Program - Doctor of Ministry Program


Our Doctor of Ministry program is designed to be taken in an uninterrupted sequence of experience over three years, with a few exceptions. Each year includes two continuous weeks of intensive in-person residency and one major project. To complete the final thesis- project, doctoral defense, and graduation ceremony typically adds a fourth year to the degree.

Course Preparation (3 times)

About six months before each residency, extensive reading and preparation are assigned by the track mentor. Participants should plan to devote 12 hours per week in preparation for the residency.

Residency Courses (3 times)

Each year’s two-week residency consists of two one-week courses. The courses are designed sequentially for the participant to acquire increasing competency in his/her selected area of concentration, both in terms of conceptual understanding and praxis, from one year to the next. A principal focus of each residency is the participant’s own preparation, as well as the track mentor’s approval of a proposal for a major ministry project to be carried out in the ensuing year.

Projects (2 times)

Following each of the first and second residencies, participants will complete a project that relates their D. Min. coursework with their place of ministry. The project mentor will inform the participant about expectations for content, necessary components and matters of form. Proposals for projects and nominations for on-site evaluators must be completed during the residency. Then projects are carried out during the four to six months following the residency. The final project report must be submitted to the project mentor no later than the beginning of the next residency. Both the on-site evaluator and the project mentor evaluate the project.

Personal Learning Covenant (1 time)

In order to establish a framework of goals for the program that is unique to the participant’s own life and ministry, the participant writes a Personal Learning Covenant. This helps the participant “to deepen (his/her) basic knowledge and skill in ministry with increasing professional, intellectual and spiritual integrity” (Standards of the Association of Theological Schools). These goals are proposed during the first residency, in final form by the second residency, and carried out during the entire D. Min. program.

Candidacy Oral Exam (1 time)

During the second residency session, the participant will have a qualifying oral exam with his/her track mentor that focuses upon progress to date in his/her own learning, including course work, project work, and the participant’s stated goals in the Personal Learning Covenant (relating to individual goals, family goals, and ministry goals).

Upon the participant’s successful completion of the Qualifying Oral Exam, he/she is admitted to Candidacy Status. Candidacy Status means that the participant has demonstrated a purpose and plan for completing the degree and that he/she is formally eligible to receive the D.Min. degree upon completion of the remaining requirements.

Thesis-Project and Defense (1 time)

The participant’s own thesis-project is the culmination of previous learning in the program and a demonstration of his/her ability to engage in a lifetime of ministry as a scholar-practitioner in the given area of the participant’s specialization. In addition to the mentor, the participant will be assigned a reader. These together form the thesis committee and they guide the participant through the process, approving each aspect of the thesis-project from the initial proposal through to the final draft. The final requirement for degree completion is the participant’s sustaining a successful defense of the completed thesis-project in an oral examination with the mentor and the reader.

Degree Rhythm

Year One – Admission

  • Reading and preparation for first residency (refer to syllabus)

Year One – First Residency

  • Coursework with Mentors
  • Completion of Learning Covenant (Form A)
  • Preparation of first Project Proposal (Form B)

Year One – Up to Second Residency

  • Finish reading and written work from first residency
  • Write first Project Report (Forms C and D)
  • Prepare Learning Covenant in final form
  • Complete reading and preparation for second residency (refer to syllabus)

Year Two – Second Residency

  • Coursework with Mentors
  • Qualifying Exam (Form E)
  • Preparation of second Project Proposal (Form F)

Year Two – Up to Third Residency

  • Finish reading and written work from second residency
  • Write second Project Report (Forms G and H)
  • Begin work on Thesis-Project Proposal
  • Complete reading and preparation for third residency (refer to syllabus)

Year Three – Third Residency

  • Coursework with Mentors
  • Final form of Thesis-Project Proposal (Form I)

Year Three – Up to Graduation

  • Finish reading and written work from third residency
  • Write Thesis-Project (submit chapter by chapter)
  • Defend Thesis-Project (Form J) and submit final Thesis-Project
Credits Degree Component Hours
(Campus & Additional)
5 Residency I: Intro 1 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
5 Residency I: Intro 2 + 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
Personal Learning Covenant
5 Project 1 — + 200 Hrs
5 Residency II: Intermediate 1 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
5 Residency I: Intermediate 2 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
Candidacy Oral Exam
5 Project 2 — + 200 Hrs
5 Residency III: Advanced 1 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
5 Residency III: Advanced 2 30 Hrs (1 wk) + 170 Hrs
6 Thesis – Project — + 240 Hrs

Total: 46 Hours Credit

ATS Goals

  1. The goals an institution adopts for the D.Min. should include an advanced understanding of the nature and purpose of ministry, enhanced competencies in pastoral analysis and ministerial skills, the integration of these dimensions into the theologically reflective practice of ministry, new knowledge about the practice of ministry, and continued growth in spiritual maturity.
  2. Programs may be designed to advance the general practice of ministry in its many forms or to advance expertise in a specialized area of ministerial practice.

Doctor of Ministry Goals

  1. To resource students through a biblically-grounded educational program taught by faculty who are committed to God’s Word and the application of principles of Scripture to the issues of contemporary culture (1)
  2. To form in students a sound foundation of theological and biblical inquiry in their professional doctoral program’s specialized track that they are able to integrate into the life of Christian ministry (2)
  3. To provide students with the skill set and understandings in a specialized area of ministry to such an extent that they can impact their congregation or community more powerfully for God (3)
  4. To create through the cohort model of the program a dimension of Christian community and spiritual nurturing so that students form strong friendships with one another and enter long-term mentoring relationships with the scholars who guide the learning experience (4)
  5. To develop in students a deeper understanding of Christ’s lordship in all areas of life for the common good of the contemporary world (5)
  6. To cultivate within students through critical reflection and careful research through the residencies and projects an enriched Christian witness in the places of society they are called to serve  (5)
  7. To instill in students a refreshed view of their ministry as it relates to the proclamation of the Gospel among all peoples (6)

Alumni Experience

“Because my mentor loved me enough to hold me to a high standard, I now have the makings of a future book and a tool I will continue developing and using throughout my ministry. Four years later, the gifts of God in me have again become a roaring, crackling fire—I am more compassionate, more reflective, more Biblically robust in my thinking, more creative in my leadership than I ever have been before. This whole experience has fanned into flame the gift of God within me, and that flame is warming my heart and the hearts of the people I am privileged to serve and for that I am truly grateful.”

 —David Gustavson (’23 DMin)

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