The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

The courses of study found in the Doctor of Ministry program are designed to enable participants to attain excellence in the practice of ministry. The program provides persons actively engaged in professional ministry the opportunity to develop further the attitudes, skills, and knowledge essential to their ministry. The D.Min. program stresses the relationship between the practice of ministry and biblical, historical and theological knowledge. The level of class-work in the D.Min. program assumes that the applicant has the general knowledge acquired in a M.Div. program. The D.Min. program is not intended to prepare persons for graduate teaching.

See details of the 2014 courses and lecturers.

The Program

Students admitted to the program must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours with a grade point average of B or higher. Three or six of the hours must be achieved in the form of a project, which will be defended orally.

The student, working with the Director of the Advanced Degrees Program (Director), will develop a program of study designed to accomplish his/her educational objectives. It is imperative that the program have integrity and coherence and not be simply the accumulation of credit hours.

Courses are designed to develop professional skills and to relate biblical, historical and theological materials to the practice of ministry.

Length of Program (D.Min. and S.T.M.)

The program of study for the S.T.M. and D.Min. consists of two courses in each of four consecutive summers and the completion of the project/thesis during the fifth year. Because circumstances may require a student to alter this plan, a sixth year of enrollment is available. A student who needs to miss a summer during the first four years, or needs more than one year to finish the project/thesis, may notify the program director and pay a continuance fee of $150 to remain enrolled in the program.

The Association of Theological Schools states the S.T.M. and D.Min. degree should be completed within six years. A student who experiences extenuating circumstances which prevent him/her from finishing in six years may petition the Advanced Degrees committee to allow one or two additional years for completion. A continuance fee may or may not be required. The petition must set forth the reasons why an extension is necessary and should be accompanied by appropriate documentation. The committee’s refusal to authorize an extension of a student’s course of study is final. In no case may a student take more than eight years to complete a degree.

The D. Min. Workshop

The Workshop is offered on alternating years, and is customarily taken in the second year of the D.Min. and prior to submission of the project proposal. The Workshop meets once per week over the summer and affords students the opportunity to explore topics appropriate for the D.Min. project, including research and writing requirements for a successful project.

The Project/Thesis

The student will be required to complete a substantial project for six credit hours. A grade point average of B or higher is required to register for project/thesis hours.

The project should have a professional focus; it should provide opportunities for reflection on professional development, for the integration of academic learning experiences and one’s own professional situation, and for moving forward in one’s understanding and practice of ministry. Some possible methodological approaches are:

  • Action/reflection model – a presentation of the results growing out of some direct engagement within a context of ministry.
  • Program model — a presentation or description of program possibilities (educational, liturgical, homiletical, pastoral, etc.) designed by the student for his/her work.
  • Thesis or essay — a study of some topic related to the integration of one’s academic work and professional focus.

The ministry project should demonstrate the candidate's ability to identify a specific theological topic in ministry, organize an effective research model, use appropriate resources, and evaluate the results, and should reflect the candidate's depth of theological insight in relation to ministry.

A meeting with your advisor is required when you start the project, as well as consultation with your second reader. Upon completion of the doctoral project, there shall be an oral presentation and evaluation. The completed written project, with any supplemental material, should be accessioned in the institution’s library.

Project/Thesis and Candidacy

After the completion of 12 credit hours, the student will submit a written statement requesting candidacy and the project proposal. In preparation for the project proposal and candidacy request, the student will talk with the director about the general subject of the project. The director will work with the student to choose an advisor for the preparation of the proposal. The advisor will be a member of the full time teaching faculty of The School of Theology, and will serve as the first reader. Guidelines will be provided for writing the request, the project proposal, and the project itself.

To be granted candidacy the student must have a B average in his/her D.Min. work already completed, must have his/her project proposal approved, and must show the progress made toward meeting his/her goal as stated in the application. The student will develop the project proposal with the guidance of his/her chosen advisor, and following the advisor’s approval will present the proposal to the Advanced Degrees Committee. The Advanced Degrees Committee will review each student’s candidacy request and project proposal and either approve them, ask the student to address concerns and resubmit, or reject candidacy.

Upon approval of a project, the committee will select, or approve the student’s request of, the second reader. The committee will consider the project subject and faculty members’ workload and availability when selecting readers. The director will ask the faculty member(s) if they are willing to serve and notify the student upon agreement. The first reader is the advisor for the project. The second reader provides a second look at the project based on the larger scope of a six hour project. Readers are also faculty of The School of Theology. On occasion, an outside person with particular expertise in the project subject may be contracted as a second reader. The student is responsible for obtaining this person’s verbal agreement, and the director will follow up with the program guidelines and formal contract offer. The University requires a signed contract prior to beginning the work.

The student who chooses to complete 24 credit hours before beginning work on the project, will register for the project hours and pay the tuition in January following completion of the credit hours. Students, who wish to register for three of the project hours during a summer while taking a course, will pay for the hours as part of registration. For example, a student would register for one course and 3 project hours during the fourth and fifth summers. The project must be defended orally prior to submission of the final “library” copies of the written project.