Doctor of Ministry Now Available at SEU
When Southeastern University’s faculty recognizes a need, they do everything they can to not only make it happen…but to make the results as impactful and meaningful as possible. The newly launched Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program is no different.
“Offering the Doctor of Ministry came up in conversation again and again,” said Dr. Alan Ehler, dean of the College of Christian Ministries and Religion. “And in the spirit of what’s happening all around campus, our leadership team agreed that this was a necessary addition to SEU…to offer the highest possible degree for people called to vocational ministry.”
The inaugural cohort of the DMin program launched during the week of September 19 –23. “There’s already a great chemistry among our 2016 cohort,” said Dr. Jim Vigil, director of the DMin program. “The feedback after our first five-day intensive has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Deciding on a DMin path
Knowing what you want out of a degree is often the best way to figure out which one to pursue. For example, a Doctor of Ministry degree focuses on practical application in order to provide a holistic learning opportunity; it enhances competence in the practice of ministry. Obtaining a PhD in a ministerial field* tends to work more for those who wish to pursue the field of academics and research.
A Master of Divinity (MDiv) most closely aligns with the prerequisites for this program. However, the College of Christian Ministries and Religion welcomes applicants with equivalent degrees to apply, with the understanding that they will be reviewed and considered on a case-by-case basis. (In fact, several students are completing some “bridge work” courses so that they can start their DMin journey with the 2017 cohort.)
While the DMin definitely appeals to pastors, the approach of this program isn’t just pastoral ministry. It’s also meant to encompass ministerial training for students in other vocations, too (e.g. Christian counselors, chaplains, educators, speakers, writers, church planters, etc.). Students can expect the program to take three years to complete, which breaks out to two years of classes and classwork, and one year of their doctoral project/dissertation.
SEU’s Distinctive DMin
“Our goal is to not only equip ministers to serve, but for our program to stand out…specifically to become comparable to the top DMin programs nationwide,” said Dr. Ehler. “Through benchmarking and talking with other DMin directors and DMin graduates, we discovered the most beneficial and successful components of other programs, found ways to incorporate them, and added our own.”
The primary components of the DMin at Southeastern include:
The DMin is non-residential, which is highly beneficial because the students don’t have to take time away from their current ministries while they pursue their degree. In fact, the DMin actually requires active involvement in a current ministry, which ties in directly to its practical application focus.
Most DMin programs focus on the process and not just the end product, but how this idea is carried out varies. When a student is working toward a DMin, they are seen holistically, meaning, obtaining a DMin is just as much a spiritual and personal path as it is an academic one. This is evident in the doctoral project, where the student puts a detailed plan into action and reports on it.
The program uses a cohort model, where students begin their DMin journey together and complete all components of the program at the same time. The cohort meets for a five-day intensive five times throughout the program, and then completes the remainder of the 14-week term online via MyFire (SEU’s online learning portal). A cohort naturally promotes retention and accountability, which encourages the success of each of its members.
DMin students don’t go it alone at any time. Not only do they have the support of their cohort, but each student has the benefit of mentorship every step of the way. The mentor is not just an academic advisor, but also someone who interacts directly with their students’ ministries, will be on their dissertation committee, and becomes a source of spiritual support.
While the idea of having a mentor throughout the program is not unique to SEU, few other schools offer DMin mentorship. In fact, having a mentor in some DMin programs can add up to an additional $10,000! So it’s important to note that mentorship does not cost extra at SEU.
A place at the table
Dr. Vigil notes that the denominational element of the program makes it not only distinctive, but attractive to a wide variety of potential students. “We are taking a Pentecostal approach to the program, but not all of our students are Pentecostal. We welcome each of them, and recognize that we all bring something to the table,” he explained. “All of our students will gain a new perspective. They won’t have to surrender their own faith traditions, rather, this program will give them an even wider Christian worldview…and a deeper understanding that we all have something to contribute to the Kingdom of God.”
Dr. Vigil has high hopes for the DMin program, and thanks to the positive start of the program, is excited to see these hopes realized. “It’s already so exciting, and we’ve only just begun,” he said. “My hope is for contagion; that if our students grow during this program, then that growth will spread to their churches and their ministries.”
*Note: At this time, the DMin is the only doctoral-level degree that SEU offers in the ministerial field.