Are you thinking about going back to school to earn an online Doctor of Ministry degree? Do you want to grow your knowledge of Scripture, theology, and teaching so you’re better equipped to lead and serve others?
Doctor of Ministry degrees provide an opportunity for ministers to gain new skills and experience that they can apply to their careers.
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You can study biblical principles, leadership methods, strategies for reaching out to your community, and topics related to your concentration of choice.
Online Doctor of Ministry Degree Programs
Doctor of Ministry degree programs focus on the practice of ministry. They are aimed at students who are furthering their careers in ministry, usually while working for a church, parachurch organization, or nonprofit.
If you already have an established career in ministry, earning a doctorate of ministry may help qualify you to move to positions with more responsibility. For instance, an associate pastor might become prepared to act as a head pastor.
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Earning a doctorate can also help qualify you to teach at the postsecondary level. In a DMin program, you can learn about strategies and solutions for dealing with challenges you might face in performing ministerial work. Your instructors will likely be people who have also served as ministers.
Some subjects you might study while earning a doctorate degree in ministry include:
- Research methods
- Transformational leadership
- Contextual-theological analysis
- Church history
- Hebrew scriptures
You can also discuss how to apply this knowledge to real-life problems so that you can better perform your ministerial duties. An online doctorate in ministry degree typically includes a thesis requirement as well. Many online pastoral ministry degree programs also feature on-campus intensives or other occasional in-person activities so you have the opportunity to form a community with your fellow students.
Common D.Min. Degree Concentrations
Many online DMin programs allow you to choose a concentration within the program so you can customize your education to best suit your goals and interests. Here are some commonly available concentrations.
DMin in Biblical Studies
A Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Studies will teach you about the historical context of the Bible, different methods for analyzing Scripture, different interpretations of Scripture, and how to relate Scripture to modern life. Knowledge of the Bible is useful in every type of ministry.
Earning a concentration in biblical studies can help equip you to provide others with clear and accurate information about Scripture. You can learn about the historical background of each book of the Bible—such as when it was originally written and to what type of audience—so you can apply this lens to your own understanding.
DMin in Chaplaincy
A Doctor of Ministry in Chaplaincy is intended for students who would like to pursue careers as hospital or military chaplains. It’s also for those who already work as chaplains but want to further their education. As a chaplain, you can help those who cannot attend traditional churches and worship services by providing them with Scriptural teaching and guidance. You can also pray with them and have spiritual conversations.
A chaplaincy concentration typically covers the unique challenges facing military servicemen, hospital and hospice patients, and others who cannot get to church. You can learn how to address these people with compassion and respect.
DMin in Ministry Leadership
A Doctor of Ministry in Ministry Leadership focuses on developing your speaking, writing, and personal leadership skills as they apply to ministry.
You can learn about congregational systems and styles and how to keep a church or other ministry organization running efficiently and effectively. You’ll likely study strategies for leading staff and congregations through situations of change, church growth, community outreach, and vision development for the future of your organization.
This concentration might be most useful for a student wanting to work as the head pastor of a church or as a leader at a parachurch organization or nonprofit.
DMin in Pastoral Counseling
A Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling can help you learn how to use Scripture and spiritual practices to provide people with support and guidance during difficult times in their lives. You can learn how to walk people through decision-making and problem-solving processes, and you can learn effective questions to ask to make it easier for people to process and communicate.
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You’ll likely study relationship dynamics for couples and families and explore how to lead effective counseling sessions with individuals, couples, families, and small groups. You can also learn how to respectfully discuss religion and spirituality within the context of a counseling session.
DMin in Preaching
A Doctor of Ministry in Preaching focuses primarily on honing your skills in public speaking and presentation. You can also study related topics, such as how to conduct academic research while writing a sermon. Apologetics and homiletical instruction are also commonly included in the coursework for a preaching concentration.
An online DMin in Preaching will likely include some opportunities for you to practice preaching for your instructors and classmates and receive feedback for improvement. A DMin in Preaching could be useful for a minister who regularly delivers sermons.
DMin in Spiritual Formation
A Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation teaches you about how to develop your own faith and how to help other people develop theirs.
You can develop a deeper understanding of the meanings of various Christian traditions. You can also learn about world religions and how to have meaningful discussions with people from other faith backgrounds. You’ll likely explore different types of prayer and study what the Bible teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.
A DMin in Spiritual Formation could be useful for a minister who works directly with people and wants to be prepared to discuss deep and complex questions.
