May 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin 
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology PhD

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Randall W. Younker, Director


The Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology is an academic program that prepares students for teaching positions and/or research in institutions of higher education.

In order to fulfill the requirements for the PhD degree, students must complete 64 credits; at least 48 credits of formal course work in lecture, seminars, directed-study and reading courses, and 16 credits for the dissertation. Students typically complete the program in 6 years.

Focus Areas

When students apply to this PhD program they may select one of two focus areas: Biblical Archaeology or Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology. The areas of specialized study for these focus areas are listed below:

Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology

  • ANE History
  • ANE Archaeology
  • ANE Languages
  • Fieldwork, Method and Theory

Biblical Archaeology

  • Biblical History
  • Biblical Archaeology
  • ANE Languages
  • Fieldwork, Method and Theory

Each area of study is to be supplemented with one of the cognate areas listed below.

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Church History
  • Theology and Christian Philosophy
  • World Mission
  • Biblical Archaeology (if the major focus area is Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology)
  • Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology (if the major focus area is Biblical Archaeology)
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages

Total Credits - 64

Dissertation - 16

Focus Areas - 12

Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology

Biblical Archaeology

Cognates - 9

Choose 9 credits in consultation with your advisor and/or the relevant department.

Additional Requirements

  • Achieve grades of B (3.00) or better and/or S. Only such grades are counted toward the degree requirements. No more than 15 credits in courses with an S grade may be applied to the program requirements. If students fall below this minimum GPA, they are placed on probation and can regain regular standing only after having again reached the B (3.00) level. The matriculation of students with grades below B may be terminated after review by the program committee. Students who accumulate more than three grades of C or below (2.00 or below) are not allowed to continue in the doctoral program.
  • Take all course work at the Seminary on the 600-, 800-, and 900-levels; some non-seminary graduate courses may be approved by the student’s doctoral committee in consultation with the director of the program.
  • Take a minimum of 24 credits on the 800- and 900-levels.
  • Take at least two semesters of formal full-time study consecutively and in residence, registering each semester for no fewer than 8 credits. At least 33 credits (of the minimum 48) must be taken in residence (residence includes field work if taken from Andrews University).
  • Attend doctoral colloquia, Horn Archaeology Lecture Series, worships and assemblies.

Full Course Load. The full-time load for regular course work is 8 to 12 credits per semester. Students with full-sponsorship are expected to take a full load of 12 credits per semester. On-campus students who are registered for GSEM 880  , GSEM 888  (non-credit courses) are counted as full-time students. Students who register for GSEM 995  are also counted as full-time students if the work is done on campus and they register for 16 credits in a maximum of six semesters.

Time Limits. Students are required to finish all regular course work and take the comprehensive exams within five years of the initial registration in the program, and to complete all degree requirements within ten years of initial registration. Also, students must complete the dissertation including a formal defense and subsequent revisions in five years or less from the time the comprehensive examinations are passed. The two five-year time limits apply independently, so that shortening one does not lengthen the other.

Dissertation Advisory Committee

  • By the time that students register for GSEM 854 - PhD-ThD Dissertation Proposal Seminar , they, in consultation with the program director, should select a tentative dissertation topic and a dissertation advisory committee. The program director appoints as the chair of each student dissertation advisory committee, a faculty member in agreement with the tentative topic. During the same semester, students and their committee chairs should select two additional faculty members to complete the student dissertation advisory committee, so that, where possible, all three members may contribute to the development of the dissertation proposal. All three members of each student dissertation advisory committee must approve the proposal before it is presented to the program committee.
  • At least six weeks before the time of the dissertation defense, the program director, in consultation with the dean of the Seminary, appoints two additional members to the dissertation committee. One of these persons, the external examiner, is normally a scholar from another graduate institution.

Comprehensive Examinations

Students are required to pass four comprehensive examinations within a three-week period scheduled by the program office. Three of these examinations are set in the principal area of study and one in the cognate area. At least two of these examinations must be in the regular written format, each lasting between four and six hours, up to two of the four examinations may be given in the oral and/or take-home formats at the discretion of the examiner.

The course requirements of 48 credits must be completed before students can take comprehensive examinations.

The comprehensive examinations determine students’ proficiencies in the major area of emphasis and in the cognate area of study, familiarity with pertinent literature, and skills in criticism and analysis.

Students’ applications to take the comprehensive examinations are also an application for advancement to candidacy, which is granted subject to passing all comprehensive examinations.

Dissertation Proposal

The student may prepare his/her dissertation proposal by taking GSEM 854  or by taking up to 3 dissertation credits during the coursework phase. In the case of the first option, the 3 credits of GSEM 854  count toward dissertation credits.

The proposal must contain a basic survey of pertinent literature, a clear statement of the problem, a succinct purpose statement, a description of the methodology to be employed, a list of tentative chapter and subsection titles, and a preliminary bibliography.

If the dissertation proposal has not been approved by the PhD/ThD Committee by the time comprehensive examinations have been passed the student registers for GSEM 844  (non-credit) until the proposal is approved.


After the dissertation proposal is approved and the student has passed the comprehensive examinations, he/she registers for GSEM 995  for 1–16 dissertation credits (1-13 credits if GSEM 854 is taken) for up to six semesters. If the dissertation is not completed after all 16 dissertation credits have been taken, the candidate must register for GSEM 888  every semester, and pay a continuation fee until the dissertation is completed and the defense held, or until the time limit has expired.

