stage one for the program, which consists of an additional 26 semester hours of course work (see below) before taking the written and oral qualifying exams to continue in the PhD program. Applicants holding the ThM or STM degree must successfully pass the written and oral qualifying exams before beginning their studies. Oral and written exam dates are typically in February for Fall applicants, and October for Spring applicants.

Stage one requirements for students admitted with the MDiv degree consist of 26 hours of classroom work. The student is required to pass a proficiency exam in Greek grammar and syntax, complete NT104 and NT105 (6 hours), pass a proficiency exam in Hebrew grammar, and complete OT103 and OT104 (6 hours). The student must also complete a major of 9 hours in a Biblical Studies or Theological Studies department, complete either CE215 or WM410 (3 hours), and write a 2-hour thesis in their intended major. After completion of the 26 hours of stage one, the student must pass the PhD written and oral qualifying exams.

Hebrew Exegesis (after passing proficiency exams in Hebrew grammar)
No. Name Hours
OT103 Introduction to Hebrew Exegesis 3
OT104 Principles of Hebrew Exegesis 3
Greek Exegesis (after passing proficiency exams in Greek grammar and syntax)
No. Name Hours
NT104 Introduction to New Testament Exegesis 3
NT105 Exegesis of Romans 3
  Major in Biblical Studies or Theological Studies 9
CE215 or
  Thesis in major 2
Total   26

Applications for the doctoral program should be received by the Admissions Office by January 1 for admission the following fall semester or by September 1 for admission the following spring semester. The completed applications are then considered by the PhD Committee for preliminary acceptance.

Course Requirements 

Students in the PhD program may major in either the Division of Biblical Studies or the Division of Theological Studies. For students admitted with only the MDiv degree, the program requires two stages. Stage one consists of 26 semester hours of work at the master’s level (see above) and stage two requires an additional 35 hours of doctoral work. Students with the ThM or STM degree complete only stage two of the program, or 35 semester hours of classroom work involving at least three semesters of study.

Qualifying exams for stage two assume completion of the 26 hours of stage one. However, students are eligible to take the qualifying exams for stage two during their final semester before completion of stage one and if they are making satisfactory progress on the thesis. Qualifying exams for stage two must be completed successfully before continuing in the doctoral program. Students may attempt the stage two qualifying exams a maximum of two times.

Stage two requirements for all doctoral students are as follows. For Biblical Studies majors, 9 hours of course work are required in divisional courses. In addition to this core curriculum, each student must take 12 hours in a concentration, either Old Testament Studies, New Testament Studies, or Bible Exposition and complete a 3-hour dissertation in their major field. Each student also has 11 hours of electives. See the PhD in Biblical Studies section of this catalog for more information. For a major in Theological Studies, at least 22 hours must be taken in seminars offered by the Division of Theological Studies. In addition they must complete 10 hours of approved elective courses in other departments and a 3 hour dissertation.

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate ability to read scholarly French and German. Information on the dates when the examinations in these languages must be taken is given in the Doctor of Philosophy Handbook.

Only courses taken after receiving the prerequisite degree (MDiv, ThM or STM) can be credited toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Normally work done in other institutions may not be credited toward stage two of the PhD degree. A minimal grade of B- must be received in every course credited toward graduation and also on the dissertation.

Residence Requirements 

The program normally includes at least three years of study, a minimum of two years of which must be spent in residence. All work leading to the PhD degree must normally be completed within eight years from the time of matriculation.

If the student fails the qualifying exams on completion of stage one of the program, he or she may complete the STM degree by finishing 6 more hours in the following segments: 3 hours in Communications, 2 hours in Theological Studies (if the major is Biblical Studies) or 2 hours in Biblical Studies (if the major is Theological Studies), and 1 hour in ministry leadership. Students must also have completed course work in soteriology and eschatology in their master’s program.

Dissertation Requirements 

Students must register for and complete a dissertation of between 50,000 and 75,000 words on an approved subject. Details on the procedures and deadlines for the dissertation subject proposal, syllabus, first and final drafts, and oral defense are given in the Doctor of Philosophy Handbook.