The School of Educational Ministries’ Ph.D. degree is designed specifically for the preparation of highly specialized and competent professionals for leadership and teaching in Christian Education in the local church and in other settings. Through this program, the student will engage in sound scholarship, meaningful research, and the interdependence of theology, philosophy, theory, and practice. The Ph.D. degree is conferred on the basis of high scholarship and research skill demonstrated by the student’s resident work, examinations, and dissertation.

The degree represents advanced training for such fields of endeavor as:

  • Professors and administrators in institutions of higher education
  • Specialists in Christian Education in churches, denominational agencies, and schools
  • Specialists in Family Ministry, Women's Ministry, and Biblical Counseling
  • Missionaries serving worldwide in any of the above fields

Program Information

The Ph.D. program may be completed in a minimum of four (4) years or at a maximum of seven (7) years. The Ph.D. program is divided into a Period of Research and Candidacy.

For more information or specific details regarding the Ph.D. program, please consult the Ph.D. Student Handbook.

Download Handbook

For additional information regarding the Ph.D. program, please see the current Academic Catalog here:

Ph.D. Catalog Listing

Period of Research

The period of research for the Ph.D. program is made up of two primary elements: Seminars and the Comprehensive Examination.


The student will complete a number of seminars and other components of the program totaling 52 hours. This coursework includes:

  • 3 orientation seminars (3 hours)
  • Advanced Academic Writing Practicum (2 hours)
  • 4 reading seminars; 1 general, 2 major, and 1 minor (8 hours)
  • 4 seminars in a major field (16 hours)
  • 2 seminars in a minor field (8 hours)
  • Supervised Research and Teaching (2 hours)
  • Comprehensive Exam Reading Preparation (1 hour)
  • Colloquium (2 hours)
  • Research seminar (2 hours)
  • Dissertation (8 hours)

Flex Access

Southwestern Seminary’s flexible access Ph.D. allows students to enroll in the doctoral program without relocating to Fort Worth. Though certain aspects of the program, such as orientations, the comprehensive exam, and the dissertation defense, must still be performed in-person, the remaining requirements may be fulfilled from anywhere in the world.  More information concerning Flex Access can be found on the Southwestern Seminary website. The Flex Access mode of delivery is being conducted as an approved educational experiment with the Association of Theological Schools.

Comprehensive Examination

After successful completion of all seminars, the student will be required to pass an oral comprehensive examination covering their major and minor fields of study. Students are expected to prepare for the comprehensive examination throughout the entire seminar stage of their period of research.


Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the individual will enter into candidacy. The student will present to their Guidance Committee a prospectus for dissertation research. Upon approval by the Guidance Committee, the prospectus will be forwarded to the School of Educational Ministries Ph.D. Office for review by the Associate Dean. Once the prospectus is approved, the student will be allowed to begin work on the dissertation.

Candidates are required to complete a dissertation (minimum of 125 pages) under the supervision of their Guidance Committee. Upon the completion of this dissertation, students will defend the dissertation before a committee comprised of faculty members from their major and minor fields of study. The student is eligible for graduation after successfully defending their dissertation.


The award of the Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded at the discretion of the School of Educational Ministries Ph.D. Office, the Faculty in general, and the administration of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Approval for graduation is contingent upon completion of all academic seminar requirements, successfully passing all proficiency examinations, and the writing and oral defense of the dissertation of research study that demonstrates a high level of competence and professionalism.

Ecclesiological Understanding

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in the School of Educational Ministries both is taught in an American Church context and leads to qualification to train those who will lead various ministries in local churches. Therefore, the faculty finds that a substantial understanding of the local church in America is essential to the completion of this degree. All students are required to demonstrate a full understanding of the local church in an American context before graduation. Experience in American local church ministry leadership is expected. This experience can be gained through volunteer service, but paid staff work is preferred to meet this requirement. Each student will demonstrate such understanding to the satisfaction of the faculty, either through written or oral interview as required by the faculty in each situation, prior to graduation. This interview can be included in the defense of the student’s dissertation.

Becoming a Student

Students may apply to the Educational Ministries Ph.D. program in the following major fields of study.

  • Administration
  • Biblical Counseling
  • Foundations of Education
  • Family and Generational Studies

Within our school, a minor may be taken in any of the fields above, as well as in the following:

  • Children’s Ministry
  • Family Ministry
  • Student Ministry
  • Women’s Ministry
Program Prerequisites

Educational Foundations

Those applying to the Ph.D. in an area of Christian Education must have completed a Master of Arts in Christian Education or its equivalent from an accredited seminary or university. Those applying to the Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling must have completed a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling or its equivalent from an accredited seminary or university. Applicants must have maintained an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.3 in all graduate-level work.

