Introduction to Research and Integration
At the beginning of the program, students complete the critical introduction to PhD studies at SEBTS: "Introduction to Research and Integration". This course offers a systematic introduction to academic research and writing, as well as the opportunity to reflect and discuss essential disciplines of: theological integration, faith and scholarship, critical thinking, and hermeneutics. Additionally, students will reflect and discuss a spirituality of the academic life and the application of Christian spirituality through the course of their PhD work.
Teaching in Higher Education
Within the first two years, students also complete a one credit hour "Teaching in Higher Education" course during residency. This course offers a systematic introduction to the philosophy and methods of college and seminary teaching.
Seminars First-year students participate in two reading seminars over the first two semesters, led by invited faculty. Each reading seminar enables students to engage in area-level dialogue on various essential topics.
Students must take all seminars required in their area of study. This means at the least four seminars in their area of study, and at most 8 seminars in their area of study. The curriculum and seminar offerings for each area of study has been determined by the faculty teaching in the respective area. If less than four are available, they must take all the seminars that are offered plus confer with their major professor about acceptable cross-area seminars.
Each student must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination in the area in which they are working. For Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, and Applied Theology, students will also need to demonstrate mastery in their respective concentration as well (New Testament, Old Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, etc.). Oral and Written comprehensive exams are to be taken at the end of the residency, that is, following the successful completion of all seminar and (at least) one language requirement. Passing these exams qualifies the student for doctoral candidacy.
The Ph.D. program includes a mentorship, that is, a focused series of interactive academic meetings including personal tutoring in the field by the student's major professor. The professor meets with the student regularly and frequently to provide academic direction and advice as the student develops increasing depth and skill in the area of research interest, preparing for the comprehensive exams at the end of residency. The mentorship also leads to the successful preparation of a dissertation prospectus.
All Ph.D. students are required to demonstrate proficiency in two research languages (normally German and one other language). In appropriate cases, the student will qualify with one research language and demonstrated competency in social science research techniques (e.g. research and statistics).The student must demonstrate proficiency in at least one research language before taking written and oral comprehensive examinations. The student must demonstrate proficiency in a second research language before submitting the dissertation. Ideally, the student would demonstrate proficiency in the second research language within the third year of study in the program. Any research language proficiency must be demonstrated by passing language examinations offered by the seminary.
Production of a dissertation that makes an original contribution to the student's academic field is the final stage in the Ph.D. program. Preparation of a dissertation prospectus normally begins during the mentorship stage of the student's program, though submission must follow successful completion of written and oral comprehensives.