Doctor of Philosophy Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program at Westminster is the highest degree available for theological and biblical studies. Our renowned faculty will inculcate in you a command of academic content and expertise in scholarly research, writing, and teaching.

PhD students join either biblical studies or the historical & theological studies. Within either of these two field committees, you will specialize in New Testament, Old Testament, apologetics, Systematic Theology, or Church History.

Fields of Study

Two concentrations are offered in the biblical studies field: Old Testament and New Testament.

Greek/Hebrew Competency Exams

The PhD program require proficiency in the languages of Scripture so that students can explore the Biblical text with greater reflection and nuance.

Two Research Languages

For research purposes, students will demonstrate a working knowledge of two of the following languages: French, German, Dutch, or ecclesiastical Latin.

Dissertation & Defense

Students will conduct independent research, work constructively with exegetical and theological problems, and ultimately contribute to knowledge in their subject field through a dissertation that is worthy of publication. Students’ dissertations will culminate in an oral defense before the faculty.

Coursework

Students in the Biblical Studies field will complete a total of ten doctoral-level courses: 4 core, 3 electives, and 3 readings.

Students will also complete one course in theological bibliography and research.

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary examinations are designed to test the student’s comprehension and application of Westminster’s distinctives. These distinctives include covenantal apologetics, biblical counseling, redemptive-historical hermeneutics, biblico-systematic theology, church history, and Christ-centered preaching.

Comprehensive Exam

In two written exams and one oral exam, students will demonstrate their expertise in their area of specialization by analyzing and evaluating central documents and ideas. Students will contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in their area of concentration and demonstrate general familiarity with basic issues and trends in other disciplines, reflecting on Westminster’s distinctives throughout.

Fields of Study

Two concentrations are offered in the biblical studies field: Old Testament and New Testament.

Coursework

Students in the Biblical Studies field will complete a total of ten doctoral-level courses: 4 core, 3 electives, and 3 readings.

Students will also complete one course in theological bibliography and research.

Greek/Hebrew Competency Exams

The PhD program require proficiency in the languages of Scripture so that students can explore the Biblical text with greater reflection and nuance.

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary examinations are designed to test the student’s comprehension and application of Westminster’s distinctives. These distinctives include covenantal apologetics, biblical counseling, redemptive-historical hermeneutics, biblico-systematic theology, church history, and Christ-centered preaching.

Two Research Languages

For research purposes, students will demonstrate a working knowledge of two of the following languages: French, German, Dutch, or ecclesiastical Latin.

Comprehensive Exam

In two written exams and one oral exam, students will demonstrate their expertise in their area of specialization by analyzing and evaluating central documents and ideas. Students will contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in their area of concentration and demonstrate general familiarity with basic issues and trends in other disciplines, reflecting on Westminster’s distinctives throughout.

Dissertation & Defense

Students will conduct independent research, work constructively with exegetical and theological problems, and ultimately contribute to knowledge in their subject field through a dissertation that is worthy of publication. Students’ dissertations will culminate in an oral defense before the faculty.

Fields of Study

Three concentrations are offered in the historical and theological studies field: church history, systematic theology, and apologetics.

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary examinations are designed to test the student’s comprehension and application of Westminster’s distinctives. These distinctives include covenantal apologetics, biblical counseling, redemptive-historical hermeneutics, biblico-systematic theology, church history, and Christ-centered preaching.

Comprehensive Exam

In two written exams and one oral exam, students will demonstrate their expertise in their area of specialization by analyzing and evaluating central documents and ideas. Students will contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in their area of concentration and demonstrate general familiarity with basic issues and trends in other disciplines, reflecting on Westminster’s distinctives throughout.

Coursework

Students in the Historical & Theological field will complete a total of ten doctoral-level courses: 3 core and 7 electives.

Students will also complete one course in theological bibliography and research.

Two Research Languages

For research purposes, students will demonstrate a working knowledge of two of the following languages: French, German, Dutch, or ecclesiastical Latin.

