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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Prepares those entering the highest levels of research, seeking to become scholars and educational leaders in the field.

Overview

Prepare for academic ministry

The DTS Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) combines the highest of standards of academic scholarship with a heart for God’s word and the theology of the church.

Biblical Studies Major

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.

Theological Studies Major

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.

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) complete the Personality Inventory (arranged with the Director of Counseling Services); (4) 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 (5) 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.

Applications for the doctoral program must 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. Supporting materials (e.g., references, transcripts, completed Personality Inventory) must be received by January 15 and September 15, respectively. The completed applications are then considered for preliminary acceptance by the faculty of the appropriate academic department and by the PhD Studies Committee.

Depending on their prior academic preparation, students enter the PhD program either at Stage 1 or Stage 2. Applicants entering at Stage 1 must have attained a bachelor’s degree (BA, BS, etc.) and the Master of Divinity degree (MDiv) or their educational equivalents. For purposes of admission to Stage 1 of the PhD program, an MDiv degree is understood to be a minimum of three years of full-time study (approximately 90 semester hours). Applicants must have an academic record that demonstrates superior ability and shows promise of success in doctoral studies. In the absence of a master’s thesis, applicants must provide a research paper previously written at
the master’s level that shows an acceptable level of competency in research and writing. After completing Stage 1, applicants must complete requirements for entrance into Stage 2.

Applicants entering at Stage 2, in addition to a bachelor’s degree, must have attained the Master of Theology degree (ThM) or Master of Sacred Theology degree (STM) or their educational equivalents. For purposes of admission to Stage 2 of the PhD program, the ThM or STM degree must be a minimum of one year of full-time study (approximately 30 semester hours), or in the case of DTS graduates, the four-year ThM degree. Applicants entering at Stage 2 must give evidence either by transcript or by examination of at least two years of study in biblical Hebrew and two-and- a-half years of study in New Testament Greek. Any deficiencies in these areas must be made up without credit in the PhD program. Applicants must have an academic record that demonstrates superior ability and shows promise of success in doctoral studies. Applicants must also present an acceptable master’s thesis. In lieu of a master’s thesis, Stage 2 applicants may submit a research paper previously produced for a graduate-level course. This paper should demonstrate research skill in one’s academic discipline, clarity of organization, logical presentation, attention to detail, and writing ability at a level suitable for entrance to a PhD program.

Hebrew Exegesis (after passing proficiency exams in Hebrew grammar)
No. Name Hours
OT103 Hebrew Exegesis and Old Testament Introduction I 3
OT104 Hebrew Exegesis and Old Testament Introduction II 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 11
EML215 or
WM410
Teaching in Christian Higher Education OR
Theological Education in Intercultural Contexts
3
Total 26

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.

Residential Requirements

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

STM Completion

Students who fail the qualifying exams on completion of Stage 1 of the PhD program may choose to complete the STM degree by finishing any requirements that remain for that degree (see the STM degree program section of this catalog). In most cases, this will require only 6 more hours of coursework. (This assumes that students have completed the 26 hours of coursework required for Stage 1 of the PhD program, since the STM degree requires 32 hours for completion.)
The additional 6 hours should be taken 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 of Internship credit. Students must also have completed coursework in soteriology and eschatology in their master’s program.

Students may transfer a maximum of 6 hours into the STM program, even if additional transfer was considered toward Stage 1 requirements of the PhD program. Additional information on STM completion is available from the Advising Center.

Admission to Candidacy

Students may be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree by action of the faculty only after (1) completing all residence requirements leading to the degree; (2) passing written and oral examinations in the fields within the major; (3) meeting foreign language requirements; and (4) evidencing, to the satisfaction of the faculty, proven Christian character, ability, and acceptability in Christian ministry, and adherence 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.

Students in the PhD program also must provide a written letter of church involvement from the local church the student has regularly attended while in seminary and a reference form completed by a pastor or spiritual overseer.

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.

Graduation Requirements

Candidates in the PhD program must have completed 61 semester hours of coursework (35 for students entering with a ThM or STM degree), including dissertation and any other requirements that may have been assigned.