DMin in Theology and Apologetics
A Doctor of Ministry in Theology and Apologetics focuses on how to discuss theology logically and how to formulate persuasive arguments about theological topics. Conducting scholarly research is also a significant part of a theology and apologetics concentration.
You can learn how to defend your beliefs and explain them clearly to others, including those outside the faith. You can also develop an extensive background in theological and Scriptural knowledge that you can reference when speaking, teaching, and having discussions with other people. You’ll likely study philosophy, critical thinking, and logic as well.
A concentration in theology and apologetics could be useful for someone working in almost any type of ministry position.
Ministry Careers & Salaries
Most professionals who earn a Doctor of Ministry degree work in various clergy positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median annual salaries for a variety of ministry and ministry-related careers.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers||$76,160|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$69,600|
|Writers and Authors||$67,120|
|Clergy, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$55,990|
|Music Directors and Composers||$52,250|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$51,340|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$47,660|
|Clergy, Religious Organizations||$46,720|
|Religious Activities and Education Directors||$45,110|
Depending on your education, work background, and degree concentration, you may also be able to pursue a variety of options beside clergy. Some graduates want to work as a postsecondary teacher, manage a social and community service organization, or become a writer.
Doctorate in Ministry Curriculum & Courses
Here are examples of courses you might take while earning your Doctor of Ministry degree:
- Communities of Faith: In this course, you’ll study how to help members of faith-based groups strengthen their relationships, bond with each other, and care for one another in times of need.
- Faith in Today’s Culture: In this course, you’ll study the modern church’s role in society.
- Christian Spiritual Formation: In this course, you’ll study how to help others grow in their faith.
- Theological Foundations of Ministry: In this course, you’ll study Christian leadership traditions and what the Bible says about church leadership.
- Biblical Leadership in Church Revitalization: In this course, you’ll study how to apply biblical leadership principles to growing a healthy church.
- Biblical and Philosophical Foundations of Disciple Making: In this course, you’ll study the concept of discipleship as it is described in the New Testament, and you’ll explore how to apply the concept in the modern world.
- Growth and Development of the Contemporary Minister: In this course, you’ll discuss various challenges facing modern ministers and how to respond to them.
- Biblical Foundations for Evangelistic Church Planting: In this course, you’ll learn about how to successfully start new churches.
- Preaching and Teaching the Grand Story of the Bible: In this course, you’ll study the Bible as an overarching narrative and discuss how to present it to other people.
- Thesis Seminar: In this course, you’ll conduct research for your thesis and prepare to defend it.
Exact course titles and requirements will vary at different universities, and the courses you take can also depend upon your chosen concentration.
How to Choose an Online Doctor of Ministry Program
There are many factors you may want to consider when choosing your online Doctor of Ministry program. Here are some things to think about:
- Denomination. You may want to choose a program that is affiliated with your chosen denomination or whose teachings are aligned with your denomination.
- Available concentrations. Different schools may offer different concentrations, so it’s beneficial to search for a school that offers the concentration you are most interested in.
- Opportunities for in-person experiences. Many online Doctor of Ministry programs include occasional in-person experiences. You may want to consider how often you want to go to campus to participate in these kinds of activities.
Since there are many programs available, you can explore your options to find the one that best meets your needs and preferences.
Here are some common admissions requirements for Doctor of Ministry degree programs:
- Master of Divinity or a related degree from an accredited school
- Minimum GPA of 3.3, on average
- At least 5 years of experience working in full-time ministry
- Statement of purpose essay
- Ministry experience essay
Some schools also ask that applicants provide letters of recommendation. Admissions requirements can vary significantly at different universities and seminaries. Most schools detail their admissions requirements on their websites.
Doctor of Ministry Programs Accreditation
When applying to Doctor of Ministry degree programs, you may want to specifically seek out schools that have received regional accreditation.
If a school has regional accreditation, that means it is regularly reviewed by an outside organization to ensure that it provides its students with a quality education. Most schools provide information about their accreditation status and accrediting agency on their website. For more information about regional accreditation, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
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Doctor of Ministry programs can also often receive programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many financial aid opportunities available to help qualifying students pay for their education. You may be able to qualify for state or federal aid, employer programs, grants, or scholarships from your university or seminary.
Some schools offer tuition discounts for current and former military members, and religious organizations sometimes have scholarships available specifically for students of ministry. To apply for federal financial aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
What Is a DMin Degree?
A Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree is a type of professional doctoral degree for those who work in ministry. Doctor of Ministry students take courses in subjects that can help them develop as ministers. For instance, you can take courses on church history, biblical interpretation and analysis, and leadership strategies.
In addition, DMin students typically complete an original thesis demonstrating their expertise on a ministry-related topic. A Doctor of Ministry program is usually focused not only on developing theoretical knowledge but also on applying it in the real world.
Is a Doctor of Ministry a Real Degree?
Yes, a Doctor of Ministry is a real degree. It is an application-oriented, professional doctorate. A Doctor of Ministry teaches advanced knowledge and skills related to the field of ministry. Your studies can include topics like church history and traditions, biblical interpretation and analysis, and contemporary issues facing the church.
Doctor of Ministry students may conduct research on how to solve practical problems in ministry. This type of degree program is often focused on the practical applications of knowledge rather than on academic research.
What Can I Do with a Doctor of Ministry?
A Doctor of Ministry degree is intended for those who work as clergy or who work in other roles at religious organizations. Alternatively, some professionals may go on to teach ministry and ministry-related subjects at the postsecondary level.
If you already work in ministry, earning a Doctor of Ministry may help you advance your career. For instance, as you further develop your leadership skills and your understanding of theology, you may become better equipped to lead a church as a senior pastor or to lead a nonprofit organization.
Many Doctor of Ministry programs are designed so that you can continue working in your current position while earning your degree.
How Long Does It Take to Get a DMin Online?
A doctoral degree generally takes 3 to 5 years to complete with full-time enrollment. Exactly how long it takes may depend on a variety of factors, such as how many credit hours of coursework are required and whether your program requires you to complete a dissertation.
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Professional doctorates that don’t require a dissertation may be completed in less time with full-time study. In contrast, enrolling part-time may extend your time to completion. Many Doctor of Ministry programs use a cohort model, in which you enter and leave the program with the same group of fellow students. A cohort model may make it easier to stay on schedule and finish your degree within a planned time frame.
What Jobs Can I Get with a DMin Degree?
Some ministry professionals who have earned a DMin work as a senior pastor of church, an executive director of a nonprofit organization, or a postsecondary teacher at a university or seminary.
A Doctor of Ministry can be useful in a variety of careers since the coursework encourages the development of practical problem-solving skills in addition to theoretical theological knowledge. A Doctor of Ministry can also help you become better qualified for leadership positions.
Do You Call a DMin Doctor?
Yes, a person who has earned a Doctor or Ministry can be referred to with the title doctor, but being a Doctor of Ministry is quite different from being a medical doctor (MD).
The DMin degree belongs to the class of degrees called professional doctorates, which is a type of degree program in which you learn advanced knowledge and skills related to a specific profession. Scholars who earn terminal doctoral degrees can be called doctor since they are considered experts in their prospective fields. It is an academic title rather than a medical one.
What’s the Difference Between a DMin vs. PhD in Ministry?
A Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is different from a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Ministry. Here are some key differences.
|Doctor of Ministry||PhD in Ministry|
Both a DMin and a PhD in Ministry can include similar coursework on theology.
What’s the Difference Between a Doctor of Ministry vs. Doctor of Divinity?
Here are some differences between a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) and a Doctor of Divinity (DDiv):
- Doctor of Ministry: A DMin is a professional doctorate that can be earned at a university or seminary.
- Doctor of Divinity: A DDiv is usually an honorary degree given to a minister who is very well-known or accomplished.
Both a Doctor of Ministry and a Doctor of Divinity are religious titles.
Is a DMin Worth It?
Yes, a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is worth it for many professionals. Earning a Doctor of Ministry can help you expand your theological knowledge and hone your leadership skills. It could also lead to new job opportunities in the field of ministry.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently projects positive job growth for clergy over the next decade. Employment for community and social service occupations is expected to grow 12% over the same period of time.
Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Ministry Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Bethel University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. Students must add a concentration in Biblical and Theological Engagement, Church Leadership, Congregation and Family Care, or Transformational Leadership. To graduate, students must complete 48 credit hours and a dissertation. Applicants may apply online through the school’s website. Enrollment counselors may be contacted for assistance.
Bethel University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Boston University offers an online Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership. To graduate, students must complete 32 credit hours, including a research project in their final year, with a final grade of B in all courses. Applicants must submit three letters of reference, a personal statement, and an application essay.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Catholic University of America offers online Doctor of Ministry degrees in Evangelization, Liturgical Catechesis, and Spirituality. Each program requires students to complete 10 courses in three years to graduate. Those interested in the programs must have a Master of Divinity with a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible.