Dissertation & Defense

Students will conduct independent research, work constructively with exegetical and theological problems, and ultimately contribute to knowledge in their subject field through a dissertation that is worthy of publication. Students’ dissertations will culminate in an oral defense before the faculty.

Fields of Study

Three concentrations are offered in the historical and theological studies field: church history, systematic theology, and apologetics.

Coursework

Students in the Historical & Theological field will complete a total of ten doctoral-level courses: 3 core and 7 electives.

Students will also complete one course in theological bibliography and research.

Preliminary Exams

Preliminary examinations are designed to test the student’s comprehension and application of Westminster’s distinctives. These distinctives include covenantal apologetics, biblical counseling, redemptive-historical hermeneutics, biblico-systematic theology, church history, and Christ-centered preaching.

Two Research Languages

For research purposes, students will demonstrate a working knowledge of two of the following languages: French, German, Dutch, or ecclesiastical Latin.

Comprehensive Exam

In two written exams and one oral exam, students will demonstrate their expertise in their area of specialization by analyzing and evaluating central documents and ideas. Students will contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in their area of concentration and demonstrate general familiarity with basic issues and trends in other disciplines, reflecting on Westminster’s distinctives throughout.

Dissertation & Defense

Students will conduct independent research, work constructively with exegetical and theological problems, and ultimately contribute to knowledge in their subject field through a dissertation that is worthy of publication. Students’ dissertations will culminate in an oral defense before the faculty.

Program Data

100%
job placement rate for the past 3 years
10
courses
5
average class size

What Our Alumni Say

“Current global trends have shown a blowing wind of cultural and social revolutions in all spheres of life affecting theological confessions, church life, family, and social values. It is within this context that Westminster scholarship boldly and courageously stands out among all by its consistent Christocentric hermeneutical approach to the whole Scripture.”


— Philip Tachin
Lecturer, National Open University of Nigeria

What Our Alumni Say

“Westminster Theological Seminary transformed my life and ministry. Without Westminster, I never would have become a theological teacher nor a seminary president today. I really can’t put into words how much I owe to Westminster for the robust training they gave me in Reformation and post-Reformation studies.”


— Joel Beeke
President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

What Our Alumni Say

“Studying at Westminster Theological Seminary was the single most shaping educational experience of my life. It prepared me for the subtlety of ministry and gave me a care for truth for which I will always be grateful. The battle for truth is pitched along the dividing line of the interpretation of Scripture long before it comes to stark rejection or acceptance. Westminster taught me where the battle is and not to miss it.”


— David Barry
Pastor, Midway Presbyterian Church

What Our Alumni Say

No other factor in my many years of theological training has done more to define who I am as a theologian and set the trajectory for continued development as a pastor and professor as my Ph.D. studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. The Van Tillian contours of the integrated curriculum are an invitation to epistemological humility and eschatological hope. Here, precision meets the pastoral, acumen the affectional, thus yielding informed minds and enflamed hearts. As I like to say, we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches for theological education in this country, but WTS is like getting to the center of the honey bun where the sweetness really is.


— David Filson
Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the time expectations for the PhD program?

The recommended timeline for the PhD is four years. All coursework must be
completed in-residence at Westminster’s campus. The maximum time to complete is
seven years, including any leave of absence or withdrawal period.

What are the admissions requirements for the PhD program?

In addition to Westminster’s  standard admissions requirements, applicants to the PhD program must also submit a GRE score, a writing sample, and a dissertation proposal. The writing sample should be no more than 10 pages and should be from work completed in a master’s program focused on the applicant’s desired PhD concentration. The dissertation proposal should be a half-page summary.

What fields of study are offered for the PhD program?

The PhD program is offered in two fields: biblical studies and historical & theological studies. The historical and theological field offers three concentrations: church history, systematic theology, and apologetics. The biblical studies field offers two concentrations: New Testament and Old Testament.