Doctor of Philosophy

Information regarding the Doctor of Philosophy Degree 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 Degree Handbook, which is provided by the Research Doctoral Program 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 non-biblical 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 Prerequisites

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a master's degree in biblical and theological studies from a regionally accredited college, university, or seminary. Suitable degrees are listed below.

Prerequisite Degrees

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 in 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 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.

Leveling Requirements

Applicants must have completed elective work (typically four courses) 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 committee. Admission decisions rest totally on the strength of the complete portfolio. Those deemed insufficiently prepared will be denied admission. Some may be admitted conditionally on the completion of leveling work prior to matriculation in the program.

Research Language Requirements

Each major in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions requires two research languages as research tools and determines specific research language competencies. Students' selection of their research languages requires the approval of each student's supervisor and the Director of the Research Doctoral Programs. Applicants who must complete leveling work should pursue research language studies while doing leveling work, provided that taking electives in the major and minor remains the priority. English may not serve as students' research language. Normally, students may not enroll in research seminars until the research languages have 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.

Application Process

Ph.D. applicants must apply for general admission to the seminary through the Office of Admissions' webpage ( for admission to the Ph.D. program. For general admission to Southwestern Seminary, contact Southwestern's Office of Admissions.

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

For admission, all non-U.S. citizens will be required to take the internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as an admission requirement. The minimum score for unconditional admission is 100 (those who score between 90-99 may enter the program conditionally; those who score less than 90 may not enter the Ph.D. program). Citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada and other non-U.S. citizens who have successfully completed an accredited English-language based bachelor's degree from a North American institution are exempt from this requirement. All TOEFL scores submitted should be less than two years old.

Each applicant must submit a substantial research paper on a subject in the student's chosen major either previously prepared (an ungraded copy) or prepared especially for the Doctor of Philosophy application. This paper should represent the best quality research and writing that the applicant can offer. The form and style should follow the most recent edition of Turabian or Southwestern Manual of Style. The research paper will be used to assess the applicant’s research and writing abilities.

Application Timeline

Students may only begin the program in a fall semester, but applications can be received in either fall or spring in accordance with the guidelines provided below.

Timeframe   Action

Academic year prior to beginning Ph.D. studies

  Preliminary Step: applicant submits application online through Office of Admissions, and include a list of required supplemental documents to support the application.

Last Friday in January/August

  Application Deadline: applicants must submit the Ph.D. application through The Office of Admissons and all supporting documents: TOEFL scores (if applicable), Span Tran evaluation (if applicable), two academic references, a substantial research paper, resume, and official transcripts.

Fall: Complete by First week in October

Spring: Complete by First week in March


Interview: applicants interview with the major field faculty.


Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program is comprised of reading seminars, research seminars, one oral comprehensive examination, and the submission and defense of a dissertation. Students select a major and minor area.


The School of Evangelism and Missions Ph.D. program offers the following areas of study (majors):

  • Evangelism
  • Missions
  • Church Vitalization

Faculty availability and specialization determine seminar offerings.


The School of Evangelism and Missions Ph.D. program offers the following areas of study (minors):

  • Evangelism
  • Missions
  • Church Vitalization

School of Evangelism and Missions majors may also minor in any area offered by the School of Theology.

Required Seminars

  • Graduate Research Orientation (three days per year for three years on-campus the Monday-Wednesday before Fall convocation)
  • Four Reading Seminars in Major Area (two hours each, completed over two consecutive semesters and the first two summers of Ph.D. studies)
  • Two Reading Seminars in Minor Area (two hours each, completed over two consecutive semesters)
  • Four Research Seminars in Major Area (four hours each)
  • Two Research Seminars in Minor Area (four hours each)
  • Teaching in Higher Education Seminar (two hours)

Flex Access

Students can access seminar sessions in person or remotely from a distance. In order to access seminar sessions remotely, students must be granted permission by their major and minor supervisors (noted on their registration forms) and have completed the required technology training during the orientation process. This synchronous online access is conducted as an approved educational experiment with the Association of Theological Schools.

Comprehensive Examinations

At the conclusion of their seminar studies, students must successfully complete an oral comprehensive examination in their major and minor fields. Comprehensive examinations require mastery of the field bibliographies distributed at the beginning of the student’s program. The major and minor supervisors may make minimal alterations to their respective bibliographies throughout the seminar stage, but no later than four months prior to the comprehensive examinations. Any change to a comprehensive bibliography must be communicated both to the student and to the Office of Research Doctoral Programs in writing. Students are expected to continually prepare for the comprehensive examinations throughout the program.


The Ph.D. dissertation must argue for a clearly articulated thesis which constitutes a contribution to scholarship in its field. It should demonstrate the candidate's ability to design a viable research project, pursue the research in relative independence, and write with clarity and force.

Cost of the Program

Each Ph.D. student is required to pay the general matriculation fee and all student fees of the institution as well as the Ph.D. studies fee each semester until the degree has been completed.  Fees are established by the seminary administration, not by the Office of Research Doctoral Programs, and are subject to change.

Current fees per semester for Ph.D. students:

Tuition* (per semester)   $5,750.00
The Cooperative Program Scholarship reduces tuition for Southern Baptist students. Their tuition is* (per semester) $3,900.00

*Modern language courses are not included in this amount.  

Financial assistance is not available through the School of Evangelism and Missions Office of Research Doctoral Programs. However, a Research Doctoral Grant is provided to Ph.D. students of good standing during the first eight semesters of their study at SWBTS.  Students may apply for the Research Doctoral Grant here.

Additional Information

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

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