Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Doctor of Ministry degree for pastoral care training

Ministry today calls for energy, creativity and innovation. For that reason, personal refreshment, growth and spiritual renewal are essential. The SFTS Doctor of Ministry degree (DMin) program does more than update professional skills and encourage individual growth; it also seeks to tap into the very wellspring of creative ministry. Most DMin students are already engaged in a wide variety of active ministries, which include congregational leadership, interim ministry, spiritual direction, Christian education, teaching, chaplaincy, and other community based ministries.

Established in 1970, our Doctor of Ministry program is one of the oldest and most respected of the many DMin degree programs in the United States. Throughout its history the program’s hallmark has been the ecumenical and international character of the student body and faculty. The DMin program is committed to excellence and innovation in ministry, which combines academic excellence and pragmatic focus. The specific learning outcomes of the D.Min. degree are to:

  • 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.

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.

DMin students may take five years to complete both the coursework and the final Dissertation/Project. Extensions may be requested if circumstances require more time.

Admissions Deadlines

Most students will start in the Summer Session.

The application deadline for the Summer Session is March 1.

Students in the Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care Research Literacy concentration may start in the Fall.

The application deadline for a Fall start is May 1.

In some instances, students may start in the January Intersession.

The application deadline for January is September 1.   Please contact the APS Office for more information.

Late applications may be accepted in some instances.  Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Admissions Requirements

Students are expected to meet all of the following standards:

  • MDiv degree or equivalent (e.g., other master’s degree in a religious subject)
  • Active engagement in a recognized, traditionally ordained ministry
  • Three years of ministry experience after completion of the MDiv
  • All applicants for whom English is a second language, must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper version) or 80 (internet version).

Degree Requirements

  • Six seminars (3 units each)
  • Dissertation/Project seminar
  • A final Dissertation and Project

Program Options

Students take a combination of required Foundational Seminars and elective Resource Seminars to prepare for their research and dissertation/project. Students may opt for one of the following concentrations:

New – Chaplaincy/Spiritual Care Research Literacy
Designed for clinical pastoral educators, board certified chaplains, and those seeking professional chaplaincy vocations, core courses in this track provide a framework for evaluating existing research, understanding methods of data collection, quality, and usage, and theological reflection on the history and politics of research. Download complete information here (PDF).

Interdisciplinary Contextual Study of Ministry
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.    Download information here (PDF).

Pastoral Care and Counseling
Designed for chaplains, pastoral counselors and pastors specializing in pastoral care ministries, the courses in this concentration explore the intersections of theology and psychology.  Download emphasis information here (PDF).

The Pastor as Spiritual Leader
Designed for persons who seek to lead congregations and organizations from a posture oriented toward the dynamics of spirituality, spiritual formation, and the practice of spiritual disciplines. This concentration includes courses offered jointly by the DMin program and the Program in Christian SpiritualityDownload concentration information here. (PDF)

Executive Leadership

This concentration is especially useful if your role includes executive roles and responsibilities in congregational ministry, denominational and judicatory staff, and community-based or non-profit agencies. Focused on the unique dynamics of leadership in communities of faith, courses in this concentration explore current theory in adaptive leadership, organizational change, and spiritual discernment and visioning. You may take it in conjunction with the Diploma in Executive Leadership program.

Financial Aid

SFTS does not offer financial aid to Doctor of Ministry students. DMin students needing financial assistance may be able to access private sources, including their employer (church, hospital, or military) or denominational resources.

Some students may wish to access Federal Stafford Student Loans to pay for their DMin education. These loans are processed through the Consortial Financial Aid Office of the Graduate Theological Union. (; 510-649-2463).  This office at the GTU can provide you with information and explain the application procedures.

Tuition is due at the start of each term. If you wish to make a payment plan for your tuition, the SFTS business office is available to assist you (415) 451.2827.

Additional financial aid information is available here.


Tuition is charged per course in the first phase of the DMin program. Upon completion of coursework, students pay tuition per semester for DMin Supervision.

Tuition is due at the start of each term. If you wish to set up a payment plan for your tuition, the SFTS Business Office is available to assist you (415) 451.2827

Tuition Fees

$1840 per course

$500 per semester for DMin Supervision

Rev. Dr. Teresa Chavéz Sauceda, Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies, Assistant Professor of Ministry
For more information, please contact:
Rev. Dr. Teresa Chavéz Sauceda, Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies, Assistant Professor of | 415.451.2865
Rev. Ruth T. West, Program Manager, Advanced Pastoral Studies
Rev. Ruth T. West, Program Manager, Advanced Pastoral | 415.451.2838

“For the student using dance as part of their therapy with Alzheimer’s patients, or the one developing a new style of music, a written research paper won’t adequately cover the body of their work. If we’re going to be responsive to new ministry, we have to reconceive our program to not just be print oriented.”

– Rev. Dr. Virstan Choy, Adjunct Faculty, Advanced Pastoral Studies