Doctor of Ministry Program
The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is an advanced professional degree that is designed to provide students with an advanced professional degree which will prepare them to apply theoretical skills within a ministry setting and will enable them to think with a critically developed mind, a spiritually directed character, and a biblically based hermeneutic for life and ministry.
Prerequisites for admission to the Doctor of Ministry degree program are completion of the Master of Divinity, or its equivalency, with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, and at least three years of experience in ministry subsequent to the first graduate theological degree.
The DMin degree program is intended to facilitate the development of a personal theology of ministry and styles of leadership that, in turn, will lead the student to greater ministerial competency and spiritual growth. The person who completes the DMin degree program will be able to:
- Articulate a theology of ministry that engages with biblical, historical, spiritual, theological, and pastoral disciplines
- Demonstrate enhanced skills and competencies through the integration of one’s theology of ministry and one’s understanding of ministerial practice
- Exhibit intentional spiritual growth through the practice of appropriate formation principles in life and ministry
- Assess oneself and one’s congregation using family systems principles
In addition to the overall DMin outcomes, the person who completes the Spiritual Direction & Formation Specialization will be able to:
- Spiritually direct an individual, group, or congregation, evidenced through a capstone practicum experience
- Recognize a deepening of his or her Christian spirituality through interaction with a spiritual director, the planning and leadership of spiritual retreats, and fulfillment of assignments
- Show evidence of training in Christian spirituality and spiritual direction through the Practicum Report
In addition to the overall DMin outcomes, the person who completes the Pastoral Leadership Specialization will be able to:
- Exhibit skills, practices, and training in the areas of family and congregational systems and leading change
- Lead a congregation within missional and post-modern cultures
- Show evidence of training in pastoral leadership through the Project Report
In addition to the overall DMin outcomes, the person who completes the Pastoral Care Specialization will be able to:
- Exhibit skills and techniques to aid pastoral care ministries for chaplains and pastors including how to make referrals, recognizing and presenting tendencies toward suicide, family systems, grief care, and crisis intervention
- Show evidence of training in pastoral care training through the Project Report
Doctor of Ministry Definitions and Policies
When a student’s overall grade point average drops below 3.0, he or she will be placed on academic probation status and given one more semester to raise this to the required 3.0 grade point minimum. If unsuccessful, an academic stop will go into effect.
If an academic stop is placed on a student, no further DMin work will be accepted or permitted until such time as the DMin Oversight Committee deems appropriate. An academic stop will go into effect for one of the following reasons:
- Work from the previous seminar is not completed within the parameters of the semester and a grade of “F” has been given. At that time, an academic stop will be put in place and will require DMin Oversight Committee action to continue in the program. That particular course must be successfully retaken for credit at the student’s expense as a replacement grade before graduation may be granted
- Academic probation has not been removed
Students in the DMin program will read, research, study, experience, and evaluate applied theology and personal spiritual concepts. This degree promotes research on vital issues affecting the quality of life in faith communities as well as the development of new approaches, strategies, and styles of ministry in a wide variety of institutional and cultural settings. The resulting learning process equips the student for critical evaluation in the context and practice of ministry and fosters an integration of theory and effective pastoral practice with a view toward transforming communities.
Pre-seminar assignments are due no later than the course start date. Students are encouraged, however, to bring all written assignments the first day of the seminar week. Students with missing pre-seminar assignments may be dropped from those sections of the seminar, may not be permitted to attend those sections, and may receive a failing grade for those sections.
Students should expect approximately 2,000 pages of reading each semester. It is expected that the books will be acquired and that the reading assignments will be completed in order that candidates may be exposed to the material prior to the seminar.
Post-seminar written assignments are to be submitted within ninety days after the session ends, at prescribed deadlines. Assignments should be emailed directly to professors on or before the due date. Competence will be demonstrated through creative projects and papers, which apply professional experience in connection with course content. These assignments will demonstrate an understanding of the writing skills required for the doctoral level and of the subject matter, bibliography, theory, and methodology covered in the seminar.
