Doctor of Ministry Description and FAQs

The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree provides advanced professional training in the practice of biblically and theologically oriented ministry to those actively involved in vocational ministry.

 

The DMin degree is the highest professional degree for those engaged in local church and parachurch ministries. It is the highest professional degree offered by Shepherds Theological Seminary (STS). As a professional doctorate, the DMin is analogous to those offered in education (EdD), law (JD), medicine (MD), or dentistry (DDS), but is unlike academic doctorates (PhD, ThD) which, by comparison, primarily equip students to engage in scholarly research and teaching. DMin studies are built on a foundation of biblical theology and ministry theory, but focus on practical aspects of ministry.

 

The DMin degree at STS is in ministry rather than in residence. Students will find themselves at STS usually two or three weeks out of the entire year. This allows students to remain in their current ministry, incorporating their studies directly and immediately. The program requires three years of study and includes research projects and real-world engagement as part of the graduate requirements. The DMin is structured to improve leadership qualities of a ministry leader while sharpening their discernment and focus within their area of ministry.

 

The normal requirements for enrollment into this degree demand that: 1) the student has earned the MDiv or its academic equivalent (72+ hours), and 2) the student must have a minimum of three years vocational (or bi-vocational) ministry experience.

 

Upon completion of the DMin degree at STS, the student will be prepared to do the following:
• evaluate their own personal, spiritual, and professional development;
• manifest a maturing and Spirit-filled character as servant-leaders;
• contribute to the practice of ministry for greater local church and parachurch effectiveness.

 
 

Details and DMin FAQs

 

1. What Degree Tracks / Concentrations is STS offering?

 

The DMin program offers four tracks (concentrations) of study:
1) DMin, Pastoral Ministry and Leadership
2) DMin, Executive Management and Ministry Leadership (recommended concentration especially for Executive and Associate Pastors, as well as Senior Pastors)
3) DMin, Biblical Counseling and Care
4) DMin, Advanced Biblical and Theological Studies

 

2. What is the program structure?

 

The DMin degree at STS is designed as a three-year, 32-hour program. The degree requires twenty-four (24) hours of study: five seminars/courses (total of 20 hours); one contextualized learning experience, with on-line components (4 hours); plus a doctoral research and methods workshop (2 hours); and the successful completion of a dissertation or research project (6 hours).

 

Each DMin course (seminar) is equivalent to four semester credit hours. Students complete relevant reading and assignments before and after an in-resident portion, which meets on the STS campus. The resident portion of the courses normally occur in October, and March/April.

 

During pre-residence, students prepare for the resident portion of the seminar by reading assigned books and completing practical assignments (and occasional on-line interaction with professors). The resident portion is the time during which students meet together as a class with their professors. The post-resident portion calls for the integration of the course content with the student’s ministry, whereby students are usually required to complete one or more projects or assignments related directly to the course material covered in the course/seminar. The projects accomplish two purposes: (1) to reinforce, expand, and provide a practical experience relative to the seminar content, and (2) to assist the student in preparing for the research project or dissertation that will culminate the student’s degree program.

 

The Research Project will normally take one year – the third year of the program – to complete. It requires approval of a research project or dissertation proposal by the DMin Committee, research, writing, completion of the dissertation or research project, and oral defense of the dissertation or research project.

 

3. What are the program requirements?

 

Completion of 32 Credit Hours (consisting of the following)
• 8-hour foundational/core (2 required DMinc ourses; 4 credit-hours per course)
• 12-hour concentration in one of the four concentrations (3 courses; 4 credit-hours each)
• 4-hour Contextualized Learning Experience (CLE) (applied in a ministry setting)
Note: Students may substitute another course (elective) for the CLE.
• 2-hour Research Methods course/workshop (completed in an on-campus format)
• 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

Transfer of Credit

 

Transfer of credit for the DMin may not exceed 8 credit hours. Doctoral-level credit completed at another institution may be applied toward the DMin degree if those hours constitute equivalent work. Requests for transfer of credit should be directed to the director of DMin studies. Plans to take other courses for transfer credit must be approved prior to taking any courses.

 

Successful Completion of Courses and Degree Time Limit

 

A minimal grade of B (3.0) must be earned in every course credited toward graduation and also on the research project or dissertation. All work leading to the DMin degree must be completed in no less than three years and no more than five years from the time of matriculation.

