Working in the faith-based field as a minister or pastor is all about applying your knowledge of scripture and theology to the daily lives and proceedings of both your congregation and the local community-at-large.
From this perspective, it makes perfect sense to take your understanding of these applications and theories to the next level via a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree.
To help you along this path, let’s delve into everything that goes into securing this degree and enhancing your mastery of the art of ministry and theological leadership.
What is a Doctor of Ministry degree?
A DMin degree serves as a practice-oriented doctorate for current ministry leaders that represents expertise in theological studies and the ability to communicate these studies to practitioners and community members alike.
Obtaining this kind of post-graduate degree serves as a capstone for your spiritual learning, as well as the springboard for advancement within religious organizations and the world of academia. In total, you’ll have to commit to around 30 credit hours – depending on your chosen institution – if you plan on completing this program.
List of Online Doctor of Ministry Programs
The following doctoral programs in ministry are offered online:
- Doctor of Ministry
- Doctor of Ministry – Discipleship
- Doctor of Ministry – Evangelism & Church Planting
- Doctor of Ministry – Leadership
- Doctor of Ministry – Pastoral Counseling
- Doctor of Ministry – Worship
- Doctor of Ministry – Homiletics
Difference between a DMin and a PhD in Ministry
If you’re wondering what the difference between a DMin and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Ministry is, then the answer is in what you plan to do with the degree once you graduate. PhD students often remain within the collegiate setting as full-time professors and department administrators, while DMin graduates can either follow this route or seek to apply their knowledge to the real-world as chaplains, senior pastors, and via other hands-on positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you can expect to earn up to $112,751 as a senior pastor or another church official. On the academic side of things, DMin and PhD students that become professors have the potential to earn between $62,300 and $95,000 in annual compensation.
How do you get a Doctorate in Ministry?
Earning your DMin often boils down to whether you want to learn more about your faith via a rigid on-campus schedule, or move at your own pace via online educational opportunities. While there’s no clear cut “right” choice on this front, it’s hard not to see the allure of pursuing a graduate degree from the comfort of your home, all while shaping and molding this experience to your current professional and personal schedule.
Doctor of Ministry Curriculum
As the semester kicks off and classes get underway, it’s only natural to wonder what kind of coursework you’ll face down as part of this program. To give you a better idea of what to expect, here’s a quick look at the standard curriculum offered up by the average DMin program:
- Grace-Centered Leadership
- Current Church Issues
- Evangelical Theology
- Applying and Interpreting Scriptures
- Cultural Context for Biblical Issues
In addition to your regular courses, some universities will require a dissertation. This allows you to prove expertise and mastery in your field by creating a large body of research. If this doesn’t interest you, we’ve compiled a list of universities without a dissertation requirement.
Naturally, this coursework can and will change based on your target institution. However, this quick list should give you a strong idea of the learning experiences awaiting you within your chosen DMin program.
Doctor of Ministry Program Concentrations
Going a step further, most programs give you the option to further refine and specialize your education via concentration tracks within the overarching doctoral program.
Some examples of available concentrations include:
- Church Planting
Again, the big thing to remember with the concentration approach is that these tracks can – and will – change based on your chosen school. Before you get your hopes set on a certain specialization, be sure to schedule a quick meeting with a guidance counselor to confirm that this concentration is, in fact, available for incoming DMin students.
Doctor of Ministry Admission Requirements
When it comes to actually earning entry into a DMin program, the admissions requirements for this post-graduate opportunity are a little different than what you’ll see from other similar doctoral application processes. While transcripts for relevant undergraduate and master’s work still enters the picture, many universities also require an in-depth and autobiographical look at your work in the religious fields, as well as references and recommendations from established leaders within your chosen denomination.
In some cases, professional references and an updated resume also serve as indicators of your capabilities, so be prepared to offer up a complete review of your academic and work-related history during the admissions process.
Doctor of Ministry Career Outlook and Salary
Jumping back to the research provided by the BLS shows that while the ministry field isn’t growing as fast as other professional sectors, it’s still home to a healthy 10 percent increase in available jobs over the next several years. This means that whether you remain at school as a professor, or set out to help foster religious growth and understanding in your area as a pastor or other denominational leader, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the career that fits your faith-based goals and aspirations.
Is a Doctor of Ministry worth it?
More so than any other graduate program, determining the “worth” of a DMin degree is a complex affair that goes beyond compensatory considerations. Yes, having the opportunity to make a healthy living is definitely important, but when faith and religion join the discussion, it’s only natural for the conversation to extend beyond salaries.
Do you feel the need to enhance your understanding of theology and scripture to better serve your congregation? Perhaps you’re looking to take on a new learning challenge and enhance your own insight into your personal faith?
Regardless of what actually motivates you to join an incoming group of DMin students, identifying and acknowledging these factors ahead of the application process can ensure that your pursuit of this degree is both personally fulfilling and professionally successful.