Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies



45 credit hours

Program Length

as few as 36 months


Regionally Accredited by SACSCOC

Prepare to Teach the Next Generation — Earn an Accredited PhD in Biblical Studies Fully Online 

At Columbia International University, our PhD in Biblical Studies program is designed specifically for individuals like you who have a passion for teaching in postsecondary theological higher education. If you are seeking an advanced program that equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in research, scholarly writing and make meaningful contributions to the fields of Old Testament or New Testament Studies, then the PhD in Biblical Studies program is tailored to your aspirations.

Throughout your journey in this online program, you will delve into rigorous academic study and engage with the profound truths of Scripture. With a focus on the functional authority of Scripture, you will develop advanced research and writing skills, allowing you to contribute significantly to the field of Biblical Studies. Whether you are passionate about the Old Testament or the New Testament, our program offers specialized tracks that cater to your specific area of interest.

In addition to honing your research and writing abilities, our PhD in Biblical Studies program emphasizes the importance of effectively presenting your research findings. You will gain valuable skills in presenting your scholarly work in a professional, organized, coherent and structured manner, both in written and oral formats. These skills will enable you to disseminate your research to academic audiences, contributing to the advancement of biblical scholarship.

Throughout your studies, you will engage in a supervisory relationship with experienced faculty who will guide and mentor you. At CIU, we value Victorious Christian Living and this core value permeates our PhD program. You will learn to navigate the responsibilities of your academic pursuits within the context of a supervisory relationship, embracing spiritual growth and exemplifying Christian character.

Come to Columbia International University’s PhD in Biblical Studies program, where you will receive comprehensive training, mentorship and academic support. Develop the advanced research and writing skills necessary to make a scholarly contribution to the field of Biblical Studies. Present your research findings in a professional and compelling manner. Embrace the transformative journey of intellectual growth while embodying the principles of Victorious Christian Living. Prepare to become a distinguished scholar and educator, equipped to make a lasting impact in postsecondary theological higher education both nationally and internationally.

Next online class starts January 8, 2024

CIU’s decision to begin a PhD program in Biblical Studies following a European model has been immensely helpful. I came into the program with two master’s degrees, so the full load of coursework involved in the American PhD model would have been redundant for me. My life situation and location at the time made an overseas program a precarious option, either on-ground or online, so the structure of the program set me up for success immediately in ways no other school could.

Scott Storbakken

Why Choose Columbia International University

At Columbia International University, we are committed to providing you with a comprehensive and enriching educational experience through our ATS-accredited PhD in Biblical Studies  program. Designed to equip you as a well-rounded scholar and educator, our program offers a unique blend of research-focused curriculum, individualized mentoring and the flexibility of an online modality. 

As a student in our PhD in Biblical Studies  program, you will have the opportunity to delve deeply into your chosen area of specialization within the field of Biblical Studies. Through rigorous research and academic exploration, you will gain a thorough understanding of the rich tapestry of the Old Testament or New Testament disciplines. 

Mentoring lies at the heart of our program. You will receive individualized guidance and support from experienced faculty who are renowned scholars in their respective fields. They will serve as your mentors, providing personalized attention and expert advice as you navigate your research journey and develop your scholarly voice. 

Our online modality offers you the flexibility to pursue your doctoral studies while balancing other commitments in your life. Through our innovative online platform, you will have access to engaging course content, interactive discussions with faculty and peers and valuable resources to enhance your learning experience. 

Throughout your PhD journey, we are dedicated to preparing you to make a significant contribution to scholarship in your discipline. You will develop advanced research skills, critical thinking abilities and scholarly writing expertise that will empower you to produce high-quality academic work. We believe in fostering a collaborative academic community, where you will have opportunities to engage in scholarly conversations and present your research findings to peers and faculty. 

In addition to equipping you as a scholar, our PhD in Biblical Studies  program prepares you to excel as an educator in theological higher education. Our curriculum includes pedagogical training, enabling you to effectively teach and mentor future generations of students in theological institutions both within and outside the United States. 

Benefits of our PhD (Biblical Studies) Degree 

Our unique PhD program is fully-online, dissertation-focused and follows the modified-European model. It offers you the opportunity to:  

  • Complete your entire program using fully online modality without relocating or coming to campus. 
  • Pay affordable tuition that saves you up to 50% of the cost of other seminary PhD programs and includes the cost of textbooks. 
  • Develop your skills in research, writing and teaching, while you pursue a wide variety of research topics. 
  • Focus your coursework on refining your anticipated dissertation topic before beginning your research.  
  • Engage in synchronous small group discussion sessions that foster a sense of community with your classmates.  
  • Work closely with a mentor whose areas of interest and expertise align closely with your dissertation topic. 
  • Develop a well-rounded understanding of the knowledge related to your discipline through tutorial discussions with your mentor. 
  • Engage regularly and intentionally with your dissertation mentor throughout the research and writing process. 
  • Complete your entire program in as few as three years. 

Featured Faculty


The Practical Theology concentration encompasses the broad areas of Chaplaincy, Preaching, Pastoral Theology, and Moral Theology. In this concentration, you may choose to focus your research in any of the major areas of practical theology. If you want to make an original and significant contribution to your area of study and, as a result, contribute to a more accurate understanding of the message of Christ as found in Scripture, the Practical Theology concentration is for you.

The Theological Studies concentration encompasses the broad areas of Historical Theology, Systematic Theology, and Apologetics. If you want to make an original and significant contribution to your area of study and, as a result, contribute to the understanding of a theologically-informed biblical worldview, earn your PhD in Theological Studies online with CIU.

What Will I Study?



