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What is a Bexley Seabury Doctor of Ministry degree?

The DMin is a post-Master of Divinity degree that deepens and focuses your knowledge and skills in one of two areas: Congregational Development or Preaching. The Bexley Seabury DMin degree, widely recognized as a significant professional credential for leaders of the church, both lay and ordained, enables graduates to become influencers of the church’s life.

What’s the difference between a DMin and a PhD?

The Doctor of Ministry degree is comparatively new on the scene. First authorized by the American Association of Theological Schools in 1970, discussion of an advanced ministerial degree actually began in the 1930s. The D.Min has taken many shapes over the intervening decades. Some wanted a year of practical training added to the traditional three-year program of preparation for professional ministry that is now universally known as the Master of Divinity degree. This additional year would cover topics like budget oversight, fundraising, and motivational skills, topics everyone agreed were essential to church leadership but rarely taught. Others looked to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) model and wanted ordained leaders to study some theological topic of relevance to the practicing church and to write a dissertation summarizing their findings. The Doctor of Ministry degree that finally emerged from these discussions and experiments synthesizes the two approaches. In many DMin programs, there are nine required courses, amounting to an additional year of seminary, and the degree is completed by the writing of a thesis. Unlike a PhD dissertation, this thesis is not intended to demonstrate mastery of a particular niche of academic knowledge but the ability to research, reflect on, and interpret a specific aspect of the shared life of the church.

How is the Bexley Seabury DMin distinctive?

Some Doctor of Ministry programs are open-ended and structured by the participant as a kind of extended sabbatical intended to refresh and renew. The two programs offered by Bexley Seabury focus on achieving competence in a specific field of practical knowledge. With the exception of elective courses, participants move through a standardized curriculum as a cohort, forming significant bonds that continue through the writing of the thesis.

Tell me about the DMin in Preaching program…

This program is offered by the Association of Chicago Theological Schools, comprised of six seminaries in addition to Bexley Seabury, so the student body, faculty and worship are all thoroughly ecumenical. The curriculum consists of three summer residencies of three weeks each at the end of June and the beginning of July. Each residency consists of a Core Course, an Elective, and a Colloquy. Contextual learning continues between residencies in the participant’s community of faith where a Parish Project Group of parishioners participates in the preparation and critique of three project sermons. At the end of the three residencies the participant writes a thesis of about fifty pages that contributes to the life of the church and enhances the ability of its preachers.

Click here to learn more about the ACTS DMin in Preaching and the application process.

Tell me about the DMin in Congregational Development program…

The Bexley Seabury DMin in Congregational Development offers an unparalleled opportunity to study with and learn from outstanding faculty, expert practitioners in fields related to congregational development, and peers. Our DMin program includes collaborative study in small groups, lecture and discussion, online reflection throughout the year with a core group, case studies, a congregational study, and a thesis. Through courses that emphasize the integration of theory and practice, students will learn to reflect theologically on the nature of the church, understand the challenges and opportunities facing today’s faith communities, analyze congregations and their contexts, practice effective community organizing and strategizing, and develop a learning community with others who are asking similar questions. Our DMin students emerge at the end of three years with exceptional skills in leadership and with deeper theological grounding for innovative and effective congregational ministry.

The Curriculum:

The DMin in Congregational Development program requires a minimum of three years and no more than six years to complete. All coursework is offered in one-week intensive sessions that meet in January and in June. The curriculum consists of 28 course credits including nine core courses and two DMin level electives (three credits each unless otherwise indicated).

  • Required Courses
    • Reimagining Congregations in Mission
    • Organizational Systems
    • Community Organizing for Missional Living
    • Diversity and Context
    • Leading Non-Profits in the 21st Century
    • Making Mission Possible in Tough Times
    • Congregational Study (of your local congregation or community; 1 cr.)
    • Research Methods (1 credit)
    • Thesis Proposal Development (2 credits)
  • Two Electives
    • With the DMin Director’s approval, the electives may be taken at another ATS–accredited school for transferable credit or through Guided Study coupled with participation in an approved congregational leadership and development program, such as Living Compass or Healthy Congregations.

Additional Program Requirements

  • Participation in on-line core group throughout the year, with an experienced  practitioner supervisior
  • Reflection papers on relevant readings shared on-line with the core group
  • A case study of an experience from your ministry shared on-line with core group
  • Thesis Project and Oral Defense

Click here to view the Program Pathway to completion of the DMin in Congregational Development.

A new cohort of students begins the program each June; applications are due April 30.  Click here to learn about the application process for the DMin in Congregational Development.

For more detailed information, contact Emlyn Ott, Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs.