Norton Hall

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program offers concentrations in a variety of research areas. Each degree plan is crafted to expose students to advanced scholarship in their field and to equip them 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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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.

New Students

Class registration, contacting your supervisor or RDS office, and PhD events.
New Students

Current Students

Useful links, writing process details, and RDS contact information.
Current Students
Ph.D. Student Stage 54
Graduate Research Seminar 2
Foundations for Theological Studies 2
Course Development and Design 2
Higher Education 2
8 Seminars 32
4 Colloquia 4
Prospectus Development 1-4 4
2 Research Languages* 4
Comprehensive Exams 2
Ph.D. Candidate Stage 16
Dissertation Writing & Defense


Total Program Requirements 70

*Some concentrations require Research Methodologies (e.g., Empirical Research Methods, Statistics, or Ethnographic Research) in place of Research Languages.

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.
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 Coffee Hours

Doctoral coffee hours take place regularly in order to provide students the opportunity to build collegial relationships, encourage one another, and take periodic breaks from research and writing.

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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 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 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 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 admissions prerequisites (on the left) 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. 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

September 1 for spring matriculation

March 1 for fall matriculation

Phase Two

After the admissions office clears your completed application, they invite qualified applicants to participate in entrance examinations and a faculty interview. Exams & interviews are held on the first Friday of each month and are completed remotely (travel to campus not required).

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 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.

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 $27,670
Total cost for non-SBC students $49,140

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 2022-23 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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