×

PhD Program Requirements

Prerequisites

Please Read Before Proceeding to Application

All applicants for admission to the PhD program at Princeton Theological Seminary must hold the degree of BA, or its equivalent, from an approved college or university, and a master’s degree (MDiv, MTS, MAR, or MA), or its equivalent, from an accredited graduate program. All applicants for admission to the PhD program in Practical Theology (Christian Education, Pastoral Theology, and Homiletics) must hold the MDiv degree. In other areas, if the master’s degree (MDiv, MTS, MAR, or MA) is absent, a minimum of two years of graduate study in religion is required. Included in the two years will ordinarily be a course in each of Old Testament; New Testament; systematic theology, philosophy or ethics; history of religions; and two courses in the history of Christianity. It is assumed that those who are enrolled in graduate degree programs when they apply for admission will have received their degrees before matriculation. If admitted to the Seminary, official transcripts for degree programs in progress at the time of application must be provided with notation of degree conferral prior to matriculation.

Candidates for programs in Practical Theology (Christian Education, Pastoral Theology, and Homiletics) must submit evidence, as early as possible in the first year of residence, that they have engaged in that form of professional practice under close supervision, or else they must arrange to do so during their period of residence.

All candidates must be fluent in English and must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one modern language. Additional language requirements vary depending on the applicant’s chosen field of study. It is strongly recommended that students enter the program with a reading knowledge of one modern language. The level of competence required may be roughly indicated as that to be expected from recent satisfactory completion of second-year college study of the language. Biblical Studies students must establish competence in German before matriculation as a condition of registration for a full course load. In those areas requiring additional modern languages, competency in the second modern language ordinarily must be demonstrated before beginning the second year of residence.

*The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is no longer required for PhD applicants.

Start an Application

Language Requirements

Modern Languages

All candidates must be fluent in English and must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one modern language. Additional language requirements vary depending on the applicant’s chosen field of study. It is strongly recommended that students enter the program with a reading knowledge of one modern language. The level of competence required may be roughly indicated as that to be expected from recent satisfactory completion of second-year college study of the language. Biblical Studies students must establish competence in German before matriculation as a condition of registration for a full course load. In those areas requiring additional modern languages, competency in the second modern language ordinarily must be demonstrated before beginning the second year of residence.

Language Courses and Exams
Students who wish to demonstrate modern language competency through a translation test should contact the Office of Academic Affairs, PhD Studies, for further information about testing options. The Seminary will also accept successful completion of a graduate level language proficiency course in fulfillment of the modern language requirement. These programs include the Princeton University and the City University of New York Graduate School summer language intensives for graduate students. Language proficiency certifications from graduate language programs should be submitted to PhD Studies for review.

Delayed Fulfillment of Requirements
Students who do not fulfill modern language requirements according to their departmental schedule will be classified as “qualifying candidates.” Qualifying candidates may take only one doctoral seminar or course (permission of instructor required) and must engage in further language study.

Qualifying candidates must contact the Office of Academic Affairs, PhD Studies, for information about retesting options. If the test is not passed, language study will continue during the second semester, again with only one seminar or course permitted. After the required modern language test is passed, the term “qualifying candidate” will no longer apply. A student who does not fulfill the modern language requirements by the beginning of the second year must consult with the student's residence committee and the director of PhD Studies to determine appropriate language preparation and coursework for the second year of study.

Qualifying candidates will be considered full-time students, although they will be taking only one course or seminar. During the third year (first semester if possible), those who were qualifying candidates will make up any seminar(s) missed.

Those who have been qualifying candidates and who must take seminars or courses during the fall semester of their third year will follow the usual sequence: they will take the comprehensive examinations and write the dissertation proposal by the end of the third year. If any required seminar is not offered until the second semester of the third year, the student must petition the PhD Studies Committee for an exception to this deadline.

In no case will financial aid be extended beyond the original admission offer to compensate for time lost due to failure to meet the language requirement.

Language Substitutions
Petitions for modern language substitutions, where permitted, should be submitted (ordinarily after matriculation) by the residence committee chair to the student’s department, which will forward any recommendation for language substitution to the PhD Studies Committee for final approval. Substitutions may be permitted if the requested language can be shown to be more relevant to the student’s field of research, course of study, and career intentions than the language that would otherwise be required.

Modern language requirements by areas and fields are as follows:

Biblical Studies (both fields): German and French ordinarily required. Knowledge of German must be demonstrated before matriculation. For Old Testament students, French can be replaced by either Modern Hebrew or Spanish on the basis of a residence committee’s recommendation.

History and Ecumenics (Church History and History of Doctrine): German and French ordinarily required. For students in American Christianity, proficiency in one modern language, determined in conversation with the residence committee, is required by the end of coursework.

History and Ecumenics (World Christianity and the History of Religions): German and French ordinarily required. A student may petition to substitute another modern language for one of these (but not for both).

Religion and Society: German and French ordinarily required. A student may petition to substitute another modern language for one of these (but ordinarily not for both).

Theology (all fields): German (required) and ordinarily French. A student may petition to substitute another modern language for French.

Religion and Society: German and French ordinarily required. A student may petition to substitute another modern language for one of these (but ordinarily not for both).

Practical Theology (all fields): German and French ordinarily required. A student may petition to substitute another modern language or a course in statistics for one of these (but not for both).


Ancient Languages

Several fields require their PhD candidates to demonstrate command of ancient languages, as set forth below:

Old Testament: *Hebrew, *Greek, Ugaritic, and Aramaic

New Testament: *Hebrew, *Greek, and either Syriac, Aramaic, Latin, or Coptic

Homiletics: *Hebrew and *Greek

Early Church History/History of Doctrine: **Greek and Latin

Medieval Church History/History of Doctrine: *Latin

Reformation Church History/History of Doctrine: *Latin

In special areas of History and Ecumenics and of Old Testament, other languages may be required as indicated by the subject matter of the field.

* Languages marked with an asterisk (*) must be mastered before matriculation. Latin is offered in the Princeton University summer language program for graduate students. Information on that program is available on the Princeton University website.

** In the case of Early Church History/History of Doctrine, reading knowledge of either Greek or Latin is required at matriculation.

Request Information

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Environmental steward at St. Paul’s Christian School

Nick Babladelis, Class of 2015

“The faculty and staff at Princeton Seminary took my interests in science and theology and gave them real direction.”