Northeastern Seminary

Prospective Students | Theological Education Programs

Doctor of Ministry Program

Scripture, Spirituality and Leadership

The Doctor of Ministry degree is a 36-credit program designed for seasoned ministry professionals who want to bring renewed vitality and effectiveness to their ministry. It is for leaders who want to expand and refine their knowledge of and facility with God's word and Christian theology through a program that integrates scripture, spirituality, and leadership.

Program Distinctives:

  • A regular rhythm of retreat experiences that are designed as encounters with God to strengthen the soul of your leadership
  • Online collaboration among faculty and doctoral candidates extend interactive learning beyond the residency
  • Nationally known scholars and practitioners such as Dallas Willard, Will Willimon, Gordon Smith, Ruth Haley Barton, and Leith Anderson join Northeastern Seminary faculty in leading the academic process
  • Peer interaction and reflection is collegial and builds valuable networks
  • Extensive personal and professional assessment of a formative nature facilitates professional development
  • Remain in full-time ministry and self adjust load according to personal needs
OVERVIEW (Click to expand)

The Doctor of Ministry program (D.Min.) is an advanced, professional, theological degree to enhance the practice of ministry for pastors, ministry staff, and those carrying leadership responsibilities in other Christian organizations. Its purpose is to serve and advance the church by providing an environment in which experienced church and para-church leaders can have their thinking enriched, their skills strengthened, and their spiritual lives renewed for the challenges of ministry today.

Graduates of the NES D.Min. program will be able to demonstrate:

  • an advanced understanding of the nature and purposes of pastoral ministry
  • enhanced competencies in pastoral and cultural analysis and ministerial leadership skills
  • enriched ability to think biblically and theologically about all aspects of ministry
  • an ability to integrate their understanding and competencies into a theologically reflective practice of ministry
  • continued growth and increased maturity in personal and spiritual formation

In short, the Doctor of Ministry degree equips people to serve Christ's church with the highest levels of excellence, wisdom, and skill.

The D.Min. is the highest professional degree for ordained persons in the parish or related ministries. The primary emphasis of the D.Min. is the practice of ministry, which distinguishes it from the Ph.D. and other degrees that are focused more narrowly on scholarly research alone. The D.Min. degree builds on the M.Div. degree and a minimum of three years professional practice in ministry (both of which are prerequisites).

The D.Min. program enhances the mission of the Seminary "to prepare Christ-centered men and women for faithful, effective ministry to the church and the world." Specifically, it supports NES' intention to "develop theologically-reflective, spiritually-formed, professionally-competent persons for Christ-centered ministry to contemporary culture." The unique strength of the NES D.Min. program is its integrative focus on three areas of study that are indispensible for faithful service to the church and world in the 21st century: Scripture, spirituality, and Christian leadership.

Grounded in Northeastern Seminary's commitment to the centrality and authority of Holy Scripture, doctoral students at NES will find their proficiency in biblical interpretation and application strengthened, their grasp and experience of the rich resources of human and Christian spirituality deepened, and their competence as Christian leaders and practitioners enhanced. The learning experience is enhanced at NES through coursework taken with a highly selective group of peers in ministry, and guided by NES faculty and internationally-known scholar/pastors.

PROGRAM DESIGN (Click to expand)

Northeastern's D.Min. program is an in-service curriculum that allows participants to complete the program while remaining in full-time ministry. Classes are offered in one-week intensives in January and June, with extensive pre- and post-seminar assignments and online interaction that allow students to apply class materials to the local setting.

Earning the Doctor of Ministry degree requires completion of 36 credit hours: 10 three-credit classes, plus a 6-credit dissertation. The following six courses are required:

  • Calling and Vocation (opening retreat)
  • Theological Foundations for Ministry
  • Scriptural Foundations for Ministry
  • Spirituality for Ministry
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Research Methodology (preparation for the dissertation)

The D.Min. curriculum is completed with four elective courses that allow the student to pursue particular areas of interest. Electives are offered on such topics as Developing Healthy Spiritual Communities, Contemporary Theological Issues, and Preaching and Scripture. Independent studies are available for students who wish to pursue areas of interest not represented in current course offerings.

The following features enrich the NES D.Min. program:

  • Retreat experiences: Even in the midst of the academic rigor of the D.Min. degree, the intent is to provide students with the gift of time and space for the renewal of your soul. As a result, spiritual formation retreats are an integral part of the rhythm of the program. Entering students begin the D.Min. experience with a three-day, two-night retreat at a reflective/meditative off-site venue. This retreat focuses on understanding one's ministry journey to date, determining personal growth goals for the rest of the program, and building relationships among the D.Min. students. The first class (Calling and Vocation) is taken in this retreat setting. Each of the remaining required courses also includes a 24-hour retreat during the residence week. In addition, D.Min. students are invited to attend (at no charge) the annual All-Seminary Retreat where the entire NES community gathers for worship, learning, and community.
  • Online collaboration:  Each one-week residency is preceded and followed by opportunities for online interaction with the faculty member and/or fellow students. This online interaction helps to create the collegial learning environment that characterizes the NES D.Min. program, and also allows students to integrate and apply classroom material.
  • Spiritual formation: A signature feature of the NES D.Min. program is its interwoven emphasis on formative spirituality through a regular rhythm of retreat experiences and course work. Doctoral students are guided in the development of an integrational theology of human and Christian spirituality that equips them to nurture both their own spiritual formation and that of those they are called to serve within and outside the church.
  • Exposure to nationally-known scholars and practitioners: In addition to the outstanding NES faculty, the D.Min. program is intentional about providing students with access to some of the leading scholars and practitioners of our day. Students may take electives that are built around NES' Conferences on Ministry and receive focused time with the keynote presenters (past speakers have included Dallas Willard, Reggie McNeal, and Ruth Haley Barton). Dr. Leith Anderson, senior pastor of Wooddale Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, team teaches the Transformational Leadership class.
  • Peer Interaction and Reflection: Learning at the doctoral level is enhanced by the opportunity to be part of a small, highly selective group of peers in ministry. Small class size ensures that the learning environment is highly collegial. Students form meaningful friendships with one another and develop long-term mentoring relationships with the faculty members who guide the class.
  • Professional Development: Entering D.Min. participants will experience an extensive, personal, and professional assessment as part of their first class. This experience will be formative in nature and not evaluative. The information gained from this experience will be confidential and will be used by the student and his or her dissertation advisor during the program to enhance spiritual and personal development and effectiveness in ministry.
PROGRAM SPECIFICS (Click to expand)

Enrollment Expectations 

Students will be expected to maintain continuous enrollment once admitted to NES. If it becomes necessary to leave for a semester or withdraw from the Seminary, a change of status form must be completed by the student and approved by the associate vice president for communication and enrollment. These changes are not official and do not engage the "Tuition Reversal Schedule" until the change of status form, completed by the student, is processed by the appropriate Seminary officials and submitted to the office of registration and student financial services. Students without an approved leave of absence, who do not maintain continuous registration status (excluding summer terms) will be responsible for remaining tuition costs as outlined on the "Tuition Reversal Schedule" section in this catalog, and will be required to reapply for admission to NES.

Students will be expected to complete their degree program within three years of its normal length. Thus, D.Min. students will be allowed six years for the initial matriculation date to complete their academic work.  

Due to the structure of Doctor of Ministry program students can be enrolled in up to 7 credits each semester for a total of 14 credits per academic year. This scheduling, while officially considered a part-time load, allows for awarding financial aid and deferring student loans. In cases where students are enrolled in Continuation of Registration (DMIN 901NE) for 0 credits they are no longer financial aid eligible and deferment of loans should not be expected.

Requirements for Course Completion

Students will normally be given 60 days following each residency to complete course assignments. Students not able to complete the work in that timeframe must petition the instructor for an extension. Students will be required to repeat the course at a later date if unable to meet the original and extended deadline. Any course not completed within six months must be repeated.

Graduation Requirements

The following requirements are necessary to receive the Doctor of Ministry degree:

  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.0
  • Successful completion and oral defense of a dissertation
  • Satisfactory completion of all degree requirements in no more than six years after initial matriculation


The D.Min. research class will provide students with the methodological skills necessary to write a doctoral dissertation.  This class is offered on an as-needed basis, and so can be scheduled at a time in the program that is most strategic for the student.    

The research and writing process is guided by a dissertation committee.  Following the first residency, a preliminary faculty chair will be assigned to help guide the student in the initial stages of choosing a research topic. Dr. Barry Hamilton, Theological Librarian, will work alongside the student and preliminary faculty chair as needed. When a topic/area is chosen, the student and the preliminary faculty chair, along with the D.Min. director, will decide if a new or the same faculty will serve as the permanent chair. At this time the student will nominate a representative from his or her ministry site (church or institution), to serve on the dissertation committee. Depending on the area of research, additional professional consultants may be added to the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will meet periodically (in person and electronically) to provide feedback and support. Dr. Barry Hamilton will work alongside the student and chair as needed. The D.Min. office shall give final approval of site representatives and consultants.

The topic of the dissertation research will be chosen in relation to the student's ministry context. The faculty chair and ministry-site representative will work with each student to establish and define the dissertation. The D.Min. dissertation committee will work with the student throughout the design, research, and writing of the dissertation. It is assumed that the results of the dissertation research will enhance and strengthen the student's personal ministry and benefit the student's ministry site (church or institution).

The completed dissertation should be a publishable document that displays the student's ability to use appropriate theoretical and theological resources in addressing both the nature and the practice of ministry. The dissertation will demonstrate the candidate's ability to identify a specific theological topic in ministry, organize an effective research model, use appropriate resources, and evaluate the results.