Research Languages

The applicant will be expected to demonstrate competency in two of the following research languages: Greek, Hebrew, German, Latin, or French. Language studies must be completed by the end of the second year of residence in the doctoral program or according to the guidelines detailed in the student’s acceptance letter.

Ministry/Vocational Goal

The applicant must have demonstrated vocational intent as validated through study or work experiences accepted by the division of the chosen major field of study. In nearly every instance, the student is expected to be involved in ministry-related activities either in a paid or volunteer position during the period of study.

Church Relationship

The applicant must be an active participant in a local church.

Personal Attributes

The applicant must possess a well-balanced personality as evidenced by satisfactory characteristics in appropriate attitudes, moral conduct, and good physical health.

Application Process

How to Apply

All applicants, including current, former, and future students, must apply for the Ph.D. program through the Office of Admissions. The application along with a list of all required supplementary materials is available online at You will be invited to create an account in which you will be able to track your progress through the application process. Once the application and all supplementary application materials have been submitted, the Ph.D. Office will schedule an entrance interview for the applicant.

When to Apply

Applicants must submit all application materials at least 30 days before the entrance interview. International applicants must submit all application materials at least 60 days prior to the entrance interview. Interviews are required prior to acceptance into the Ph.D. program and are held in April, May, June, and July for acceptance into the Fall semester, and in October, November, and December for acceptance into the Spring semester. Interviews are scheduled by the School of Educational Ministries Ph.D. Office.

Required Supplemental Items

Background Check

Applicants must complete a background check.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts from all college, university, and seminary work must be sent to the Office of Admissions. Applicants with bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees obtained outside the United States should be aware that their transcripts are subject to evaluation prior to general application by the World Education Services (WES). More information on the WES evaluation can be obtained from the Office of Admissions.

Research Paper

Each applicant is required to submit a twenty-five (25) page research paper related to their desired major field of study. This paper must be an original work and should provide evidence of highly developed research and writing skills. The form and style should follow the most recent edition of The Southwestern Seminary Style Manual available for download on the seminary website.


Applicants must submit a current résumé.

Church Endorsement

Applicants must have a church representative complete the Church Endorsement Form.


All applicants must provide references from two (2) individuals who will attest to the call to ministry and Christian character. References can be submitted from previous graduate professors or current church staff.

TOEFL Test Score (International Students Only)

International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum internet based score of 100.

Interview and Acceptance

An interview committee of faculty members will interview the applicant after all application materials have been received by the School of Educational Ministries Ph.D. Office. Interviews are held in April, May, June, and July for the fall semester and October, November, and December for the spring semester. All application materials must be received no later than 30 days prior to the end of the interview period. International students should submit their application materials at least 60 days in advance in order to provide time for additional steps required by the Office of International Student Services. 

The interview committee will include faculty from the applicant’s desired major and minor fields of study. This interview focuses on Christian experience, knowledge of the major and minor fields, family relationships, and reasons for pursuing a doctorate. The committee reserves the right to require additional materials or language testing to be submitted before granting approval to continue with the application process.

The interviewing committee will make a recommendation to the Associate Dean of the Ph.D. Program, who ultimately determines the acceptance of the applicant and any required leveling work. An official letter will be sent to the applicant detailing the Associate Dean’s decision. 


Tuition for the Ph.D. program is billed by semester, fall and spring, regardless of the number of hours the student is enrolled in. The tuition is $6,300 per semester. The Cooperative Program Scholarship reduces tuition for Southern Baptist students. Their tuition is $3,500 per semester. Research languages and other leveling courses are not included in this amount. These courses will be billed at the master level hourly rate and the conference course fee will apply if taken in that format. Tuition must be paid every semester until the student graduates from the program. This includes semesters when the student is preparing for their comprehensive examination or working on their dissertation. More information pertaining to fees and tuition can be found here.

Inquiries regarding billing may be directed to the Business Office at 817-923-1921 ext. 4650,

Financial assistance is available through the Financial Aid Office, 817-923-1921 ext. 3080,

Contact Information

For more information regarding Ph.D. studies in the School of Educational Ministries, please email or call the Ph.D. Office at 817-923-1921 ext. 4650.

Mailing Address:
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Attn: Ph.D. Office
P.O. Box 22140
Fort Worth, TX 76122

Fax: 817-921-8767