St. Mary's Seminary & University



Have a question not on the list? Please contact Galen Zook, as we regularly update these Frequently Asked Questions about St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute Doctor of Ministry.

Costs / Finances

How much will it cost? $18,370 is the total program price for those (a) starting this academic year (2024-2025) who (b) sign a PriceLock contract and (c) finish in four years.

What is a PriceLock contract? PriceLock contracts allow students to set up a deferred payment plan (typically 40 equal monthly payments, but other intervals are possible, such as quarterly, annually, etc.) while locking in the current total program price.

Can I pay as I go? Sure, no one is required to use the PriceLock contract. The pay-as-you-go option will increase the total cost of the D.Min., because some costs increase (tuition, student services fees, registration fees, program fees) over time.

Are there hidden costs? No. You will need to buy your own books and cover any research expenses, and pay the graduation fee when you finish. We provide about 25 free meals during the program. If you take longer than 4 years to complete the program you will need to pay continuation fees, which escalate annually.

Are scholarships available? No. (A need-based extended pay plan may be available to students with demonstrated financial need and exceptional potential for achievement.)

Is the Ecumenical Institute’s partnership matching program available? No, but institutional partners are welcome to support D.Min. students.

Curriculum and Courses

Does the D.Min. have a focus? No, except for the focus of your ministry project. This is not a Doctor of Ministry in [fill in the blank]. Each student focuses on their own situation.

How many classes are required for the D.Min.? Six. You will also do three ministry modules and a ministry project (including a thesis).

Are there different classes to choose? Are there electives? Not at this time. All students take the same six classes.

Are the classes online? Students are welcome to attend any of the class sessions in person or via synchronous Zoom calls. Classes will use our course management system (Canvas) to provide students with documents, but there are not online posting requirements.  In addition, there are separate online modules that teach ministry research.

What are ‘Ministry Research Modules’? These 3 sequential learning modules teach you how to do ministry research and develop your proposal for the ministry project.

  • Module 1 is fully online, and you complete it during your first year of study.
  • Module 2 is fully online, and you complete it during your second year of study.
  • Module 3 is fully online.

Will I be in a D.Min. cohort? No. Because different students start in different terms, you will not have a closed cohort. You’ll be enriched by studying with some of the same students in every course you take, and also with new students in each course.

Who teaches in the D.Min. program? D.Min. faculty can be found on the Faculty page of our website. Guest lecturers can be found here.

How does the curriculum integrate head and heart? Each of the six courses has spiritual formation elements integrated into class sessions. Each year, D.Min. students also participate in an afternoon ‘mini-retreat’ scheduled to precede an evening class session.

Why should I do a D.Min. instead of a Ph.D.? The D.Min. and the Ph.D. are very different degrees that involve very different amounts and kinds of work. Earning a D.Min. (like the Ed.D. and the Psy.D.) demonstrates an advanced level of proficiency in a particular professional field, and involves academic work that represents the development of that proficiency in a particular vocational context. The D.Min. is ordinarily completed in 3-4 years on a part-time basis.

The Ph.D. (or Th.D.) is an advanced research degree that is primarily used as a credential demonstrating the ability to teach and conduct academic research. The Ph.D. requires the ability to read multiple foreign languages as research in a particular field requires, involves extensive coursework usually pursued full-time, requires the demonstration of comprehensive knowledge in a particular field, and involves the writing of a substantial dissertation that contributes meaningfully to the body of knowledge in that field. It is highly unusual to complete a Ph.D. in less than four years of full-time effort, and the process often takes several more years. 

Schedule and Calendar

When are courses offered? Fall (Sept-Dec), Spring (Jan-Apr), and Summer (May-Aug) are the D.Min. terms. Fall and Spring courses meet once a month on Thursday evening and Friday (three times, about a month apart). Summer courses typically meet for consecutive days during a given week.

Is a D.Min. term the same as a semester? Basically. D.Min. terms give you four months to work on your course, from preparatory work before intensive class meetings to turning in the final assignment. .

Do you have to start in a particular semester? No, you can begin D.Min. study at any point. If you start at the beginning of a D.Min. term, you start with the appropriate course. If you start in the middle of a D.Min. term, you can begin Ministry Research Module 1 as soon as you are admitted to the program.

What if I need more time? You have seven years to complete all D.Min. requirements. So if you need to take a term off from study, you can. (You pay additional continuation fees for years 5, 6 and 7, however.)

Admission Requirements

  • An accredited master’s degree in a ministry-related area with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a four-point scale)
  • Significant experience in ministry and current ministry engagement 
  • Commitment to deep theological reflection on the practice of ministry 

What master’s degrees count?   

  • Students with the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a four-point scale) meet all educational prerequisites.
  • Students with a master’s degree related to their ministry setting or calling (e.g., an M.A. in ministry, theology, counselling, social work, possibly the M.B.A. or other relevant degree) receive a transcript evaluation regarding their a) ability to interpret scripture, b) ability to interpret their theological tradition, and c) ability to understand and adapt ministry. Normally this requires a minimum of 12 credits in each area. Students with less in one or more areas, or less than 60 graduate credits total, will be asked to ‘backfill.’ 

What is “significant experience in ministry”? Typically, at least three years of continuous ministry, that produces a growing understanding of ministry context and a deepening self-awareness of ministerial identity. 

What does “backfill” mean? Taking additional master’s courses (for students without the M.Div.) to develop significant academic ability in scripture, theology, or ministry. Upon provisional admission to the D.Min. program, a backfilling student will receive a tuition discount for all backfill courses.