PhD in Biblical and Theological Studies

1 August - 17 October 2018
Orientation & Language Proficiency Examinations

Year 1, Semester 1

6 February – 9 April 2019

             Semester 2

1 August – 2 October 2019

Year 2, Semester 1

5 February – 7 April 2020

             Semester 2

5 August – 6 October 2020

Year 3, Semester 1

3 February – 6 April 2021

             Semester 2

4 August – 5 October 2021

Comprehensive Exams & Dissertation Writing

Registration Deadline: 2 August 2021 

The specific goal of the PhD in Biblical and Theological Studies programme is to develop highly educated and committed lifelong scholars, who possess the right knowledge, ethical values, communication competence and relational skills, independent academic research competencies; who know how to use appropriate biblical methodologies, analyze and present findings that may advance knowledge and mission, and analytical thinking so that they may contribute effectively to various educational institutions operated by the Adventist Church in Africa and globally as well as provide services as may be needed in the larger society.The PhD programme is to apply biblical, historical, educational, linguistic, theological, philosophical, ethical, missiological, pastoral, and evangelistic instruction to academic research in the educational context. Practical scholarly experience is a vital part of this programme.
The PhD programme will enable students to develop competencies in Biblical studies, church history and systematic theology, world missions as well as servant leadership skills required for any scholar.
In harmony with both the above-mentioned goal, the student, upon completion of the programme will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of biblical, theological and theoretical principles, which undergird academic scholarship concerning all research aspects.
  2. Describe the nature and content of the research methodology for biblical-theological, missiological-historical study, interpretation and a clear formulation of any given subject, including personal integration of the student’s own understanding of the message of the Bible.
  3. Establish sound methods of biblical, historical, missiological, theological and philosophical scholarship and spread these principles through publications, lectureships, conferences, and symposiums.
  4. Reconstruct the historical backgrounds of the Old and the New Testament and see God’s work in dealing with His people and how he/she fits into that overall picture.
  5. Offer a platform to prepare teachers-scholars and leaders in focused theological fields of study with an appropriate contextual worldview, for the Seventh-day Adventist Church its institutions of higher learning in Africa and around the world.
  6. Foster a constructive dialogue and relations with other academic communities and develop an informed global consciousness through various outreach and service programmes.
  7. Demonstrate high promise of future usefulness to church, society, and the global community.


  1. The process of applying for admission into the PhD programme must begin early enough to have all application materials on file at least six (6) months before the programme commences.
  2.  When all the application materials are on file in the AUA Office of Admissions, the PhD Committee shall review all the documents submitted for application and subsequently recommend qualified applicants to the University admissions’ committee for approval.
  3. All successful applicants shall be notified of their admission status as soon as admission decisions are made.
  4. Each successful applicant may be required to deposit a specified amount to the AUA designated account soon after receiving a letter of admission. The deposit is non-refundable and holds their place in the programme. Applicants who are sponsored will have to arrange for the submission of a sponsorship letter to the Office of Financial Administration.

The following prerequisites are required for admission into the programme:

  1. A Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies, Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Missiology (or their equivalents) with a minimum of 42-semester credits and a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.33 (on a 4-point system).
  2. Successful completion of at least six (6) credits of coursework in research at the postgraduate level. This requirement is in addition to the completed and accepted thesis/project done at the postgraduate level.
  3. Applicants with other degrees in Religion/Theology (such as the MA in Pastoral Theology or Pastoral Studies and their equivalents) shall be required to take an appropriate number of prerequisites, as shall be determined by the PhD Admission Committee. Applicants must present the thesis written for that master’s programme for evaluation of research and writing skills. In case the previous university did not require a written thesis for the master’s programme, the applicant must demonstrate research and writing abilities by presenting an acceptable 80-page research paper as a thesis equivalent.
  4. Present proof of having successfully taken Intermediate biblical Hebrew and Greek grammar and syntax in the BA or Masters transcript during a period of maximum 6 years prior to applying to the PhD programme. Alternatively, the applicant must demonstrate proficiency in biblical Hebrew and Greek languages either by challenge examinations or by taking courses in Hebrew and Greek language as prerequisites.
  5. A minimum of 4-full years of relevant work/church ministry experience.
  6. TOEFL score of 90 for the iBT TOEFL exam (equivalent to a paper-based ITP TOEFL score of 575) for regular admission or a passing score on the British Council English language test (International English Language Test), or an English proficiency certification from a recognized university for applicants whose language of study at the bachelors’ or master’s degree was not English Language.
  7. A statement of purpose, career goals and commitment to academic excellence is required. This statement should be a maximum of five (5) pages, typed, double-spaced. It should be submitted together with the other application materials.
  8. Three letters of recommendation are to be submitted with the application materials:
  • One professional recommendation
  • One academic recommendation
  • One student’s character recommendation

