Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

Explore creative approaches to contemporary ministry in an international and innovative environment.

The complex challenges of ministry today call for spiritual leaders who can integrate the wisdom of their traditions with a greater understanding of social justice challenges facing their communities.  In our Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program we seek to engage the intersectionality of race, gender, class and culture with theological reflection for faithful and transformative leadership.

The Advanced Pastoral Studies Program at San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) does more than update professional skills and encourage individual growth—it also seeks to tap into the very wellspring of creative ministry. Responding to the changing world of ministry, the Doctor of Ministry program at SFTS is the first in the country to feature a concentration in Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care Research Literacy, equipping chaplains with the tools they need to use and conduct evidence-based research.

Our Doctor of Ministry program is ecumenical, multi-faith, culturally competent, spiritually grounded, and pedagogically innovative. We bring together scholar practitioners from a wide variety of active ministries to learn, explore, and envision creative approaches to community growth and spiritual connection. Designed with an interdisciplinary and contextual research focus, the D.Min. degree provides students a framework to integrate critical theological analysis and biblical reflection with contextually-applied social analysis to examine current issues in ministry.  

Throughout its 50-year history, the program’s hallmark has been the interfaith and international character of the student body and faculty, as well as its engagement with forward-looking scholarship embracing spirituality and social justice. The Seminary’s collaborative learning environment is an incubator for the research and development of innovative and creative approaches, new tools, and novel resources for ministry in a rapidly changing world.

D.Min. students at SFTS design and implement a field research project as the central component of their Dissertation/Project. In preparation for their dissertation/project, stu­dents take a combination of required foundational and elective seminars, tailoring their coursework to their research interests. Within the broad spec­trum of our interdisciplinary/contextual curriculum, students may opt to focus on one of five program concentrations.

Prerequisites for the D.Min. Degree

  • M.Div. degree, or equivalent Master’s degree in theological or religious studies
  • 3 years post-M.Div. professional ministry experience, typically but not necessarily, recognized through ordination
  • An active practice of ministry, providing a context for the student’s research project

Current Course Schedules


Winter Intersession Term begins Oct. 18, 2022 with instructions for pre-intensive course prep.  Students are expected to complete all assigned reading prior to the start of in-person classes.  Pre-Intensive assignments may also include a brief online video conference, short writing assignments or other activities as indicated by the instructor.  Intensive, in-person classes meet as shown in the course schedule below.

  • Application Deadline: September 1, 2022 (International) and September 23, 2022 (U.S.) 
  • Classes run January 10-21, 2023
  • Intersession Lodging:  Please email for information about availability, rates and reservations. The deadline to reserve January Intersession lodging is Friday, December 9, 2022. 




Summer Term begins April 17, 2023 with pre-intensive course preparation. See course Canvas site or syllabus provided by instructor to find your required reading assignments. Pre-Intensive assignments may also include a brief online video conference, writing assignments or other activities as indicated by the instructor.

Come enjoy our lovely campus and opportunities for fellowship with colleagues in ministry. Our on-campus Summer Session includes daily chapel and a community-wide morning break. Intensive, in-person classes meet as shown in the course schedule below.

  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2023 (International) and March 1, 2023 (U.S.) 
  • Classes run June 12-24, 2023
  • Summer Lodging:  Please email for information about availability, rates and reservations. 



Chaplaincy Research Literacy


In today’s health care arena, research literacy is essential for spiritual care practitioners working alongside interdisciplinary colleagues guided by scientific inquiry, and whose practices are guided by research-based evidence.  This Doctor of Ministry concentration is designed for Clinical Pastoral Educators, Board Certified Chaplains, and those seeking professional vocations in spiritual care. 

Professional chaplains and Clinical Pastoral Educators are increasingly asked to identify the most effective means of teaching and providing tools needed by chaplains to successfully perform in research-driven environments. This concentration provides students with the skills to utilize evidenced-based research in their professional settings, and to design their own research projects.

Core Courses

The core courses for this concentration are below. These courses must be taken in sequence.  The next available sequence will begin with Summer Session in June 2022.

  1. Action Research & Evidence-Based Research Methods
  2. Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research Methods
  3. The Politics of Research: Ethical, Epistemological, and Ontological  Issues


In addition to the general prerequisites for the D.Min. program, applicants to this concentration must have 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education, or Board Certification as a professional chaplain.


Executive Leadership


Effective leadership in today’s religious institutions requires vision, wisdom, and skill. Leaders need to draw on insights from the social sciences, leadership and management theory, as well as Biblical and theological foundations to guide congregations, denominational, and non-profit organizations through times of rapid change.

