6.11.5 Historical and Theological Studies

This is a single degree program, within which are offered the following three concentrations: 1) Church History, 2) Systematic Theology, and 3) Apologetics.

Each person should choose one of these concentrations at the time of application

6.11.5.a Course Work

For students in all of these concentrations, twelve doctoral-level courses are required. Normally, ten of these courses must be taken at Westminster and two must be taken at the doctoral level at another accredited university or seminary. Of the ten courses to be taken at Westminster, five must be in the student’s concentration (the concentration within which the dissertation will be written), one must be in each of the other two concentrations, and three may be electives from either the Ph.D. Historical and Theological Studies program or the Ph.D.- Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation program. It is expected that students will maintain a balance between classroom/seminar courses and independent/directed reading courses. Up to five of the twelve courses may be directed reading or independent studies. Courses may require approval from the student’s academic advisor.

Because of their interdisciplinary nature, many courses count toward more than one concentration.  Courses that may count toward one of the Historical and Theological Studies are listed in Section 7 Course Descriptions, as follows:

Church HistorySection 7.3.2
Systematic TheologySection 7.4.2
ApologeticsSection 7.5.2 

All course work must be completed within three years of the student’s initial registration in the Ph.D. program. The residency requirement of two years is an absolute minimum length of time that the student should expect to study on campus in course work. Only students who already have reading knowledge of French and German, who are able to waive the preliminary exams, and who are able to devote full time to their studies will actually be able to complete all the necessary requirements within a two-year period. If students need to complete preliminary studies or work to finance their education, they should plan to spend a longer period of time in residence.

Students who have taken advanced work beyond a first theological degree at another institution may be given credit by the Field Committee for up to four courses of the residence requirement, depending on the nature and quality of the work. For Th.M. courses completed at Westminster, credit may be given for up to six courses of the residence requirements, depending on the nature and quality of the work; however, individuals who have actually obtained the Th.M. degree from Westminster may be given credit for up to five courses of the residence requirements. Credit for work pursued before the completion of requirements for the first theological degree shall be limited to two courses. No courses credited toward the first theological or other degree (with the exception of work toward the Th.M. as noted above in this paragraph) may be a part of the program for the Ph.D. degree. Only courses in which a grade of a B or above was received will normally be considered for transfer credit.

Students who have attained the first theological degree at Westminster may, upon petition to the Ph.D. Field Committee for Historical and Theological Studies, be granted permission to take up to four of their twelve courses at another accredited, doctoral-level institution. A student who is granted such permission must still take five doctoral courses at Westminster in the chosen concentration, one doctoral course in each of the other two concentrations in the field, and one elective as a directed reading course, or elective course from among the doctoral course offerings in either the Historical and Theological Studies field or the Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation field.

The student is required to maintain a general academic average of 3.00 during the program of residence study. If an average of 3.00 is not maintained, the student will be withdrawn from the Seminary.

6.11.5.b Comprehensive Examinations

The written comprehensive examinations test the student’s knowledge of each of the three concentrations within the field. In the student’s chosen concentration, extensive and in-depth knowledge is expected. The student will be required both to analyze and to evaluate the central documents and ideas within that concentration, and an ability to contribute creatively to discussion of the fundamental problems in the concentration must be demonstrated. In each of the other two concentrations in the field, the student is expected to show a general familiarity with basic issues and trends and to be aware of the contributions of specific individuals. In all three concentrations, the student must reflect on the Seminary’s own heritage and perspective, although no student is ever required to agree with the Seminary’s position on any issue. Detailed descriptions of the requirements for all of the examinations, including recommended reading lists for the examinations, are available to matriculated students from the Academic Affairs Office.

The written comprehensive examinations in Historical and Theological Studies will be administered only three times a year: the last full week of October, the second full week of February, and the first full week of April. Students will be eligible to take their comprehensive examinations only after completing all coursework, languages, and preliminary exams. A written request should be sent to the Coordinator of the Field Committee one month in advance of the student’s intention to take the comprehensive examinations. This means that the requests to schedule an examination may come only in the last week of September, the second week of January, and the first week of March. Once the examinations are scheduled, the student may not change the date or time. The written examinations are on two days—eight hours for the students’ concentration on the first day and six hours for the other two concentrations within the field (three hours each) on the second day. There may not be more than one day between the two written examinations. The oral portion of the comprehensive examination will be scheduled as soon as possible after the written comprehensive examinations have been accepted.