 

4. Will STS offer an online or distance learning program?

 

The DMin program at Shepherds Theological Seminary places a high value on creating a transformational face to face learning environment that will build intimate community between faculty and students. Because of this, STS will likely not offer the entire program online. Students will travel to the campus in Cary at least one week each year (October) for two years in order to participate in the seminars/courses. Spring concentration courses may be taken in residence or via online, interactive medium.

 

5. Is the program individually structured and does each student’s proceed at their individual pace?

 

While the DMin at STS follows a standard model in which students, in consultation with their advisor, design and customize their degree plan around individual ministry needs and goals, the program normally follows a cohort model. In the cohort model, students proceed through the resident part of the program together. The cohort model has the advantage of providing a community experience with fellow learners and faculty members. This collaborative learning model places great emphasis on building relationships with and among fellow students and faculty and creates an effective learning community. Each cohort will normally complete the DMin degree in three years.

 

6. What courses comprise the foundational/core courses required for all DMin students?

 

Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues

 

7. What are the purposes (distinctions) and courses in the various concentrations?

 

Please note the description and the courses for each of the four concentrations below.

 

Doctor of Ministry, Pastoral Ministry and Leadership

 

The Pastoral Ministry and Leadership concentration is designed to equip one for the practice of ministry at a higher level of competence than that achieved in the foundational work done in the MDiv. The purpose is twofold. First, the concentration aims to build on the shepherding skills and competencies gained through previous MDiv studies, while integrating subsequent ministry experience for the purpose of sharpening and deepening those skills. Foundational areas such as preaching, teaching, leadership and discipleship, and pastoral nurture, will be studied. Although the concentration covers the entire scope of pastoral ministry, students will be encouraged to examine personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as to improve competencies in each of these areas. The challenges presented to the contemporary cultural context of ministry will also be considered. Careful attention will be given to the relationship of biblical theology to ministry practice. Second, the concentration strives to enable the student to make a significant contribution to the field of pastoral ministry through the research project or dissertation. This concentration will focus on advanced studies in the major areas required in the pursuit of the first professional degree (the MDiv) – OT and NT studies, biblical interpretation, theology, preaching, ministry leadership, and pastoral care and counseling. In addition to the general learning outcomes for the DMin degree program, upon completion of this concentration students will be able to do the following: 1) enhance identified ministerial skills such as preaching, teaching, and leadership; 2) communicate God’s Word effectively through preaching, teaching, writing or other media; and 3) develop innovative and research-based solutions to the leadership demands of today and tomorrow.

 

As a 32-hour program, the DMin degree with this concentration consists of:
• 8-hour foundational/core (2 required DMin courses; 4 credit-hours per course)
Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues
• 12-hour concentration in one of the four concentrations (3 courses; 4 credit-hours each)
• 4-hour contextualized learning experience (applied concentration in a ministry setting)
Note: Students may substitute another course (elective) for the CLE.
• 2-hour Research Methods course/workshop (completed in an on-campus format)
• 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

Concentration Electives (3 or 4 courses from these concentration electives):
Advanced Ecclesiology & the Practice of Ministry
Advanced Hermeneutics & Biblical Interpretation
Advanced Expository Preaching
Contemporary Issues in Preaching from OT & NT Texts
Preaching & Teaching on the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Advanced Pedagogy: Methods of Creative Teaching & Learning
Biblical & Contemporary Models of Christian Leadership
Applied Theology: Culture, Christian Worldview, & Ethics
Issues in Dispensational & Covenantal Theology
Advanced Organizational Leadership & Ministry Management
Developing Leaders (Lay Leadership) in Your Ministry
Church Planting and Extension
Church Boards: The Theology, Design, Role, & Responsibilities of Officers, Elders & Deacons
Church Health, Vision, & Strategic Planning
The History, Theology & Philosophy of Biblical Counseling
Congregational Soul Care
Contemporary Ministry Care & Counseling Issues: Problems and Procedures
Biblical Manhood & Womanhood

 

Doctor of Ministry, Executive Management and Ministry Leadership

 

The Executive Management and Ministry Leadership concentration is designed for executive leaders in nonprofit organizations and parachurch ministries. This concentration is particularly suited for CEOs and senior officers who desire to take their management and administrative skills to a higher level of competency as servant leaders. In addition to the general learning outcomes for the DMin degree program, upon completion of this concentration students will be able to: 1) enhance their ministerial skills in the areas of leadership and administration; and 2) refine their ability to lead congregations effectively in situations of change.

 

As a 32-hour program, the DMin degree with this concentration consists of:
• 8-hour foundational/core (2 required DMin courses; 4 credit-hours per course)
Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues
• 12-hour concentration in one of the four concentrations (3 courses; 4 credit-hours each)
• 4-hour contextualized learning experience (applied concentration in a ministry setting)
Note: Students may substitute another course (elective) for the CLE.
• 2-hour Research Methods course/workshop (completed in an on-campus format)
• 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

Concentration Electives (3 or 4 courses from these concentration electives):
Advanced Ecclesiology & the Practice of Ministry
Advanced Organizational Leadership & Ministry Management
Biblical & Contemporary Models of Christian Leadership
Leading from the Second Chair: Understanding the Role of the Executive Pastor (or Associate)
Church Boards: The Theology, Design, Role & Responsibilities of Officers, Elders & Deacons
Legal & Practical Administration: Constitutions, Bylaws, Personnel Issues, Finances, Architecture, Safety & Security, and State-of-the-Art Church Technology
Church Health, Vision, &Strategic Planning
Developing Leaders (Lay Leadership) in Your Ministry
Church Planting and Extension

 

Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Counseling and Care

 

The Biblical Counseling and Care concentration is designed to equip ministry professionals for leadership in ministering and counseling from a biblical foundation. The purpose of the concentration is to equip students for a high degree of competence in areas associated with pastoral counseling. Specifically, the degree is designed for congregational ministers and others who serve in counseling roles. In addition to the general learning outcomes for the DMin degree program, upon completion of this concentration students will be able to: 1) practice theological reflection with issues of human need and pastoral care; 2) enhance their own skills in counseling and soul care; and 3) communicate and apply God’s Word effectively through personal counseling, teaching, preaching, writing or other media.

 

As a 32-hour program, the DMin degree with this concentration consists of:
• 8-hour foundational/core (2 required DMin courses; 4 credit-hours per course)
Spiritual Transformation &Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues
• 12-hour concentration in one of the four concentrations (3 courses; 4 credit-hours each)
• 4-hour contextualized learning experience (applied concentration in a ministry setting)
Note: Students may substitute another course (elective) for the CLE.
• 2-hour Research Methods course/workshop (completed in an on-campus format)
• 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

Concentration Electives (3 or 4 courses from these concentration electives):
The History, Theology & Philosophy of Biblical Counseling
Advanced Ecclesiology & the Practice of Ministry
Biblical Concepts of Analysis &Diagnosis / Biblical Methodology & Process / Local Church Centrality & Responsibilities
Congregational Soul Care
Contemporary Ministry Care & Counseling Issues: Problems & Procedures
(Offered as a separate course(s) for men and women; deals with issues men and women uniquely face)
Counseling & Legal Issues
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Counseling Practicum

 

Doctor of Ministry, Advanced Biblical and Theological Studies

 

The Advanced Biblical and Theological Studies concentration is based on the understanding that pastors are practicing theologians. As such, this concentration seeks to improve the student’s biblical and theological competencies through advanced studies in hermeneutics and exegesis, advanced theological methodology, awareness of contemporary theological issues, and enhance the student’s skills necessary to creatively and meaningfully communicate biblical and theological concepts to those under their care. In addition to the general learning outcomes for the DMin degree program, upon completion of this concentration students will be able to do the following: 1) increase their understanding of biblical, systematic, and pastoral theology, and relate this understanding to contemporary biblical, theological and ministerial issues; and 2) apply proper hermeneutical methods across the various genres of Scripture.

 

As a 32-hour program, the DMin degree with this concentration consists of:
• 8-hour foundational/core (2 required DMin courses; 4 credit-hours per course)
Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues
• 12-hour concentration in one of the four concentrations (3 courses; 4 credit-hours each)
• 4-hour contextualized learning experience (applied concentration in a ministry setting)
Note: Students may substitute another course (elective) for the CLE.
• 2-hour Research Methods course/workshop (completed in an on-campus format)
• 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

Concentration Electives (3 or 4 courses from these concentration electives):
Advanced Ecclesiology & the Practice of Ministry
Advanced Hermeneutics & Biblical Interpretation
Applied Theology: Culture, Christian Worldview, & Ethics
Contemporary Issues in Dispensational & Covenantal Theology
Contemporary Issues in Preaching from OT & NT Texts
Preaching & Teaching on the Life & Ministry of Jesus Christ
Advanced Pedagogy: Methods of Creative Teaching & Learning
Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
The Geographical and Historical Setting of the Bible (with Study in Israel)

 

DMin Course Requirements / Course Calendar / Concentration Courses

 

Requirements

 

