Doctor of Philosophy - 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 World Christian Studies Doctor of Philosophy Degree Handbook, which is provided by the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Research Doctoral Programs.


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.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Seminary

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

Prerequisites for Admission to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. Program

Applicants must hold a masters 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) (MATh.) 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 must have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher in graduate studies in Bible and theology. If an applicant has not completed the degree program, transcripts verifying the possibility of attaining a 3.3 must be submitted before an application will be considered.

Because of the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program’s purpose and nature, applicants must have two years of international field experience, or an equivalent, and be working currently in a multi-cultural environment and/or role.

International applicants must submit their transcripts to SpanTran ( for evaluation.  The evaluation service sends results directly to the Ph.D. office.

International applicants that have American citizenship do not have to complete the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). All other international applicants must complete the TOEFL with a minimum score of 100 on the internet-based test or 250 on the computer-based test. Students who do not complete the internet-based TOEFL must also complete the TSE (Test of Spoken English). International applicants who have successfully completed an accredited English-language based degree may be exempt from this requirement.

Each applicant must submit a substantial research paper in the World Christian Studies field, representing the applicant’s best research and writing. The use of primary sources and the biblical languages (where applicable) will be examined carefully. The argumentation of the paper, including the clarity of the thesis, evaluation of evidence, and exercise of critical thought (as opposed to descriptive treatments) plays an essential role in the faculty’s assessment of research papers. The form and style should follow either the Southwestern Seminary Manual of Style or the most recent edition of Turabian.

Each applicant must provide the names and contact information of two former graduate-level professors to complete confidential recommendations in the application for the World Christian Studies Ph.D. degree. Recommendation forms will be sent electronically Office of Admissions to the recommenders once the applicant submits their application.

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 Time Line

Timeframe   Action
Preliminary Step
Academic year prior to beginning Ph.D. studies
  Applicant submits application online through Office of Admissions, and include a list of required supplemental documents to support the application.

Application Deadline
Last Friday in January

(New students enter the program in June.)

  Applicants must submit the Ph.D. application through The Office of Admissions and all supporting documents: TOEFL scores (if applicable), Span Tran evaluation (if applicable), two academic references, a substantial research paper, resume, and official transcripts.
Complete by First week in March
  Applicants interview with the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs. Each applicant will be contacted by the Office of Research Doctoral Programs to arrange the faculty interview.

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. 

Admission Decisions

The applicant’s admission to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program does not rest on a single factor but on the strength of the entire portfolio, demonstrating readiness for Modified Residency Ph.D. work. Those deemed insufficiently prepared will be denied admission. Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions faculty and the Director of the Research Doctoral Program evaluate the applicant’s fitness for doctoral studies. Students will be notified by mail after their interview whether or not they have been accepted into the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program.

In the spring after all admissions materials have been compiled, the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs calls a meeting of the Ph.D. Doctoral Committee. After carefully reviewing all documents in an applicant’s portfolio, the Ph.D. Doctoral Committee recommends admission or rejection to the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs. While the Committee’s recommendation is normally accepted, should the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs decide not to accept their recommendation, he will do so only after further consultation with the Ph.D. Doctoral Committee and the approval of the Dean.

Applicants denied admission to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program may reapply only once. All application materials are confidential. Neither the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs, nor the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions Faculty, have any obligation to divulge information regarding admission decisions.

Students admitted to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program who do not begin seminar studies within one and one-half years from the time of admission must submit a new application both for World Christian Studies Ph.D. study and for general admission to the seminary.

Admission to the World Christian Studies Ph.D. program does not admit the student to the residential Ph.D. program.

Degree Requirements

Each World Christian Studies Ph.D. student must complete four thesis-defined Research Seminars, six 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.

Program Costs

Each World Christian Studies Ph.D. student is required to pay the Ph.D. studies fee each semester until the degree has been completed. Fees are established by the seminary administration, not by the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Doctoral Programs, and are subject to change.

Tuition* - (per year) $9,400.00

Tuition* - Southern Baptist (per year, due to the Cooperative Program Scholarship) $7,400.00

*Research language courses and other leveling courses are not included in this amount.

Financial assistance is not available through the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Doctoral Programs. However, all research doctoral students in good standing are eligible to receive a Research Doctoral Grant (RDG) in the amount of $200 each Summer, Fall, and Spring semester, up to twelve semesters. In order to receive the RDG, you must download an application form, complete it, and return it to the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Doctoral Programs ( by the deadline listed on the application. Failure to submit a completed RDG application by the deadline will forfeit the student’s ability to receive that semester’s RDG. All inquiries regarding the RDG should be made through the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Doctoral Programs.

Additional Information

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

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 22448
Fort Worth, TX  76122-0448
817-923-1921, ext. 4650