Connected Campus

Doctor of Philosophy


The doctor of philosophy degree equips students for advanced scholarship, independent research, effective teaching and preaching, and service in church-related ministries that benefit from advanced Christian scholarship. The doctor of philosophy program involves a minimum of two years of study beyond the master of divinity degree or its equivalent. Students entering the program should be aware that three or more years are frequently needed for completion of the degree requirements, depending upon individual circumstances.


The doctor of philosophy program consists of graduate seminars, an examination covering each seminar as it is completed, comprehensive written examinations, directed reading and research, teaching under faculty supervision, the writing of a dissertation, and an oral examination covering the dissertation and related fields. The program is specifically oriented toward preparing students for teaching in universities and seminaries; for specialized church, missions, and denominational leadership; and for scholarly writing.


Fields of Academic Study

Graduate seminars are offered in church history, education, missions, New Testament (including Greek), Old Testament (including Hebrew and/or semitic languages), practical theology (pastoral track and counseling track), and theology. The doctor of philosophy degree may be granted in the following fields: (1) Old Testament (including Hebrew and/or semitic languages), (2) New Testament (including Greek), (3) church history, (4) missions, (5) theology, (6) practical theology (7) biblical counseling and (8) education.


Modified Residency Format (Modular)

MABTS offers PhD majors in a modified residency format, which allows students to complete their degree without having to leave their current place of ministry. Excellent faculty teach PhD courses and maintain high standards for academic excellence in these intensive classes.


Students come to campus for courses usually twice per year for about two weeks each time. Each seminar meets for one week. Exact dates for registration and classes can be found on the PhD calendar. Prior to each seminar, students will complete pre-seminar work that typically consists of extensive reading and intensive writing assignments. The student’s major professor (see Assignment of a Major Professor) will guide them through the program. After completing seminars during the initial stage of the program, students take comprehensive exams that assess their learning in their areas of study. The program then culminates in the research phase as students write and defend their dissertation.


