Earn your degree online at your own pace, with the option to continue working your full-time job and fulfilling your daily obligations. All of our classes are held in an online format. We meet in virtual classrooms via Microsoft Teams. ILT students and faculty are able to interact with one another, hold open discussions, ask questions and ultimately learn just as if they were in a normal classroom.


Doctor of Philosophy | Ph.D.

The purpose of the online Ph.D. program is to produce teacher-scholars for the church and the academy who can educate persons for Christian ministry and lives of Christian service, and who themselves will teach and write within the academy generally and the wider public. The teacher-scholars for the church and academy will be equipped to do the theological work necessary to support the church’s witness to Christ and to be responsible and credible participants in vital conversations beyond the boundaries of the church, including college or university settings and various interdisciplinary forums (e.g. learned societies, agencies of church bodies, etc.)

Program Overview

Zero Student Debt

Our goal is for every student to graduate with no debt. Our donor-sponsored financial assistance makes that possible.
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Total: $0.00


$700 per Credit Hour
*Tuition cost is subject to change. Additional costs may apply.

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Total: $31,500


Required courses will be a combination of a dissertation, coursework, teaching, research
and a thesis.

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Total: 45 Credits

Expected Timeline

Our program is very flexible so completion time varies. On average, full-time students can finish in 4 years and part-time students can take up to 6 years.

Total: 4-6 Years

*Additional costs may apply. (Application fee, books, costs associated with researching and producing the independent projects or the final project or thesis, etc.) are also the responsibility of the participant.

Course of Study

The student and his or her primary advisor present a plan for completion of the course of study for the Ph. D. The course of study is designed according to the requirements listed below. The primary advisor presents the proposed course of study to the department, whose members must approve it before the student may begin.

Course Requirements Credit Hours
PTE 891 Research Methodology 3 Credits
Thesis Proposal 3 Credits
Thesis 9 Credits
A Total of 30 Credits from a Subset of the Following Seven (7) Options:
Teaching Assistant 3 Credits (3 Credits Required, Max. 6)
600-Level Course 3 Credits
700-Level Course 3 Credits
800-Level Course 3 Credits
Independent Reading 3 Credits
Presenting a Paper at an Academic Conference 1 Credit
Publication 3 Credits

*All work must be in the student’s field of study. 

Course Descriptions

Teaching Assistant: A semester as a teaching assistant to an ILT faculty member involves assisting the faculty member in administering courses and preparing and delivering some class instruction. The faculty member provides mentoring and prepares an evaluation of the student’s work.

600-Level Course: Any ILT course approved by the student’s advisor with a 600-course number. These courses are upper-division Master of Divinity courses and may include students in the M. Div, M.A.R, M.M., or M.M.C. programs. S.T.M. and Ph.D. students in these courses operate under a different syllabus that reflects academic standards appropriate for these degrees. Students may transfer up to 3 courses (9 credit hours) taken as S.T.M. students.

700-Level Course: With the approval of the student’s advisor, a Ph.D. student may register in the Doctor of Ministry courses DM 701, “A Secular World” or DM 702, “Models of Engagement.” Any ILT course approved by the student’s advisor with a 700-course number. These courses are exclusively for S.T.M. and Ph.D. students.

800-Level Course: Any ILT course approved by the student’s advisor with a 800-course number. These courses are exclusively for S.T.M. and Ph.D. students

Independent Reading: The student engages a faculty member to supervise a program of reading in a specific topic or author, culminating in a research paper.

Presenting a Paper at an Academic Conference: The student is invited to present a paper at an academic conference hosted by an institution of higher education, a learned society, or an agency of a church body. Credit is received only if approved ahead of time by the student’s advisor.

Publication: Students can receive 3 credits for: 1. Publishing an article in a peer reviewed journal. Submission of the article as published to the student’s advisor is required. The article may be based on work done for other courses in this program. 2. Publishing an article in an academic book. This must be a substantive article or introduction in a book produced by a reputable academic publisher (not self published).
3. Publishing a translation of an academic book, when the student has the main responsibility for translating and/or editing a substantive academic work in his or her field.

Comprehensive Examinations

At the conclusion of their course of studies, students are eligible to take comprehensive examinations. These are four closed-book essay exams, with a maximum of one week between them. Students present a proposal for the exams to their department for approval. This proposal follows guidelines established by the department and includes the topics of each exam, suggested questions, and the bibliography for each examination. One of the four comprehensive examinations should be on the student’s thesis area. Upon approval by the department, the examinations are scheduled to occur within 5 months. Students may elect to take the exams in Brookings or arrange for suitable proctoring of the examination sessions elsewhere. Each examination is evaluated by a faculty member designated by the department.

Thesis Proposal

Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. and may present a thesis proposal to the faculty. Students should be giving thought to their thesis from the beginning of their studies and design their course of study accordingly. Normally, the thesis is completed within two years of passing the comprehensive examinations. This period can be extended under special circumstances.
In consultation with their thesis advisors, candidates request faculty members to serve on their thesis committee. The thesis committee consists of three members, namely, a chair, the candidate’s thesis advisor, and another member of the faculty. With the permission of the Dean of Academic Affairs, the third member of the committee may be a qualified person who is not a member of ILT’s faculty. In such cases, the Dean will agree with the third committee member on the compensation he or she should receive for serving on the committee and the candidate will be billed by ILT for that amount.

