Norton Hall

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.

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Learn more today about our new modular Ph.D. concentrations:

Distinctive Features


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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate a thorough acquaintance with literature in area of specialization and the ability to engage critically and productively in this area.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate conversance with the literature in the general field of study and fields closely related to the areas of specialization.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to use standard research tools and methods in the chosen field of study.
  • Students will be able to plan and conduct research in the area of specialization and to communicate its results effectively.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of the professor inside and outside the classroom in institutions of Christian higher education.
Course Work Stage 1 24
Foundations for Theological Studies/Graduate Research Seminar 4
3 Seminars 12
2 Colloquia 2
2 Research Languages 4
Prospectus Development 1-2 2
Research Portfolio 0
Course Works Stage 2 31
5 Seminars 20
2 Colloquia 2
Prospectus Development 3-4


Prospectus Hearing


Teaching in Higher Education Contexts


Comprehensive Exams


Ph.D. Candidacy Stage 16
Dissertation Writing & Defense


Total Program Requirements 71

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

Upon completion of the degree students will also receive a Th.M. in their area or a related area of study.
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.

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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.

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Admissions Prerequisites

To be considered for enrollment 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 all degrees with the exception of Christian Worship, Biblical Counseling, and Leadership which requires an M.A. (61 hours minimum in specific disciplines).*
  • A minimum master’s level cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is expected.
*For more information about our equivalency standards, leveling options, or to request an equivalency review based on your master’s level work, please email


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.
  • For the contents of the application see the doctoral admissions requirements page.

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

Second Friday in September for Spring matriculation

First Friday in March 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.

$1,000 down payment, balance due equally over 48 months.*
Total cost for SBC students $26,606
Total cost for non-SBC students $47,250

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.

*Program Tuition shown is for the 2020-21 Academic Year. Additional fees are subject to the current catalog. Please see the current catalog for full listing of current fees.

Next Steps

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

Schedule a Doctoral Campus Visit

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

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Request Information

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

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