The completion of minimum requirements does not automatically qualify students for the degree. They must evidence, to the satisfaction of the faculty, proven Christian character, ability and acceptability in Christian ministry, and adherence to the doctrines stated in the Admission to Candidacy section.

Diplomas will not be awarded, transcripts issued, or placement assistance provided unless all financial obligations to the seminary and/or the student loan program are current.

Stories

Graduates around the world

God has given our graduates incredible gifts that they express in a variety of educational and ministry contexts.

Dr. Ted Kitchens Leads Christ Chapel in Fort Worth
Pastor, teacher, author, speaker, and DTS Doctoral Grad, Dr. Tony Evans
Dr. Daniel Wallace Digitizes Ancient Manuscripts
Dr. Ed Condra Launches Biblical Linguistics Center in New Guinea
Meet Dr. Imad Shehadeh, President, Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary
Dr. Stanley Toussaint, Sr. Professor Emeritus
Checklist

PhD studies checklist

The appropriate seminary office will notify the student as soon as the results of the qualifying examinations are available. The letters “DTS” below refer to students currently enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary who are making application to the PhD program.

Admission Process

Stage 1

Stage 2

  • Application form
  • Personality Inventory
  • Interview with the department coordinator (DTS)
  • Interview with the director of PhD Studies (DTS)
  • Preliminary approval by the PhD Studies Committee
  • Written qualifying exam (by third Monday of February or November)
  • Oral qualifying exam (by third Monday of March or November)
  • Approval by the PhD Studies Committee

Period of Course Work

  • First language exam (must be passed before enrollment in the third semester)
    • French
    • German
  • Second language exam (must be passed before enrollment in the fifth semester)
    • French
    • German
  • Meet with the department coordinator for discussion of dissertation topic
  • Meet with a Turpin Library staff consultant for discussion of dissertation topic proposal
  • Dissertation topic approval by the PhD Studies Committee

Postcourse Work

  • Notify PhD Studies Office of intention to take the written comprehensive exams (at least two weeks in advance)
  • Written comprehensive exams (begin any time after September 1 and complete within 15 calendar days before March 15)
  • Oral comprehensive exam (within 15 days of completion of written exams)
  • Submit application for admission to candidacy to the Registrar’s Office

Dissertation and Graduation

All submissions of dissertation material must be registered with the PhD Studies Office. The dates within the following parentheses indicate the dates of submissions in relation to graduation—the first date is for May graduation, the second is for August graduation, and the third is for December graduation.

  • Register for the dissertation course
  • File the syllabus
  • Meet with the dissertation committee
  • Submit the first two chapters (September 15, January 1, or May 1)
  • Submit the entire first draft (December 1, March15, or July 15)
  • Meet with the dissertation committee for the oral defense of the dissertation (on or before February 15, May 30, or September 30)
  • Submit the preliminary final draft (March 15, July 1, or November 1)
  • Submit the final draft (April 15, August 1, or December 1) and pay the filing fee at the PhD Studies Office
  • Publish the dissertation through University Microfilms International
FAQ

Questions about PhD studies

What are the prerequisite degrees for the PhD program?
Applicants must hold the MDiv, ThM, or STM degree, or their equivalent. Applicants holding the MDiv degree will apply to Stage 1 of the PhD program. Applicants holding the ThM or STM degree will apply to Stage 2 of the PhD program.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement in order to be considered for the PhD program?
Normally a GPA of 3.5 or higher is required for admission to the PhD program. However, all areas of an applicant’s background are considered in the application process.
Am I required to take the GRE?
No. At present we do not require the completion of the GRE for application purposes.
What are the Greek and Hebrew requirements for the PhD program?
Applicants entering Stage 1 must give evidence either by transcript or by examination of at least one year of study in biblical Hebrew and two years of study in New Testament Greek. Applicants entering Stage 2 must give evidence either by transcript or by examination of at least two years of study in biblical Hebrew and two and a half years of study in New Testament Greek. Any deficiencies in these areas must be made up without credit in the PhD program.
Must a master’s thesis be completed before applying to the PhD program?
Applicants holding the MDiv degree and applying to Stage 1 of the PhD program will complete a master’s thesis once admitted to Stage 1 of the PhD program.

