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Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology

“Empowering 21st Century Pentecostal Scholars for Global Academic and Ministry Leadership”

The AGTS Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology (Ph.D./BT) facilitates the development and academic certification of creative, Spirit-empowered academic leaders who can:

  • conduct insightful exegesis that contributes to knowledge of the biblical texts;
  • contextualize Scripture historically and in current global/missiological frameworks;
  • lead diverse academic communities and networks through collaborative efforts in research and writing, teaching and innovative theological reflection; and
  • serve the local church, academic institutions and global missions agencies.

The Ph.D./BT recognizes the priority of the Holy Spirit’s person and power in accomplishing the mission of God (Missio Dei); creates an environment in which students can experience the kind of learning that connects them more deeply to the Spirit’s work in biblical and theological research and writing; focuses their research on the particular discipline(s) of their calling; and enables them to make original contributions to their field(s) of study.

Curricular Design

Following the sequence of four core classes, the Ph.D./BT offers expert instruction and tutorial dialogue in the elective courses, seminars and tutorials customized for the student's field.

The Ph.D./BT consists of 60 credits earned in the following categories of study:

  • 32 credits of coursework, divided into two major parts:
    • 16 credits of Core Courses (four courses at 4 credits each - see below for description). These will occur in a cohort experience.
    • 16 credits of elective courses in the particular discipline
  • 8 credits for Comprehensive Exams
  • 8 credits of Field Experience in a cross-cultural setting.
  • 12 credits for the full Dissertation process, from Proposal to writing the Oral Defense

The Core classes and electives are offered as one-week intensives in Springfield, MO, allowing professionals to continue their current vocational work while still being a full-time Ph.D. student.

Program Goals

The program seeks to contribute to the disciplines of biblical and theological studies by enriching research, teaching and the practice of those involved in the field. To that end and in accordance with our commitment to provide the highest level of learning effectiveness and foster a robust culture of assessment, at the completion of the Ph.D. program, graduates will be able to exemplify the following learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in biblical and theological studies as they relate to and interface with other related academic disciplines, and a comprehensive knowledge of the disciplines that comprise biblical and theological studies.
  • Competently innovate, defend and critique scholarly work and missional practice for the benefit of the academy and the broader community of faith.
  • Demonstrate ability to engage in original research and writing that contribute to the discipline and to their research context for the sake of their tradition, the Church and the academy.
  • Make decisions, live and serve according to revealed truth and the will of God in a continuing integrated commitment to learning, spiritual formation, and personal and professional growth.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize research and theological reflection in specific global contexts.
  • Enliven the vocation of biblical and theological scholarship in its dimensions of teaching, learning and research.

Program Schedule

A modular format for the coursework requires four trips to AGTS over two years (all in July and December). Two courses are taken during each resident session. Participants earn their 60 credits in:

  • 4 Core courses
  • 4 Elective courses
  • Field Experience
  • Comprehensive Exams
  • Dissertation

Additional trips to Springfield may be required for study and mentoring purposes.

All modular courses consist of three components:

  1. An on-site residential seminar presented by the professor of record for the subject that allows the student to engage in academic dialogue with the professor during class hours and presents the student with the opportunity to utilize the library research facilities after class hours.
  2. Pre-residential seminar assignments that differ from course to course but generally include pre-reading assignments, processing audio-visual or online resources, and/or engaging the student in online dialogues with his/ her colleagues.
  3. Post-residential seminar assignments that differ from course to course but that generally include the submission of a major research project and could also include online dialogue with colleagues on the assignment.

In order to enhance research opportunities and community development, the modules will be scheduled back-to-back with opportunity for dialogue with all members of the student's academic team. These weeks will include student research presentations with peer critique, onsite interviews with mentors and professors, peer and faculty interaction and video conferencing with field experts.

