The Doctor of Ministry Degree Program


Program Overview

The purpose of the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program is to enhance the practice of ministry for persons who hold the MDiv or an MA in biblical, theological, or ministerial studies (or their educational equivalents) 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 DMin 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. Western’s DMin program connects students to an internationally recognized faculty that affirms this conviction, lives by it, and serves by it. DMin students will enroll in a particular cohort (see below) and then take courses with the men and women in this cohort. After finishing the coursework, a DMin student will prepare 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 DMin 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 practitioner
  • To prompt and deepen the character of the ministry practitioner
  • To refine and supplement the skills of the ministry practitioner

Program learning outcomes:

  • Students 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 context 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

The DMin degree is an advanced professional doctorate that builds on an accredited Master’s degree in a ministry-related area and upon significant ministry experience. In terms of the prerequisite educational requirements for admission to the DMin degree program, applicants possessing the MDiv degree from an institution that is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), and who complete that program with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, are ordinarily considered strong candidates for DMin studies. However, those who apply to the DMin degree program without an accredited MDiv degree may still be admitted, provided they satisfactorily demonstrate satisfaction of the following criteria:

(1) the ability to thoughtfully interpret Scripture and the theological tradition of their ministry context

(2) the capacity to understand and adapt their ministry to its cultural context

(3) a basic self-understanding of their ministerial identity and vocational calling

(4) a readiness to engage in ongoing personal and spiritual formation for their ministry

(5) an accredited master’s degree (or educational equivalent) in an area related to their ministry setting or vocational calling

(6) significant ministerial experience (both past and on-going) that enables them to engage as a ministry peer with other students in this advanced professional doctoral program.

Western assesses an applicant’s readiness for admission to the DMin program through such means as a formal application, analysis of academic and vocational experience, input from personal references, evaluation of writing samples, and oral interviews (when needed). In some cases where satisfaction of the above criteria based on initial application materials is unclear, an applicant may be asked to provide samples of past coursework materials and/or supplemental short essays explaining how the applicant believes certain criteria are satisfied.

An applicant with a Master of Divinity or other master’s degree (or educational equivalent) in an area related to their ministry setting or vocational calling, but 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 application; four professional and personal references; and official transcripts of all college, graduate-level, and seminary education. In addition, doctoral applicants must provide a 10–15 page 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 DMin Website, For a schedule of DMin courses, please see the DMin website.

Degree Requirements (Cohort Track)

The DMin program is a 30-credit hour program, consisting of two foundational courses (6 credits total), six cohort courses (18 credits total), a dissertation project (6 credits total), and a final dissertation demonstration. In keeping with their personal and ministerial goals, students will enroll in one of our cohorts, committing thereby to the take the courses pre-scheduled for the cohort selected. What cohorts are on offer for new enrollment will vary from year to year, with new cohorts in new subject areas being introduced periodically. Currently, we offer cohorts in the following areas:

  • Pastoral and Ministry Leadership
  • Transformational Preaching
  • Theology in Ministry
  • Biblical Languages in Ministry
  • Church and Society
  • Faith, Reason, and the Christian Worldview
  • Spiritual Formation and Soul Care

All cohorts typically begin with DM701 Effecting Gospel-Centered Transformation as the first class. Along the way, students will take DM702 Research Design and Methodology. This class helps with the research and writing of the DMin dissertation. 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-intensive preparation and post-intensive 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 DMin Office.

Sample Elective DMin Cohort Courses


Preaching Galations Dr. Dane Ortlund
Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Sexuality Dr. Todd Wilson
Preaching and Application Dr. Zack Eswine
C.S. Lewis and Friends on Making Disciples in a Post-Christian World Dr. Dwain Tissell
Preaching Old Testament Literature Dr. Steve Mathewson
The Leader's Spiritual Growth Dr. Darryl Dash


Doctor of Ministry Curriculum Plan

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