PhD Program - Princeton Theological Seminary

PhD Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary

Engage in world-class training in the theological disciplines and conduct groundbreaking research. Our reimagined PhD program takes a bold, visionary approach to doctoral education to prepare you for a leadership role in the church, the academy, or the public arena. As a PhD student, you not only explore your field of interest in depth but also pursue interdisciplinary study both within the Seminary and at Princeton University. Working with renowned, influential faculty who bring expertise in a wide range of theological disciplines, engage in richly ecumenical dialogue and innovative scholarship and prepare to lead in your chosen field.

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At a Glance

Application Deadline

December 1, 2024

Fall 2025 deadline for all PhD applicants


5 Years

On Campus

Is the PhD Program for Me?

Do you:

  • Have a passion for constructive, critical engagement with the Christian tradition in its complexity and diversity?
  • Want to conduct rigorous, original scholarship that contributes to the advancement of knowledge?
  • Feel called to serve God and neighbor, church, and academy through the exercise of your scholarly vocation?

Our PhD program invites you to question what you know and address challenges with creative solutions. Through a reimagined curriculum and ambitious professional-development initiatives, prepare for leadership in the academy and far beyond.

What You’ll Study

Through in-depth coursework and research, gain deep knowledge of the content, history, and methods of your primary field of study while also gaining expertise in one or more cognate disciplines. Electives allow you to shape your studies according to your personal interests, while seminars in other departments give you the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary work.

What You’ll Do

In addition to your coursework, engage in hands-on activities designed to build your skills as a teacher and scholar. For example:

  • The required Teaching Apprenticeship Program (TAP) combines a colloquium, teaching experience, online evaluations, coaching and mentoring, and professional-development workshops to develop your proficiency in the ministry of teaching.
  • Through an agreement with Princeton University, you may participate in PhD seminars at Princeton University to expand your options and explore areas of particular interest.

PhD Program Details

As a PhD student at Princeton Theological Seminary, choose one of the following areas of study:

Each area of study offers world-class training in the theological disciplines and prepares you for a leadership role in the church, higher education, or the public arena.

To qualify for admission to the PhD program, you need to have a 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.

In addition, you must be fluent in English and demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one modern language. Several fields also require a command of ancient languages. Additional requirements vary depending on your chosen field of study.

We offer generous financial support for PhD students. All admitted applicants receive a Merit Tuition Scholarship and either a Princeton Doctoral Fellowship or the George S. Green Fellowship for a period of up to five consecutive years of full-time study. Additional support is awarded to applicants whose applications are judged to be of a superior quality.

To apply for admission, please submit the following:

  • A completed admissions application designating your academic area of interest
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • A sketch of your intellectual history (700–1,000 words) that describes your intellectual interests and passions and also explains how you believe the doctoral program at Princeton Theological Seminary will help you to pursue your vocation as you currently understand it
  • One academic paper (written in English, no more than 30 double-spaced pages long) in your intended area of concentration and representative of your best work, demonstrating scholarly capacity in the field selected
  • Three letters of academic recommendation from individuals, ordinarily professors, who can write knowledgeably about your personal and academic qualifications and your suitability for your chosen field of study
  • Unofficial transcripts from each college, seminary, or graduate school attended
  • Scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if your native language is not English
  • A Conduct Statement and Statement of Intent to Study Full Time

Phd Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary

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Our PhD students and faculty share what it is like to live and learn in community with each other.

In Their Own Words

Outcomes with a PhD in Theology

Princeton PhD students go on to diverse roles in church, government, journalism, business, and the public sphere. Our graduates include groundbreaking theologians such as Renita Weems, Rubem Alves, and Bruce McCormack, as well as pioneering architects of theological education.

Meet our current PhD students.

Noted civil rights activist Prathia Hall helped to inspire Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Sang Chang made history as the first-ever female acting prime minister of South Korea. Craig Dykstra served for 23 years as vice president for religion at the Lilly Endowment. Hundreds more have devoted their careers to teaching future pastors or pastoring local churches. Where will your PhD take you?

Featured Faculty

Heath Carter
“My doctoral students teach me new things all the time. They’re learning new things, they’re producing new knowledge, they’re challenging me and colleagues across this Seminary and across the country with their findings and with their arguments.”

Heath Carter
Associate Professor of American Christianity, Director of PhD Studies

Next Steps

Take the next step in your lifelong journey of investigating and strengthening your faith. Request information about the PhD, schedule a visit, or apply today.