Doctor of Philosophy in World Christian Studies

Information regarding the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in World Christian Studies for the School of Evangelism and Missions which follows is an overview of the basic structure and requirements for completing the degree. Students enrolled in the program follow the current Doctor of Philosophy Handbook, which is provided by the Research Doctoral Studies Office.


The Ph.D. program prepares persons of exceptional ability and promise to serve as teachers in specialized areas of theology: pastors, chaplains, or denominational leaders in positions such as administrators, editors, authors, in the United States or abroad. Presupposing a general education, the Ph.D. program emphasizes the attainment of expertise in the major, quality research, the development of critical evaluative skills, and significant contribution to the student’s field. Requiring competence in both biblical and nonbiblical languages, the program also provides instruction in principles of research and in pedagogy. Doctoral study presupposes a high degree of originality, independence, analytical research, judgment, and skill in articulating findings.

Prerequisites for Admission

Applicants must hold a master degree in biblical and theological studies from a regionally accredited college, university, or seminary. Acceptable degrees for entrance into the Ph.D. program include the Master of Theology (Th.M.) and the Master of Divinity (M.Div.). The Master of Arts (Theology) (M.A.Th.) may be acceptable for some majors depending on the overall content of the degree curriculum in relationship to the desired area of study. All applicants to the program must have completed requirements in both Biblical Hebrew and Greek that meet or exceed the requirements for the M.Div. at Southwestern.

Applicants with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in graduate studies in Bible and theology will be well-qualified for the limited spaces available in the program. Applicants with a grade point average below a 3.3 will normally be requested to take additional graduate courses to demonstrate academic ability before being considered for the program.

Application Process

Applicants submit a complete application for admission to the Office of Admissions. General admission application forms can be found online All applicants must gain admission to the seminary prior to receiving admission to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program.

Students should confirm that the Office of Admissions has official transcripts for all courses taken at the undergraduate or graduate level.

International applicants must submit their transcripts to SpanTran ( for evaluation. SpanTran sends results directly to the International Student Services Office.

Test Scores

Each applicant must submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam Standard Examination (GRE). The GRE should be taken at least four months prior to the SWBTS Ph.D. entrance examination and must have been taken no more than five years prior to applying for admission to Southwestern's Ph.D. program. Applicants must take the GRE at a testing center since Southwestern Seminary does not administer the GRE. Current GRE testing sites are listed at www.ets.or. Each applicant must take the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing portions of the General Test.

If ten years have passed since an applicant finished his or her most recent coursework, he or she may contact the Research Doctoral Studies Office for permission to submit the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) score in lieu of the GRE.

International applicants must submit scores either from TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), DET (Duolingo English Test), or IELTS (International English Language Test System). For the TOEFL, a minimum score of 100 on the internet-based test or 250 on the computer-based test is required. For the DET, a minimum score of 120 on the internet-based test is required. For the IELTS, a minimum score of 7.0 on the internet-based test is required.

Writing Sample

Each applicant must submit a research paper (4000-6000 words) on a subject in the student's chosen major. The form and style should follow the most recent edition of the Turabian Manual for Writers. In matters not addressed by Turabian, the paper should adhere to the most recent edition of (1) The Chicago Manual of Style or (2) The SBL Handbook of Style.

Letters of Recommendation

In addition to the general admissions requirements, each applicant must provide two confidential academic references from former graduate-level professors. These forms must be submitted by the recommenders electronically to the Office of Admissions.

Entrance Interviews and Examinations

Applicants who submit their application (including all supporting materials) by the deadline may be invited to sit for an entrance examination and attend an interview. The entrance examination probes the applicant's knowledge in the chose major field and tests the ability to organize and express thoughts logically and clearly. These examinations have a two-hour time allotment. Applicants invited to sit for the entrance examination will be notified by the Research Doctoral Studies Office of relevant details. Study aids for these examinations are available from the Research Doctoral Studies Office .

Likewise, the Research Doctoral Studies Office will facilitate entrance interviews to be conducted by professors in the applicant's chosen major. On rare occasions, the faculty of the applicant's minor area of study may also wish to conduct an interview.

When to Apply

Applicants must submit all required documents for World Christian Studies Ph.D. applications to the Office of Admissions by the last Friday in August or January prior to the May semester in which accepted applicants will begin their seminars. Applications are good for one year from the date received.