j. Meet any other requirement as shall be determined by the Graduate Admission Committee of the Seminary
The application form can be filled out on our website ( Regulations on Credit Transfer in the ProgrammeThe maximum number of credits that can be earned through credit transfer shall not exceed 30% of the degree programme requirements within the context of “Credit transfers may be permitted up to a maximum of 49% of the core course units for similar programmes at the same level” (CUE Universities Standards and Guidelines, 2014, p. 58). Transfer credit is evaluated only for the degree programme to which the student is admitted, and the amount of credit awarded is subject to change if the student changes his/her degree programme. Core courses may not be transferred to AUA without special permission of the Theological Seminary upon the recommendation of the Director of the PhD programme.Conditions for TransferThe University exercises its right to accept all, part, or none of the credits presented by other Universities. Transfer of courses is governed by the same admission requirements and academic policies as other Universities courses. A student desiring to transfer a course into AUA degree programme should secure permission from AUA before enrolling in order to ensure that credits will be accepted.The postgraduate course is taken at other accredited Universities, including AUA programmes, may be transferred only if the following conditions are met:

  1. An official transcript or authenticated record is submitted.
  2. A grade of B or higher was earned.
  3. Transferable credit must not be more than 5 years old at the time of admission.
  4. The transfer course is equivalent to an AUA course for which credit is being sought. The Programme Director based on the existing programme curriculum must establish relevancy and equivalency.
  5. Credits are approved by the Theological Seminary Committee and the University Senate.
  6. Credits will be acceptable for a similar degree at the institution at which they were earned.
  7. Courses transferred from one AUA programme to another will carry the letter grade earned and will become part of the student’s CGPA. Transfer courses from other institutions will show the grade but will not be included in the CGPA.
  8. If the credits are being transferred from AUA Master’s programme into an AUA PhD level programme, tuition adjustment will be charged.

Maximum Transfer Credits
The maximum number of credits that can be earned through transfer shall not exceed 30% of the degree programme requirements (see p. 23). Up to 16 doctoral credits may be transferred from another PhD programme and up to 9 (non-PhD), post-MA or MDiv credits may be transferred into the PhD in Religion programme. Credits earned toward MA or MDiv degrees are not transferable to the PhD in Religion programme and, in no case, does acceptance of transfer credits reduce the minimum residency requirement.

There are three phases to the PhD degree. The programme has in total 64-semester credits structured as follows: coursework – 48 credits, 33 in a chosen area of concentration, 9 in a cognate area, and two other 3-credit courses – GSEM 929 Course Development and Teaching Practicum and GSEM 954 Dissertation Proposal Seminar. Comprehensive Exams –5 exams, taken after one’s coursework is complete - 0 credits. The dissertation is 16 credits and typically takes 1-2 years to write. Additional time must be taken into consideration if a student needs to complete prerequisites before entering the programme including meeting Biblical Languages and English language proficiency requirements. For students on regular status, the time required to complete the programme shall be a minimum of four academic years or eight semesters (Coursework without prerequisites is 18 months. Preparation for comprehensive exams: 4 – 6 months. Dissertation writing about 18-24 months.Course Requirements for PhD Programme (64 credits)
General Seminary / Research Courses (22 credits)
GSEM 929 Course Development and Teaching Practicum (3 credits)
GSEM950 Comprehensive Exams (0 credits)
GSEM 954 PhD Dissertation Proposal Seminar (3 credits)
GSEM 995 PhD Dissertation (16 credits)Area of Concentration (33 credits)
Old Testament Studies Concentration (33 credits)
New Testament Studies Concentration (33 credits)
Theological Studies Concentration (33 credits)
World Mission Studies Concentration (33 credits)Area of Cognate Concentration (9 credits) To choose one from the other three concentrationsa. Prerequisites (if unfulfilled):
Modern languages: 6 credits.
Biblical languages: up to 9 credits.
Area deficiencies: up to 16 credits at the Master’s level. This shall be determined according to the areas of concentration, except for mission.
b. Time FrameA student should complete all language requirements by no later than the end of the third semester.