Applicants holding the ThM or STM degree may apply to Stage 2 of the PhD program while their thesis is in process. However, the thesis must be satisfactorily completed by May 15 for full acceptance into Stage 2 of the PhD program.
How many credit hours are required for completion of the PhD program?
Stage 1 requires completion of 26 credit hours (including a 2 credit hour thesis). Stage 2 requires completion of 35 credit hours (including a 3 credit hour dissertation).
How do I advance from Stage 1 of the PhD program to Stage 2?
Either upon completion of all Stage 1 course work, or during your last semester of Stage 1 course work, you must satisfactorily complete a written and oral qualifying exam for advancement to Stage 2 of the PhD program. Once you satisfactorily complete all course work and the written and oral qualifying exams, you may advance to Stage 2.
What if I do not pass the qualifying exams for advancement from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the PhD program?
If you do not pass the qualifying exams for advancement to Stage 2 of the program, you may elect to transfer your credits into the STM degree program. You can then complete an additional six credit hours to earn the STM degree.
Can I transfer any master’s courses into Stage 1 of the PhD program?
Transfer of master’s level courses into Stage 1 of the PhD program is rare, but it is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Can I transfer any PhD course work from another institution?
Normally work done in other institutions may not be credited toward Stage 2 of the PhD program.
Must I have reading proficiency in French or German before applying to the program?
Reading proficiency in French and German is not necessary before applying to the PhD program. Once admitted to the PhD program, a student must demonstrate proficiency in one modern language before the completion of the first semester of Stage 2 course work and must demonstrate proficiency in the second modern language before the completion of the third semester of Stage 2 course work. Courses in Reading Theological French and Reading Theological German are offered in alternating summer terms subject to availability of staff. Students may take and satisfactorily complete those courses to meet the modern language requirements or they may study on their own and take a proficiency exam given through the PhD Studies Office.
Can other modern languages be substituted for French and German?
In most cases French and German are preferable for research purposes. However, a student may petition for a substitution if his/her dissertation research requires reading of sources primarily in another language.
Do you provide any online or distance learning courses?
Our PhD program is strictly a resident program. We do not offer online or distance learning courses.
What is the residency requirement?
All of Stage 1 of the PhD program must be completed on the Dallas campus. Stage 2 of the PhD program requires a minimum of two years in residence, at least one semester of which must be for dissertation research.
How long does it normally take to complete the PhD program?
Stage 1 of the PhD program must be completed within two years from the time of matriculation. Stage 2 of the PhD program normally includes at least three years of study but must be completed within eight years from the time of matriculation.
Do you offer any financial aid for PhD students?
Scholarships are available for students in the PhD program who meet the scholarship criteria. For a listing of available scholarships and eligibility criteria, see the General Information section of the seminary catalog. For general information regarding financial aid, see the Financial Information section of the seminary catalog as well as the Financial Aid Department. A limited amount of financial aid is available to international PhD students.
What are the application deadlines?
The application deadline for the fall semester is January 15. The application deadline for the spring semester is September 15.
When is the Stage 2 written qualifying exam given?
For entrance into Stage 2 in the fall semester, the written qualifying exam is given on or before the third Monday of February. For entrance into Stage 2 in the spring semester, the written qualifying exam is given on or before the third Monday of October.
Handbook

DTS PhD Handbook

Learn more about the programs by downloading the degree handbook.

Faculty

Professors who love the academy and love people

Our professors are the rare combination of instructors who care deeply about academic excellence and spiritual maturity and gifting.

Doctrine

What we believe

DTS faculty affirm our full doctrinal statement every year, while our diverse community of students are centered around these seven core doctrines of evangelical faith.

Bible
the authority and inerrancy of Scripture
Trinity
the Trinity
Hypostatic Union
Christ’s full deity and humanity
Gavel
the spiritual lostness of the human race
Resurrection
Christ’s substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection
Salvation
salvation by faith alone in Christ alone
Return of Christ
the physical return of Christ
Information

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