PhD (THS)

Doctor of Philosophy (Theological Studies)

Rigorous, advanced study relating your discipline to systematic theology.

Complete original work in one of these five concentrations: Church History / Historical Theology, New Testament Exegesis and Theology, Old Testament (focus in Old Testament Hebrew, Literature, and Exegesis), Old Testament (focus in Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History, Archaeology, and Languages), or Systematic Theology.

This program is meant for theologically informed students able to relate their work to the field of Systematic Theology broadly; this special emphasis is placed on Systematic Theology because of its central role in the development of doctrine and practice in the life of the church, and because of its widespread neglect in theological education today.

Doctor of Philosophy (Theological Studies)

Where can this degree take me?

Alumni from the PhD (Theological Studies) have gone on to a diverse set of vocations that include academic teaching and writing and various forms of church, parachurch, and denominational leadership. You will graduate from this program having made a significant contribution to original research in your field of concentration.

What will I study?

The PhD (Theological Studies) program is designed on a four and a half year, full-time model, consisting of at least two and a half years of course work followed by an additional two years of comprehensive exams and dissertation research and writing. The program may be completed in four years if the student has exceptional biblical and modern language skills and no entrance deficiencies; however, the current average time to complete the program is 5.5 years.

  • Residence Coursework Requirements

    Residence coursework includes the completion of at least:

    28 hours in seminar courses;
    16 hours in advanced electives;
    4 hours in education and research methods;
    and 6 hours in dissertation proposal and comprehensive exam prep.

    A minimum of 6 additional hours of dissertation research follows the residence coursework.

    If your educational background has been limited to one theological tradition, you may be advised or required to add a minimum of one term of residence work at another graduate school. Such residence work may also be required by the scope of your proposed dissertation research.

  • Timeline and Course Load

    Some may complete the required residence course work within two years, but many will take longer to do so. This depends on your level of academic preparation, whether you are awarded advanced standing hours, and the time you’re able to devote to the program.
    A normal student course load is 9-12 hours per semester. Full-time status is defined as at least 9 hours per semester (part-time students can be accommodated, but preference is given to full-time applicants, and intent to be part-time or full-time must be declared at time of application).
    For additional information on the design of the program and its specific requirements, please contact an Admissions Counselor or read the Academic Catalog.
  • Language Proficiency

    Proficiency in the biblical languages and in German or French must be demonstrated prior to or during your first year of study. (This often requires attendance at courses / exam sessions prior to your actual matriculation date.)

Concentrations

You’ll need to apply for the PhD (THS) in one of the following concentrations (click through for more detailed information):

What are the prerequisites for admission to this program?

Applicants for the PhD (THS) program must meet the following requirements:

  • Have earned a Master of Divinity (MDiv) or its equivalent from an accredited institution. Specifically this should include 18 hours in Old Testament and Biblical Hebrew, 14 hours in New Testament and Biblical Greek, 15 hours in Systematic Theology, and 7 hours in Church History. In special circumstances, the department of concentration may accept applicants who demonstrate particular qualities that justify their admission into the program without the MDiv degree.
  • Have documented evidence of competency in biblical Greek and Hebrew.
  • Present evidence of potential for original academic research at the doctoral level by submitting a sample of an exemplary research paper or thesis.
  • Give evidence of intellectual competence in all previous accredited graduate studies.
  • Have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in previous graduate studies.
  • Provide recommendations from the following four people (to be submitted electronically through the online application): 3 Professors of recent graduate study, 1 Pastor or Church Official.
  • Submit a test score from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants whose first language is not English must also submit scores less than two years old from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in addition to the GRE.

Special Instructions for International Applicants

All international PhD/THS program students, including students from Canada, are now required to enter the United States with an F-1 visa, even if attending a single modular class. PhD/THS students are normally expected to enroll in a full-time residential status (i.e., living in Deerfield and registered for full-time attendance) and therefore must comply with the same visa requirements as residential master’s-level applicants (see Admissions). Exceptions to this requirement must be cleared in advance with the Program Director and the International Students Office.

Admission Deficiencies

Applicants whose academic record does not include all the required prerequisites may in special circumstances be admitted to the program, but they will be asked to meet entrance deficiencies or demonstrate competence, at the Divinity School’s discretion.