The dissertation prepared by the PhD candidate must

  • Make an original contribution to scholarship,
  • Demonstrate the candidate’s competence to do independent research,
  • Reveal the candidate’s familiarity with and proficiency in handling the pertinent literature, and
  • Present a logically organized, methodologically sound, and readable account of the investigation, findings, conclusions and implications of the study.

The chair of each student dissertation advisory committee guides students in the research in consultation with other members of the committee. As a rule, a calendar year or more is needed for dissertation preparation.

The dissertation is normally written in BASOR style and is typically between 250 and 300 pages in length.

Once the dissertation is completed and approved by each student dissertation advisory committee, a date is set for an oral defense.

Consult the doctoral student handbook for more details regarding the various steps to be taken by students during this program.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must meet the Graduate Programs Admission requirements. Admission to the PhD in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology program is granted to applicants who

  • Hold an MA (or its equivalent) from an accredited institution in an appropriate field (Ancient Near Eastern history and/or archaeology, biblical history, anthropology).
  • Show high promise of future usefulness to church and/or society.
  • Read proficiently required ancient and modern languages as noted in the Language Requirements below.
  • Minimum GRE score of 288.
  • Demonstrate the ability to handle doctoral-level work in English according to the following guidelines:
  1. Applicants for whom English is not a primary language of communication are required to take the TOEFL exam and must achieve the entry level score of 90 for iBT TOEFL exam (equivalent to a paper based ITP TOEFL exam score of 575) for regular admission to the PhD program.
  2. Applicants who have received a bachelor’s or higher degree in the past 5 years from an institution where English is the medium of instruction are exempt from the requirement to take the TOEFL exam.
  3. All international students applying to the PhD programs are required to have a language evaluation interview with the program director whether or not they are required to take the TOEFL exam. The content of this interview may include reading and listening comprehension components and writing and speaking components. The interview can be in person or via Skype if the applicant is not in the Berrien Springs area. A proctor will be involved in any reading and writing components of the interview.
  4. Based on the results of the language evaluation interview the applicant may be required to take ESL courses to enhance their English language ability in one or more of the areas covered in the interview (reading, listening, speaking, writing).
  5. For an iBT TOEFL score between 80 and 89 (equivalent to a paper based ITP TOEFL score between 550 and 574), the applicant is eligible to enter the Seminary ESL Bridge program in which the student takes two courses with ESL and one 3 credit course in the PhD program. This is counted as full time student status.
  6. For iBT TOEFL scores below 80 (550 for ITP TOEFL) the applicant is ineligible for the Seminary ESL Bridge program.
  7. For further details regarding the Bridge program and its policies see the ESL website.

Admission to Advanced Standing. Advanced standing for the PhD in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology program may be granted for students who have post-MA or post-MDiv work in an approved institution if the work is appropriate to the program, carries grades of B or above, and was taken within six years of each student’s first enrollment in the program. Credits earned towards the MA and MDiv degrees are not considered for advanced standing. The director of the program determines the appropriateness and relevance of the work considered for advanced standing and authorizes such standing. The minimum residence requirement cannot be reduced.

Time to Apply. Students may apply at any time. However, it is recommended that those who desire to enter the program in the fall semester (the normal entry point) should submit all application materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions, usually by January 15. It is recommended that students who desire to enter the program in the summer, should submit their application materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions by November 30.  If these normal deadlines are not met the student may have to wait until the next term for admission.

Items to Submit. In addition to submitting the items required of all graduate students, applicants to the program must also submit

  • A 600-word personal statement including their philosophical perspective and the relationship of their values to their responsibilities as a teacher-scholar and leader; an indication of what they hope to accomplish professionally in the future, and a topic for the dissertation if one has already been selected.
  • A significant research paper (term paper or thesis). This paper should show the applicant’s ability to carry out research and to present the results and conclusions of such work with correct English and acceptable style. The topic of this paper should coincide with the area of concentration.

Core Language Requirements. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in specified ancient and modern foreign languages either by passing language proficiency examinations or by taking specified graduate-level language courses and earning a grade of B or above. The foreign language requirements are listed below.

  • Biblical Archaeology. An ancient language appropriate to the student’s research goals—typically Biblical Hebrew, Greek, or Latin at the Intermediate Level. Two modern languages relevant to research goals such as French, German, Italian, modern Hebrew, modern Arabic, modern Greek.
  • Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology. An ancient language appropriate to the student’s research goals - typically Biblical Hebrew, Greek, or Latin at the Intermediate Level. Two modern languages relevant to research goals such as French, German, Italian, modern Hebrew, modern Arabic, modern Greek, or computer database skills.

Upon approval by the program committee, the Program Director may require additional ancient languages as required by the area of emphasis students choose.

Schedule of Meeting Language Proficiency Requirements. All language prerequisites should be completed before entrance. If that is not possible, students may be required to take a reduced load in order to meet these prerequisites.

Language prerequisites should be met by the end of the third consecutive semester (including summer). Students who fail to meet this schedule cannot take any further regular courses until all the language prerequisites are met.

Because of the amount of study and the length of time usually required in developing prerequisite-level skill in languages, the program committee may require applicants to clear all the language prerequisites prior to admission.

Program Outcomes

  1. Knows the history, methods and theories of archaeology.
  2. Knows the material culture and history of the Biblical and ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world.
  3. Applies knowledge of the material remains to an understanding of Biblical and ancient Near Eastern contexts.
  4. Demonstrates the skills to conduct all phases of field work, including follow-up analyses and presentation and publication of findings.

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