Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)


Credit Hours


Years to Complete

  • Residential

    The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is designed to equip you for teaching and research in colleges, theological seminaries, and universities; and for advanced church leadership.


    The depth of study and the breadth of research to reach the heights of your calling.

    Learning in the Reformed tradition

    Calvin Seminary is committed to the confessional and theological standards of the Christian Reformed Church, but students from all Christian traditions are welcome to apply. The academic freedom to probe the foundations of Reformed theology and to explore the validity of other approaches is a fundamental assumption of the PhD program.

    Concentrations: PhD students can focus their studies in one of the following areas

    • History of Christianity,
    • Systematic Theology
    • Philosophical Theology
    • Moral Theology

    Learning Resources

    Resources for Supporing Your PhD Studies

    In addition to your program, Calvin Seminary offers access to a variety of resources to supplement your PhD studies.

    Centers and Institutes

    The centers and institutes of Calvin Seminary and Calvin College are dedicated hubs of scholarship, promoting focused study and research in their fields. As a PhD candidate, you will have the opportunity to make connections with centers and institutes relevant to your studies, including but not limited to:

    • Calvin Institute for Christian Worship
    • Center for Excellence in Preaching
    • H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies
    • Institute for Global Church Planting and Renewal
    • Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research
    • Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity (Calvin College)
    • The Bavinck Institute
    • The Timothy Leadership Training Institute

    The Hekman Library

    The Hekman Library is home to more than 520,000 books, including an entire floor of resources devoted to theology, biblical scholarship, and ministry practices. As a PhD student you will receive a dedicated library study carrel.


    Calvin Seminary Supports Students

    Calvin Seminary offers a wide range of scholarships and other financial assistance.

    Calvin Seminary offers a wide range of scholarships and other financial assistance. In fact, in recent years, nearly $1.5 million in scholarship funds were awarded annually. Doctoral Fellowships, Doctoral Assistantships, and Doctoral Tuition Scholarships are available to students in the PhD program at Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition, PhD housing subsidies and living stipends are available on the basis of financial need.

    Course Work

    The PhD Program

    Courses focus on areas of current faculty interest and research. They are designed to introduce studentsto proper research methods and their application as well as to important theological issues and developments.

    Students are required to complete a total of twelve PhD courses for credit. Full-time students take six courses per year (typically three per semester) for two years. Part-time students take either four courses per year for three years or three courses per year for four years. At least three courses must be taken in the student’s discipline of specialization and at least two courses in each of the other three areas.

    In addition to the twelve required PhD courses, students in the program must take seminar 903P, “Teaching Seminar,” during the first two years in the program and are expected to take seminar 902P, “Dissertation Seminar,” if they have completed the required PhD courses and reside in the Grand Rapids area. Students ordinarily will take the dissertation seminar during more than one semester. These seminars are offered on a credit/no credit basis and do not count toward the twelve required courses in the program.


    Called to Serve

    Past graduates have applied their learning to a variety of ministry-based opportunities. Here are some of their stories:

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    For the PhD Program

    To qualify for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program, an applicant must be the graduate of an accredited college and must possess a Master of Theological Studies, Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity, or Master of Theology degree from an accredited school or must possess the equivalents of such degrees. The applicant's previous record must show outstanding academic performance, with a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.3. The applicant must also present evidence by way of transcript or otherwise that he or she knows Hebrew, Greek, and a modern foreign language (preferably Dutch, French, German, or Spanish). Under certain circumstances a waiver of part of this language requirement is possible.

    Applicants must submit scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of the application process. They must also submit a twenty- to forty-page research paper that in their estimation exhibits their best ability to do theological research and analysis. The paper may be one submitted for academic credit in a previous degree program, or it may be the result of independent research. In addition, an applicant whose first language is not English must submit one of the following:

    1. an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) minimum total score of 6.5, including a minimum score of 6.5 on the writing section - or -
    2. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores that meet one of the following standards:
    • a minimum total score of 90, including a minimum score of 23 on the writing section (internet-based test)
    • a minimum total score of 575, plus a minimum of 4 on the TWE (paper-based test)

    Official test results of the GRE, TOEFL, TWE, and IELTS must be sent directly from the testing agency to Calvin Theological Seminary


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