c. Language Requirements for Concentrations
Languages and Their Respective Levels of Proficiency

Concentration Intermediate Level Advanced Level
Old Testament Studies

Aramaic (applied toward course requirements), NT Greek, and two of the following languages: German, French, or Modern Hebrew

OT Hebrew
New Testament Studies OT Hebrew, French, and German NT Greek
Theological Studies OT Hebrew, NT Greek, German, and French ---
World Missions OT Hebrew, NT Greek, and a relevant modern language other than English (approved by the student’s adviser and the Director of the PhD Programs)
Exceptions: If a student’s chosen area of specialization warrants modern languages in place of or in addition to French or German, these exceptions require approval by the PhD Programs Director and the PhD Committee.

Exceptions: If a student’s chosen area of specialization warrants modern languages in place of or in addition to French or German, these exceptions require approval by the PhD Programs Director and the PhD Committee.d. Requirements for OT and NT Cognate
A student who takes Old Testament or New Testament, as a cognate area, must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate-level OT Hebrew or NT Greek, respectively.e. Language RequirementsApplicants must demonstrate proficiency in specified foreign languages either by passing language proficiency examinations or by taking specified graduate-level language courses at the Adventist University of Africa and earning a grade of B or above. Languages listed as Prerequisite must be passed by examination or coursework before the student is accepted into Regular Status. Languages listed as Required are taken as part of the area of concentration. The language requirements are listed below.

Old Testament Studies Specialization:

  1. Exegesis and theology (Torah, Prophets, and Writings, etc.).
  2. Language and literature (Advanced Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, other Ancient Near Eastern languages); LXX and other ancient versions; and Old Testament textual criticism.
  3. Text, canon, critical introduction, and cognate literature.
  4. Archaeology (periods, sites, methodology, and fieldwork) and history of antiquity (Israel and the Ancient Near Eastern languages).

New Testament Studies Specialization:

  1. Development of the Christian community in the first and second centuries.
  2. History and praxis of New Testament exegesis and theology.
  3. Intertestamental and New Testament backgrounds, both Jewish and Graeco-Roman.
  4. Language and literature: text, canon, critical introduction, and cognate literature.

Theological Studies Specialization:

  1. Christian ethics, comprising ethical theory and professional, personal, and social ethics.
  2. Historical theology, examining the origin and development of theological concepts and trends.
  3. Philosophical theology.
  4. Systematic theology, embracing the biblical and doctrinal aspects of various theological thoughts.

World Mission Studies Specialization:

  1. Analysis of the biblical, theological, and theoretical basis for mission.
  2. Contextualization and evangelization of unreached people groups and urban population clusters.
  3. Leadership development for effective contextualization, global ministry, and evangelistic strategies.
  4. Study of world religions and secularism as a missionary challenge.

Comprehensive ExaminationsEligibility. A student must complete the minimum course requirements (48 credits) before taking the comprehensive examinations.
Scheduling. Within a four-week period, the student must pass five comprehensive examinations that are scheduled according to the calendar provided by the PhD Programme’s Office. While examinations are generally proctored once a week, students may arrange, when applying for comprehensive examinations, to take two examinations per week. All requests should be in writing. Comprehensive examinations are generally given twice yearly during the last and the first semesters.
Purpose. The comprehensive examinations assess the student’s proficiency in major and cognate areas of study, familiarity with pertinent literature, and powers of analysis and criticism.
Areas. Of the five comprehensive examinations, four covers the major area of concentration and one is in the cognate area. In the major area, the student is naturally expected to demonstrate greater proficiency than in the cognate area.Graduation Requirements
In order to graduate, a student is required to:
a. Successfully complete the required number of semester credits (Total of 64 credits, which includes 48 credits for coursework).
b. The passing grade for each course to be acceptable for graduation is a B+ or above.
c. Maintain a minimum cumulative CGPA of 3.33 (on the 4.0 scale).
d. To pass comprehensive examinations.
e. Successfully completed, submitted, and defended the PhD DissertationClassification of Degrees is not applicable to this terminal degree programme.
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For questions about the PhD in Religion Programme, please contact the programme director:Robert Osei-Bonsu, PhD
Email: osei-bonsur This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.