Program Director: Ricardo Gonzalez
Associate Program Directors: (Applied Theology Concentrations)
Carlos Mora (Biblical Studies Concentrations)
Kyungho Song (Theological Historical Studies Concentrations)
The Phd in Religion is an advanced academic degree and its main purpose is to prepare teacher, scholars and researchers for institutions of higher learning, particularly related to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The PhD program is designed to develop individuals capable of doing careful research and teaching religious studies up to the postgraduate level.
The degree is conferred only upon those who clearly demonstrate the ability to do independent research, and who have reached a high level of expertise in their field of study. The program is offered both as in-residence and in-ministry tracks.
The PhD in Religion program aims:
The PhD in Religion degree is the highest research degree offered at AIIAS Theological Seminary. This degree is not earned by the mere accumulation of credits but is conferred in recognition of outstanding standards of scholarship and level of expertise in a student’s main area of study and cognate, as demonstrated by written and oral independent research based on in-depth analysis, mature synthesis and interpretation of evidence, and responsible application.
PhD in Religion specialists should possess the following competencies, and demonstrate the outcomes:
Faithfulness to God and Scripture.
· Candidates should be able to clearly describe the theological, philosophical, epistemological, and cultural assumptions on which their theology is based.
Comprehensive understanding of the chosen area of concentration.
· Ability to deal with philosophical underpinnings of different theories or positions in their concentration area, as well as a thorough knowledge of their cognate.
Advanced research and writing capability in the chosen concentration.
· A logical, clearly written dissertation, following accepted written standards, based on original ideas and objective research that contribute to the field of study.
Expertise in teaching and other forms of communication, as well as networking with other professionals.
· Candidates are expected to publish and present at scholarly meetings, as well as demonstrate teaching skills and cultural sensitivity in the classroom and pulpit.
Each PhD in Religion candidate will choose one area of concentration from the following:
Old Testament Studies
New Testament Studies
Intercultural Studies and World Mission
Church Ministry and Leadership
Each area of concentration should be complemented with a cognate from a different field of study, preferably one that will contribute to the writing of the dissertation. Possible options for the cognate are as follows:
Church Leadership and Administration
Students may also choose a different graduate level cognate area of study approved by the PhD Program Committee.
All application materials must be submitted to the Office of Admissions and Records no later than six months before the intended beginning of the program. The regular time to begin the PhD in Religion is June (the first semester of the school year). The number of students who may enter the PhD program in any given year is limited. Late applications may be considered for the following year.
The expected time to complete a PhD in Religion program is 4 years if no remedial or pre-requisite courses are needed. Regular course work must be completed and comprehensive examinations passed within 4 years from the date of initial registration to the program. All degree requirements have to be completed within eight years of initial registration. The dissertation, including the defense and subsequent revisions, must be completed in four years or less from the time the comprehensive examinations are passed. The two time limits (coursework + comprehensives, and dissertation + defense) apply independently, so that shortening one does not lengthen the other.
In order to complete the PhD in Religion program, the following requirements must be met:
1. Complete a curriculum of 48 semester hours of coursework: 30 in the concentration, 12 in a cognate area, and 6 credits in required courses (GSEM 890 PhD Dissertation Proposal – 3 credits, and GSEM 894 Course Development Teaching Practicum – 3 credits). A dissertation (12 semester hours) is also required, bringing the total to 60 semester hours.
TOTAL Program Credits
2. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or above. Only grades of B- or above (or S) can apply toward the degree program. The matriculation of students who accumulate three grades below B- (including U) is normally terminated.
3. Language Requirements. In addition to biblical languages proficiency, students with a concentration in Old Testament are required to take OTST 658 Biblical Aramaic and OTST 852 Advanced Hebrew. Students with a concentration in New Testament are required to take NTST 852 Advanced Greek. If they have taken these advanced courses or equivalents in another context (graduate level) they may choose to replace them with other courses.
4. Exegesis Requirements. All PhD students, regardless of concentration, must demonstrate competency in biblical exegesis either by having taken a relevant course in their master’s studies, or by taking one as part of their PhD curriculum.
5. Choose a tentative dissertation topic during the Dissertation proposal seminar and submit a preliminary or tentative proposal before completing 24 credits of the program (pre-candidacy). After the preliminary or tentative proposal has been accepted, an advisor and a dissertation committee will be appointed to give further guidance as needed.
6. Register for GSEM 894 Course Development and Teaching Practicum and teach a course under the instruction of the department of the concentration. This will give the student experience in teaching in the concentration at graduate level, after pre-candidacy is granted. If the student has had a record of 3 years teaching at graduate level, this requirement is waived, and the student will register for another course. GSEM 608 Advanced Methods of Teaching Bible is a prerequisite for Course Development and Teaching Practicum. This prerequisite can alternatively be fulfilled by providing evidence of three years of fulltime undergraduate teaching at an accredited institution.
