Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Doctor of Ministry degree for pastoral care training

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.

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 seminary’s collaborative environment is an incubator for the research and development of new understandings, tools, and resources in a rapidly changing world.

SFTS is proud to have the only DMin program in the country to feature a concentration in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Research Literacy.

The specific learning outcomes of the DMin 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

Spring: December 1

Summer: April 15**
** Students applying to the Pastor as Spiritual Leader emphasis must submit applications by April 1.

Fall: June 1

Late Admission: This is possible in some cases. Please contact the APS program office.

Admissions Requirements

Students are expected to meet all of the following standards:

  • M.Div. 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 M.Div.
  • English as a Second Language applicants must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper version) or 80 (internet version).

Degree Requirements

  • Six seminars
  • A final Dissertation and Project

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.

Fall and Spring Terms – Courses are offered on Mondays from 9:00am–12:00pm, and from 2:00-5:00pm, for the entirety of the term.

January Intersession – Courses for taught for one week, 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

Summer Term – A total of three sessions are offered, each of which lasts two weeks. Courses are offered from 9:00am–12:00pm for two weeks, or from 9:00am–5:00pm for one week, Monday through Friday.

Students may take five years to complete both the coursework and final dissertation and project. For those whose circumstances necessitate more time, extensions may be requested.

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 complete 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. Learn more about this concentration here. 

Financial Aid

SFTS does not offer financial aid to Doctor of Ministry students. D.Min. 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 D.Min. education. These loans are processed through the Consortial Financial Aid Office of the Graduate Theological Union. (gtu.edu/admissions/financial-aid; 510-649-2463).  This office at the GTU can provide you with information and explain the application procedures to you.

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.

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 Ministryaps@sfts.edu | 415.451.2865
Rev. Ruth T. West, Program Manager, Advanced Pastoral Studies
Rev. Ruth T. West, Program Manager, Advanced Pastoral Studiesrwest@sfts.edu | 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, Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies (retired)

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