6.11 Doctor of Philosophy
6.11.1 Admission to the
6.11.2 Registration
6.11.3 Degree Requirements
6.11.4 Hermeneutics and
Biblical Interpretation
6.11.5 Historical and Th...

6.11.5 Historical and Theological Studies

This is a single degree program, within which are offered the following three specific foci: 1) Church History, 2) Systematic Theology, and 3) Apologetics.

Each person should choose one of these foci at the time of application.

6.11.5.a Course Work

For students in all of these foci, twelve doctoral-level courses are required. Normally, ten of these courses must be taken at Westminster and two must be taken at the doctoral level at another accredited university or seminary. Of the ten courses to be taken at Westminster, five must be in the student’s primary focus (the focus within which the dissertation will be written), one must be in each of the other two foci, and three may be electives from either the Ph.D. -Historical and Theological Studies program or the Ph.D.- Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation program. It is expected that students will maintain a balance between classroom/seminar courses and independent/directed reading courses. Up to five of the twelve courses may be directed reading. All courses must be approved by the student’s academic advisor.

The courses that count toward each of the foci are listed below (because of their interdisciplinary nature, many courses count toward more than one focus):
Church History - AP 721, AP 903, CH 723, CH 783, CH 891, CH 943, CH 961, ST 741, ST 773, ST 803, ST 811,
                       ST 901, ST 932, ST 972
Apologetics -     AP 713, AP 721, AP 733, AP 743, AP 753, AP 763, AP 861, AP 891, AP 903, AP 931, AP 963,
                       NT 931, ST 701, ST 761, ST 773, ST 803, ST 791, ST 901
Systematic Theology - AP 713, AP 743, AP 753, AP 763, AP 861, AP 931, AP 981, CH 883, CH 951, NT 853,
                       NT 881, NT 931, NT 951, NT 961, NT 993, ST 701, ST 741, ST 761, ST 773, ST 781, ST 791,
                       ST 803, ST 901, ST 932, ST 972, ST 991

Students who have attained the first theological degree at Westminster may, upon petition to the Ph.D. Committee for Historical and Theological Studies, be granted permission to take up to four of their twelve courses at another accredited, doctoral-level institution. A student who is granted such permission must still take five doctoral courses at Westminster in the chosen primary focus area, one doctoral course in each of the other two areas, and one elective as a directed reading course, or elective course from among the doctoral course offerings in either the Historical and Theological Studies program or the Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation program. While at Westminster, students are required to take two courses at another accredited institution. These courses must be specifically approved by their advisor. External courses will be noted as transfer credit on the student’s records. Only courses in which a grade of B or above was received will normally be considered for transfer credit to the Th.M. or Ph.D. degree program.

All course work must be completed within three years of the student’s initial registration in the Ph.D. program. The residency requirement of two years is an absolute minimum length of time that the student should expect to study on campus in course work. Only students who already have reading knowledge of French and German, who are able to waive the preliminary exams, and who are able to devote full time to their studies will actually be able to complete all the necessary requirements within a two-year period. If students need to complete preliminary studies or work to finance their education, they should plan to spend a longer period of time in residence.

Students who have taken advanced work beyond a first theological degree may be given credit by the Field Committee for up to four courses of the residence requirement, depending on the nature and quality of the work; however, individuals who have actually obtained the Th.M. degree from Westminster may be given credit for up to five courses of the residence requirements. Credit for work pursued before the completion of requirements for the first theological degree shall be limited to two courses. No courses credited toward the first theological or other degree (with the exception of work toward the Th.M. as noted above in this paragraph) may be a part of the program for the Ph.D. degree.

Study completed more than five years prior to registration for the Ph.D. program cannot be credited to the student’s work in this program.

The student is required to maintain a general academic average of 3.00 during the program of residence study. If an average of 3.00 is not maintained, the student will be withdrawn from the Seminary.

6.11.5.b Comprehensive Examinations

The written comprehensive examinations test the student’s knowledge of each of the three foci within the program. In the student’s major focus, extensive and in-depth knowledge is expected. The student will be required both to analyze and to evaluate the central documents and ideas within that field, and an ability to contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in the field must be demonstrated. In each of the other two foci, the student is expected to show a general familiarity with basic issues and trends and to be aware of the contributions of specific individuals. In all three of the foci, the student must reflect on the Seminary’s own heritage and perspective, although no student is ever required to agree with the Seminary’s position on any issue. Detailed descriptions of the requirements for all of the examinations, including recommended reading lists for the examinations, are available to matriculated students from the Historical and Theological Faculty Support Office.

The written comprehensive examinations in Historical and Theological Studies will be administered only three times a year: the last full week of October, the second full week of February, and the first full week of April. Students will be eligible to take their comprehensive examinations only after completing all coursework, languages, and preliminary exams. A written request should be sent to the Coordinator of the Field Committee one month in advance of the student’s intention to take the comprehensive examinations. (This means that the requests to schedule an examination may come only in the last week of September, the second week of January, and the first week of March.) Once the examinations are scheduled, the student may not change the date or time. The written examinations are on two days, eight hours for the major focus on the first day and six hours for the two minor focus examinations (three hours each) on the second day. There may not be more than one day between the two written examinations. The oral portion of the comprehensive examination will be scheduled as soon as possible after the written comprehensive examinations have been accepted.