  • BIB 9200 Issues and Methods in Biblical Studies

    You will survey significant contemporary issues in Old Testament or New Testament studies, explore recent advances in the study of Hebrew or Greek, and review key methods used in biblical interpretation. You will then identify an issue and a method related to the area of your proposed dissertation topic and will explore each in depth. (3)

    3.00 credit hours
  • BIB 9400 Principles of Teaching, Learning, and Course Design

    You will review biblical perspectives on teaching and learning, survey principles of adult education, and explore best practices of course design and development. You will learn how to design lessons and courses that go beyond the communication of content to the facilitation of learning and will apply those skills to the creation of a course related to the area of your proposed dissertation topic. (3)

    3.00 credit hours
  • BIB 9900 Biblical Studies Dissertation Proposal

    You will engage in guided practice of bibliographic (text-based) research that will prepare you to write a doctoral dissertation. You will learn to craft a research problem, identify appropriate research methods, locate, evaluate, and document scholarly sources, structure argumentation, and write at the doctoral level. Building upon those skills, you will write a dissertation proposal that must be approved by the Dissertation Proposal Committee before you begin the dissertation research courses.

    3.00 credit hours
  • BLG 9690 Biblical Languages Competency

    You will demonstrate acceptable competency in either Greek or Hebrew as evaluated by biblical studies faculty members who will determine an appropriate level of proficiency. Corequisite: BIB 9200

    0.00 credit hours
  • BIB 9903 Biblical Studies Dissertation Research and Writing III

    Upon successful completion of the dissertation proposal course, your supervising professor will guide you as you engage in research for a 90,000 - 110,000 word dissertation in a selected area of biblical studies. (3-6) Repeatable. Prerequisite: BIB 9902

    6.00 credit hours
  • BIB 9906 Biblical Studies Dissertation Review & Defense

    Upon successful completion of the dissertation research and writing courses and upon your supervising professors recommendation, you will submit the final draft of your 90,000 - 110,000 word dissertation to the Dissertation Defense Committee comprised of your supervising professor and two additional faculty members. Once the committee has read the dissertation, you will appear before them and defend it orally. (6) Repeatable. Prerequisite: BIB 9905

    3.00 credit hours
For a comprehensive list of courses related to this program visit the Academic Catalog.

Admission Requirements

  • Application
  • Official transcript from accredited institution (all graduate level work)
  • Completed MA, MDiv, or ThM with 3.5 GPA
  • Submit Master’s thesis or major research paper, approximately 5,000–6,000 words (20–24 pages)
  • Submit research proposal (approximately 500 words)
  • Biblical languages:
    • Biblical Studies: New Testament (4 semesters of Greek; 2 semesters of Hebrew)
    • Biblical Studies: Old Testament (4 semesters of Hebrew; 2 semesters of Greek)
  • 2 Academic References
  • Interview with admissions committee
  • *International requirements when appropriate

Accreditation and Accolades

ATS (The Association of Theological Schools)
SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)
ABHE (The Association for Biblical Higher Education)

Career Path Opportunities 

  • Career options include professions such as: 
  • Seminary Professor 
  • International Theological Educator 
  • Bible College Professor 
  • Pastor 
  • High School Teacher 
What specializations are available in this program?

As a Biblical Studies student, you may choose to focus your study in the areas of Old Testament, New Testament, Biblical Theology, Hermeneutics, Hebrew or Greek.

Is the program accredited by ATS?

The PhD program is accredited professionally by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), as well as regionally by SACSCOC and nationally by ABHE.

Is the program really fully online?

The entire PhD program uses online modality, so that you never need to come to the Columbia campus.

Is the program synchronous or asynchronous?

The three foundational seminars are largely asynchronous, but with a synchronous component. Instructors facilitate two-hour discussion group sessions of six to eight students who meet five to eight times throughout each semester.

What does a Modified-European model mean?

The modified-European model combines the strengths of both the North American and European models. You enter the program with a preliminary idea of the topic for your dissertation, and the coursework in the three foundational seminars helps you refine your topic to be substantive, coherent and focused. After those seminars, you engage in your dissertation research, writing and defense, which comprises 80% of your studies.

Is this program cost competitive with other ATS accredited PhD programs?

Total tuition for the program is 25–50% lower than the cost of other seminary PhD programs and includes the cost of textbooks.

Do I receive a Bible software package as a student?

As a PhD student, you will receive a free copy of Accordance Bible Software that you may use as long as you are pursuing your doctoral studies. Upon graduation, you own the software.

Do I have to know biblical languages for this program?

If you are pursuing work related to the Old Testament, you must show transcript evidence of having completed four semesters of Hebrew plus two semesters of Greek for admission into the program. If you are pursuing work related to the New Testament, you must show transcript evidence of having completed four semesters of Greek plus two semesters of Hebrew. You will also take a qualifying examination in your primary language during your first semester of study.

Do I have to complete any research languages for this program?

In order to have as wide access as possible to scholarly literature related to your dissertation topic, Biblical Studies students demonstrate proficiency in two theological research languages as part of their PhD studies. The process of collecting a working bibliography for your dissertation usually helps you identify the specific languages you will pursue.

How long will the dissertation be?

The wordcount for your dissertation is 90,000–110,000 words, including the introduction, the body, the footnotes, the conclusion and the bibliography, but not the front matter.

Who will my dissertation mentor be? Do I have a say in the decision process?

We will work with you to recruit a dissertation mentor whose areas of interest and expertise align as closely as possible with your topic. Since the majority of our mentors come from outside the seminary, the range of topics you may pursue is broad, and you have the opportunity to work closely with an expert in your field of research.


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