The Thesis Proposal Contains the Following:

  • Proposed title
  • Projected outline
  • Thesis statement
  • A description of the methodology that will be used.• A defense of the importance of the thesis
  • A preliminary bibliography
  • A brief description of the treatment of the specific issue the thesis addresses in the relevant literature

Candidates write the thesis proposal in consultation with their thesis advisor and submit it to the faculty for approval.

Thesis Defense

Upon approval of the thesis proposal, the candidate presents the completed thesis to the thesis committee within one year. Extensions will be granted in special circumstances with the approval of the department and the Dean of Academic Affairs. The thesis should be sufficient in length to deal adequately with the student’s research topic, follow the Chicago Manual of Style, and include the following elements:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Text
  • Bibliography

The thesis is submitted at least 6 weeks before the scheduled thesis defense to give committee members adequate opportunity to read and evaluate it. At the thesis defense, the candidate appears before the committee to respond orally to be the committee’s questions, for a length of time to be determined by the committee. The thesis defense is public and open to the entire ILT community.

At the completion of the defense, the committee meets in private to make their decision. The committee has the following choices: pass with distinction, pass, or not accepted. The committee may decide to pass the thesis provided the candidate to make specified changes to the thesis as presented. The candidate is notified immediately of the committee’s decision.

The candidate is responsible for submitting a printed and electronic copy of the thesis to the ILT library to be added to its permanent collection. The thesis must meet the criteria for paper and binding set by the librarian.

After completing this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general knowledge in their areas of competency and a comprehensive knowledge in their area of specialization.
  • Analyze and critique primary and secondary texts with respect to their underlying assumptions and presuppositions, along with their logical consistency and coherency.
  • Make fresh, insightful, and original contributions in their area of specialization.
  • Explain the ways in which the findings of their research relate theologically to the biblical tradition.
  • Evaluate truth claims critically in their areas of competency and specialization.
  • Articulate the relevancy of fundamental truth claims in their areas of competency and specialization to the following three audiences of theology: the Church, the academy, and the wider public.
  • Create and teach courses at the undergraduate level in their areas of competency, and at the undergraduate and graduate level in their area of specialization.
  • Exhibit a spirit of openness in theological discussion and interaction.

ILT seeks applicants who are dedicated, hardworking, and have a high aptitude for postgraduate-level studies. Normally, applicants will have a first degree in theology, usually a Master of Divinity degree. Candidates may also have a Master of Arts degree in a theological, biblical studies, or a philosophical discipline, or a Bachelor of Arts with a major in a theological, biblical studies, or a philosophical discipline. Potential students not meeting these requirements will nonetheless be considered for entry into the Ph.D. program if they demonstrate exceptional promise and ability.

Application requirements include:
  • Completion of the online application for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions. Applicants are required to have their official transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions from all the institutions attended. Transcripts must demonstrate a minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 point scale or equivalent.
  • Three academic recommendations from persons with knowledge of the applicant’s academic performance.
  • Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), taken within the last two years. Normally, minimum acceptable scores are: Verbal: 150; Quantitative: 150; Analytical Writing: 4.5. Graduates of ILT’s S.T.M. program are not required to submit GRE scores. ILT’s Institution Code for the GRE is 4500.
  • An official photo ID.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit ascore from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) that is not more than two years old. Normally, minimum acceptable scores for the TOEFL are 26 on the speaking section and 24 on the writing section. Minimum acceptable scores on the IELTS are 8 on the speaking section and 6.5 on the writing section. Please request that your score be sent to ILT. ILT’s DI Code for the TOEFL is 5745. More information concerning TOEFL can be accessed at the Education Testing Services website. Information regarding the IELTS can be found at their IELTS website.
  • Non-Refundable Application Fee
  • An Admissions Interview with the Director of the Ph.D. Program.


In their application, students declare their concentration.
ILT offers the following concentrations:

  • Biblical Studies
    • Old Testament
    • New Testament
  • Systematic and Philosophical Theology
    • Philosophical Theology
    • Historical Theology
    • Systematic Theology
    • Ethics

Students choose a faculty member to be their primary advisor based on their concentration. Students are responsible for contacting their primary advisors and securing their agreement to serve as their primary advisors.


Students applying for the Ph.D. must demonstrate competency in a minimum of one modern language (besides English) relevant to the student’s field of study (usually German or French). Students demonstrate language competency by passing an exam administered by ILT.
Competence in both Greek and Hebrew is required for admittance into Old or New Testament studies at the Ph.D. level. Faculty members will offer courses as needed in other ancient languages required for Biblical studies. Work in theology or ethics must demonstrate proficiency in Latin or Greek as well unless the student’s work requires deep competency in formal logic or other contemporary technical methods or approaches. In such cases, demonstrated competency in these areas may be substituted for the requirement in Latin or Greek.

Qualifying Exams

In order to achieve candidacy in the ILT Ph.D. program, a student must pass three qualifying examinations. The student can select these three examinations from five general areas: Biblical Studies, Theological Ethics, Philosophical Theology, Historical Theology, and Systematic Theology. Bibliographies for these areas will be provided by the faculty. Students normally will be expected to pass their qualifying examinations before the end of their second year of study. Students who have earned an S.T.M. degree from ILT are not required to take the qualifying exams.
Students who are not in Brookings are responsible for finding a proctor according to ILT’s proctoring policy, who will receive, administer, monitor, and return the exam to ILT. Students will have one and a half hours to complete each exam.


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