Doctor of Philosophy

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.

With a combination of academic excellence and personal mentoring in an environment of confessional scholarship, Ph.D. students at Southern Seminary are trained to advance Christian scholarship for effective kingdom ministry.

Apply Now

Distinctive Features

ADVANCED SCHOLARSHIP

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.

EFFECTIVE TEACHING

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.

MISSIONAL SERVICE

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.

Curriculum

Th.M. Stage 24
Graduate Research Seminar

2

Foundations for Theological Studies

2

Three Seminars

12

Two Colloquia*

4

Two Research Languages

4

Research Portfolio

0

Ph.D. Stage 31
Five Seminars

20

Two Colloquia*

4

Guided Mentorship/Analysis of Empirical Research

1

Prospectus Hearing

1

Teaching in Higher Education Contexts

 4

Comprehensive Exams

1

Ph.D. Candidacy 16
Dissertation Writing & Defense

16

Total Program Requirements 71

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

Concentrations

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.

Community Life

The 1892 Club

The 1892 Club

The 1892 Club provides a dedicated space and time to develop relationships and mentoring within our Ph.D. community through a formal program and open times for fellowship.

Learn More

Doctoral Common Room

Doctoral Common Room

The Doctoral Common Room is a dedicated space on the third floor of the SBTS Library for our doctoral students to foster community, mentoring, and inter-disciplinary conversations.

Learn More

Admissions

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

  • Examine the above admissions prerequisites 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.
  • Submit an application to the Admissions office. 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

Decisions

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.

“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.”

Dr. Thom S. Rainer
Ph.D., Evangelism
President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources

Cost

$1,000 down payment, balance due equally over 48 months.
Total cost for SBC students $29,810
Total cost for non-SBC students $52,941

Students should allow at least four years of study to complete their program. Students who take longer than four years will be assessed an additional $2,000 fee for each semester of extension beyond the four-year limit.

Next Steps

Be equipped to serve the gospel in the church and the classroom.

Visit Campus

Visiting Southern will give you an opportunity to explore our beautiful campus and to get all of your important questions answered.

Learn More

Attend Preview Day

Southern Seminary hosts a Preview Day each Spring and Fall – attendees are automatically entered to win a $1000 scholarship.

Learn More

Request Information

Learn more about Southern. Discover how you can learn in Louisville or where you are through distance learning options.

Learn More

Connect with Southern

More Images