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.