Logo for Graduate School

Ph.D. Requirements (40-60 hours)

The Wheaton Ph.D. requires that its students take a holistic approach to biblical-theological studies.

While students will write dissertations that focus on one of the traditional areas of academic competence—Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, or Historical Theology—the entire program will require integration with the other specialties. In order to facilitate this integration, students in the Wheaton Ph.D. program will write dissertations that are distinctly theological in nature.

The length and specific components of the program will vary from student to student. All students will be required to take a minimum of 40 hours of doctoral-level courses and may be asked to take as many as 60.

Ph.D. Course Sequence

Introduction to Doctoral Research: 0 hour

  • BITH 751 Orientation to doctoral research in theology and to Wheaton's Ph.D. program in Biblical and Theological Studies. (1)

Two common seminars: 6 hours

  • BITH 881 (4) 
  • BITH 884 (2)

Three doctoral seminars: 12 hours

  • BITH 882 Seminar: Topics in Biblical Studies (4)
  • BITH 882 Seminar: Topics in Biblical Studies (4)
  • BITH 883 Seminar: Topics in Historical & Systematic Theology (4)


  • BITH 883 Seminar: Topics in Historical & Systematic Theology (4)
  • BITH 883 Seminar: Topics in Historical & Systematic Theology (4)
  • BITH 882 Seminar: Topics in Biblical Studies (4)

At least one Directed Study course: 2+ hours

  • BITH 795 Directed Study (supervised independent study) (2-4)

One approved course at another institution: 3-4 hours

  • Some doctoral students have fulfilled this requirement by taking a summer course at the University of Chicago or University of Notre Dame.

Directed Study in conjunction with a masters BITH class: 0+ hours

  • BITH 793 Masters level Biblical and Theological Studies Course (2-4) 

Directed Study in conjunction with a liberal arts class: 0+ hours

  • BITH 794 Undergraduate Liberal Arts Course (2-4)

Supervised Pedagogical Experience: 2 hours

  • BITH 798 Students participate with a faculty member in teaching a course.


The dissertation at Wheaton should be theological in orientation, integrated in scope, and be a substantial contribution to research in the field of study, demonstrating originality, creativity, breadth of research, careful argumentation. Recent Ph.D. alumni have published their dissertations with Brill, Walter de Gruyter, Peeters, T&T Clark, Eisenbrauns, and Wipf & Stock.

Research Languages

Students applying to the Doctoral program will be tested on their reading competency in theological German prior to registering for their first semester courses. Proficiency in an appropriate second research language will be tested before students register for their second year of classes.

Residency Requirement

Students will be in residence for 3 academic years and will be expected to maintain full-time status.

Policies and Process

For more information about the policies and process for Ph.D. students, see the Ph.D. Handbook and the Dissertation/Proposal Style Guide (PDF).