Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

Four comprehensive examinations must be taken after the language requirement has been met and before work on the thesis begins. These examinations are taken in four successive weeks. The student is allowed one eight-hour day for each examination.

The following must be taken in order:


  1. History of a doctrine
  2. Three selected periods or topics
  3. Historiography
  4. Thesis area

Systematic Theology

  1. History of a doctrine
  2. Three selected theologians
  3. Ethics, or the philosophy of religion, or the history of religion
  4. Thesis area

Pastoral Care and Counseling

  1. History of pastoral care and counseling
  2. Theology of pastoral care and counseling
  3. Psychological theories in pastoral care and counseling
  4. Thesis area

Congregational Mission and Leadership

  1. Missional Ecclesiology
  2. Theology and theory of three areas: Gospel and cultures; Congregational mission; and Congregational leadership
  3. A selected country as mission location
  4. Thesis area
For more elaboration on the process of preparing the comp exam proposal, refer to "Guidelines for Comprehensive Examinations."

The foregoing outlines for comprehensive examinations are models that may be shaped to fit the research interests and needs of students with particular specializations.

Progress toward the comprehensive examinations begins with the identification of an area of interest for the thesis and the appointment of a thesis adviser.

The associate dean, at the written request of the student and with the written permission of the faculty member nominated, appoints the thesis adviser.

The student, in consultation with the thesis adviser, prepares a comprehensive examination proposal which includes:

  1. Specific topics for examinations in accord with the requirements of each area of study
  2. Bibliographies for each examination
  3. Dates proposed for each examination
  4. Nominations of two or more members of the faculty who agree to serve, along with the thesis adviser, as readers of the comprehensive examinations.

Having secured approval of the thesis adviser and readers on the appropriate form available from the Office of Graduate Theological Education, the student submits the comprehensive examination proposal to the chair of the thesis adviser's division for approval of the division.

After securing approval by the division, and the signature of the division chair, the student submits both a hard copy and an electronic copy of the comprehensive examination proposal to the Office of Graduate Theological Education for approval by the Graduate Committee.

Administered by the Office of Graduate Theological Education, comprehensive examinations are normally completed on a computer provided, and in a location determined, by the seminary. Those who complete the examinations in longhand will submit word-processed copies of the examination as originally completed.