7. Demonstrate, by a proficiency exam, a working knowledge of one or more modern and/or ancient language(s) (other than English, Biblical Hebrew, or Greek), and/or a research tool needed for dissertation writing as determined in consultation with the student’s program director and approved by the Program Committee. This requirement must be completed before taking the comprehensive examinations.
8. Pass the comprehensive examinations.
9. Write and successfully defend the doctoral dissertation.
10. Submit five approved copies of the bound dissertation to the Dean’s Office at least one week before graduation (one is for the research advisor). Submit an electronic copy to the Library.
The department will evaluate all students in the program upon completion of their first 24 credits of PhD program. The evaluation will be based on grades, research skills, and general aptitude for the proposed program of study. Students will also have to pass a general knowledge pre-candidacy examination in their area of concentration. Approved students will be advanced to pre-candidacy for the PhD degree by the Program Committee. The following aspects must be noted:
1. Aptitude for the program is treated as a prerequisite. No new student may acquire regular status until declared a pre-candidate by the Seminary.
2. If a student is denied advancement to pre-candidacy, he/she may drop from the program or apply for pre-candidacy under a reduced load status.
3. The application for a reduced load status must be approved by sponsors, where applicable, and must be reviewed by the department every semester.
4. A student with a reduced load must register accordingly or drop the agreed courses, and may request a deferred grade in order to allow for additional time to complete the required work. However, the deadlines for finishing coursework and comprehensive examinations remain the same.
5. All decisions of the Program Committee regarding pre-candidacy shall be communicated to the student and the sponsors.
The student’s dissertation committee is appointed by the Program Committee following pre-candidacy, after submission of a mini-proposal by the student. The committee consists of a chairperson, who becomes the student’s advisor, and two other members.
If the last courses remaining to be taken in the course work of a doctoral student amount to 6 units or less, a PhD in Religion student may enroll them together with Preparation for the Comprehensives (no credit) which is counted for study load purposes as equivalent to 6 units. The comprehensive examination (also no credit) has a load value of another 6 units. Preparation for Comprehensives and the examination itself may be enrolled together, or in different semesters, as long as the preparation represents between 3 and 5 months of study for the examinations.
Upon completion of coursework and an appropriate period of intensive study and research, four comprehensive examinations will be taken. Three 6-hour examinations will be taken in the area of concentration, and one 4-hour examination in the cognate. These examinations are normally given one each week over four weeks. The focus for comprehensive examinations within the fields of study are as follows:
Theology of Ministry and Mission
Culture and Context
Church Leadership and Administration
Text, Literature, and Interpretation
History and Backgrounds
Exegesis and Theology
General Christian Studies
Distinctive Seventh-day Adventist Doctrines
Christian Philosophy and Ethics
1. The comprehensive examinations not only test the student’s command of his/her coursework, but primarily demonstrate broad proficiency in the concentration and cognate areas, determine the student’s familiarity with the pertinent literature relating to the fields of study, and the student’s skills of analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking.
2. The Programs Committee appoints the examiners for the student’s comprehensive examinations.
3. It is expected that a student’s examinations should demonstrate greater proficiency in his/her concentration of study than in the cognate.
4. Each comprehensive examination is graded by the person preparing it. If an examination is failed, a second examiner will be appointed by the dean to verify the initial evaluation.
5. A student may be required to sit for an oral examination (not to exceed two hours) at the request of the respective examiner(s) as part of his/her comprehensive examination or if the result is a conditional pass. The program director, or someone appointed by him, arranges for and chairs the oral examination. An oral examination will normally be conducted within 14 days after the last written examination is administered. The program director informs the student of the results of the comprehensive examinations.
6. A score of less than 75% on a comprehensive examination will be considered a failing grade. A score between 75% and 79% will be considered a conditional pass. A score between 80% and 89% is considered a pass. A score of 90% and above is considered a high pass.
7. A student who fails no more than two comprehensive examinations must retake the failed examinations as scheduled by the Programs Committee, usually within one to three months.
8. To remain in the program, a student who fails three or more comprehensive examinations must repeat all examinations at a time determined by the Programs Committee, not later than four months from the time the initial results have been announced.
9. A student who receives more than one conditional pass on the comprehensive examinations must repeat all the examinations for which a conditional pass was received except one, which will normally be the one for which the highest grade was received.
10. A full examination may be retaken only once. No retake of any individual exam and no oral examination is offered during the retake of full comprehensive examination. Students who fail any of the individual examinations during the second full retake will be dropped from the program.
When a student submits a formal application to take comprehensive examinations, he/she should also apply for advancement to candidacy. The form for making this application is available from the PhD Program Director. Upon the student’s successful completion of all comprehensive examinations, the Seminary will advance the student to candidacy for the PhD degree.
After successful completion of comprehensive examination, the student must complete the following steps of dissertation preparation:
The oral defense of the student’s dissertation must adhere to the following stipulations:
MTh program Credits accrued at AIIAS are fully transferable toward a PhD in Religion at AIIAS, conditional to meeting the PhD program requirements, and the MTh degree not being awarded.