The Executive Leadership concentration is designed for clergy and spiritual leaders in:

  • Congregational settings
  • Denominational agencies, governing bodies and educational institutions
  • Faith-based or affiliated non-profit organizations and community-based ministries

Grounded in contemporary leadership theory and theological reflection, the Executive Leadership concentration focuses on the development of skills for adaptive leadership, organizational change, spiritual discernment and visioning for faith communities.  Students work together in a collegial environment to build a community of practice that will equip them with:

  • A deeper self-awareness of one’s emotional and spiritual intelligence as a leader in a complex community.
  • Theological perspectives and organizational development understandings for the wise practice of leadership appropriate to one’s context.
  • Tools and techniques for adaptive and innovative organizational communication and collaborative leadership.

Core Courses 

  • Adaptive Action Leadership
  • Gospel and Global Media Culture
  • Culturally Attentive Conflict Ministry


No additional prerequisites other than the general degree requirements listed above.

Interdisciplinary Studies of Ministry


The Doctor of Ministry degree is a contextually-focused, interdisciplinary study in the practice of ministry. Students who opt for this foundational concentration engage in study and research in a wide range of topics, integrating theological reflection and social analysis in the context of their own practice of ministry.

Students are encouraged to seek innovative solutions to the current problems and challenges of ministry, developing projects that will enhance their skills and contribute to the general practice of ministry through the development of new knowledge, new tools, and innovative resources.

The interdisciplinary and contextual focus of the D.Min. degree enables students to explore their own leadership style and ministry context, develop skills for critical reflection on ministry-based issues, explore current research in the social sciences, and engage in critical theological reflection to seek creative responses to the challenges of ministry today.

Core Courses

Core courses in this concentration are tailored to the individual students’ research interests, in consultation with the Program Director.


No additional prerequisites other than the general degree requirements listed above.

Pastoral Care and Counseling


This concentration is designed for professional serving in specialized ministries such as chaplain, pastoral counselor, or pastors with a ministry focus on pastoral care. While rooted in the Christian tradition, this concentration is open to religious professionals across the spectrum of spiritual traditions.  This program may also be appropriate to persons already established as a licensed mental health professional, who wish to deepen their understanding of the integration of spirituality and psychotherapy.     

The Doctor of Ministry concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling (PCC) prepares religious professionals to practice pastoral and spiritual care at a high degree of competency and professionalism by:

  • Integrating spirituality and counseling skills
  • Improving the skills in cross-cultural and interfaith counseling
  • Sharpening research and reflective skills
  • Facilitating personal growth

Core Courses

  • How People Change: Theology & Theories of Pastoral Care & Counseling
  • Dynamics of Loss, Grief, Trauma in Pastoral Care & Counseling
  • Interfaith/Intercultural Spiritual Care and Counseling 


Some courses in this concentration require completion of at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a prerequisite. 

Pastor as Spiritual Leader


The transformed person of the spiritual leader is a significant component in the transformation of community.  The community itself is likewise a transforming agent for its members and its leader.  The D.Min. concentration in Pastor as Spiritual Leader offers spiritual formation and academic study to ordained and non-ordained people with leadership roles in communities of faith, including congregations, synagogues, denominational bodies or other religious communities or organizations.

In conjunction with the Program in Spirituality, the curriculum integrates prayer, contemplative listening, discernment, biblical and theological reflection to nourish transformative pastoral leadership and spiritual formation for the student and the communities in which they lead.

NOTE:  This concentration does not equip students for credentialing as a Spiritual Director. If you are interested in training for professional practice as a Spiritual Director, please visit our Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction (DASD).

Core Courses

  • Contemplative Listening
  • Prayer and Discernment in Ministry
  • Spiritual Formation for Spiritual Practice


No additional prerequisites other than the general degree requirements listed above.

Learning Outcomes

  • Reflect independently, critically, and theologically upon the issues in society, mission, and ministry today
  • Build relationships based on trust and cooperation among peers in ministry
  • Use interdisciplinary and research skills to develop innovative approaches to ministry and pastoral work

Degree Requirements

  • Six 3-unit seminars
  • Dissertation/project orientation and proposal seminars
  • Final dissertation/project
  • Designed to be completed within a five-year period; most students are expected to begin with a summer session.

Students may complete coursework in a variety of ways, including regular academic-year courses and/or intensive January and summer courses. The January and summer courses are taught in one- and/or two-week formats, designed to fit in with a pastor’s study leave. We offer affordable campus housing during these events, subject to availability.



GST circle pics Altshuler 300 x 300.png

David Altshuler, MDiv
Director of Enrollment
San Francisco Theological Seminary
University of Redlands  | Graduate School of Theology
415.451.2818 office


Virtual Tour