2024 Best Online PhD in Biblical Studies [Doctorate Guide]

By Megan Patiry
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on April 27, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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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.

Best Online PhD in Biblical Studies

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. This doctorate degree should not be confused with the Doctor of Divinity, which is an honorary degree. In most cases, you won’t be able to earn an online Doctor of Divinity, for example.

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

Calvary University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology. The degree can be earned online or on campus, typically in just 4 years. The first year typically focuses on Biblical exegesis, the second year on Biblical synthesis, the third year on systematic theology, and the fourth year on the dissertation.

Calvary University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Clarks Summit University

The Baptist Bible Seminary at Clarks Summit University offers a PhD program with four possible concentrations: Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, and Bible Exposition. The program can be completed mostly online with some 1 week modules on campus. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation.

Clarks Summit University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Columbia International University

Columbia International University offers an online program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies that can typically be finished in 5 years of part-time study or 3 years of full-time study. The program offers students individualized guidance and faculty mentorship. The full program requires the completion of 45 credit hours and a dissertation.

CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Faulkner University

Faulkner University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies. The program is fully online and allows students to study on their own time. Students may complete their dissertation defense via conference call. To graduate, students must pass language proficiency tests in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster Bible College’s PhD in Biblical Studies uses a hybrid format and can potentially be completed in just 3.5 years. Each class is 16 weeks long and may be taken online or on campus. Students must also attend three 6 day residencies each year. Students progress through the program with a cohort of 12 to 18 peers.

Lancaster Bible College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

The Doctorate in Biblical Studies from Liberty University can be completed online, typically in about 2 years. Each class is 8 weeks long. The curriculum consists of courses such as Theology of the Gospel, The Theory and Practice of Biblical Theology, and The Bible and the Pastor (Uses of Scripture in Pastoral Ministry).

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies. Optional emphasis areas are available in Old Testament, New Testament, and Biblical Theology. The program requires the completion of 52 credit hours and a dissertation and usually takes at least 4 years to finish.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northeastern Seminary

Northeastern Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry is available mostly online but does require a weeklong residency in New York. Students can choose between part-time and full-time scheduling options. Full-time students can potentially finish in just 3 years. The program is intended for those who already have at least 3 years of professional ministry experience.

Northeastern Seminary is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Regent University

Regent University offers a PhD in Renewal Theology with a concentration in Biblical Studies that can be completed mostly online. The program does require a 2 week residency on campus each fall. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours, including a dissertation. The curriculum consists of courses such as Advanced Hermeneutics, Advanced Cosmogony and Anthropology, and Renewal Theology.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

At Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, students may earn a PhD with a major in either Old Testament or New Testament Biblical Studies. PhD students at SWBTS must also choose a minor. Options are available for distance learners to attend seminars virtually. To apply, prospective students must hold a master’s degree and have previous education in Hebrew and Greek.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online PhD in Biblical Studies Programs

Man taking Online PhD in Biblical Studies

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.

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
  • Theology
  • Doctrine
  • 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

Woman taking Biblical Studies PhD

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 in on-campus or online biblical studies degrees may 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

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
Historians $63,940
Editors $63,350
Archivists $60,050
Clergy $49,720
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.

Expertise in biblical scholarship is also useful for the research, writing, and editing of academic and devotional publications.

Biblical Studies PhD Curriculum & Courses

People getting Biblical Studies PhD, working together

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.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing all requirements for Biblical Studies PhD

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.


University offering PhD in Biblical Studies

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.

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

PhD in Biblical Studies Financial Aid

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?

Historian working in the library

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?

Man completing his PhD in Biblical Studies online

Unless you are in an accelerated theology degree online or on campus program, 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?

Religion Teacher preparing for her lecture

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.

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.

Getting Your Doctor of Biblical Studies Online

Man pursuing his Biblical Studies Doctorate 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.

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