Admission Requirements
  • Academic: Bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited college or university. An accredited M.Div or M.Th/Th.M, M.Phil. or STM with a focus on biblical and theological studies, with a minimum of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Other Master's-level (MA, MATS, MACM, MAR, etc.) degrees will be considered if the student can demonstrate aptitude for advanced study.
  • The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required.
  • English: For applicants whose primary language is other than English, a TOEFL score of 585 or equivalent.
  • Writing: Submission and approval of a writing sample that demonstrates graduate-level research and writing skills.
  • Vocational Essay: A 2000-word Vocational Essay that details a) the applicant's personal testimony and spiritual journey; b) his or her personal sense of vocation to academic and ministry leadership; c) professional goals; and d) plans to make original contributions to his or her field is required.
  • Language: Biblical: One full year (2 semesters) of biblical Hebrew and NT Greek. Student lacking this entrance requirement may demonstrate competency in a biblical language by take taking a proficiency exam. Students planning to concentrate in either the Old Testament or the New Testament must have a second year of either Hebrew or NT Greek, corresponding to their concentration.
  • Research Language Proficiency. The program requires research proficiency in English as the primary research language and a second modern research language (usually German or French). Competency
    in a modern research language must be demonstrated during the first two years of the program before beginning work on the dissertation. Competency can be demonstrated in one of two ways:
    1. successful completion of a modern language course that facilitates and measures translation skill, or
    2. taking and successfully completing a modern language translation exam offered through the AGTS Ph.D. Bible and Theology program.

      Note: Additional ancient and modern languages may be required as needed for the completion of dissertation research. OT and NT disciplines require extra work in their respective languages (see Language: Biblical above). Other linguistic skills may be required depending on one's dissertation topic and the modern language most germane to the field of study. For example, a student doing a dissertation on a Latin American Liberation theologian would need to translate Spanish. A dissertation on a Western church father of the 4th century would likely require translation facility in Latin. Again, these requirements must be met before the formal research and writing stage of the dissertation.

  • Recommendations: Three completed Letters of Recommendation are required.
  • Technology: Acceptable computer and Internet competencies.

These are the minimal requirements. The Admissions Committee selects applicants with the strongest qualifications. Candidates who only meet minimal requirements in some areas but are exceptional in others may be accepted. The overall combination of strengths that the applicant brings to the program is assessed in the admissions process.


In exceptional cases, some candidates may be admitted to the program with insufficient background in biblical, linguistic or theological disciplines. The student will have one year to complete the necessary work and demonstrate the competencies necessary for advanced scholarship.

Application Procedure

To apply for admission:

  • Submit a pre-application (download from Ph.D. in Bible and Theology Admissions web page. This helps screen prospects and save time and resources.
  • Submit a completed full application with a $75 non-refundable application fee ($15 for readmissions), a recent photograph, academic writing sample and evidence of second language competency (e.g., exam completion, transcript).
  • Request that official transcripts of all post-secondary institutions attended be sent to the Bible and Theology Department at AGTS.
  • Distribute academic, ministerial and personal recommendation forms and request the completed documents be returned within ten days to the AGTS Enrollment Office.
  • Take the GRE exam and have the results sent to AGTS. If this exam has been previously taken, this score may be sent in lieu of retaking the exam.

Application Deadline

Individuals desiring admittance into the program should have their completed application files submitted no later than December 31 for consideration in the July cohort. Under some extenuating circumstances, these deadlines may be extended. Admission is highly selective. One class per year will be admitted each July. Applicants will be evaluated by the Bible and Theology Department. They will be notified in writing regarding the status of their acceptance into the Ph.D./BT program.

Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Status

Participants will remain in good academic standing in the Ph.D./BT program as long as they maintain a 3.0 grade point average, meet all financial obligations to the seminary and conduct their personal lives with spiritual, moral, and professional integrity, maintaining fitness for ministry. The administration reserves the right to dismiss any participant whose integrity in any of these areas is deemed unacceptable.