In addition to the program objectives set forth in connection with the Master of Divinity program, the Doctor of Philosophy program is designed to provide opportunity for the student to develop in the following advanced disciplines:
Creative Scholarship
The Doctor of Philosophy program seeks to guide the student to develop the capacity for critical evaluation and quality in research which produce creative scholarship and contribute to the field of theological knowledge and literature.
Independent Research and Writing
The Doctor of Philosophy program seeks to guide the student to develop competence in principles of independent research and to achieve a proficiency in the techniques of scholarly writing.
Graduate-Level Teaching
The Doctor of Philosophy program seeks to guide the student in advanced studies in a specialized field and to help him develop skills which qualify him for teaching at the graduate level in a college, university, or theological seminary.
Specialized Leadership
The Doctor of Philosophy program seeks to prepare the student for the assumption of specialized pastoral leadership in the church, in missions, and/or in administrative leadership in the denomination.
Admission Requirements
The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest academic degree offered by the Seminary. The program is reserved for students of exceptional academic ability and promise. Students must demonstrate an understanding of the basic techniques of scholarly research and writing, as well as an ability to communicate through effective teaching. They must be committed to the program and demonstrate that they are willing to fulfill the time requirements and the disciplinary standards that are required for distinguished scholarly achievement. Students’ health, finances, and outside responsibilities must be within such a level of tolerance that they are not unduly distracted from reasonable pursuit of the demands of the program.
Applicants must have a Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university, including sixty semester hours of liberal arts content. Any exception must be approved by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee.
Applicants must have a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent from this Seminary or from another accredited seminary which has comparable language requirements. Students must have maintained in their Master of Divinity work the equivalent to a 3.00 grade point average (on a 4.00 scale) or better. Any exception must be approved by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee.
Application for admission into the Doctor of Philosophy program is processed through the Doctor of Philosophy Committee. Applicants must submit an application to the Doctor of Philosophy Committee on a form which may be obtained from the office of the Director of the Doctor of Philosophy Program. The application must be submitted by February 15 in order to begin seminar work in August and by September 1 to begin seminar work in January. Students are not fully admitted into the Doctor of Philosophy program until written acceptance is issued by the Dean of the Doctor of Philosophy Program. 
For a full description of the admission requirements and procedures, please see the Catalog.
Completion Requirements
The candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must be registered for each semester of the regular academic year during the period of time taken to earn this degree. Continuous enrollment includes both the time spent in seminar study and the time spent in the writing of the dissertation, whether or not the student is actually on campus. Failure to register for any semester is automatically considered as withdrawal from the program.
With the approval of the Doctor of Philosophy Committee, two seminars may be taken at other institutions. No credit toward this degree is given for work done at other institutions unless it has first been approved by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee.
Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must have a working knowledge of two languages (in addition to the normal requirements of Greek and Hebrew) suited to their academic interests. The student and the major department will negotiate the best combination of languages for the specific student’s program. Normally the languages considered are Latin, French and German.
Eight graduate seminars are required in the Doctor of Philosophy program. Four of the seminars are to be in a given field of discipline and shall constitute the major field.  The other four seminars are to be in two fields other than that of the major and shall constitute the two minor fields. Students have the option of taking five seminars in their major field, two seminars in one minor field, and an elective (may be in their minor field).  A maximum of two seminars per semester may be carried at any one time.
Each student enrolled in Doctor of Philosophy seminars is required to attend two doctoral colloquia each academic year. One colloquium will be program-wide and held in conjunction with the annual Forum of Contemporary Theological Issues. One colloquium will be sponsored by each academic department offering a doctoral seminar for departmental majors and seminar participants. A departmental colloquium will meet for two hours and will normally consist of a presentation by a guest scholar or of discussions of trends, issues, and bibliography in the academic field. Doctor of Philosophy students with candidacy status are encouraged to attend colloquia. Seminars will include the colloquium during the week on campus.
After the completion of seminars, doctoral students who have completed their seminar work will take comprehensive written examinations. These must be taken within a 12-month period of one of the scheduled dates for comprehensive examinations. Each day the examination will be a minimum of four hours and a maximum of eight hours. The examinations include: (1) general field, one day (2) major seminars one, two, three, and four, one day (3) remaining seminars, one day. A minimum grade of B is required to pass an examination. A student must pass at least five of these examinations on the first attempt. In cases of failure, the student may retake a maximum of four of the examinations. If the student fails the second attempt, he or she must retake the seminar; but no additional time in the program is allowed.
Candidacy Status
At the completion of seminar work, the student is expected to qualify for candidacy status. Candidacy status means that he may officially work on his dissertation. The student is declared a candidate for the degree if he completes the following:
     (1) successful completion of the comprehensive examinations
     (2) completion of the colloquia requirements
     (3) good standing in Practical Missions
     (4) exemplary conduct
     (5) dissertation subject approved by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee
     (6) major department recommendation.
Any exceptions to this procedure must be approved by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee.
After a minimum of four doctoral seminars and completion of the Doctoral Research and Writing course and the Graduate Teaching course (twenty hours), each student is required to teach in his major field under the guidance of his major advisor. With the approval of his major department and the Doctor of Philosophy Committee, he may teach in another department if he has received credit for two semester-long Doctor of Philosophy seminars in that field. The student will work under the direct supervision of his major advisor in development of a course syllabus, a teaching plan, and the assignment of course grades. At the discretion of the Doctor of Philosophy Committee, other arrangements may be made for students whose second language is English to fulfill their supervised instruction requirement.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is a research and teaching degree. Because Mid-America is committed to preparing men to train others for effective ministry, we believe that it is important for those who teach to have significant ministry experience. The completion of the Doctor of Philosophy degree, therefore, requires two years of pastoral ministry, significant church-staff service, missionary service, or significant denominational service. Final evaluation of the completed practical experience is made by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee.
Each candidate must write a dissertation in his major field of study in accordance with directions specified by the Doctor of Philosophy Committee. The dissertation must demonstrate the ability to do independent research and must make a solid contribution to the literature of the field in which it is written.
A one-hour oral dissertation defense is conducted during the last academic semester prior to the commencement service in which the student expects to graduate. The oral defense covers the dissertation and relevant areas of cognate academic disciplines which are necessary for a full evaluation of the research.
Summary of Requirements Credit Hours
Doctoral Research and Writing  4 Hours
Graduate Teaching  3 Hours
Four Seminars (Major) 16 Hours
Two Seminars (First Minor)  8 Hours
Two Seminars (Second Minor)*  8 Hours
Supervised Departmental Reading  1 Hour
Supervised Instruction   0 Hours
Comprehensive Program Exams  4 Hours
Dissertation Writing and Defense 16 Hours

*In lieu of a second minor, students may choose to take these two seminars as electives or in

their major or minor fields.


**Schedule of Academic Dates for PhD Program

Sign Up

Sonis Web
New or prospective student?  Sign-up here for access to application information, grades, and account billing status.


Career Center

Alumni may register here to have their resume loaded into our career center.  Allow us to connect you with churches looking for qualified personnel.


Witness One:Seven Report
New Students may sign-up for access to the Witness One:Seven site here.



Sonis Web
Students, Faculty, staff may access their SONIS web account here.  Please enter your SONIS ID and password/pin number for access.


Career Center
here to access your resume and make changes.


Witness One:Seven Report
Students may update their Witness One:Seven information here.


Student Email
Sign-in here to access your student email account. Your Office 365 account name is [Student_ID] (e.g. Your password is your MABTS assigned PIN.


PhD Form
Click here to access the PhD form.