Are you thinking about doing a PhD in theology or Bible? Then I’m not going to lie to you: it’s a tough road. You’ll invest tremendous time, effort, and money in the journey, and given the tough Bible/theology job market, you can’t know if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (And actually, given what academics spend most of their time doing, there’s not much gold in that pot anyway!) So you need to think about reality before launching down that road.
But if you’re still interested in pursuing a PhD in theology or Bible anyway, then we should talk. My first doctoral student starts this Fall, and I’m pretty excited about the research he wants to do on the relationship between Christology and theological anthropology (esp. the incarnation and the mind/body relationship). I don’t know if that sounds interesting to anyone else, but I’ll enjoy it! And the good news for you is that he’ll be the poor sap that I get to practice/learn on. So by the time you arrive, I should have some idea of what I’m doing. (No promises.)
I won’t tell you how to pick your doctoral program: there are too many personal preferences involved (e.g. faculty, curriculum, placement rates, etc.). But about a year ago, I moved to Wheaton College largely because it has a doctoral program with some really attractive features. So if you’re looking to do a PhD in theology or Bible, then you might want to consider ours.
5 Reasons To Do a PhD in Theology or Bible at Wheaton
1. Fully Funded
Given the tough job market for PhDs in Bible and theology, you should seriously question the value of taking out significant loans to complete your program. In Wheaton’s program, you won’t pay any tuition and you’ll receive a $10,000 stipend each year. That may not be enough to live on, but it’s certainly enough to reduce the costs (and risks) of doing a PhD program considerably!
Wheaton’s program works really well for students who value the interaction of biblical and theological studies. If you’re more of a specialist who wants to focus exclusively on one discipline, you should probably look elsewhere. But if you want a more diverse approach to your doctoral training, the interdisciplinary nature of Wheaton’s program might be a good fit for you. I know it’s been a great home for someone like me who loves to work at the interface between biblical studies, theology, history, and philosophy. Not many doctoral programs give you that kind of leeway.
3. Solidly Evangelical
With lots of doctoral programs to choose from, you need to know what you want and what you’re getting. And Wheaton wears its evangelical identity on its sleeve so there are no surprises. Our students comes from a broad range of Christian traditions, but they all value training at a school with a strong commitment to evangelicalism (broadly defined). If that’s what you’re looking for in your training, or if you think it might be and have questions about what it means, you should give Wheaton a thought.
Most prospective PhD students are fully aware of how much money a PhD program costs. But you also need to think about the time involved. Every year you spend in a your doctoral program is a year that you’re not spending on something else. It may well be worth investing five or six years in your doctoral program, but make sure you’ve weighed the cost before you head down that road. Wheaton’s “mid-Atlantic” model reduces the time investment by having students start working on their dissertations from the very beginning of their program, which means they can complete the entire program in as little as three years. (To be honest, though, four is more typical.) That’s 1-2 years less than the typical U.S. program, which is time that you can use to get up and running with whatever you’ll be doing post-Phd.
5. Strong Faculty
Every good doctoral program brags about their faculty because that’s what a doctoral program is really all about. So promoting faculty is nothing new. But I still feel really good about ours. You can do New Testament with people like Doug Moo or Nick Perrin, Old Testament with Dan Block or Richard Shultz, or Theology with Dan Treier or some guy named Marc Cortez. (When I list it all out like that, I still wonder what they were thinking when they hired me.) So check out our doctoral mentors and see if our research interests align with yours at all.
What Am I Looking For?
Now that I’ve shamelessly promoted our doctoral program as a whole, let me focus specifically on what I’m interested in. I’ve commented on my full list of criteria before, so I’ll just say here that I’m looking for theology students who want to do research that focuses on the interface between Bible, theology, history, and philosophy. More specifically, as I indicate on my faculty page, I’m interested in theological anthropology, Christology, philosophical theology, global/contextual theology, and theological dialog with key figures like Gregory of Nyssa, Jonathan, Edwards, and Karl Barth. If any of that sounds interesting, or if you have another proposal that you think intersects with my interests in some way, let me know.
More importantly than the specific subjects, though, I’m looking for people who love to learn, enjoy life, laugh often, have a passionate commitment to Jesus and the Gospel, and want to connect the best of evangelical theology with the life and mission of the Church.
What If You’re Interested?
If you think that you might be a good fit for what we’re doing at Wheaton, you should definitely get in touch. If you’re interested in working with me, feel free to use the email icon at the upper right-hand corner of this page. If you’re interested in working with one of our other doctoral supervisors, or if you just have general questions about our doctoral program, check out the program page and contact the program administrator with any questions you might have.