Written work will follow the prescribed HGST/Turabian style and should meet the deadlines required in each course syllabus. Grades will reflect the meeting of these criteria as well as the content.
Students are encouraged to email copies of completed assignments to the Director and to keep hard copies and external digital copies on file to protect work from being lost due to a computer malfunction. Graded papers are usually available for pick up at the following seminar unless they are returned via email.
Written assignments for Project and Practicum completion are described and delineated in the “Project and Practicum Manual,” which is available via the website. The Manual also includes deadlines for Project and Practicum Report completion and all pre-graduation deadlines.
Attendance is required for all seminar sessions, and attendance records are kept in order to insure proper credit. Excessive absence will result in a failing grade. The five rotating seminars are usually held during the second week of January and July. Orientation Day for entering students is held in conjunction with the beginning of a student’s first semester. Unexpected military deployment will always be given due consideration.
Candidacy is the formal recognition of the student’s advanced status and represents the DMin Oversight Committee’s approval to proceed with the execution of the major project. Students will not receive credit for a DMin Project begun prior to achieving Candidacy Status. Candidacy Status requirements include:
- Submission of the Candidacy Status Request Form with candidacy fee
- Successful completion of at least 12 HGST DMin credit hours
- Minimum 3.0 GPA
- Up-to-date financial account
Students initiate this process by submitting the completed request form to the DMin Office. Formal notification of advancement to Candidacy Status will be made by the DMin Director when all requirements have been satisfied.
Continuation Status (Seminar or Project/Practicum)
Students who, for unavoidable circumstances, need to delay their continued participation in the DMin program or who have completed the required seminars but have not completed the Final Project or Practicum may, with the permission of the DMin Director, apply for “Seminar Continuation Status” or “Project Continuation Status.” Students must pay a fee equal to one credit hour of tuition for each semester they remain “on continuation.” Time spent “on continuation” is counted as part of the six-year limit for completing the DMin program. All exceptions to this rule must be approved by the DMin Oversight Committee. Students on either type of continuation are considered “less than full time” for the purpose of either VA benefits, financial aid, or F-1 visa status. Therefore, students who are enrolled in the DMin program by way of the F-1 visa must complete the DMin program in the 3.5 year minimum in order to maintain student status.
In conjunction with the Oral Defense, all candidates must complete the Exit Interview consisting of a review of all courses. A set of essay questions concerning the content and impact of all courses will be distributed at least thirty days in advance of the Oral Defense. Computer-generated copies of the questions and answers must be returned to the DMin office at least one week prior to the Exit Interview for distribution to the DMin Oversight Committee.
Extensions and Incomplete Grade Policy
Seminar assignments are to be completed and mailed or emailed on or before the established due date. However, upon receiving a completed Extension Request Form and payment of $50 per professor, a thirty-day extension (one for each professor) may be granted by the DMin Office. The extension request should be received before the original due date. The professor shall reduce the grade by at least one-half letter grade. Work postmarked after the due date or the one-time thirty-day extension due date is subject to a minimum one letter grade reduction. No class work will be accepted after the close of the semester (except for previously granted 30-day extensions), a grade of “F” will be given, and the semester will have to be repeated for credit. The student will be placed on Academic Probation at that time until a cumulative GPA of no less than a B average is earned during the next semester.
Repeated Sections due to Unsatisfactory Completion
The student will be given one opportunity to make up a failed seminar section, either the next time it is offered or through make-up work, to receive an acceptable grade and raise the overall GPA to an acceptable score. In order for the GPA to move to an acceptable score, the Academic Office may replace the “F” with a “NC” so that the make-up work will count appropriately. If the student does not make up the section during the timeframe noted above, the grade will be remain an “F,” the failing grade will appear on his or her transcript, Academic Stop will go into effect, and the student’s file will be sent to the DMin Oversight Committee with recommended action.
