The Ph.D. program offers concentrations in a variety of research areas. Each degree plan is crafted not only to expose students to advanced scholarship in their field but also to equip students to interact with current trends in their area of study. There are degrees offered in both modular and residential format. Distinctive features of the Ph.D. include:


Students have the privilege of studying under and being mentored by world-class professors at the forefront of Christian scholarship. These relationships provide a unique opportunity to engage with the current academic discussions. Coupled with the resources of one of the largest theological libraries in America, this program truly allows for advanced scholarship.


In colloquia and area seminars, students not only grow as writers, they also learn to communicate and defend their research. General educational seminars are required for every Ph.D. candidate, preparing them to become lifelong teachers.


At Southern Seminary, scholarship is done for the glory of God and the advancement of the Great Commission. In addition to preparing graduates for college or seminary teaching, the program also equips students for the pastorate and other church-related ministries.


Ph.D. Program Outline

Th.M. Stage (24 hours)

Graduate Research Seminar

2 hours

Foundations for Theological Studies

2 hours

3 Seminars

12 hours

2 Colloquia*

4 hours

2 Research Languages

4 hours

Research Portfolio

0 hours

Ph.D. Stage (31 hours)

5 Seminars

20 hours

2 Colloquia*

4 hours

Guided Mentorship/Analysis of Empirical Research

1 hour

Prospectus Hearing

1 hour

Teaching in Higher Education Contexts

 4 hours

Comprehensive Exams

 1 hour

Ph.D. Candidacy (16 hours)

Dissertation Writing & Defense

16 hours

Total Hours Required: 71 hours

*All colloquia must be in the major area of concentration.


Admissions Prerequisites

To be considered for enrollment in our PhD program we require the following for application.

  • An M.Div. or its equivalent for all degrees with the exception of Christian Worship, Family Ministry, Higher Education, and Leadership which require an M.A.
  • A minimum master’s level cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is expected.

The Ph.D. application process occurs in two phases, which are described below.

Phase One

Phase one occurs as you go through the application process with our Admissions office. It includes two components. First, you should examine our Admissions Requirements for the Ph.D. program to ensure that you meet the minimum standards to apply and understand what you have to include with your application.

Second, you will submit an application for the Ph.D. program to our Admissions Office. Because the application includes several parts, we recommend that you submit as many parts as you can, as soon as you can. It normally takes a minimum of 1-2 months to turn in all the parts to the application, especially because GRE results and recommendations take time to arrive. Your application must be fully complete in the Admissions Office prior to the stated application deadline to be considered.

Application Deadlines

August 1 for Spring matriculation

January 15 for Fall matriculation

Phase Two

After your completed application clears the Admissions Office, the Admissions Office invites qualified applicants to participate in entrance examinations and a faculty interview. Students come to campus for one day in which they complete the entrance examinations in the morning and then participate in the faculty interview in the afternoon.

Entrance exams are designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of the subject area in which they are applying. You will find more details, including study guides for each subject area’s exam, on our Entrance Exam page.

Faculty interviews provide our professors the opportunity to interact with students who are applying in their area while allowing students the chance to get to know the faculty. Students should prepare to discuss not only their research interests but also their personal interests.

Entrance Exams & Interview Dates

First Friday in September for Spring matriculation

Last Friday in February for Fall matriculation


Applicants will receive decision letters from the Research Doctoral Studies Office no earlier than one month from completing the Entrance Exams and Interviews. Accepted applicants have 30 days to declare their intent to matriculate.

Tuition & fee costs can be found on the Financial Information page.


Students in the Ph.D. program choose one major and one Th.M. minor. In their major, students complete five seminars, which gives them a solid foundation in their primary field. In addition, students take three courses in their minors, which results in a well-rounded learning experience.

Th.M. Minor Concentrations

  • Biblical Theology & Exegesis
  • Missions & Evangelism *
  • Philosophy, Worldview, & Apologetics *
  • Practical Theology *
  • Theological & Historical Studies
Minor Concentrations marked by asterisk can be completed in the modular format.

Alumni Testimonial

Dr. Thom S. Rainer

Ph.D. Evangelism, Southern Seminary

President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources

“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. from Southern Seminary. The academic rigors were challenging and demanding. But, at the end of the day, this degree proved not to be a mere intellectual exercise. The studies at Southern Seminary prepared me for both life and ministry. Even to this day, years later, I experience the great benefit of being a Ph.D student and graduate of Southern Seminary.”

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