AGTS uses a 4-point grading scale.
Grade points per credit and definition for D.Min. participants:

A or A+ Superior 4.0
A-   3.7
B+   3.3
B Satisfactory 3.0
B-   2.7
C+   2.3
C Poor 2.0
C-   1.7
F Failure 0.0*
AU Audit 0.0
IP In Process 0.0
I Incomplete 0.0*
N No Credit 0.0
S Satisfactory 0.0
U Unsatisfactory 0.0
WP Withdrawn Passing 0.0
WF Withdrawn Failing 0.0*


*Affects grade point average

Incomplete Grades

Students are expected to complete all course work in a timely fashion as specified by the instructor in the course syllabus. A grade of “IP” (In Process) will be issued if the professor’s due date falls after the AGTS semester ending date. Due dates of doctoral modular courses are at the discretion of the professor but will be considered IP until the first day of the next module or set of modules. A grade of failure may be issued if the work is not submitted by the first day of the next module(s) unless the student has requested an extension. If the student requests additional time, an incomplete “I” grade may be given at the discretion of the instructor for a 90 day extension. In the event the instructor grants a grade of incomplete, he or she will have the option of lowering the final grade for the course one letter grade lower than it would have been had the work been submitted on time. A grade of failure may be issued if the work is not submitted before the expiration of the 90 day extension. No student will be permitted to begin credit courses in a new semester if carrying more than two IP or I courses. Note: A $50 fee will be charged to the student’s account for every extension granted and a $30 fee applies to every grade change even if the instructor has approved an extension for completing the work.

Probation and Dismissal

A student making one “C” in the four core courses is placed on probation and should retake the course. A student will be dismissed upon making two “C’s.”

Graduation Requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of all Ph.D./BT program requirements. This includes completion of 60 credits of course work (16 from Core Courses, 16 from Elective courses, 8 from Comprehensive Preparation work, 8 from Field Experience and 12 from the Dissertation research and writing).
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, including no more than one C.
  • Be in good standing at the seminary (see Academic Status).
  • Have passed the Ph.D./BT Comprehensive Examinations.
  • Complete an acceptable and approved Ph.D./BT dissertation.
  • Make an acceptable oral defense of the Ph.D./BT dissertation.
  • Register for graduation no later than October 31 of the current academic year through the Registrar’s Office.
  • Receive approval to graduate from the Bible and Theology Department, Academic Affairs Committee and Faculty.
  • Attend the Commencement exercises. (Approval to be absent must be secured from the Academic Affairs Committee through the Registrar by April 1.)

Research Dissertation

Participants will write a research dissertation that advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to be considered an original voice in the discipline.

Program Duration

A typical Ph.D./BT participant will finish the program in approximately four to five years.

Transfer Credits

An individual may transfer in a total of eight doctoral credits if they have an earned doctorate in a related field (e.g. Doctor of Ministry), or an advanced degree beyond the M.Div. such as the M.Phil., STM, M.Th. or Th.M. Such credits (as determined by the Bible and Theology Department) will apply to the elective courses and must meet the following criteria:

  • Transfer credits must be from appropriately accredited institutions.
  • Student must have earned a passing grade of “B” or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
  • Transfer credits must be relevant to the Ph.D./BT program.

To request transfer credit, official transcripts must be reviewed by the Bible and Theology Department and the Registrar’s Office before consideration for doctoral credit will be given. (Any exception to the standard policy must be recommended by the Academic Affairs Committee.)

Note: The transfer of credits does not waive or change the Program Fee.

Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology Courses Open to Unclassified Doctoral-Level Students

A limited number of non-degree-seeking, post-MA persons who are not pursuing the Ph.D./BT degree at AGTS may be allowed to take Ph.D./BT courses if they satisfy admission requirements for the Ph.D./BT program. These opportunities will be evaluated on a space-available, case-by-case basis and with the course instructor's approval.

Audit Policy

Graduates of the Ph.D./BT program have the option of auditing one course per year on a space-available basis. A discounted fee is charged for the audit.

