A PhD in Biblical Studies can help you develop your understanding and expertise of the Bible, including the historical and theological messages, contexts, and languages it’s comprised of.
This degree can help prepare students for teaching and research careers in theological schools, seminaries, and universities. It can also help graduates enhance their ministerial practice. From developing advanced analytical skills to exploring biblical languages, this PhD fully immerses students in theology and biblical history.
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This degree path can help you work toward the goal of teaching or ministering while also producing scholarly writing and research.
Online PhD in Biblical Studies Programs
The purpose of online PhD programs in biblical studies is to equip students with the necessary skills for academic, teaching, and research careers in theology, biblical history, biblical languages, and more.
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This type of program is geared toward preparing graduates to teach biblical doctrine, biblical history, and critical interpretation of the Bible in universities, seminaries, theological schools, and colleges. A Ph.D. in Biblical Studies also aims to prepare students to produce scholarly writing for research purposes and to infuse expert scholarship into their ministerial practice.
You will likely study subjects such as:
- Biblical archeology
- Origin and history of the Scriptures
- Critical interpretations of the Bible
- Linguistics and etymology
- Hebrew and other biblical languages
You can also expect to encounter courses that focus on dissertation research and effective writing. This degree path aims to improve your analytical skills of biblical text. This includes developing your ability to interpret and analyze passages effectively, with the goal of expressing these interpretations in scholarly writing and research.
This analytical focus leads some graduates to publish scholarly writing or research papers on aspects of the Bible. Some graduates choose to apply their scholarly specialty to a ministerial career. A scholarship-backed approach can add depth and authority to ministry, often leading to greater leadership capital and a deeper understanding of the Word of God.
Common Online Biblical Studies Doctorate Concentrations
A PhD in Biblical Studies offers several degree concentrations to help you tailor your studies to your interests. Every student’s coursework and dissertation will reflect their chosen concentration. Common concentrations include:
- Old Testament. This concentration aims for students to develop comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament. This concentration will emphasize history, Old Testament theology, and ancient Near Eastern archeology, with a focus on Israel and surrounding areas.
- New Testament. This concentration focuses on developing your comprehensive knowledge of the New Testament. It will emphasize the study of archaeology, history, and religion in the Hellenistic Age as well as New Testament theology.
- Biblical Theology. A biblical theology concentration focuses on the teachings of the authors of the books of the Bible in relation to their historical timeline. It also focuses on the development of doctrine as seen in the Old and New Testament.
Biblical studies concentrations often require language competency in a biblical language, such as Hebrew or ancient Greek, and a research language, such as German or French.
Biblical Studies Careers & Salaries
Career paths for graduates with a PhD in Biblical Studies can range from teaching at a university level to pastoring or ministering in a church organization.
Some pastors even pursue teaching at a seminary or bible college in addition to their pastoral duties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the career paths associated with advanced biblical studies.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Postsecondary Education Administrators||$96,910|
|Principals — Private K-12 Schools||$79,780|
|Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers||$77,610|
|Writers and Authors||$69,510|
|Religious Activities and Education Directors||$46,980|
|Religious Workers, All Other||$37,500|
Those in ministry might work as senior or associate pastors of local congregations, ministry directors, or directors of nonprofit organizations.
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Expertise in biblical scholarship is also useful for the research, writing, and editing of academic and devotional publications.
Biblical Studies PhD Curriculum & Courses
While coursework can vary based on the program and concentration, here are examples of some core religious studies courses that may appear in a PhD in Biblical Studies program:
- Advanced Biblical Languages: In this course, you’ll study various language versions of the Bible and concentrate on interpretation of the text through grammar and syntax.
- Hermeneutics, Biblical Interpretation: This course emphasizes established principles in biblical interpretation, with an added focus on gathering meaning from biblical parables, prophecies, and poetry.
- Teaching and Communicating Bible Concepts: This course focuses on effective teaching and communication methods, including how to use technology to further enhance classroom engagement.
- Bible Criticism and Apologetics: This course addresses common criticisms of biblical truth and prepares students to effectively defend the doctrines of the Bible.
- Advanced Bible Scholarship, Research, and Analytics: In this course, you’ll critically analyze books of the Bible based on historical context, purpose, and inspiration.
- Dissertation Research and Writing: These courses require an in-depth understanding of biblical studies, and students are tasked with demonstrating a new perspective on a concept they have learned during the course of their degree.
- Biblical Ethics: This course aims to equip you with knowledge of biblical standards and goals to address modern ethical dilemmas.
