Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Years to Complete
The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) encourages you to flourish as a pastoral leader who makes and nurtures communities of disciples. Through the DMin program your ministry will benefit from intentional coursework, directed spiritual growth, and formative peer relationships.
Applied learning with direct impact on your ministry.
The guiding values of the Doctor of Ministry program
We believe God’s Kingdom is diverse.
This is evidenced by the varied ethnic traditions, theological perspectives, and practices and insights used for ministry. By cultivating learning cohorts that reflect this God-authored diversity we will invite students to learn in an environment that is rich, deep, and faithful to the ideals of the Gospel itself.
We believe this degree program must serve local churches and leaders.
Therefore, we insist - in pedagogy, classroom engagement, peer groups, and conversation - on beginning with the challenges and opportunities facing our students as they engage in ministry. Students should expect to bring their ministry to the classroom as the starting point for reflective learning. Using inductive, curated, seminar-like conversations, we hope to cultivate communal and particular learning for ministry.
We believe that listening well is crucial for effective Kingdom leadership.
Consequently, our DMin program will strive to engage a listening posture by: a) utilizing faculty who listen well to students; b) insisting that students grow in their own ability to listen well - both to one another and to their ministry context; c) equipping students with effective ethnographic tools; and d) asking students to engage their particular disciplinary lens (i.e. missiology, worship, pastoral care, evangelism, etc.) and demonstrate the capacity to “listen well” to the implications of their work for another context simultaneously.
We believe that life and ministry are complex.
As a result, we are committed to an interdisciplinary and contextual experience throughout the program. Students will regularly be asked to place their experience, knowledge, and insight at intersections of other contexts, disciplines, and human experiences. In so doing students will deepen their understanding of God, the redemptive work of Gods Kingdom - and of the very Gospel itself.
We believe that effective ministry is the product of excellent research and development.
In fact, we are convinced that the church universal is best served by ministry leaders who relentlessly search for truth and wisdom wherever it can be found. Faculty and students will share the responsibility for gleaning ministry contexts, conversations, and integrative learning for crucial insights. The apex of the students’ work will be the writing of a doctoral thesis which responds wisely and biblically to the questions, needs, and concerns of the communities the students are serving.
We believe this degree program should make a difference.
Upon graduation students will be grounded in their personal sense of vocational calling and pastoral identity. Students will be empowered to implement the theologically informed ministry featured in their thesis project in ways that evidence the redeeming work of Christ in our world. Students will also possess a critical set of analytical tools and worldview which will enable them to engage other opportunities and challenges in their respective communities.
The DMin program has been created with the church and ministry leader in mind. The courses, timelines, and flexibility are meant to accommodate the busy schedule of a ministry professional.
The program is designed for students who are actively serving in ministry, and is intended to be completed in 5 years. Each year, students are enrolled in class for 11 months of the year over two academic terms. There are no course requirements in December.
Online & Residential
Coursework is completed through our interactive online learning platform, with one required on-campus, learning session in the middle of each term, aptly named the Residential. Below is a general outline.
- Summer Courses: The DMin 2020 Summer Term is March 1 - July 31
- Winter Courses: The DMin 2021 Winter Term is October 1 - February 28.
Set Your Own Pace
Though a hallmark of the DMin is a peer learning community, students are not bound to a particular cohort. This enables students to complete the program at a pace that fits their particular life situation and learning goals.
The Building Blocks of your Program
The courses below will serve as the core of the Doctor of Ministry program. The themes and framework of these courses will serve as a foundation for your program.
Doctor of Ministry Coursework
Students, often already rich in ministry experience, will arrive at The Abbey to find a fitting launchpad for their DMin studies at CTS. Together with other ministry practitioners, students will engage in various orienting activities for their studies, including: self-assessment of their own spiritual health and development, peer input gathered from key leaders within their own ministry context, and the feedback of others who are beginning their studies at CTS.
The Abbey will begin with the ministry context of a leader, and will seek to draw direct lines of correlation between the leader and ministry, inviting students to initiate a plan for growth and development through the DMin program at CTS.
The product of this self-reflection and peer interaction will be a reflective paper which articulates the student’s current sense of calling and overall health in ministry, as well as deliberate goals, strategies, and means of assessment for their development.
Methods of an Investigative Leader
Astute pastoral leaders know their ministry context: They are keenly aware of the stirring of the Holy Spirit in hearts and culture, but also that which seems stuck and immovable.
