The Doctor of Ministry Degree Program


Program Overview

The purpose of the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program is to enhance the practice of ministry for persons who hold the M.Div. or its educational equivalent and who have engaged in ministerial leadership. It is an advanced professional degree intended for persons engaged in substantial vocational Christian leadership service, such as pastors, chaplains, educators, missionaries, and leaders in parachurch ministries.

The distinctive nature of Western Seminary’s D.Min. centers on its distinctive program focus: the transforming power of the gospel. Whether in preaching, leadership, pastoral care or the personal life of the ministry practitioner, the gospel is transformational. A ministry of lasting influence demands a message of eternal significance—the gospel of Jesus Christ. With this defining emphasis, Western has designed a course of study that seeks to connect students to an internationally recognized faculty that not only affirms this conviction, their actual lives and ministry experience has been consistently distinguished by their passionate commitment to it. Interactive classes, chosen by the student, are combined with extensive reading and research that result in a dissertation intended to make a unique and significant contribution to the field of ministry leadership.

Ongoing maturity in gospel ministry demands more than the acquisition of fresh biblical and theological insights—even as it demands more than the cultivation of the most contemporary pastoral skills. It necessitates the formation of a ministerial character that is, itself, gospel-shaped. As such, both our faculty and staff are oriented towards meaningful engagement with each student as they face the personal and professional challenges unique to their respective contexts, cultures, and callings.

The Doctor of Ministry is an in-service program designed to enhance the ministry vision, wisdom, character and competence of those currently serving in a ministry leadership role. The program is not separate from the student’s ministry, but intends to integrate higher learning with ministry relevance. Time invested in doctoral studies should result in personal enrichment and ministry improvement.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

The Program goals include:

  • To enhance and increase the knowledge of the ministry leader
  • To prompt and deepen the character of the ministry leader
  • To refine and supplement the skills of the ministry leader

Program learning outcomes include:

  • Display an advanced understanding of the Bible as interpreted through the hermeneutic of the gospel;
  • Display a corresponding application of the gospel to such ministry expressions as preaching, leadership, and spiritual formation;
  • Display the capacity to evaluate past and present expressions of pastoral ministry in diverse contexts when set against the contact of the gospel;
  • Display for publication a doctoral-level dissertation that makes a new and essential contribution to the field of pastoral ministry as informed by the gospel.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the D.Min. Program assume a high level of achievement in biblical, theological, and ministerial areas through previous academic studies and ministry experience. In addition to the Seminary’s general requirements for admission, the applicant to the D.Min. program must possess a three-year Master of Divinity degree or its educational equivalent from an institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Doctoral applicants must provide evidence of significant achievement in ministry leadership. A minimum of three years of full-time ministry experience after the completion of the Master of Divinity degree is required. Current involvement in vocational ministry is required both for admission and for continuance in the program. Because the D.Min. is an in-service professional program, it is necessary for the doctoral student to remain active in significant pastoral ministry leadership throughout the program.

An applicant with a Master of Divinity degree from an unaccredited institution may seek admission by special review. A copy of the institution’s catalog, setting forth faculty credentials, curriculum, facilities and learning resources, shall be submitted at the time of application. Any additional documentation the applicant wishes to submit to assist the Committee in its decision is welcome. If the review is favorable, the student will be admitted on academic probation.

A set of admission materials must be completed and on file in the Admissions Office before action can be taken. These materials include an admission statement; experience statement (or professional vita); a statement of supportive endorsement from the church or agency with which the applicant serves; four professional and personal references; and official transcripts of all college, graduate-level, and seminary education. In addition, doctoral applicants must provide a sample of writing and research skills. This commonly takes the form of a seminary research paper, articles for publication or distribution, or materials produced for use in one’s ministry. The sample selected should reflect the applicant’s writing skills in form, style, and content. All application materials must be submitted by the application deadline stated on the Western Seminary D.Min. Website, For a schedule of D.Min. courses and the registration dates, please contact the D.Min. Office at 503.517.1824.

Transfer Credit and Residence Requirements

Upon approval by D.Min. program director and registrar, transfer of up to 6 hours credit is allowed toward the D.Min. Program from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, 3 hours of which may be Th.M. credit. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer and coursework must have completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary and less than six years of degree completion. Transfer of credit is not automatic. The student must show that the work is relevant to the program focus of the doctoral program and was completed at a comparable advanced level. Requests for acceptance of credit from other seminaries should be made at the time of admission to the program. Later transfer will only be done by prior approval through the program director and registrar’s Office. Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Of the 30 credit hours required for the Doctor of Ministry program, a minimum of 24 credit hours must be completed through coursework completed at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 21 credit hours taken in resident study at Western Seminary’s Portland Campus.

