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 area of study that makes an original theological contribution to that field of study.

 The Ph.D. is a specialist research doctorate designed to train candidates at the highest level so that they may provide leadership in both church and world. The Ph.D. is the highest academic degree offered at Concordia Seminary, designed to cultivate analytical and critical reasoning, effective writing and broad-based decision making.

The program exists to enable the student to develop a sense of and commitment to the vocation of theological scholarship in dimensions of teaching, learning and research.

Applications are considered by the Advanced Studies Committee (ASC) at set times throughout the year. All application materials must be received, in their entirety, by Feb. 28 (Nov. 30 for international students) each year in order for an applicant to be considered for admission.

In order for an application to be considered, the following are required:

  • An applicant must have earned a Master of Divinity or master’s degree in theological studies, from an accredited educational institution, which includes 14 semester credits applicable to the specific theological field in which the student plans to work, with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).
  • An applicant is required to submit scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), which include the analytical writing section. These scores may be no more than five years old.
  • Ph.D. concentrations in Biblical Studies will require advanced language competency in both biblical Greek and biblical Hebrew.

For more information, review the Academic Catalog and Entry Level Competency Exam requirements.

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Submit a $100 nonrefundable application fee. (The fee is waived for Concordia Seminary graduates and international applicants.)
  3. Statement of background and intention: Please include a detailed response as to why you want to attend Concordia Seminary, why you are pursuing this program of study and how you plan to use your degree (limit your response to one-half page).
  4. A brief essay written in English, on a theological topic of your choice: Please provide an essay that represents your theological understanding on a theological topic of your area of interest (depth of topic is more valuable than length).
  5. Three academic references (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis graduates need only submit two academic references): Use the writeable PDF to request academic references.
  6. Transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate credits you have earned: Please request an official transcript from each institution where you have earned undergraduate or graduate credits. A hard copy of the transcript may be sent to: Admissions, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105 or an electronic copy may be sent to
  7. A written statement describing in detail a topic you have an interest in pursuing your dissertation.
  8. A document explaining how you intend to finance your degree work, including living expenses: Please provide a detailed document, explaining how you will finance your degree, including mortgage payment, car payment, living expenses, previous student loans and consumer debt.
  9. A recent photograph of yourself. (International applicants, please provide a photocopy of the identification and picture page of their passport.)
  10. Statement of previous employment or ministry experience. A copy of the applicants resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is acceptable.
  11. All applicants are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Exam. These scores may be no more than five years old. Information and registration for the GRE can be found at The Concordia Seminary number for the GRE is R-6115-0. For Spanish applicants, the Examen de Admisión a Estudios de Posgrado (EXADEP) is required (
  12. For applicants whose native language is not English, please submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test. The Concordia Seminary number for the TOEFL is R-6115-0. The Graduate School also accepts IELTS or Duolingo English Test scores in place of the TOEFL.

Documents may be uploaded as attachments when submitting your application (limit of 10 total documents, 10 MB each), or documents may be sent to:

Questions? Contact Admissions at 314-505-7222 or

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 special emphasis on the early church and the Reformation.

This concentration also seeks to apply these insights to meet the needs of the church today.

Theology and Culture Concentration

Department of Practical Theology

Goal: to apply theologically critical thinking to questions of contemporary cultural importance, in order to articulate and to foster theologically sound responses and practices in the church.

  • 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 Ph.D. requirements.

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 (T.A.) requirements

Two 3-semester hour courses or

Four 1.5-semster hour 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