Financial Information

Program Fee

There is one Program Fee of $38,000* to be paid in equal installments over four years. (Some scholarships will be available to qualified students.) The program fee covers tuition for 60 credit hours, dissertation fees and graduation fees. This fee does not cover the application fee, textbooks, costs of travel, housing and meals incurred while on campus or during the approved Field Experience, editing, directed research fees, continuation fees, extension fees or tuition for courses taken at other institutions.

The program fee is payable in two installments per year. (AGTS accepts cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and Discover as payment.) The first installment is due by the beginning of the first class. All subsequent installments are due on the first day of the months of regularly scheduled courses (July and December). The fees are non-refundable. Other payment plans may be negotiated with the Business Office.

*Applicable for the 2013-2014 academic year and subject to change each fall thereafter for new participants.

Promissory Note

Participants are required to sign a promissory note at their initial registration indicating their commitment to pay the Program Fee in a timely fashion and in its entirety. This is standard procedure required of all AGTS participants. The promissory note will outline the installment due dates for the participant. The installments outlined are to be paid consecutively and are still due at the assigned date, even if the participant for any reason skips a class session.

Financial Aid

Ph.D./BT participants are eligible for loan deferment. The program does qualify for VA benefits and private student loans. There are limited grants and scholarships available. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Miscellaneous Fees

  1. Readmission Financial Policy: if a participant withdraws from the program and later desires to return, his or her financial obligations will be as follows:
    • The program fee current at the time of readmission will apply and the student will sign a new promissory note.
    • All payments made under the previous promissory note would be applied toward the current program fee. Participants would be required to pay the difference between the current program fee and what he or she actually paid under the previous program fee.
  2. Unclassified Student Course Fee: the fee for doctoral students from outside the AGTS program taking our elective classes will be charged at 115% of the current single fee payment.
  3. Unclassified Student Audit Fee: the fee for doctoral students from outside the AGTS program auditing our classes will be charged at 25% of the current single fee payment.
  4. Graduate Audit Fee: the fee for graduates of the AGTS Ph.D./BT program auditing courses will be charged at $200 per class.
  5. Program Continuation Fee: if a participant extends the program into a sixth, seventh or eighth year, a $500 continuation fee per year will be charged. A special petition to the Department and the Dean Is required for continuation beyond the eighth year.

Lodging, Meals, Transportation

It is up to the student to make his or her own travel and living arrangements while attending classes. Informational resources on housing, hotels and reasonable food costs will be available from the Bible and Theology Department.

Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology Program Design

Core Courses (16 credits)

BIB 901 - Core 1 - Advanced Exegesis and Hermeneutics (4 credits)
Students will receive advanced instruction in the critical methodologies germane to sound biblical exegesis and interpretation of all genres of canonical and related historical and intertestamental material. Attention will be paid to the ongoing debates concerning historical and literary analysis, epistemology, authorial intent and the relationship of exegesis to the theological disciplines. Diverse schools of interpretation will be evaluated. Interaction with global Pentecostal biblical scholarship, especially Majority World narrative theologies and ecclesial traditions, will be central to this course.

PCS 902 - Core 2 - Global Pentecostal Theology (4 credits)
Pentecostal churches and movements affirm many core Christian traditions while asserting liberty to reify early church beliefs, practices and structures and forge new pathways for the future. This course will survey global Pentecostal theologies and theologians, from statements of faith to cultural-geographical theology and the contributions of Majority World and Western scholars. Issues of convergence and divergence, orthodoxy and orthopraxy as well as the boundaries of contextualization and syncretism will be explored.

THE 903 - Core 3 - Theology in the 21st Century (4 credits)
This is an advanced course in systematic theology, surveying key epistemological, ecclesial and eschatological foci of major theological traditions. Bridging exegesis, biblical theology and systematic reflection is one important goal. Pneumatological and Trinitarian structures for systematic theology will be analyzed. In dialogue with global thinkers, students will be challenged to consider the categories of reflection, methods of construction and the ecumenical and missiological implications of the theological task.

