Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Counseling

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Program Snapshot

70 Credit Hours
4 Years to Complete
Modular Learn more

Study and apply all of the Bible, to all of life.

The Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling trains pastors, counselors, and scholars to think and practice wisely in caring for people amid the complexities of human life. This degree provides advanced scholarship in the theological, historical, and contemporary aspects of biblical counseling.

Modular format – relocation to Louisville not required.

Students will complete this program with trips to campus twice each year for doctoral seminars. Each seminar session will last two weeks. Travel to campus only required during the Ph.D. coursework stage.

Study the church’s role in the care of people.

PhD Student Stage
Course Number Description Credit Hours
81020 Graduate Research Seminar 2
81260 Foundations for Theological Studies 2
81270 Course Development and Design 2
81300 Higher Education 2
8 Seminars 32
4 Colloquia 4
Prospectus Development 1-4 4
2 Research Languages 4
Comprehensive Exams 2
Total 54
PhD Candidate Stage
Course Number Description Credit Hours
81910 Dissertation Writing & Defense 16
Total 16

Total Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Counseling: 70

Seminars

Students take 5 courses in their area of study and 3 “flex” seminars in whichever area they are interested.  The following are just a few of the courses available to biblical counseling students.

87725 Applied Theology and Typical ProblemsThis seminar will explore how Scripture (utilizing exegesis of specific passages as well as biblical and systematic theology) relates to typical problems often found in counseling situations. The seminar will consider how the major theological loci relate to the care of people as well as how specific issues can be addressed with biblical theological themes. This ability to move in both directions — from Scripture to life to Scripture — is a vital skill for the wise practitioner.
87750 Scripture and Theology in CounselingChristian counseling is based upon God’s plan, accomplishment, and application of redemption to God’s people. In this class we will explore biblical and dogmatic descriptions of redemption and develop a model for helping others in the application and internalization of redemption.
87760 Theological Hermeneutics in the Care of PeopleThis seminar is an exploration of the role of hermeneutics in applied theology and counseling. Seminar participants will apply a theologically developed hermeneutic to the exegesis of specific passages of Scripture and to the interpretation of specific counseling situations, demonstrating how the gospel of Jesus Christ is the central interpretive concern of both.
87770 Ecclesiology and Methods in Biblical CounselingThis seminar will outline the basic components of the biblical counseling process, exploring various methods in addressing issues strategically in the context of the local church. The course will consider how counseling is one of the various means of grace Christ has appointed for his church. It will specifically address the community’s role in the sanctification and support of its members and the role of counseling in outreach to the broader community of the church.

Students can be supervised by the following faculty:

Jeremy P. Pierre

Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Biblical Counseling; Dean, The Billy Graham School

Robert D. Jones

Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling

Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Pierre talking with student on campus

No. The Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling is available in a modular format, requiring two trips each academic year to Louisville for doctoral seminars. Students should plan for each campus session to last two weeks.

Winter seminars are typically held during the last week of November and the first week of December. Summer seminars are typically held during the second & third week of May each year.

Refer to the academic calendar for current year seminar dates.

Applicants should have (or be on track to graduate with) a Masters of Divinity or its equivalent (72 credit hours minimum in specific disciplines) or with a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (61 hours min.).

If you do not have an M.Div. or M.A. in Counseling but you have another M.A. or other masters-level divinity credit, you may submit a doctoral equivalency evaluation to the admissions office to find out if you qualify for SBTS PhD programs.*

A minimum master’s level cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is expected.

For a complete listing of doctoral admissions requirements, see the “Admissions & Cost” tab.

*International transcripts must be evaluated by a NACES approved organization for both admissions consdiration and for equivalency requests.

During the application process you will indicate your preferred supervisor and be asked to describe your research interest but both can be subject to change until you are accepted and enrolled in the program.

During your faculty interview and during on-boarding to the program (if accepted) you will have the opportunity to discuss and receive advising on both your supervisor and your research topic.

Your final research area(s) will be determined in close consultation with and approval by your supervisor, this generally occurs during the coursework stage of your program.

Admissions for the Ph.D. program consists of:

Initial Application Submission

  • All required materials must be submitted to the Office of Admissions by the appropriate deadline (see “Admissions” tab for more information).

