The PhD Comprehensive Exam is made up of:

  • 1 exam that focuses on your primary focus (e.g., Pauline Epistles), 5 hours

  • 1 'area seminars' exam, 5 hours

  • Oral examination by the field committee

Comp Exam Schedule

  • Last week in September, February, and April

Exams are offered only in these three weeks.

When can I register for the exam?

Comprehensive exams are set by the field committees and are to be sustained within five years for the Historical and Theological Studies field. Exams may only be taken after all other residency requirements are fulfilled.

Deadline to register: one month prior to exam week

How do I schedule the exams?

To register for the exam, contact Justin Rainey at

The Student Success team will arrange for proctoring during each exam and deliver the completed exam to the Field Committee.

If you prefer, you are permitted to schedule your exams with one day between your two written exams, but comprehensive exams cannot be rescheduled. Students must register at least one month prior to the respective exam week.

Exam Format

Written Exams

The first written examination covers the area seminars; the second written examination covers the student’s area of concentration in the canon. Each written examination will be five hours long.

The comprehensive exam consists of both written and oral comprehensive examinations and includes testing in the original language of that corpus of material which they have declared as their concentration. Students will be expected to translate and parse passages selected at random. It is strongly suggested that students decide early in their course work what their concentration will be and begin serious work on mastering that corpus in the original language.

Written exams are typed on a laptop provided by Academic Affairs in a quiet space in either the Library or Andreas Center, as determined by Academic Affairs.

Breaks are permitted, but the timer will not stop for breaks.

Oral Exam

An oral examination of approximately two hours normally will be given two weeks after the written examinations. 

The oral exam can encompass the whole biblical studies curriculum, with particular focus on hermeneutical aspects. The starting point, however, is with perceived weaknesses or incomplete answers given in the written exams. Greater competence is expected on questions relating to the student’s area of specialization.

Aids Allowed

Greek/Hebrew Bible (exception: for exams in church history, an English Bible may be used)

Exam Preparation

Students should be reasonably acquainted with the state of the art with respect to their area of the canon, being able to name key names and key positions.  Comprehensive exams are also for the purpose of moving beyond coursework to synthesizing what’s been taught. Students should be able to defend their own hermeneutical convictions (e.g., evaluate form criticism, typological interpretation of the OT, or demonstrate how to interpret wisdom literature Christologically) and apply them in critical analysis of various scholarly positions, especially within his/her area of the canon.

In preparation for the the oral exam, it is permissible to review the questions and responses from the written examination, beginning directly after completion of the written exams.

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