Application Timeline

Summer Matriculation Timeline
Timeframe Action
Preliminary Step
Academic year prior to the intended beginning of studies
Applicant gathers application materials:
Transcripts, Test Scores, Writing Sample, Letters of Recommendation
Application Deadline
3rd Friday in January
Applicants must submit to the Office of Admissions: application, official transcripts, GRE scores, SpanTran (if applicable), TOEFL (if applicable), and writing sample.
Entrance Exams RSVP Deadline
1st Friday in February
Applicants confirm intent to sit for examinations and interviews by RSVP to the Research Doctoral Studies Office.
Entrance Exams & Interview
3rd Monday in February
Applicants travel to campus to complete entrance exams and interviews with faculty in their chosen areas of study.
Decision Letters
No later than April 15
Research Doctoral Studies Office issues decision letters to applicants.

Leveling Requirements

Applicants must have completed elective work in their desired field of study beyond the introductory courses required in a standard M.Div. degree. Each applicant’s portfolio will be evaluated by a faculty member assigned by the Ph.D. Doctoral Committee.

In addition to competence in both biblical Hebrew and Greek, each division of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions requires graduate-level preparation that applicants must complete prior to beginning seminars. Faculty, in consultation with the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs, determine what leveling course-work must be completed on the basis of the applicant’s graduate transcripts.

Research Language Requirements

The World Christian Studies degree requires one thesis-specific, research field language, or one traditional research language evaluated by proficiency exam, or its equivalent, as a research tool, determining specific research language competency. Students’ selection of their research field language requires the approval of each student’s Mentor-Tutor and the Director of the Research Doctoral. If the Mentor-Tutor determines that only one research language is insufficient for the thesis subject, students may be required to do more than one research language. Applicants who must complete leveling work should pursue research language studies while doing leveling work, provided that the leveling courses remain the priority. English may not serve as students’ research language. Normally, students may not enroll in research seminars until the research language has been completed. Students must document competency either by transcripted hours or a letter from the Research Language Examiner at Southwestern Seminary verifying that the student has successfully passed proficiency examinations.

Admissions Decisions

Ph.D. admission represents a competitive process whereby the most qualified applicants receive an invitation to enter the Ph.D. program. Admission to the Ph.D. program does not rest on a single factor, but on the strength of the entire portfolio, demonstrating readiness for Ph.D. work. Ph.D. program faculty in the applicant’s major and the Director for the Research Doctoral Programs evaluate the applicant’s fitness for doctoral studies.

After all admissions materials have been compiled, the Department Chair meets with all faculty supervisors in the applicant’s major. After carefully reviewing all documents in an applicant’s portfolio, faculty supervisors in the student’s major field make admission recommendations to the Director for the Research Doctoral Programs. Students will be notified by email after taking the entrance examinations whether they have been accepted into the Ph.D. program.

Applicants denied admission to the Ph.D. program may reapply only once. All application materials are confidential. The Director for the Research Doctoral Programs and faculty have no obligation to divulge information regarding admission decisions.

Admitted Ph.D. students may defer their admission one year without being required to reapply to the Ph.D. program.

Once accepted into the Ph.D. program, a student may not change the major field. Students desiring to pursue a different major must reapply to the Ph.D. program.

Degree Requirements

Each World Christian Studies Ph.D. student must complete four thesis-defined Research Seminars, four Library Intensives, six Mentor Tutorial Sessions, four prospectus-focused Student Colloquia, the Teaching in Global Higher Education Seminar, three Annual Oral Comprehensive Exams, and the dissertation.

Course Title Course Number Hours
Research Techniques in World Christian Studies* WCSTU 7604 4
Christian Historical Fusions* WCSTU 7634 4
Christian Theology in a Non-Western World* WCSTU 7654 4
Syncretism and Global Christianity* WCSTU 7674 4
Student Colloquia (4) WCSTU 75X2 8
Mentor Tutorials (6) WCSTU 7402-7492 12
Annual Comprehensive Exams (3) WCSTU 7901- 7921 3
Teaching in Global Higher Education WCSTU 7702 2
Dissertation and Defense WCSTU 8003 3
  Total hours 44
*Students will complete a library intensive study as a part of each seminar.    

Program Fees

Program fees can be viewed in the Student Fees and Payments section of this catalog.

Time Limits

The Ph.D. /D.M.A candidate must complete the degree within seven (7) years of entering the program. Extensions may be granted with the approval of the Research Doctoral Studies Director to students who are serving on an international mission field or in cases of extenuating circumstances.

Additional Information

For additional information about Ph.D. studies in the School of Evangelism and Missions, please contact the Research Doctoral Studies Office :

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 22448
Fort Worth, TX 76122-0448
(817) 923-4650