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:

  • Missional Leadership (June 2022, anticipated)
  • Christian Spirituality (June 2023, anticipated)
  • Creative Writing and Public Theology (June 2023, anticipated)

What are the requirements to apply for a DMin?

You may be wondering "Can I do the DMin without an MDiv?" Yes!

The following admissions criteria are applied to all students in determining admission:

  • Does the applicant possess the ability to thoughtfully interpret Scripture and the theological tradition of the applicant’s ministry context?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated the capacity to understand and adapt his/her/their ministry to the cultural context of the applicant's ministry setting?
  • Is the applicant able to offer a basic self-understanding of his/her/their ministerial identity and vocational calling?
  • Do the application materials presented by the applicant indicate a readiness to engage in ongoing personal and spiritual formation to deepen the applicant’s ministry and vocational calling?
  • Has the applicant earned an accredited master’s degree (or its educational equivalent) in an area related to the applicant’s ministry setting or vocational calling?
  • Does the applicant bring significant ministerial experience that enables the applicant to engage as a ministry peer with other students in an advanced professional doctorate in the focus area to which the applicant is applying?

Generally, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in master’s-degree work prior to the Doctor of Ministry is required.

What are the student learning outcomes for the DMin program?

Upon completion of the Doctor of Ministry Program, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Integrate theological and scriptural knowledge with their cultural contexts.
  • Richly describe and analyze cultural contexts to recognize, frame, and respond to crucial issues arising in their ministry.
  • Develop enhanced leadership capacities oriented toward effective ministry.
  • Draw upon theological resources and practices to reinvigorate and deepen their vocational callings.
  • Participate in God’s work of enacting racial justice by describing and resisting the sin of racism.

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.