Doctor of Ministry

ACU’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) is an advanced professional degree designed to enhance your practice as a ministerial leader. We offer tools to sharpen your leadership skills, refine your theological reflection, and nurture the deep spiritual formation necessary to sustain a God-shaped ministry in diverse cultural contexts.

ACU’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) is an advanced professional degree designed to enhance your practice as a ministerial leader. We offer tools to sharpen your leadership skills, refine your theological reflection, and nurture the deep spiritual formation necessary to sustain a God-shaped ministry in diverse cultural contexts.

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Are you ready for the challenge?

Our program is flexible, with residency periods occurring just twice a year. This allows you to travel for only brief periods each year while still remaining rooted in your home and ministry context. The majority of our classes take place in Abilene or Dallas, Texas, or Melbourne, Australia. Learn more about our unique partnership with Stirling Theological College and University of Divinity.

Combining academic rigor with praxis, the D.Min. serves scholar-practitioners in a wide array of leadership roles such as congregational ministry, missions, church planting, chaplaincy and non-profit organizations.

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Why Doctor of Ministry at ACU?

Gabriel Fisher

“The Doctor of Ministry program is challenging me to become a more spiritually grounded, reflective, and articulate practitioner. The process is valuable, because I am encouraged to integrate it with the everyday work that I am doing. I especially appreciate the collegiate atmosphere where conversations are occurring with those invested in ministry who are open to sharing their experiences and insights.” – Gabriel Fisher (current student), hospice chaplain, Hospice of the Big Country, Abilene, Texas

Program Structure

Doctor of Ministry

These are the important details you will need to keep in mind as you prepare your application and degree plan.

Tracks

Christian Spiritual Formation
Dual Enrollment
Generalist Program
Leadership for Missional Renewal
Preaching for Community Transformation

PROGRAM LENGTH AND COST

Program length: 3 years
Monthly payments for 3 years: maximum $333 per month
Credit hours: 33 ($363 per credit hour)
Program fee: $12,000

Example Coursework 

Theological Foundations for the Practice of Ministry
Forming Communities of Faith
Culture, Context and Community
Preaching in Contemporary Contexts

Department

Graduate School of Theology

Application Deadline

June 2021 entry:
January 31, 2021

What outcomes can you expect?

Integrative Reflection

Advanced synthesis of biblical and theological foundations that inform Christian ministry through the practice of integrative theological reflection.

Contexts

Increased competence in reading, assessing, and interpreting varied cultural contexts of ministry.

Leadership Skills

Advanced leadership skills for missional renewal and transformation within ministry contexts.

Formation

Maturation in professional development, self-care, and spiritual formation.

Qualifications

  • M.Div. or Equivalent: We do require that you hold a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree or its educational equivalent from an institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) or another nationally recognized regional accrediting agency. Don’t have an M.Div.? Learn more about about our M.Div. Equivalency options and equivalents for Australian awards. Ministry Experience: Because the D.Min.’s emphasis is on the practice of ministry, you will need to be involved in ministry, and have at least 3 years of ministry experience following the completion of your first theological master’s degree. Our community of learners includes leaders in a variety of ministry contexts such as church planting, foreign missions, preaching, and more.

    How to Apply

    Application materials for the 2021 cohort are due by January 31, with non-synchronous online engagement beginning in March and significant online interaction occurring in June 2021. To apply, complete the following elements:

    • Application form.
    • Application fee of $65.
    • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, with degrees posted. A minimum GPA of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) in prior graduate work is required.
    • Documentation of Ministry Employment form.
    • Four recommendations from persons knowledgeable of your personal character and performance in ministry. At least 1 recommendation should provide an academic reference.
    • Personal self-reflection statement, which should be 5 to 9 pages, typed and double-spaced, including the following components:
      • Personal self-reflection statement (3-5 pages): Describe your values, needs and objectives for growth as a Christian minister.
      • Reflection on ministry context (1-2 pages): Present a brief description of your current ministry context, identifying the particular assets and challenges that impact your ministerial leadership.
      • Project/thesis interest statement (1-2 pages): The D.Min. program culminates in the design and completion of a project that addresses the practice of ministry in each student’s ministry context. Please articulate a likely area of ministry practice that you hope to pursue, and identify potential biblical, theological, and/or historical sources that might inform your research in that area of practice.

    Additionally, an interview with the D.Min. director may be required.

    If accepted into the D.Min. program, you may begin classes that summer or defer your enrollment for one year.

    International Applicants

    In addition to submitting the standard application documents detailed above, D.Min. applicants from outside the US must complete all requirements detailed on ACU’s International Graduate Application Information page. If you are in Australia, check out our information specifically for Australian D.Min. students.

    For international transcripts from institutions other than the University of Divinity (Melbourne, Australia), we reserve the right to require a course-by-course credential evaluation detailing US equivalents to all coursework and degrees completed abroad, from a company approved by ACU and the National Association for Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). Please contact us for details.

    Questions?

    Contact Erik Masci, Graduate School of Theology recruiter, at gst@acu.edu or 325-674-3735. See also our D.Min. FAQs.

The D.Min. is a 33-hour degree including orientation, 27 hours of coursework, and a project/thesis (6 hours). Our program is built around a series of intensive classes, all of which include an online component, and most of which include a 2-day to 2-week residency on ACU’s campus or other designated learning site, including Stirling Theological College’s campus in Melbourne, Australia (learn more).

Our residency periods occur twice each year: for 1 week in January or March and 2 weeks in June (view course schedule). You can complete the D.Min. degree in as few as 3 years or as many as 6 years. View our sample completion schedules for domestic students and Australian students.

Note: For all students beginning the D.Min. program in June 2021, we will offer the opening residency online rather than face-to-face in Abilene. This change is due to pandemic-related travel challenges and applies to incoming domestic and international students alike.

Degree Plan

Our D.Min. program includes the following requirements (view catalog).

Opening Residency (6 hours)

  • Doctor of Ministry Orientation (0 hours)
  • Theological Foundations for the Practice of Ministry (6 hours)

Method and Project/Thesis (9 hours)

  • Project/Thesis Seminar I (1 hour)
  • Project/Thesis Seminar II (2 hours)
  • D.Min. Project/Thesis (6 hours; includes an oral exam)

Ministry Courses (18 hours)

  • For a generalist degree: any 6 electives (18 hours) from the D.Min. curriculum
  • For the Christian Spiritual Formation, Leadership for Missional Renewal, or Preaching for Community Transformation tracks: 4 classes (12 hours) from the same track plus any 2 additional electives (6 hours) from the D.Min. curriculum
  • For the Dual Enrollment track: the 6 classes (18 hours) detailed here

Faculty

Our world-class faculty are active in scholarship as well as ministry. Drawing faculty from ACU, Stirling, and beyond, students in our program study with professors from both sides of the Pacific! Our program also leverages the power of peer-learning in a cross-cultural community of learners and disciples around the world.

Spiritual Formation

The capacity of any person to lead and sustain a ministry rests not in some technique or skill. Intellectual prowess, academic rigor, and advanced people skills are no substitute for the real catalyst for ministerial leadership. Before we can lead others, we must learn to follow. That is why the heart of our program beats with a commitment to the spiritual formation of our students.

Affordability

Our D.Min. program is exceptionally affordable, with a cost of only $4,000 per year for three years ($12,000 for the entire program), which equates to only $364 per credit hour! Additionally, we offer need-based and merit-based scholarships; monthly payment plans are available for the balance. You can request a D.Min. scholarship application from the D.Min. office or GST recruiter. See also our information about Graduate School of Theology affordability and scholarships.

As an ACU D.Min. student, you will have a variety of choices for developing a program of learning that corresponds with your specific interests and ministry context.

Christian Spiritual Formation (CSF)

This track is designed to form leaders who are forming others in the way of Jesus. Rooted in the deep resources of Scripture and Christian tradition, this track allows you to probe more deeply what it means to form disciples in various ecclesial contexts. Classes include:

  • Christian Spiritual Formation
  • Culture, Context, and Community
  • Forming Communities of Faith
  • Living in the Tradition

Leadership for Missional Renewal (LMR)

This track grounds the pursuit of leadership excellence in the missio Dei – God’s mission in the world. Within this track, you will engage in critical theological reflection in missional theology, develop skills in cultural hermeneutics, and nurture leadership models that serve congregations in the pursuit of God’s preferred future. Classes include:

  • Christian Leadership Development
  • Missional Ecclesiology
  • Leading Change in Christian Organizations
  • Culture, Context, and Community

Preaching for Community Transformation (PCT)

To study preaching for its own sake certainly is valuable; but this track focuses on the practice of preaching as it shapes the life of congregations in service to God’s mission in the world. It incorporates homiletic theory, the exegetical work with both text and congregation, cultural contexts, and the church as a worshipping community of faith. Classes include:

  • Preaching in Contemporary Contexts
  • Preaching and Theology
  • Worship
  • Seminar in Preaching

Generalist Program

If your particular ministry context or learning interests are not addressed by one of the tracks, our generalist program allows you to customize a program to fit your needs. Drawing from our variety of D.Min. classes, you may pursue any number of directions for inquiry.

Dual Enrollment (DUAL) 

If you are joining us from Australia and wish to take advantage of the dual enrollment option through our partnership with Stirling Theological College and University of Divinity, this track is for you. By completing this track, you would earn both a D.Min. from ACU and a G.D.Div. from UD. Classes include:

  • Christian Leadership Development
  • Christian Spiritual Formation
  • Missional Ecclesiology
  • Leading Change in Christian Organizations
  • Culture, Context, and Community
  • Forming Communities of Faith

Download the D.Min. brochure for more information about program format, degree plan, accreditation, and distinctive aspects that set ACU’s D.Min. program apart. See also this information about Graduate School of Theology affordability and scholarships.

Are you ready to be a part of a dynamic, flexible, challenging program that will take your ministry to the next level? Apply today or request information.