Beeson Divinity School prepares God-called men and women for faithful ministry in the church of Jesus Christ. The PhD is a natural extension of Beeson’s identity and mission.
The PhD in Theology for the Church consists of 42 semester hours. Students can complete the program in four years of uninterrupted enrollment, with a six-year terminus for the degree.
Every student will take five postgraduate seminars during their first two years of study. Seminars will be delivered in a modular format. Students will complete reading assignments and prepare reviews of their reading prior to attending one-week seminars on the Samford University campus. Following each seminar, students will write a major paper relating the seminar topic to their area of research interest. Seminars are offered in spring, summer and fall semesters.
Seminar topics include: Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, Historical theology 1 (Patristic period through Reformation), Historical theology 2 (Reformation through Modern era), Ecclesial life and mission. Students will also take one term of directed readings under the supervision of a faculty member. Seminars do not aim at coverage of the discipline; the program assumes students arrive with such coverage from their master’s training. These seminars are, instead, deep dives into a particular research facet related to the discipline.
During the fall and spring semesters of the first two years, students and faculty will enjoy a bi-weekly research seminar. These will be virtual and will include faculty presentations, guest lectures and student presentations. The purpose of these seminars is to build a research culture, exemplify theological research at work and encourage faculty and students towards excellence in thought, writing, communication and argument.
After completion of the required seminars, students will sit for comprehensive exams as well as a defense of their research prospectus. The general comprehensive exam will cover the material of the doctoral seminars. The discipline-specific exam will cover the student’s work in the doctoral seminars as related to the chosen area of research interest.
The research prospectus will include an abstract of the student’s dissertation, a justification for the project within the discipline, an annotated table of contents and a proposed schedule for completion. The student’s supervisor will aid in the production of the research prospectus. Depending on the area of determined research, competency in Latin, French, and/or German may be required. These decisions will be made in consultation with the student’s supervisor and the program director.
The dissertation is the final and most important assessment of the student’s research abilities. It demonstrates specialized knowledge in the field and provides primary and secondary source research able to advance the scholarly conversation in the chosen field of research. Once completed, the student will sit for an oral defense of their work.
The PhD in Theology for the Church is approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools Commission on Accrediting.
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