After two and a half years of seminar work, writing papers, presentations, and flying to and from Kansas City, my final PhD seminar begins today. It has been a long and strenuous journey through my classes, and it seems odd that I have finally reached my final seminar before my comprehensive exam and dissertation.
I remember when my doctoral studies started in August 2014 and I mapped out my potential schedule, the “Dissertation Seminar” seemed all too far away. I had Old/New Testament Theology, Advanced Greek/Hebrew grammar, and various other courses that I looked forward to taking. I never thought this seminar would be reached, but slow and steady finishes the race.
The way Midwestern offers their non-residential courses allows the student to take two seminars each semester, but only one at a time. When one seminar ends, the next one possibly available for the student will begin the next day or a week later. For example, when my Old Testament Theology seminar ended in April 2015 my Adv. Greek Grammar began the very next week. Also, taking advantage of directed studies can speed up the degree as well. I was fortunate to take NT Theology and Adv. Hebrew Grammar in this format.
With the full support of my wife and congregation, I have not stopped my schooling since January 2015. In fact, my Adv. Hebrew class ended a week before our son was born, so this has been my first “break” since January 2015.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time pursuing my PhD from Midwestern for a variety of reasons. First, I like the emphasis of Midwestern as being “For the Church.” This has been the driving force not only for me personally, but also for the professors in their lectures and classroom discussions. Now, what I do not mean by this is that the degree is cheapened or it is geared more along the lines of a D.Min. Far from it. However, time and time again from every single professor I have heard their concern for the local church and their reminder to us to do well, interact with higher-critical scholarship, and write and think clearly because, at the end of the day, we are serving the Lord for the furtherance of his kingdom through the local church.
Second, the professors have challenged and pushed me to a different level of writing, researching, and thinking that I did not attain beforehand. The professors at Midwestern are thorough in their scholarship, thorough in our grading, and thorough in their feedback on our papers. Each paper returned to me has been marked up thoroughly in order to help me become a better student of the Bible.
Third, I have greatly enjoyed the friendships I have made in each seminar. One of the disadvantages of the non-residential track of the PhD is the isolation that a student can feel if they fail to befriend others during our week of meeting together. Comradery in these seminars is only possible if one is intentional, and that is what I have tried to be since the beginning. I can think of numerous people I still keep in touch with from these seminars, and they have become great friends who I send papers to for feedback and also seek pastoral wisdom.
If you’re considering PhD work I hope you will give Midwestern a glance. You will not be disappointed.