Application Guidelines for PhD Religion

Dear prospective PhD student,

We are delighted that you are considering the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) as a place for your education. AIIAS is an international Seventh-day Adventist institution specializing in graduate and post-graduate degrees. AIIAS prepares a student to be teachers, scholars, and researchers for institutions of higher learning.


In this introductory document, we want to give you some essential information as you prepare your materials for the admission process. For a full listing of all requirements and policies, please see our Academic Bulletin.


AIIAS was founded in 1986 to accommodate the needs of a growing Seventh-day Adventist educational system. AIIAS stands on four core values of Excellence, Integrity, Service, and Faith. Our goal is for you to develop in your faithfulness to God and Scripture, to give you a comprehensive foundation in your area of concentration, and to make you competent as teachers, researchers, and professionals.


Due to the history of AIIAS, its location, and development, AIIAS is a very diverse international campus with faculty and students from more than 70 countries. This intercultural setting gives a rich and diverse learning experience in and out of the classroom.

Admission Process

In order to facilitate your admission process and help you understand the rationale for these policies, we want to highlight the following:

Entry Into the Program - August

The school year at AIIAS begins the first week of August starting 2020 (see the Academic Bulletin for the exact starting date). August is the time you need to enter your Doctor of Philosophy in Religion program.

Classes are scheduled sequentially to complement and build upon each other so that you will have an educational experience with the greatest likelihood of success. Entrance at other times is not possible because you would have to take classes out of the proper sequence without having the appropriate foundation.

It is recommended that you plan to arrive sometime before the semester begins in August. Please allow enough time to arrange for your visa, meet with your program director, finalize your registration, prepare and take proficiency exams in Greek, Hebrew, and a modern language, and make housing arrangements. 

English Proficiency Requirement

An excellent command of the English language is more essential to a student’s success than many realize. AIIAS is an English-medium school. Meeting English proficiency requirement is necessary for acceptance into the program. There are a number of reasons for the importance of English:


First, all teaching, preaching, and presentations on campus are in English. The diversity of the campus requires a universal language accessible to all. Since all instruction is in English, a sub-par command of the English language will hinder a student’s success in the classroom and in the interaction between peers and the professors.


Second, the resources in the library, such as books, articles, and journals, are almost exclusively in English. All research for papers, proposals, and dissertations rely on highly technical resources in English.


Third, historic documents pertaining to early Adventism and most major books, articles, and journals, as well as official business, statements, etc., within Adventism are produced in English. Finally, all documents submitted to the professors, as well as research documents (including dissertation) need to be written in English and require a high level of English writing proficiency. 

Policy and Recommendation on English Proficiency

Because of the importance of English, English proficiency is an admission requirement and not merely a prerequisite. This means that no PhD in Religion application will be reviewed or accepted without proof of passing an English Language exam. AIIAS accepts the scores of standardized English language tests, including TOEFL iBT or IELTS. AIIAS requires a TOEFL iBT score of 79, or an IELTS score of 6.5 to be allowed to submit your application.

Here are some recommendations to help you pass this admission requirement.

A. Ideally, study English in your home country.


The advantages are plentiful:

  1. It will likely be less expensive to do this in your home country. Under most circumstances, you can continue working at your current job or you can find work to sustain you financially. At AIIAS you (or your spouse) will not have an opportunity for employment, either part-time or full-time.
  2. Language acquisition takes time. It takes years of study to feel comfortable speaking and writing in a different language. This is best done before arriving at AIIAS.
  3. For most students, learning English is at personal expense. You are ineligible for scholarships during this time. If you are a sponsored student, most sponsorship programs do not support you until all admission requirements and pre-requisites have been fulfilled.


B. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to accomplish the English proficiency requirement before you arrive on campus:


  1. In most countries you can find some avenue to study English locally. English courses may be offered at a local university, at evening school, or by a private tutor.
  2. Alternatively, there are many services on the internet to assist you in learning English. Programs are also available in CD or mp3 formats (e.g., Rosetta Stone).


C. In the event that you cannot complete the English proficiency requirements in your home country, the AIIAS English Center does offer the services to support students in gaining the necessary English skills.


  1. The AIIAS English Center offers English for all levels of students. You may enter the English Center at the beginning of any term (five times a year). You will initially be assessed and be placed in the appropriate skill level. Regular assessments are conducted to advance you as your language skills develop.
  2. Carefully consider how much time it will take for you to complete the English requirements. The English Center will use your most recent exam scores to give you a rough estimate of how many semesters it might take you to reach the required level. This is only an estimate though, as each individual learns English at a different pace. Multiple factors can quickly alter this estimate.
  3. Please be generous in setting the amount of time that you may need to meet your English requirement. If you do not achieve the necessary test scores by June you will have to wait until June the following year before you can enter your program. 
Academic Paper

An essential part of the admission package is the submission of an academic paper. In this paper, you should demonstrate your ability to do research, to engage with scholarship, to build a logically cohesive argument, to execute your methodology, and to contribute to the field of your interest. At AIIAS several factors limit how many students can be accepted into the PhD in Religion program each year. Therefore, do not overlook the significance of this submission. A paper should follow the guidelines below:

Download a sample Academic Paper

  1. Choose a topic related to your field of study. In other words, if you intend to do a PhD in Old Testament your paper should be on a passage or issue in the Old Testament. The same applies to the other fields of study.
  2. The paper needs to be academic in nature (not pastoral or homiletical).
  3. The paper should be of such quality that it could pass a peer-review process and potentially be published by a journal.
  4. The paper needs to be a minimum of 20 pages long, but can be up to 40-50 pages long.
  5. The paper should be in the format of an article and not a thesis. An article condenses the introductory chapter of a thesis into a single, brief introductory paragraph and the article trims the argumentation to the essential arguments. For samples see reputable journals such as JATS, AUSS, or JAAS.
  6. The paper should follow Turabian or SBL format.  Additionally, the standard formatting rules apply: double-spaced; 1.5” left and 1” top, bottom, and right margins; footnotes (not endnotes); Times New Roman 12pt font; and cover page. For details on the format see Nancy Vyhmeister and Terry Robertson, Quality Research Papers: For Students of Religion and Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.
  7. If a thesis was part of the masters degree, you can submit a summary of this thesis following the format and style listed here.
  8. AIIAS holds in high regards the integrity of a student’s writing. In the academic world plagiarism is one of the worst offenses a scholar can commit. By submitting as your own the work of others you are claiming their accomplishments for yourself. Please note that AIIAS employs software to detect plagiarism.

Please consult the Academic Bulletin for a complete, detailed list of admission requirements.

Important Dates

January 17

Application deadline along with all required materials (transcripts, English proficiency score, personal statement, and academic paper)

First week of February 

Interview with prospective students

Last week of February

Results of admission process released

End of July

Orientation, registration, and proficiency exams on campus 

First week of August

Beginning of school year/classes begin