Deciding to pursue a doctoral degree can be both exciting and intimidating. As you consider the question “Should I get a DMin?” this page may help you in your discernment. We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you discern whether a DMin program is a good fit for you.

What is a DMin?

The Doctor of Ministry Degree is generally a cohort-driven professional doctoral degree providing space for renewal, growth, companionship among peers, and rich dialogue with faculty. The key word for D.Min. is context. D.Min. focuses on bringing study and learing to bear on the student's particular ministry context.

When do the next DMin cohorts start?

We accept applications on a continuous basis for all cohorts. At this time, we anticipate starting the following foci:

  • Creative Writing and Public Theology - June 2021
  • Eastern Christian Focus - August 2021
  • Intergenerational Black Church Studies - September 2021
  • Parish Focus Risking Faithfully - January 2021
  • Reformed Focus - June 2021

Can I do a DMin without an MDiv?

The MDiv is considered a pre-requisite for the DMin. In some cases, however, equivalence can be granted. Equivalency is based on graduate divinity studies meeting the ATS standard of 72 semester hours with the same breadth of the MDiv curriculum. If you are interested in pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree, but do not have an MDiv, please contact the DMin Office to find out more about equivalency.

What are the student learning outcomes for the DMin program?

The D.Min. Degree Program seeks to enhance critical thinking skills that inform theological thinking, written and oral proficiency, community conversation and contextual awareness, personal and spiritual growth so that graduates are able to:

  • Define and analyze complex situations to understand the various factors involved and to identify opportunities for effective mission and ministry.
  • Organize insights from biblical studies, theology, and the social sciences to address the issues involved in one’s ministry and to unite vision and mission for the church and beyond.
  • Take responsible action with a deeper grasp of, homiletical, educational, pastoral care, and leadership issues, enhanced by a biblical, historical, and theological heritage.
  • Evaluate actions and their outcomes from a variety of perspectives.
  • Articulate a vision for ministry in its various forms and be accountable to one’s self: emotional and physical wellbeing, personal and spiritual growth.

How does the Doctor of Ministry Program work at Pittsburgh Seminary?

The purpose of the Doctor of Ministry Degree Program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is to engage the challenges, opportunities, and vocation of ministry through a systematic and sustained curriculum involving disciplined study and reflection over a period of three to four years. Students undertaking the degree are to develop a habit of reading and study, conversation and reflection, writing and rewriting that provides a pattern of deep theological engagement and invites renewed imagination for work in the student’s ministry setting. The program is based on a cohort model that facilitates peer relationships and shared learning throughout the D.Min. journey. Classes meet in two-week blocks twice per year for 2.5 years.

This emphasis on combining academic study and the practice of ministry is carried out through interactive teaching-learning styles in seminars and courses. The doctoral project at the end of coursework is undertaken under the supervision of carefully selected faculty. The project provides an opportunity for candidates to explore in-depth an aspect of their ministry to which they seek to bring new insight, knowledge, and imagination. 

What’s the difference between a DMin and a PhD?

People often wonder what makes a Doctor of Ministry different from a PhD. Perhaps they’re looking at doing a DMin or PhD and want to make sure they have all the facts straight, or maybe they’re comparing the two credentials.

One of the differences is that a PhD culminates in a dissertation and is primarily focused on theoretical research, which may or may not have obvious practical application. A DMin, on the other hand, culminates in a project focused on a particular ministry context. For examples of the differences between DMin project and PhD dissertations, see “Does the Doctor of Ministry Require a Dissertation” below.

Another difference is the time length. DMin programs at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary typically take three to four years. PhD programs range in length and typically take at least five years.

Often, PhD programs prepare students for teaching or research, whereas the DMin degree prepares students for deeper or more effective ministry.

Ultimately, if you’re considering a DMin vs PhD, one of the best things you can do is talk to the director of Pittsburgh Seminary’s DMin program to find out which is right for you! E-mail

Does the Doctor of Ministry require a dissertation?

The DMin degree culminates in a final doctoral project consistent with The Association of Theological School’s standards. This project is different than other doctorate degrees which culminate in dissertations. In the Doctor of Ministry final project, each candidate demonstrates her or his ability to identify a specific theological topic in ministry, organize an effective research model, use appropriate resources, and evaluate the results, reflecting the candidate’s depth of theological insight in relation to ministry. 

For example, a PhD dissertation may be titled something like the following:

  • “A Question of Authority: Protestants in Virginia and the Carolinas and the Tension Between Religion and Politics, 1835-1861”
  • “Jesus and the Galilean Crisis: Interpretation, Reception, and History”
  • “ Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israelite Samaria”
  • “Preaching ‘As if Nothing Had Happened’: Karl Barth’s Emergency Homiletic 1932-1933”
  • “‘Newter’-ing the Nicodemite: Reception of John Calvin’s Quatre sermons (1552) in Sixteenth-Century England”

On the other hand, a DMin culminates in a project, typically with practical application. Here are examples of DMin projects:

  • “Grief Recovery Ministry in the Local Church”
  • “An experiment in Reformed Revival in New Castle, Pennsylvania”
  • “Missional Covenant Groups”
  • “Investigating Technological Futurism's Potential Role in Humanity's Participation in Bringing About God's Renewal of the World”

Final DMin projects are bound and placed in Pittsburgh Seminary’s Barbour Library. Feel free to browse the theses in our catalog!

What can I do with a Doctor of Ministry? What are Doctor of Ministry jobs?

The Doctor of Ministry degree is designed to enrich and deepen the ministries of its graduates. For examples of what DMin graduates go on to do, check out these profiles. 

The Rev. Dr. Linda Morgan-Clement (DMin '05)

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Kort (DMin '17)

What does DMin stand for?

DMin stands for “Doctor of Ministry” and is a terminal doctoral degree. 

For more information, see "What is a DMin?" above.

Where can I find Doctor of Ministry project examples?

See “Does the Doctor of Ministry require a dissertation?” above.

What should I look for in a top DMin program?

Several things are important in a DMin program. 

  • Make sure that the school where you complete the degree is well established and highly regarded.
  • Be sure you are excited to work with the director of the program.
  • Consider what past graduates are doing (see examples above or read our stories on the Doctor of Ministry homepage).
  • Review past final projects (see examples above).
  • Consider possible concentrations.
  • Evaluate the cost.