Core Courses: (10 credit-hours)
Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership: The Personal & Professional Life of the Ministry Leader
The Servant-Leader as Theologian: Addressing Current Theological & Ministerial Issues
Research Methods course/workshop (2 credit hours)

 

Concentration requirements: (16 credit-hours)
• 3 courses (4 credit-hours each) (12 total hours)
• Contextualized Learning Experience (CLE), or substitute another course (elective) (4 hours)

 

Dissertation or research project (6 credit-hours)

 

Total hours = 32

 

Annual Course Calendar (Cycle #1)

 

Year 1 of Cohort
October – prior to 360 Conference (Thursday – Saturday AM; 20 hours in residence)
Spiritual Transformation & Servant-Leadership [Core] – required for all concentrations
Research Methods (Saturday PM, Monday AM; 8 hours in residence) [Core]

 

October – post 360 Conference (Thursday – Saturday AM); 20 hours in residence)
• 3 different concentrations, each offer 1 concentration elective (4 credit hours)

 

Spring (March or April)
• 3 different concentrations, each offer 1 concentration elective (4 credit hours)
• Courses may be taken in residency or via ZOOM

 

Year 2 of Cohort
October – prior to 360 Conference (Thursday – Saturday AM; 20 hours in residence)
The Servant-Leader as Theologian [Core] – required for all concentrations
Research Methods (Saturday PM, Monday AM; for entering cohort only (their year #1)

 

October – post 360 Conference (Thursday – Saturday AM); 20 hours in residence)
• 4 different concentrations, each offer 1 concentration elective (4 credit hours)

 

Spring (March or April)
• 4 different concentrations, each offer 1 concentration elective (4 credit hours)
• Courses may be taken in residency or via ZOOM

 

Year 3 of Cohort – 6-hour dissertation or research project

 

NOTE(S):
1. In year 2 of program, the fourth concentration (track) is introduced into the DMin program.
2. In years 3 and 4 of program, repeat the core course cycle (2-year cycle).
3. Cohorts progress through the program in 3-year cohort-cycles. Exceptions require approval.

 

8. What are the Admission Requirements?

 

In addition to completion of the STS application (including all necessary transcripts), the following prerequisites apply to DMin applicants:
• normally have at least a minimum of two years full-time ministry experience or three years bivocational ministry experience.
• hold the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree or its academic equivalent (72+ hours), or a Master of Arts (MA) degree plus leveling courses in biblical and theological studies necessary to satisfy the 72+ hours. For more information on the MDiv equivalence, please contact the Doctor of Ministry Office or the Registrar’s Office.
• have an academic record that demonstrates academic ability and shows promise of success in doctoral studies.
• a 6-10 page paper which includes: (1) a dated ministry history/resume which evidences growth and competence in ministerial skills and leadership and (2) personal objectives for pursuing the DMin degree.
• a letter of support from the applicant’s leadership board.

 

9. What are the program costs?

 

• Tuition is $450 per credit hour (32 credit hours).
• In addition to tuition, the following fees apply:
– STS student fee – $250 per semester during the course-work phase of the DMin (normally, the four semesters of the course-work phase).
– Resource and library fee – $250 per semester
– A continuation fee of $250 per semester will be applied, 1) during any semester the student matriculates in the DMin degree program but does not enroll in a class, or 2) for each semester that the dissertation or research project extends beyond one year after entering the dissertation / research project phase).

 

10. Who are some of the faculty/adjuncts/visiting/guest instructors under consideration?

 

Stephen Davey, STM, MDiv, DD
David Burggraff, PhD, ThM, DD
Doug Bookman, PhD, ThM
Mark Bailey, PhD, ThM
Eric Bargerhuff, PhD, ThM
Daniel Ebert, PhD, ThM
Philip Burggraff, PhD, ThM
Andreas Köstenberger, PhD
Timothy Laniak, PhD
Larry Pettegrew, ThD, ThM
Michael Vlach, PhD, ThM
Les Lofquist, MDiv, DD, DMin (in progress)
Nicolas Ellen, DMin, PhD
Gary Hallquist, DMin
Daniel Henderson, DMin
Stephen Pritchett, DMin
Joshua Stephens, DMin
David Fletcher, DMin, ThM
Ray Pritchard, DMin
Sam Harbin, DMin
Andrew Burggraff, EdD, MDiv
Thomas Pittman, EdD, ThM
David Gibbs III, JD
Pam Gerace, JD
Vanessa Ellen, PhD
Margaret Köstenberger, PhD
Erwin Lutzer, ThM, DD
Al Potter, DD, MDiv