The Doctor of Ministry degree program was developed for men and women involved in pastoral ministry, chaplaincy (military, hospital, prison, etc.), or parachurch ministry who are seeking a higher level of education within those specialized fields. The Doctor of Ministry semester is five months in length and consists of a two-month period of advance reading and assignments from a prescribed list, an intensive on-campus seminar week, and a three-month period following the seminar in which the student completes post-seminar assignments. The semester closes at the end of the five-month period. Successful completion of this experience earns six semester hours of credit. An additional hour is earned for work on the Project or Practicum. The DMin degree requires a minimum of 3.5 years and a maximum of 6 years to complete the work. A student may enroll in no more than two semesters in one calendar year. Enrollment in 14 semester hours per year is considered full-time. Students who enroll in less than seven semester hours during a DMin semester, who maintain active status through non-credit project or seminar continuation status, or who take longer than the prescribed time for project or practicum completion are considered part-time.
Grade reports are distributed via email to students at the close of each semester. Students who do not wish to receive grades via email may choose to opt out through the Registrar’s Office. A student cannot receive credit for any course within the semester when the grade earned is lower than a B-. However, the overall GPA requirement is 3.0 and, therefore, will be evaluated each semester. The student may request permission from the Instructor of Record and the DMin Director to resubmit the required assignment for a course within the seminar in which the grade is lower than B-.
The DMin degree will be awarded, upon the recommendation of the faculty, to persons who have (1) completed the program with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, (2) completed the Project or Practicum Report and passed the Oral Defense, (3) submitted the Project or Practicum Report on cotton paper in preparation for binding, (4) met all financial obligations, and (5) completed the Exit Interview. Normally, DMin graduations are held twice each year—in May and December.
Medical Hold Status
Medical Hold Status may be granted to a student who has encountered serious health issues. This status can be granted only by the DMin Director at his or her discretion and must be reviewed every semester. No continuations fees will be assessed during Medical Hold Status. Such authorization will be placed in the student’s file. HGST must report “medical hold status” for VA and F-1 students.
Each DMin candidate will be required to make an oral defense of his or her doctoral education and Project or Practicum before an assembly of the faculty through the HGST DMin Oversight Committee. The Committee typically gives the student its decision at the conclusion of the examination. Copies of the Project or Practicum Report, one for each committee member and others in attendance, must be submitted following the revision of the second draft and at least one week prior to one’s scheduled oral defense/exit interview session. The defense should be accomplished by the first Friday in March for a May graduation and the first Friday in October for a December graduation.
Project or Practicum
The DMin Project or Practicum is assigned seven credit hours to reflect accurately the work accomplished: one credit hour for each semester. Students receive the seventh credit hour for project work done in preparation for graduation during the semester immediately following the student’s sixth semester. The DMin Project or Practicum is assigned the course number DM 860, for project work accomplished during the time students attend seminars, and DM 870 while in project completion status. With 36 credit hours for course work and 7 credit hours for the Project, the DMin program totals 43 credit hours. Through the execution of the Project, which is both ministry- and action-based, and the writing of the Final Project Report, or of the Practicum Report for students in the Spiritual Direction and Formation Specialization, opportunity is given to demonstrate one’s ability for critical theological reflection and its integration into the practice of ministry. This inductive approach to ministerial education is intended to produce a more capable, independent, and spiritual leader.
The DMin program is structured around two one-week, on-campus intensive seminars per year for three years. In addition, one half-day for the Oral Defense of the Final Project and Exit Interview is required.
Transfer of Credits
Transfer credits from other DMin programs will normally be limited to twelve credit hours. The Director of the DMin Program and the DMin Oversight Committee must both give approval for all transfers. Transfer credits must carry a grade of B or higher. Each program is unique in its standards, quality, and content; therefore, transfer of credits from another institution in some instances may be impractical. Military chaplains may be granted up to 12 hours of transfer credit for academic requirements in the military.
Withdrawal from Program
A student who wishes to withdraw from the program must submit a written request to the DMin office. The DMin Oversight Committee will notify the student of action taken.