Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program at Concordia Seminary

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is to prepare scholars to be future leaders in both academic and nonacademic settings by developing and establishing their competency in a chosen field through classroom performance as students and teachers, through private study and preparation, and through the production of publishable written work that makes an original contribution in its field.

The Ph.D. is the specialist research doctorate, which is designed to train people at the highest level in a chosen field so that they may give leadership in church and world at the highest level. The Ph.D. has a greater variety of requirements than the M.A. and S.T.M., comprised of classroom work, independent reading, multiple language and subject examinations, teaching assistantship and the preparation of publishable work.


Applications are considered by the Advanced Studies Committee (ASC) at set times throughout the year. All application materials must be received by the deadline in order for an applicant to be considered for admission. Note that there are different dates/deadlines for each degree (see degree program descriptions for deadlines for each program).

General Procedures

  • All applications presenting adequate qualifications for acceptance are considered by the ASC and are approved or declined by it.
  • All applications are considered in their totality. It should be noted that a student who meets stated requirements is not in any way assured of admission.
  • Neither grade-point average nor GRE scores are the sole consideration. It should be noted, however, that a grade-point average below the minimum standard or GRE scores below the 50th percentile constitute sufficient cause for declining admission to any of the graduate programs. Scores more than five years old may not be submitted for consideration.
  • The procedure for the acceptance of Ph.D. students is more complex than that for the other degrees. The following is the regular procedure:
    • The ASC will rule on the general qualifications of all applicants. All will be placed into one of three categories:
      • Highly qualified and highly recommended
      • Basically qualified
      • Unqualified and declined
    • To develop a greater understanding of the various theological disciplines and how they relate to each other.
    • That department will judge on the possibility of accepting new students into the doctoral program and will report its judgment to the director of the Graduate School. Key will be the availability of an appropriate Doktorvater (doctoral supervisor). Normally, unless the department rules otherwise, each doctoral supervisor should have no more than three active students at any one time.
    • The department may, for various reasons (e.g., manpower), recommend that the applicant consider another department in which to undertake doctoral work.
    • Certain entry-level work also may be required of the incoming student as deemed necessary by either the ASC or the department.

For more information, review the academic catalog and entrance level competency exam requirements.

The Ph.D. ordinarily requires 54 hours beyond the master’s degree. Students have a number of emphasis options within exegetical, systematic, historical, and practical theology.

History of Exegesis Concentration
Department of Historical Theology

Goal: to examine the exegetical methods and conclusions of the Church through the ages, with the conviction that there are insights still to be gained on behalf of the Church today.

Theology and Culture Concentration
Department of Practical Theology

Goal: to equip graduates to answer the question, “How does the Church faithfully embody a practice of faith within a particular cultural setting?” Many practices of the faith are studied within this program (e.g., mission, catechesis, worship, homiletics and counseling) along with many cultural contexts. While the theological practices and the cultural contexts vary, the Ph.D. in Theology and Culture offers education and formation in the fundamentals of practical theology.

  • SPECIAL EMPHASIS: HOMILETICS – Requires the eight courses for a Theology and Culture degree and then allows the student to choose electives for the four other courses in order to complete the 12-hour (36-hour) Ph.D. requirement.

Doctrinal Theology Concentration
Department of Systematic Theology

Goal: to examine the biblical, creedal and confessional testimonies of the Church in order to identify from them doctrine that is timeless and to articulate from them theology that is timely.

Reformation Studies Concentration
Department of Historical Theology

Goal: to examine the 16th century Reformation (including its causes and effects) and to understand and apply its insights to the Church today.

Modern World Concentration
Department of Historical Theology

Goal: to investigate issues in the history of theology from the 17th century to the present. Major themes include civil religion, missions and ecumenism. This concentration intentionally bridges the gap between Europe and America by stressing the mutual interdependence of theologies and theologians on the two continents.

Biblical Studies Concentration
Department of Exegetical Theology

Goal: to evaluate, appropriate and apply historical and contemporary theories and methods of biblical research in a manner that respects the biblical texts as ancient literary texts and as sacred Scripture

Course work 24 hours
Teaching assistant requirements 2 courses
12-hour review  
Language requirements German prior to 12 credits
Second language prior to 24 credits
Other languages vary by concentration
Comprehensive exam 0 hours
Dissertation 12 hours
Total credit hours for Ph.D. 36 hours

Additional Programs and Opportunities