St. Mary's Seminary & University

DMin Program Structure


The DMin is a 30-credit degree designed to be completed in 3-4 years. The program requires:

  • Six intensive courses (one per term for two years)
  • Three research modules (online)
  • One ministry project with thesis


The DMin requires six of the following seven courses.

Reading Scripture (3 credits)
An exploration of approaches to reading Scripture for Christian faith, formation, ministries, and mission. Special emphasis will be given to (1) selected parts of the canon (both Testaments, diverse genres); (2) various approaches to reading the Bible as Scripture, including the main Christian traditions and several different cultures; (3) recent developments in theological and missional hermeneutics; and (4) the connection between Scripture and the student’s ministry and DMin project. 

Living Doctrine  (3 credits)
An exploration of how theology enlivens Christian understanding, formation, and ministry.  Working through the full spectrum of Christian doctrines, the course will note how Christian doctrine serves as a (1) lens for analysis of our current historical situation; (2) script for Christian speaking, living, and ministry; and (3) foundational component of the student’s ministry and DMin project. 

Case Studies in Church and Community Leadership (3 credits)
This course involves a study of several leaders and their leadership—like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Oscar Romero—along with two generic group case studies that the class will work through.

Enculturating Ministry  (3 credits)
Effective ministry incarnates the mission of God in the overall societal context and the specific cultures in which the minister serves.  This course will attempt to equip the student to understand both the contemporary worldview and the specific culture(s) in which the student is serving, so as to be able to sensitively and effectively embody the good news in that setting. 

Healing Trauma  (3 credits)
Almost every human being has been touched by trauma in some form, and so have many congregations, communities, and institutions. Therefore, all ministry occurs in the context of trauma. This course provides an immersion in understanding the spectrum and nature of trauma, along with its profound effects on the brain, psyche, and spirit. This course encourages each student to consider the traumas in his or her life and their contribution (positive or negative) to the way he or she does ministry. This course equips the minister or pastoral helper to be a non-anxious presence, providing accurate unflinching empathic witness to suffering and to assess the need for other kinds of care, facilitating an appropriate referral when indicated. Understanding trauma in depth requires theological reflection on its meaning and sources of authentic healing.  

Leading Leaders  (3 credits)
Most ministry involves the exercise of leadership in some capacity, but the types of ministry to which people are called later in their careers often involve leadership responsibilities relative to others exercising leadership.  This course prepares students to meet the leadership challenges that they are increasingly likely to encounter as their ministry matures. Instruction in this course will include extended times of interaction with senior leaders from diverse denominational and ministry contexts.

Embodying Scripture  (3 credits)
An exploration of how Scripture finds embodiment in Christian thinking, feeling, and acting, in personal and communal/social dimensions. The course explores how the biblical text, engaged as Scripture, 1) frames how we see and engage the world; 2) forms our character and communities; and 3) patterns our performance of the gospel. Embodying Scripture integrates the traditional disciplines of Christian formation, spirituality, and ethics/moral theology, as well as theo-cultural hermeneutics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research Modules

Concurrently with coursework, students learn ministry research and design in three self-paced, online ministry modules. 

Researching Ministry (2 credits)
The first module is taken during the first year of coursework. This module prepares students to do high quality, context specific ministry research. Students will 1) understand why ministry needs research; 2) develop a significant, but achievable, research question; 3) begin work on a project-specific bibliography; and 3) identify data needs and potential participants for the development and execution of the envisioned project.

Creating Ministry (2 credits)
The second module is taken during the second year of coursework. This module prepares students to design high quality, high impact ministry. Students will 1) learn to critically examine their context, in order to develop the most appropriate intervention or resource; 2) consider more deeply the most appropriate data to be collected (including the timing of such collection), with emphasis on the pros and cons of various types of data; 3) learn about various ways to evaluate data; and 4) reflect on their own ministry calling and the role this project plays in that calling.

Proposing Ministry (2 credits)
The third module is ordinarily taken after coursework is completed. It is a hybrid, beginning on-line and concluding with an in-person approval of the student’s ministry project proposal.  Students will develop a feasible proposal (including workable plans for implementation, revision, and documentation) and secure a Project Advisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

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St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute has a rolling admissions policy. Students may apply at any time, and may begin study in any semester (fall, spring, or summer).

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