Wheaton Ph.D. Program

Several of you have asked me to post on the Wheaton Ph.D. program that I am on the brink of finishing, and now seems like an appropriate time. The program itself is only 4 years old, and I will be the 3rd graduate from the program. It is designed as a hybrid between the standard North American program in which one does two full years of coursework and then a dissertation and the British model in which you move straight to dissertation work. The result is a requirement of about 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of coursework of a NA program, but an emphasis on beginning dissertation work immediately. The intention is for students to finish in 3-4 years.

Strengths – The quality of the mentors is top notch, as a glance at the website will show. The small size of the program (only 6 admitted each year; typically 2 each in OT, NT, & systematics) means focused attention from your mentor and a close knit community within the program. It also enables Wheaton to fully fund your tuition and offer an $8,000/yr stipend in return for about 8 hrs/wk of work for a professor. On that front, it may be the best deal in evangelicalism. There is a strong emphasis on integration across the disciplines, and in the admissions process they look for dissertation ideas that focus in one area but significantly interact with other disciplines as well. In particular this program is establishing a reputation for doing work on the use of the OT in the NT.

Potential Drawbacks – In addition to it being difficult to get in, the attempt to be hybrid between NA and British models can result in feeling a bit squeezed at times. They are still working through some of these issues, and because it is a new program they are still working through various issues in the program. The stipend is guaranteed for only three years, though there is the possibility of getting it extended for a fourth year. Something else to consider is that since the program is almost brand new, it is hard to know how a Ph.D. from Wheaton is perceived within the academy when searching for a job. I have yet to hear anything negative, butw who knows what is said behind closed doors.

Advice – If you are interested in learning more about studying at Wheaton, feel free to ask questions here or email me. I would recommend making contact with the particular professor you might be interested in studying under here at Wheaton and discussing potential dissertation topics to see what catches their interest.

In sum, I think Wheaton is one of the premiere Ph.D. programs within evangelicalism, and if you are interested in doing doctoral work, this is a place you need to consider.

8 thoughts on “Wheaton Ph.D. Program”

  1. Thanks for this post, Matt. I did have a few questions – what were your seminar classes like? Were they with good professors, and did you find them beneficial towards your dissertation?

    Also, perhaps you already implied this in your post, but what made you choose Wheaton over other PhD programs? Thanks again for giving us an insight to your experience at Wheaton.

  2. Also, Matt, how crazy were the language requirements? I know they want you to know Hebrew, Greek, and one other language once you begin. Did they test often, or once, or how did that work? Thanks.

  3. In fact, some British program(me)s – delete as applicable – are incorporating language course-work and requirements now. (We have found that some people coming in don’t always live up to their transcripts!) Aberdeen (where I am) and Edinburgh both have, I think, reading classes in various languages with exams at the end of the PhD first year – in our case, Greek and German at the moment, with Hebrew kicking in next year.

  4. The seminars were quite good, and in two of the four I was able to take the paper I wrote for them and incorporate it directly into my dissertation. The small number of students does mean however that the number of seminar options is quite small. In the fall you have no choice and in the spring you may choose between one of two.

    AS for language requirements, they assume Greek and Hebrew coming in and expect you to learn German the summer before you begin. Your first week in the program you take a German proficiency exam; if you fail you must re-take it again later. You’re expected to learn French the summer after your first year and take an exam the first week of your second year to verify that. Many professors require use of the languages in your research for their seminars as a way of forcing you to retain them.

    I think that I had heard that some British programs were going the direction of greater verification of languages, and I think that is wise. I know my retention of the languages goes through ebbs and flows depending on how much I am using them.

    I chose Wheaton because of working with Moo, the emphasis on integration across the disciplines, the financial benefits, and blend of some coursework with early dissertation focus.

  5. Matt – would you give me some insight into the application process? I am very interested in Wheaton’s program, but recognize just how competitive it is. What do you think was the key to your being choosen? I communiated with Dr. Block several months ago and he emphasized the language proficency. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Matt, thank you for all the great advice. I also had another question. I was wondering if you knew anything about the admissions specifics, such as the number of applicants or test scores, etc. Thanks so much.

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