Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

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Program Snapshot

70 Credit Hours
4 Years to Complete
Modular Learn more

Intensive study in both the New and Old Testament.

The Ph.D. in Biblical Studies is designed to equip graduates in both areas of scholarship. Students will be supervised by faculty in either Old Testament or New Testament based on their research interests.

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.

Advance your education. Grow in your love for God.

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 Studies: 70

Seminars

Students will take 8 seminars in Old and New Testament, 4 colloquia, 4 prospectus development courses, and 2 modern research languages. Seminars include:

82900 Old Testament BackgroundsA doctoral level study of Old Testament backgrounds with a focus on the preparation of an academic paper.
82910 The PentateuchThis course will study the theological, literary, historical, canonical, critical, and hermeneutical concerns of the Pentateuch. Special attention will be given to applying these areas to research pertaining to the Pentateuch.
82920 The Latter ProphetsThis course will examine the latter Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve, in canonical and biblical theological contact. The focus of the course will be on the literary structure of these books of the Bible and the way they engage earlier Scripture and are engaged by later Scripture.
82930 Old Testament TheologyA doctoral level study of Old Testament theology with a focus on the preparation of an academic paper.
83900 New Testament BackgroundsThis seminar will study the rise and development of Second Temple Judaism and its influence on the New Testament. The seminar will broadly study the literature of the Second Temple period with emphasis on the movements, institutions, practices, teaching, and cultural distinctives pertinent to the interpretation of the New Testament.
83910 Gospels and ActsThis seminar will study the New Testament Gospels and Acts with emphasis given to their interpretation as historical, literary, and theological documents.
83920 Epistles and RevelationThis course will focus on the book of Revelation, including Greek grammar, literary analysis, technology, and history of interpretation.
83930 New Testament TheologyThe course studies the method and content of New Testament theology.

Students can be supervised by the following faculty:

Old Testament Faculty

Terry J. Betts

Professor of Old Testament Interpretation

Research Interests

Old Testament Interpretation
Hebrew
Preaching the Old Testament

Duane A. Garrett

John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology

James M. Hamilton

Professor of Biblical Theology

New Testament Faculty

William F. Cook, III

Professor of New Testament Interpretation

Jonathan T. Pennington

Professor of New Testament Interpretation

Robert L. Plummer

Collin and Evelyn Aikman Professor of Biblical Studies

Thomas R. Schreiner

James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology

Brian J. Vickers

Professor of New Testament Interpretation

Jarvis J. Williams

Professor of New Testament Interpretation

Research Interests

Galatians
Romans
Ephesians
Pauline Theology
Second Temple Judaism

Frequently Asked Questions

Outside of pavilion on sunny day

No. The Ph.D. in Biblical Studies 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).

If you do not have an M.Div. but you do have a 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.

Male student studying outside

Questions?


Contact Admissions

Phone: (502) 897-4200

Text: (502) 305-3554

Email: admissions@sbts.edu

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Friday, April 12