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Program Elements

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.

Reading 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 essential topics.

Doctoral Seminars

Each Doctoral Seminar is a three-hour course, covers a designated field of study and is directed by a member of the faculty who assigns and evaluates student work and participation. Residential seminars normally meet once each week for two and a half hours, and modified residency seminars meet for one intensive week from 8am-5pm.  Students must take at least four seminars, and up to eight seminars, depending upon the curriculum for their specified area of study. Modified residency seminars are normally limited to students in these programs. Special permission must be granted for a residential student to be considered for any modified residency seminars offered.


The Ph.D. program includes a year-long 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, while also preparing the student for the comprehensive exams at the end of residency. The mentorship also leads to the successful preparation of a dissertation prospectus.

Language Proficiency

Research languages are tools which equip the student to engage the global conversation in their field of research. All Ph.D. students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in two research languages. Normally this will entail German, plus either French, Latin, Spanish or statistics. However, the major professor may require additional languages where a student’s dissertation research warrants such knowledge.

The seminary offers classes in German, French, Latin, and statistics, which are designed to help the student prepare for the language proficiency exams.  A student may also study a research language on their own and then test to demonstrate they have achieved the required level of proficiency

A student must demonstrate proficiency in one research language before they are eligible to sit for the comprehensive exams. Students must demonstrate proficiency in their second language before they can defend their dissertation.

Comprehensive Examination

Each student must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination in their area of study (and concentration, where appropriate: e.g., New Testament, Old Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, etc.), to be taken at the end of the residency stage, that is, following successful completion of all course and language requirements. Passing these exams qualifies the student for doctoral candidacy.


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.

Ph.D. Colloquium Series

The SEBTS PhD Colloquium Series is a forum that is designed to stimulate thought, advance scholarship, and build faith in the life of the doctoral students, faculty, and friends of Southeastern. The Colloquium brings in scholars from around the world to give an academic paper in a congenial and communal context. Roughly 8-12 colloquia are held throughout the year, providing PhD students an opportunity to interact with world class scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Post Office Box 1889
  • Wake Forest, NC 27588
  • Phone: (919) 761 - 2100
Our Mission
  • Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.
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