BTH 904 - Core 4 - Theological Leadership and Interdisciplinary Integration (4 credits)
Theological leaders must integrate insights from a variety of disciplines and contribute to the holistic mission of the church. This course will survey the interplay of theological reflection with key disciplines, such as missiology, psychology, philosophy and science. Presenters will include global leaders in various disciplines who are exemplars of integration and reflection. Synergistic ideas and methodologies will be considered and evaluated for their effectiveness in academic and ecclesial advancement.

Elective Courses (16 credits)

Following their Core courses, Ph.D./BT students will choose four elective courses in their specific field. These courses are currently under development and will involve special studies in the following disciplines. A specialized studies course may be taken more than once if the subtitles indicate different course content:

  • BOT 939 Specialized Studies in Old Testament
  • BNT 939 Specialized Studies in New Testament
  • BIB 939 Specialized Studies in Bible (Both Testaments)
  • THE 939 Specalized Studies in Theology (Systematic, Historical or Global Pentecostal)

Field Experience (8 credits)

Students will engage in an intensive cross-cultural ministry experience that involves the following:

  • Teaching graduate or undergraduate students preparing for ministry.
  • Researching and writing on the cultural context in which this experience takes place.
  • Serving in a context that is a cultural and geographical challenge--not simply a diverse audience.

Field Experiences must be approved by the Bible and Theology Department. AGTS has an extensive global network of approved locales and will help the student find the right opportunity.

Comprehensive Exam Preparation (8 credits)

After the completion of their coursework, students will work with their Adviser to prepare for these exams through extensive literature review from the coursework, new research in the field and consultation with their professors overseeing both the general exams and the specific field exam.

Dissertation Research and Writing (12 credits)

Students will prepare a complete Dissertation Proposal, and, once this is approved, they will commence further research and writing. This will be an original work that makes a significant contribution to the academic field.

Field Research Course (0 credit)

BTH 000 – Doctoral Field Research
This course facilitates and contributes to research in the student’s specific context that will culminate in a dissertation that advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in a cross-cultural context.

Comprehensive Exams

These exams are taken after the completion of the 32 hours of coursework. Three, two-hour, written comprehensive exams are intended to demonstrate academic/professional competencies and the ability to apply the coursework and literature study. Each student will take exams in the following fields:

  • Biblical Exegesis/Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology
  • Global Pentecostal Theology
  • An exam in his or her specific field designed by the Adviser (OT, NT, Systematic Theology, etc.)

Exams will be proctored and unless given in Springfield, the proctors must be approved by AGTS. They will be submitted electronically and read by the approved Bible and Theology personnel.

Students will be given a "Pass" or "Fail" on these exams, with detailed evaluation of the work. All three exams must receive a "Pass" for the student to move forward in the program. If a student passes two of the exams and fails in one area, he or she may petition the Department to retake the exam after submitting a plan of action for improving the results. Failure on two or more of the exams will result in suspension from or termination of the program.

Dissertation Proposal

After all the coursework is completed, students will submit a Dissertation Proposal. They will work closely with the Adviser to make the work a clear, distinct, substantive and unique work. Proposals will be evaluated and the following assessments offered:

  • Accepted, no revisions
  • Accepted with minor revisions
  • In Process, significant changes needed
  • Rejected (This will be rare, especially as the student works with the Adviser; however, there will be one opportunity for a resubmission within six months.)


A research dissertation advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in global academic and ministry contexts.

Dissertation Submission: The student will work closely with his or her Adviser on the writing of the dissertation and normally sequentially submit individual chapters. The Adviser will give timely critique and feedback and the student is expected to make the appropriate changes and edits. When the dissertation is completed, the student will submit the final draft for review by his or her entire academic team, in preparation for the Oral Defense. When the dissertation has been successfully defended and all other graduation details completed, the degree will be awarded.


Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2013 2:40 PM


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