Entrance Exam and Interview

  • Students who are believed to have a reasonable possibility of acceptance are invited to participate in entrance exams and faculty interviews.
  • Exams and interviews are held remotely via Zoom (travel to campus not required) on the third friday of each month.
  • For more information on Entrance Exams, click here.

The Ph.D. program is structured for 48 months (4 years). 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.

During the PhD student stage (coursework stage), students will complete eight seminars, usually five seminars in their major and three seminars that may be completed in any area.

Some concentrations, such as biblical studies, historical and theological studies, and philosophy and theological studies, will require four seminars in each of two separate areas. All students will take the four RDS general education courses, four colloquia, and four installments of Prospectus Development.

In addition, students must demonstrate proficiency in two research languages (for School of Theology concentrations) or research methodology courses (for Billy Graham School concentrations).

Admissions

Admissions Prerequisites

To be considered for admission in our Ph.D. program we require the following for applications:

  • An M.Div. or its equivalent (72 credit hours minimum in specific disciplines) for most concentrations (exceptions are listed below):
    • For the PhD concentrations in Christian Apologetics, Christian Philosophy, Christian Ethics, Ethics and Public Theology, and Philosophy and Theological Studies, the 72 hours may consist of an M.A. or equivalent in the field (61 hours minimum in specific disciplines), with the addition of 12 credit hours in biblical languages
    • For the PhD concentrations in Christian Worship, Biblical Counseling, Leadership, Missions, Evangelism, and World Religions, an M.A. or equivalent in the field (61 hours minimum in specific disciplines) may be acceptable.
  • If you do not have the required hours for your program of interest but you do have some masters-level divinity credit, you may submit a doctoral equivalency evaluation to the admissions office to find out if you qualify for SBTS PhD programs.
    • Students requiring additional coursework may attend Southern Seminary as a “Doctoral Leveling Student” online or on-campus.
  • A minimum master’s level cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is expected.
  • International transcripts will require an official evaluation from a NACES approved organziation (World Evaluation Services is preferred).

*For more information about our equivalency standards, leveling options, or to request an equivalency review based on your master’s level work, please email admissions@sbts.edu.

Application Requirements

  • All applicants must receive a reference from the local church where they are a member. Family members may not complete this reference. If you are the pastor of your church, please select another church leader (associate pastor, elder, deacon, etc) to complete the church recommendation. Recommendation forms are automatically emailed to references via our online application.
  • Two additional academic recommendations. We suggest that a professor or a business acquaintance who can speak to academic performance complete the 2 additional recommendations required for doctoral students.
  • Transcription from the educational institution or institutions that conferred any required degrees should be submitted to the Admissions Office. Contact the registrar or academic records office of your previous institution(s). They may e-mail the transcripts (directly or via 3rd party such as Parchment) to admissions@sbts.edu or mail copies to our physical address. Transcripts must come directly from schools either electronically or in sealed/unopened envelopes.
  • A graduate level research paper in the same field to which the applicant is applying must be submitted along with the application. You may upload this research paper directly onto the application.
  • $40 application fee – paid after application submission.

Application Deadlines

All application materials must be received by:

September 1 – Spring matriculation

March 1 – Fall matriculation

Entrance Exams and Interviews

Entrance Exams are exams designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of the subject area in which they are applying and sometimes in related fields. Students will be notified soon after submitting all application components as to whether they are invited to participate in the entrance exam and interview.

Exams and interviews are held on the third Friday in each month and are administered remotely (travel to campus not required). Click here to learn more.

Program Cost

$1,000 down payment, and remaining balance due equally over 48 months.*

Total CostMonthly Payment
Total cost for SBC students$27,670$555.62
Total cost for non-SBC students$49,140$1,002.92

*Program tuition shown is for the 2023-2024 academic year. Additional fees are subject to the current fee schedule.

Financial Aid

Southern Seminary does not offer fully-funded scholarships or grants for the PhD program. Limited financial aid may be available for students that meet certain criteria. Click here to view our financial aid page to learn more.

Students listening to classroom lecture

Questions?


Contact Admissions

Phone: (502) 897-4200

Text: (502) 305-3554

Email: admissions@sbts.edu

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Friday, April 12