All work leading to the Doctor of Ministry must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the six-year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the time of matriculation, including work completed at another institution and accepted in transfer to the D.Min.

Degree Requirements (Open Track)

The D.Min. Program Open Track consists of two core courses (six credit hours), six elective courses (eighteen credit hours), a dissertation product (six credit hours), and a final dissertation demonstration, with a minimum of 30 credit hours required for graduation. The core courses include DM 701 Effecting Gospel-Centered Transformation (completed within the first three classes) and DM 702 Research Design and Methodology (completed within their first four classes). The elective courses are focused into three areas of concentrated study: Christ-Centered Preaching, Pastoral Leadership, and Gospel Spirituality. In keeping with their personal and ministerial goals, students may choose to specialize in one of the three areas of concentration, or they may prefer to choose a more generalized approach in their course selection.

Christ-Centered Preaching

These courses are designed to furnish pastors and leaders with greater skill in the science and art of sermon preparation and delivery. Particular attention is given to discovering the Christocentric emphasis of the entire Bible, its redemptive intention for the people of God, and the unique empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Pastoral Leadership

These courses are designed to furnish pastors and leaders with an increased capacity to shepherd a congregation with the gospel over an extended season of ministry. Fresh consideration is given to pastoral care, church discipline, effective evangelism, leadership training, God-centered worship, contemporary theological challenges, and church planting.

Gospel Spirituality

These courses are designed to furnish pastors and leaders with an enhanced commitment to their own spiritual and theological formation. In a manner uniquely influenced by the gospel, specific attention is directed at developing intimacy with God, peers, parishioners, and family members.

Courses encompass four-month enrollment periods, with a week-long intensive seminar scheduled approximately in the middle of the course. Pre-seminar preparation and post-seminar projects are part of each course, and are completed by the student over the enrollment period. Specific dates for courses are available on the website or from the D.Min. Office.

Sample Elective D.Min. Courses

Grace and Discipline: God's Grace and the Practice of the Spiritual Disciplines Jerry Bridges
Preaching and Pastoralia R. Kent Hughes
Doctrinal Preaching: The Holy Spirit and Preaching Robert Smith, Jr.
Christ-Centered Preaching Bryan Chapell
Preaching Through the Epistles of John D. A. Carson
Preaching the Gospel from the Old Testament Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Friendly Fire: Theological Issues That Are Dividing Evangelicals Bruce Ware
Jesus - Centered Pastoral Leadership Zack Eswine
Gospel-Driven Spirituality Scotty Smith

Degree Requirements (Cohort Track)

The Cohort Track consists of 8 required courses, a dissertation product, and a final dissertation demonstration. The cohort maintains a singular focus on one ministry emphasis with a high-level of community of learning with fellow ministry practitioners and cohort faculty. In the 2018-2019, academic year there will be one cohort group: Christ-Centered Preaching. In the past, we have included a Gospel-Centered Coaching Cohort. New cohorts will be formed in response to student demand.

The cohort will begin with DM 701 Effecting Gospel-Centered Transformation as the first class. The concluding class of the cohort will be DM 702 Research Design and Methodology. The remaining six classes are required, non-elective classes and fit with the ministry focus of the cohort. The student must take all the classes associated with his/her specific cohort.

Courses encompass four-month enrollment periods, with a week-long intensive seminar scheduled approximately in the middle of the course. Pre-seminar preparation and post-seminar projects are part of each course, and are completed by the student over the enrollment period. Specific dates for courses are available on the website or from the D.Min. Office.

Sample Elective D.Min. Cohort Courses

Preaching and Pastoral Ministry Tony Merida
Preaching and New Testament Literature Dan Doriani
Preaching and Application Zack Eswine
Doctrinal Preaching Robert Smith Jr.

Doctor of Ministry Curriculum Plan

Required D.Min. Courses:
DM701 Effecting Gospel-Centered Transformation 3
DM702 Research Design and Methodology 3
DM791 D.Min. Dissertation 6+
Electives: 18 credits
Total: 30+ credits