Princeton Theological Seminary welcomes international PhD applicants who are preparing for positions of major responsibility in churches and theological schools of their home countries. It is assumed that international PhD applicants will have the educational background indicated below and that a major portion of this study will have been done in the applicant’s home country or part of the world.
Each applicant is required to present an ecclesiastical reference concerning his/her Christian commitment and leadership qualities. If the applicant’s proposed study is in preparation for a specific institutional post, the institution is asked to supply this information in support of the applicant.
Duration of Program
The PhD Studies Committee has set the length of the program at five years of full-time study. These five years consist of two years of full-time resident study, followed by a year in which to pass the comprehensive examinations and prepare a dissertation proposal. The fourth and fifth years are for dissertation research and writing. See the Seminary catalogue for more information on the duration of the PhD program. If it is not possible for an international student to complete the dissertation by the end of the fifth year, he or she should expect to complete the dissertation phase of the program at home, as U.S. government regulations do not permit extension of student visas beyond year five of our program except for “compelling medical or academic reasons.”
International PhD students must present a properly certified educational background. The PhD admissions committee recognizes that educational systems are organized differently in different areas of the world. International applicants should usually present five to seven years of full time post-secondary study, including work in the humanities, arts, and sciences (two to four years) and in theology (three to four years). This is meant to be equivalent to the background required of U.S. applicants, who must present six to seven years of post-secondary education, including the BA (or BS) and the BD or MDiv degrees or their academic equivalent. International applicants are encouraged to present an explanation of how their educational credentials meet these requirements.
International scholars are admitted only upon evidence that they are sufficiently proficient in the English language to deal adequately with course material in oral and written form. Proficiency must be demonstrated by presenting the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which is now computer-based in most parts of the world. Applicants submitting TOEFL scores are expected to achieve a minimum score of 57 in reading, 59 in writing, and 58 in listening for the paper-based TOEFL, or 23 in reading, 26 in writing, 23 in listening and an essay rating of 5 for the computer-based TOEFL, or a minimum score of 23 on each section of the Internet-based TOEFL. Successful applicants usually present scores well above this minimum. TOEFL scores must be no more than two years old.
PhD candidates are also required to have adequate reading knowledge of German and French. Learn more about our ancient and modern language requirements by program.
Princeton Seminary currently provides limited financial assistance for five years and subsidized (but not free) housing for five years for international PhD students. To be considered for financial assistance international students must complete the International PhD Student Financial Aid Application form. The maximum Seminary grant, while generous, is not enough to cover all of the student’s expenses; therefore, applicants are urged to seek and apply for scholarships from denominational and other sources. U.S. Government regulations require each international student to demonstrate in advance sufficient financial resources for him/herself and dependents, if any, for the first year of the PhD program, as well as credible evidence of a funding plan for the remaining years. Seminary scholarship aid and student on-campus employment may be counted toward this demonstration of financial resources. Please note that spouses are not eligible for employment in the United States. Married students may need to come to Princeton without their dependents if they are unable to demonstrate the financial resources required by government regulations.
Admitted applicants will be expected to demonstrate the above described financial resources no later than April 15 following March admission.
International students who are single may be housed in dormitories for five years. Furnished apartments are available for married international PhD candidates at student rates for five years, provided the student remains in good academic standing. Since most of the apartments have only one or two bedrooms, families with more than three children cannot be accommodated in Seminary housing.
Procedure for Application
If you are able to meet these academic, ecclesiastical and language requirements, please submit the PhD application and supporting credentials no later than December 15 for the following academic year.