Today, Southeastern’s Ph.D. degree is sought after by many pursuing their calling in academia, in the local church and in cross-cultural ministry. Together with the other doctoral programs at Southeastern, the Ph.D. program, with its fifteen different concentrations and its four modified residency options, offers rigorous academic training for those who aspire to leadership positions in biblical, theological and applied fields.
Dr. Heath Thomas has assumed the position of Director of Ph.D. Studies, replacing Dr. Andreas Köstenberger. Since 2007, Thomas has been a very popular Old Testament and Hebrew professor at Southeastern.
Thomas received his M.A. in Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Old Testament from the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK. He has established himself as a teacher and scholar. His publications and scholarly conference participation are outstanding. He has written books and articles on Lamentations and Habakkuk and has edited books and written chapters and articles in a vast array of subjects drawing on his background of the Hebrew Scriptures. Thomas also serves as the Chair and Editor of the Southeastern Theological Review. He is active in his local church and in mission outreach, and lives a life that exemplifies his commitment to Christ and to the Great Commission.
“I would have never imagined myself in this role years ago,” confessed Thomas. “I was content with where I was as professor at Southeastern, but God providentially opened up another door. I was surprised and honored to take this Ph.D. director role. The position was so well filled by Andreas Köstenberger. Great confidence was placed in me to support the work already started by him and to develop it even further.”
Currently, there are 135 students in both residential and modified formats in the Ph.D. program. The residential format consists of two years of on-campus seminars, a mentorship, comprehensive exams, and lastly, the dissertation stage. The modified Ph.D. is similar to the traditional, residential format but requires five campus visits over 2-3 years in concentrated times, involving intensive seminars and library research.
Thomas said, “In accord with the Seminary’s mission, the Ph.D. program desires to serve the Church by fulfilling the Great Commission. We want to do this by conducting world-class research that honors Christ in service for the Church.
“Southeastern’s doctoral programs are composed of traditional students who have been called to become teachers, associational leaders in Baptist life, lead pastors in churches, and leaders in campus-outreach ministries.”
Distinctive about Southeastern’s Ph.D. program, said Thomas, is its emphasis on mission. “We believe that the work we do will help break bread and fish for the Church. Whether these Ph.D. students are called to the highest halls of academia or to the lowest mission field in the world, it makes little difference because our eyes are with Christ, viewing the world, seeing his blood upon it.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.