The Catholic University of America is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Clarks Summit University offers an online Doctor of Ministry degree program. Classes in the program are 8 weeks long.
Students may choose between Bible Exposition, Ministry, or Pastoral concentrations to add to their degree. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. Applicants may apply online through the school’s website. Admissions counselors may be contacted for assistance.
Clarks Summit University is accredited by The Commissions on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Duke University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. Though the degree program is online, it does require five separate week-long residencies. To graduate, students must complete 10 courses, a thesis, and a student portfolio. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have five years or experience in the field and a master’s with a minimum GPA of 3.3.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Emory University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. Students may choose between the Church Leadership and Community Witness or the Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation tracks. Students must complete 32 credit hours and a final project to graduate. Applicants must have a relevant master’s degree and three years of experience to be eligible for the program.
Emory University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Fordham University offers a Doctor of Ministry with Spirituality and Generalist concentrations. Students must complete 36 credit hours and a doctoral project to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a master’s degree in the field or three years of experience, a personal statement, and three letters of reference.
Fordham University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the Middle States Association.
Fuller Theological Seminary offers a Doctor of Ministry degree with the option to complete an online personal track. The track requires students to complete 48 credit hours, including a dissertation and a mentorship program. Applicants must have a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and current work experience in the field.
Fuller Theological Seminary is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
George Fox University offers a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation. The program requires students to obtain 38 semester hours to graduate. Students in the program are divided into cohorts that meet once a week online. Applicants may submit an online application with official transcripts.
George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online Doctor of Ministry degree program. The program’s content courses are 12 weeks long, with the final week held in-person. The research courses are 8 weeks long and completely online. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website.
Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lancaster Bible College offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. Students may choose to add a concentration in Strategic Leadership to the degree. Though the program requires an 18-day residency, the 34 credit hours and capstone project that are required may be completed online. Applicants must submit an online application with official transcripts and GRE or MAT test scores.
Lancaster Bible College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. All classes are offered online and 8 weeks long. Students may add one of 14 different concentrations, such as Worship or Ministry Leadership, to their degree. Applicants must have a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Luther Rice College and Seminary offers an online Doctor of Ministry degree program. Though the program’s classes may be taken online, four on-campus seminars are required. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have a master’s degree in the field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and submit a research paper and a personal statement.
Luther Rice College and Seminary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
North Greenville University offers an online Doctor of Ministry degree program. Students must complete 32 credit hours and a final dissertation to graduate. Non-research classes begin with a week-long intensive before switching to an online practicum. Those interested in the program must submit official transcripts, references, and an admissions essay. An interview may also be required.
North Greenville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Regent University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. The online program requires the completion of 36 credit hours. A concentration in Chaplain Ministry and Leadership or Christian Leadership and Renewal may be added to the degree. Applicants must have a master’s degree in a related field and submit a ministerial resume and copies of their transcripts when applying.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
South College offers a Doctor of Ministry degree that can be completed online. To graduate, students must complete 99 quarter credit hours, including a final capstone project. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and need to complete an interview with the program’s director.
South College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
South University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. The online program requires students to complete 96 credit hours and one of the following: dissertation, ministry project, or supervisory clinical pastoral education. Applicants must have a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and need to complete an interview with the program director.
South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a Doctor of Ministry degree with 11 specialization options students can add to their degree. To graduate, students must complete 31 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and three years of experience.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeastern University offers a Doctor of Ministry degree. The program is offered online and requires students to complete 36 credit hours and in-person cohort meetings to graduate. Applicants must have three years of experience and submit transcripts from all schools they’ve previously attended, two references, and a personal statement.
Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a Doctor of Ministry. The program requires students to complete 30 credit hours and three cohort meetings to graduate. Courses are taken one at time. Applicants must have a master’s degree consisting of 72 credit hours and professional experience to be eligible for the program.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Doctor of Ministry Online
Getting a Doctor of Ministry online could help you develop advanced skills for your current position or equip you to pursue future opportunities.
A Doctor of Ministry degree online program can help you dive deeper into biblical studies and prepare you to answer questions and explain complex theological concepts to laypeople. It can also provide you with a supportive community of like-minded individuals with whom you can discuss the various challenges of working in ministry.
Most online Doctor of Ministry programs are structured in such a way that you have some opportunities to meet with instructors and classmates in person. You still have the convenience, though, of completing most of your coursework remotely.
You can take the first step in your doctoral journey today by exploring accredited universities and seminaries!