Burdened by an awareness of difficult realities and pressed by ministry demands, many ministry practitioners lack the time and space to construct a sound, theologically informed method of investigation which can help them make sense of the challenges unique to their setting.
This course is designed to provide ministry practitioners with the insights and tools needed to make a careful, thorough, and theological investigation of their own contexts and respective challenges.
Students will develop a framework to pursue sound investigation of whatever ministry challenge will be explored in their thesis project.
Interpreting Culture and Ministry Contexts
Wise pastoral leaders will learn the craft of listening to and evaluating the impact of singular voices from their ministry context. Students will be asked to come with data from their own ministry context to contribute to this curated conversation.
Together students will learn ethnographic skills and analysis that will impact and give rise to ministry models that account for the blessed diversity of voices and influences found in their ministry setting.
Students will be introduced to the basics of qualitative research design, the use of quantitative methodology, and philosophies for how research contributes to the health and mission of the church. Students will be equipped with the tools necessary to envision, research, and carry out a defensible DMin thesis project.
Mission of the Church
What is God up to in our world? Some will say “redemption.” We’ll take a closer look at what that redemption looks like in various contexts.
We will explore questions such as: How does the function and act of preaching around the world shape weekly engagement with our context? How do we make sense of the mission of God globally, learning from the Body of Christ so that we can better enrich ministry practices and models in our own context?
Students will be asked to speak with clarity about God’s mission in them and their context, and listen well about the same from others. Students will finish this course with a broader and richer understanding of God’s work in our world, able to use this knowledge to better inform their own research and thesis project.
Theological Reflection on Ministry Experience
This course will invite students to reflect on critical theological themes (biblical, historical, ethical, systematic, etc.) as they relate to the specificity of their context and experience.
Students will develop skills for reflecting theologically on issues that impact their contextual ministry experiences, and will learn to put their theological reflections in conversation with peers in their cohort, and other contexts outside of the student’s immediate ministerial context. This course will also examine significant local and global theological trends impacting the Church.
Careful attention will be given to that which is helpful for the flourishing of ministry and the Mission Dei within the student’s context, as well as that which causes hindrances in ministry practice in the student’s context.
The Church spans various cultures, contexts, social settings, and challenges. This course will try to examine key questions for ministry leadership including: What is leadership? What does it look like for ministry leaders to lead well? What role does context play in the leaders’ ability to be transformative?
This course will wrestle with questions of applied ministry leadership by revisiting important leadership basics (Bowen Theory, Adaptive Leadership, Narrative Leadership, etc.) and also by inviting students to be reflectively engaged in increasing their level of self awareness and contextual awareness.
This course will operate with a functional understanding of the Missio Dei and its impact on the global and local context for ministry.
Return to the Abbey
Once a student has registered for and/or completed 24 credits, they may join in the Return to the Abbey course. This trip to the Abbey serves a variety of functions, including: a) a return to self reflection and an understanding of the growth that has taken place personally over the course of studies, b) an oral exam in which the student will be asked to demonstrate personal and theological insights associated with course work and development, and c) overall theological understanding and insight sufficient to warrant the proposal and pursuit of a major thesis project.
Partnered with your required courses will be elective courses led by current scholars and practitioners designed to meet the needs of ministry leaders
Graduation Requirements and Outcomes
What to Expect
We are excited to come alongside seasoned ministry practitioners in the DMin program. Below are the requirements for graduation from the program, along with the outcomes we hope to see as a sign of a successful program.
- Coursework: Complete 36 credits of coursework, including up to 12 credits of electives and Directed Doctoral Studies.
- The Abbey: Participation in “The Abbey” and the “Return to the Abbey”, both significant episodes of self reflection and learning in the academic process
- Oral Exam: An opportunity to showcase theological and personal learning by way of an oral comprehensive exam prior to launching your research project
- Doctoral Dissertation: This is the culmination of your theological learning, peer learning and personal reflection. Your dissertation will be a demonstration of theologically informed and contextual thinking in which you display research findings and ministry models that will address the challenges of ministry in your context and in the broader context of effective ministry today
Graduates of Calvin Seminary’s DMin program will have:
- Demonstrated growth in theological integration, awareness, and ministry skills through critical thinking skills and applied research methods regarding the scope and practice of ministry.
- Developed the ability to assess diverse ministry contexts to determine effective transformational ministry models.