- Applied Theological Studies: This course focuses on applying theological principles to everyday life issues and the church.
- Biblical Archeology: This course studies the archeology of the Bible, with a focus on different geographical regions or nations, such as Israel or Palestine, depending on your concentration.
- Biblical Etymology and Exegesis: This course applies the principles of etymology to biblical words and phrases to extract historical meaning.
These courses aim to provide students with advanced skills in scholarly research, evaluation, and theological instruction, helping you build a solid foundation for an effective dissertation.
When researching doctoral programs in biblical studies, it’s helpful to pay attention to admissions requirements. While most programs have similar requirements, they can vary depending upon the university.
Common criteria include:
- Accredited master’s degree in a theologically related discipline
- Minimum GPA of 3.0, on average
- Graduate-level proficiency in biblical languages, such as Hebrew or Greek
- Scholarly writing sample
- Letters of recommendation
Depending on the program, you may also be required to complete an interview, provide a goal statement, or submit GRE scores. A growing number of schools no longer require GRE or GMAT scores, though.
Before selecting a college, university, or seminary, it’s strategic to determine whether it has been accredited. Accreditation ensures you are receiving a quality education that meets certain standards and is recognized by both employers and other accredited institutions.
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Your school’s accreditation status can affect your employability as well as your ability to receive financial aid. Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious accreditation. You can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) online to verify that your school is accredited by a credible accrediting organization.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Many students seek financial aid to complete a PhD in Biblical Studies program. This assistance can come in many forms, including federal aid, state aid, scholarships, grants, and more.
To see if you qualify for student loans from the government, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarship and grant opportunities exist for individuals across the country, and they’re often based on need, merit, and area of study.
Some employers also offer financial aid programs to help their workers complete or further their education. You can speak to your employer or HR department to see if they offer any tuition benefits. In addition, many schools offer fellowship or assistantship options for PhD candidates. You can check with your school to see what financial aid opportunities may be available.
What Can You Do with a PhD in Biblical Studies?
Earning a PhD in Biblical Studies may help you qualify for teaching opportunities in universities, seminaries, theological schools, and colleges.
Your specialty, such as biblical languages or Old or New Testament studies, could help determine your teaching area. Because of the rigorous dissertation coursework involved, it can also prepare graduates to conduct research and produce scholarly writing. Advanced study of biblical studies could also give graduates an opportunity to infuse specialized expertise into their ministerial practice.
Graduates may apply this degree to publishing as well. For instance, some may go on to write or edit either academically or for a Christian publication.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Biblical Studies Online?
In general, a PhD program tends to take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to complete with full-time study, depending on the number of credit hours it requires and how long it takes you to finish your dissertation.
If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program can generally be completed in 3 years with full-time study. Many online programs offer 6 week to 8 week terms and allow you to enroll in classes year-round. Part-time studies can offer more flexibility, but it will also extend your time to completion.
What’s the Difference Between a PhD in Theology vs. Biblical Studies?
You may have come across both PhD in Theology and PhD in Biblical Studies programs. Here’s a key difference between the two.
- Biblical studies: Biblical studies is the study of the Bible itself. In a biblical studies program, you will study the books of the Bible along with their historical context and meaning.
- Theological studies: Theology is the study of God. So, in theological studies, your study of the Bible will be based more on themes, overall meaning, and message as it relates to God.
Since understanding the Bible also teaches students about God, these two paths often have some overlap.
Is a PhD in Biblical Studies Worth It?
Yes, a PhD in Biblical Studies is worth it for many students. A PhD is a common qualification for teaching at the postsecondary level. In addition to colleges and universities, graduates may also pursue teaching positions at seminaries or theological schools.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 12% over the next ten years. This is considered to be faster than average for all occupations. Professionals can also apply their doctoral studies and their biblical expertise to ministerial practice. Others may pursue publishing or editorial work for a Christian publication.
Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Biblical Studies Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Calvary University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Clarks Summit University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lancaster Bible College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northeastern Seminary is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Doctor of Biblical Studies Online
Online PhD programs in biblical studies may provide you with the needed flexibility to pursue an advanced teaching, research, or ministry career that is infused with the Word of God.
Gaining advanced knowledge of the Bible is beneficial for both personal and professional growth. A doctoral program is also designed to develop your research skills, which can be applied to biblical study as well as scholarly publication.
Many accredited institutions of higher education offer doctoral degrees in biblical studies online, allowing you to earn a credible degree according to your own schedule. You can start exploring biblical studies PhD programs today to discover which ones best match your personal interests and professional goals.