Doctor of Ministry

Ministry today calls for a greater understanding of social justice challenges, particularly the intersectionality of race and gender.

The SFTS Advanced Pastoral Studies Program does more than update professional skills and encourage individual growth; it also seeks to tap into the very wellspring of creative ministry.

The Doctor of Ministry program at SFTS brings together a wide variety of active ministries to learn, explore, and envision creative approaches to community growth and spiritual connection.

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 at the intersection of spirituality and social justice. The Seminary’s collaborative environment is an incubator for the research and development of alternative understandings, new tools, and novel resources for ministry in a rapidly changing world. It is also the only Doctor of Ministry program in the country to feature a concentration in Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care Research Literacy.

The interdisciplinary/contextual focus of 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. It also opens the door to the development of innovative and creative approaches to the challenges of ministry today.

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 four program concentrations.

Current Course Schedule

The January 2020 intersession Doctor of Ministry course schedule is available in PDF format. Download the schedule.



Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care Research Literacy Concentration

This Doctor of Ministry concentration is designed for Clinical Pastoral Educators, Board Certified Chaplains, and those seeking professional chaplaincy vocations. Professional chaplains work within research-based care environments where they are increasingly asked to provide research-based practices that contribute to performance improvement in the delivery of care.

Similarly, 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. 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. The chaplaincy/spiritual care (CSC) concentration is ecumenical, multi-faith, culturally competent, spiritually grounded, and pedagogically innovative.

This concentration focuses on three areas: 

  • Cultural competence
  • Spiritual accessibility
  • Pedagogical innovation

Executive Leadership Concentration

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

  • pastors, chaplains, and directors of spiritual care in leadership roles
  • executives and staff of denominational organizations and agencies
  • clergy and staff leadership in faith-based non-profit agencies 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.

Learning outcomes

  • In the “Ways of Being” or Personal Formation dimension of leadership, a deeper self-awareness leading to the identification of areas for on-going self-work in emotional and spiritual intelligence as a leader in a complex community.
  • In the “Ways of Knowing” or Knowledge Base dimension of leadership, broadened theological perspectives and organizational development understandings for the wise practice of leadership appropriate to one’s context.
  • In the “Ways of Doing” or Strategic Executive Skills dimension of leadership, expanded capacities in innovative application and adaptation of techniques and tools for organizational communication and collaborative leadership
  • In the membership in a “Community of Practice” aspect of leadership, new and continuing relationships with colleagues in ministerial leadership.

Core seminars for this concentration: 

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

Interdisciplinary Studies of Ministry Concentration

The Doctor of Ministry degree is a contextually-oriented, 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 DMin 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.

Pastoral Care and Counseling

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

  • Integrating spirituality and counseling
  • Improving the skills of effective counseling
  • Sharpening research and reflective skills
  • Facilitating personal growth
  • Providing seasoned professional teachers in an atmosphere of dialogue between theory and practice.

Pastor as Spiritual Leader Concentration

The D.Min. concentration in Pastor as Spiritual Leader offers spiritual formation and academic study to ordained and non-ordained people working in churches and synagogues or other religious communities or religious non-profits. In conjunction with programs in Spiritual Direction and Formation, it integrates prayer, contemplative listening, discernment, biblical and theological reflection to facilitate understanding, competence, and transformation of spiritual leaders and their communities.

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.