- Developed critical research skills enabling them to develop theologically informed, practically oriented ministry models rooted in qualitative/quantitative research
- Completed a doctoral-level project that contributes new knowledge and understanding of the practice of ministry.
- Demonstrated capacity to engage in ongoing learning, including acts of self-care, peer to peer relationships, and vocational growth for ministry longevity and vitality.
Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid
How Much Will This All Cost?
We believe the Doctor of Ministry program can provide curriculum and conversation that will provide a tremendous benefit to any current ministry leader. While that has strong value, it does not make the questions about program costs any less important. In creating the DMin program, we aimed to keep these costs competitive and manageable. Our simple price tag for the program, along with financial aid and a straightforward payment plan, should provide some clarity, allowing prospective students to focus on whether the next step of a DMin program is right for them.
Tuition and Fees
Total tuition cost for the entire program for the 2020 cohort: $18,000
DMin students will also be required to pay for any fees related to course work including but not limited to:
- Travel costs to the semi-annual Residential portion of the program
- Additional technology-related costs (note: students will be required to have access to reliable high speed internet)
Scholarships and Financial Aid
A limited number of scholarships are available. The application for admissions to the DMin program will also serve as your financial aid application. You will be notified of any award at the time of admission.
Note: students in the DMin program will not have access to any federal loan programs.
Admission Process and Requirements
Applying to the Program
Ready to get started with your application for the Doctor of Ministry program? Below is the information you will need to begin the process, including a list of the requirements to be considered for admission.
Below are the basic requirements to apply for the Doctor of Ministry program. The DMin is a competitive program, so applicants who meet these requirements will merely be considered for admission. See the timetable below for more information.
Required Academic Background
In most cases, applicants to the Calvin Seminary's DMin program must have an earned Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, or an equivalent of an MDiv, ideally from an accredited school.
A cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) from this degree program is required.
Required Ministry Experience
3 years of ongoing ministry leadership experience, post MDiv graduation
Required Character and Competencies
Calvin Seminary will consider the following in the character and ability of the applicants:
A vibrantly lived faith, humble character, and teachable spirit will be sought through peer assessments and references.
The ability to think, write, and interact with others in a manner that is professional, empathic and sensitive/appreciative of cultural and theological diversity.
The ability to communicate ideas with clarity, theological precision and a deep concern for praxis.
Application Materials Needed
The following steps are required as part of the application for the Doctor of Ministry program:
- A completed application
- An up-to-date resume (you will be asked to upload this document within the online application)
- Within the online application, you will be asked to submit three essays, using the following prompts:
- Learning Goals: In an essay of up to 600 words, describe why you are pursuing a DMin, including some of your personal learning goals.
- Self Assessment: In an essay of up to 600 words, evaluate your own intercultural competence, spiritual maturity, and ministry skills/capacity.
- Problem/Purpose Statement: In an essay of up 1000 words, describe 2-3 ministry challenges from your own context which are significant challenges, and which could drive your participation and research in the DMIN program.
- Three online recommendations, including two ministry leader recommendations and one writing recommendation. The online application will ask for you to provide the email addresses of your three references. After your application is submitted, an email form will be sent to these individuals to be completed.
- In addition to the application, official transcripts from any college or university you attended will be required. They can be sent to: Calvin Seminary, attn: Admissions Office, 3233 Burton St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
- If English is not your primary language, a TOEFL test will be required. In order to be considered for admissions, a score of 90 with a 23 in the Writing subsection (and a minimum of 20 preferred in the other subsections) is required. Note: exceptions to this requirement are handled on a case by case basis. Earning a previous degree at an English speaking college or university does not automatically exempt someone from the TOEFL requirement.
Calvin Seminary admits a new class of students to the DMin every summer.
In order to be considered for admission, all application materials must be submitted by April 9.
Admission decisions will be communicated to applicants by mid to late March. A limited number of students are admitted each year. Applicants will be either admitted, waitlisted, or declined admission to the program.
Admitted students must accept their admission by submitting a $250 enrollment deposit by early April, and can plan to begin their coursework by mid April.
Program Leadership and Contact Information
Find out if the DMin program is right for you
The DMin program directors and the admissions office is available and ready to help you discern if the Doctor of Ministry program is right for you.
DMin Program Directors
DMin co-Director, professor of Pastoral Care
DMin co-Director, Director of the Vocational Formation Office
The DMin program is designed to fit into your life and ministry. Coursework is tailored to serve both the needs and schedules of mid-career pastors and ministry leaders.
Read testimonies from current DMin students here.