PhD Students - Princeton Theological Seminary

PhD Students


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. Candidates for admission to the Practical Theology Department PhD program ordinarily should hold the MDiv degree or its equivalent. 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.

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

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Language Requirements

All candidates must be fluent in English and must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one other 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. 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.

Biblical Studies (Old Testament and New Testament)
Knowledge of German must be demonstrated before matriculation. A second research language will be chosen in consultation with the student’s residence committee. In the past, choices have included, for example, Modern Hebrew, French, and Spanish.

History and Ecumenics
Language requirements vary by track, as follows:

Early Christian Studies
Students must demonstrate proficiency in four languages–two ancient and two modern–by the end of their 2nd year in the doctoral program. Students must demonstrate proficiency in at least two of these languages prior to matriculation. Ancient languages: Greek and one of the following: Latin, Coptic, or Arabic Modern languages: French and German

Medieval Christianity
Students must demonstrate proficiency in Latin, French, and German by the end of their 2nd year in the doctoral program (when appropriate, an alternative modern language, e.g. Spanish, may be approved). Students must demonstrate proficiency in two of the languages (including Latin and either French, German, or an alternative modern research language) prior to matriculation.

Reformation and the World
Students must demonstrate proficiency in Latin, French, and German by the end of their 2nd year in the doctoral program. Students must demonstrate proficiency in two of these three languages prior to matriculation.

Religion in the Americas
Students must demonstrate proficiency in one modern research language by the end of their 2nd year in the program. Ordinarily this language will be Spanish or Portuguese, though, when there is a clear and compelling rationale, students may petition their residency committee to count a different language toward this requirement. This petition must be approved by the end of the 1st year.

World Christianity and the History of Religions
Students must demonstrate proficiency in one modern research language by the end of their 2nd year in the program. This language, which will ordinarily be relevant to the dissertation, will be determined in consultation with the residence committee.

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).

Religion and Society
Doctoral students will be required to demonstrate competency in two research languages to be determined in consultation with the chair of the residency committee. As a general rule the student will demonstrate competency in one of these languages before matriculation.

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

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

Field Languages
Old Testament Hebrew*, Greek*, Northwest Semitic
New Testament Hebrew*, Greek*, and either Syriac, Aramaic, Latin, or Coptic
Homiletics Hebrew* or Greek*
Early Christian Studies Greek*, and one of the following: Latin, Arabic, or Coptic
Medieval Christianity Latin*
Reformation and the World Latin*
* In special areas of Old Testament other languages may be required as indicated by the subject matter of the field.

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