Upon completion of the dissertation proposal, the candidate will be expected to participate in an oral defense and evaluation before his or her dissertation committee before being approved to proceed to the research and writing phase. The completed dissertation will be submitted to the D.Min. office in hard copy and electronic format.

Admission to candidacy (approval to move into the research/writing stage-third year) for the D.Min. degree is an action taken by the NES Academics Committee after:

  • The student has completed at least three residencies with a grade of 80% or higher.
  • The student's dissertation proposal has been defended to and approved by his or her D.Min. dissertation committee.
  • The student has completed DMIN 860NE and is registered for DMIN 910NE.
HOUSING (Click to expand)

Housing may be found on or near the campus for those living outside the Rochester, N.Y. area. Housing for the June session may be found in the Roberts Wesleyan College townhouses. These are two- and three-bedroom townhouse units with one or two private baths respectively, a living room and kitchenette-apartments are furnished but household supplies are not included. Housing during the January sessions may be found in nearby private hotels and bed and breakfast establishments. There are a number of hotels and bed and breakfast establishments within a 15-20 minute drive of the campus. Housing is at the student's personal expense.

Housing reservations must accompany registration forms. New housing reservations cannot be guaranteed after April 15 for June sessions and November 15 for January sessions each year. For current rates and information contact Kym Woodard at or 585.594.6807.

Area Hotels

DATES (Click to expand)


Fall Application Deadline - August 15- click here to begin the D.Min application

Spring 2015
June 2015 Residency
April 13, 2015 - August 28, 2015

June 9-11 Orientation Retreat: DMIN 852NE Calling and Vocation (3 credits) (Grimm, Nelson)
June 8-12 Week 1: DMIN 885NE Transformational Leadership (3 credits) (Anderson, Leith)
June 15-19 Week 2 (Conference on Ministry Course): DMIN 890NE (3 credits) (Cleveland, Christena)

Fall 2015
January 2016 Residency
September 28, 2015 - March 4, 2016

January 11-15 Week 1: DMIN 855NE Theological Foundations for Ministry (3 credits) (TBD)
January 19-22 Week 2 (Elective): DMIN 892NE Preaching and Scripture (3 credits) (Tyler, Mark) Residency for this class begins Tuesday morning and runs through the full day on Friday.

Spring 2016
June 2016 Residency
April 11, 2016 - August 26, 2016

June 14-16 Orientation Retreat: DMIN 852NE Calling and Vocation (3 credits) (Grimm, Nelson)
June 13-17 Week 1: DMIN 865NE Scriptural Foundations for Ministry (3 credits) (McCaulley, Esau)
June 20-24 Week 2 (Conference on Ministry Course): DMIN 890NE (3 credits) (TBD)

Fall 2016
January 2017 Residency
October 3, 2016 - March 10, 2017

January 9-13 Week 1: DMIN 875NE Spirituality for Ministry (3 credits) (Letterman, Rebecca)
January 16-20 Week 2 (Elective): DMIN 862NE Critical Issues in Contemp. Church Comm. (3 credits) (Gerhardt, Beth)

Spring 2017
June 2017 Residency
April 17, 2017-September 1, 2017

June 13-15 Orientation Retreat: DMIN 852NE Calling and Vocation (3 credits) (Grimm, Nelson)
June 12-16 Week 1: DMIN 885NE Transformational Leadership (3 credits) (TBD)
June 19-23 Week 2 (Conference on Ministry Course): DMIN 890NE (3 credits) (TBD)

Fall 2017
January 2018 Residency
October 2, 2017-March 2, 2018

January 8-12 Week 1: DMIN 855NE Theological Foundations for Ministry (3 credits) (TBD)
January 15-19 Week 2 (Elective): DMIN 882NE Developing Healthy Spiritual Communities (3 credits) (Grimm, Nelson)

Spring 2018
June 2018 Residency
April 9, 2018-August 24, 2018

June 12-14 Orientation Retreat: DMIN 852NE Calling and Vocation (3 credits) (Grimm, Nelson)
June 11-15 Week 1: DMIN 865NE Scriptural Foundations for Ministry (3 credits) (McCaulley, Esau)
June 18-22 Week 2 (Conference on Ministry Course): DMIN 890NE (3 credits) (TBD)

In addition, DMIN 860A/B/C Research Methodology I, II, and III are offered every semester. Students register for these one-hour classes in the second, third, and fourth semesters of their D.Min. program. The courses are hybrid in format, meaning they are online but also have a required in-class session-Dissertation Seminar-which is held on Friday afternoon of the DMIN 855/865/875/885NE residency weeks. Attendance at the Friday afternoon Dissertation Seminar is required of all students every semester until the successful defense of the dissertation proposal. (First-semester students taking DMIN 852NE Calling and Vocation are exempt from Dissertation Seminar attendance.)

DMIN 910NE Dissertation is offered each semester as needed. (May be taken only after completion of all other required courses.)

Sign up for an informational webinar to learn more.

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