Western Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry Degree

Imagine a Doctor of Ministry degree program that compels leaders to strengthen the practice of ministry and to impact the church in an environment that allows flexibility, peer learning, and intentional reflection on practice of ministry.

The D.Min. at Western Theological Seminary is organized as a formational process with an intellectual product. D.Min participants will refine and develop the following practices and skills:

  • Biblical and Theological Reflection
  • Personal Leadership Awareness
  • Pastoral Wisdom
  • Missionary Vision for Cultural Engagement

The D.Min at WTS is designed as an adult learning process oriented to your own context, theological questions, and ministry leadership. Participants develop learning goals, tailor multiple learning modules toward the goal, and design a project to refine and extend the practice of ministry.

What makes Western Distinctive?


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Over the course of three years, participants gather with peers and faculty members for 2-week annual seminars in May to provide a context for shared learning.

You will identify learning goals clearly rooted in needs for learning and growth in your ministry setting. Your faculty mentors and peers will help you design personally tailored learning units. These units form the core of your learning activities in a defined arena of ministry practice, culminating in a ministry project.

Personal Attention

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Rev. Dr. Kyle J.A. Small directs the D.Min. program. Dr. Small is the Associate Professor of Christian Leadership and the Associate Dean. He also directs WTS's Master of Divinity programs. Dr. Small is available to help you discern whether a D.Min. program of study is right for you at this time and whether this particular style of program will enhance your learning.

Contact kyle.small@westernsem.edu or 800.392.8554, ext.134.

Commitment to Academic Excellence


The self-designed learning encourages growth at four levels simultaneously:

  • Who you are as a person (emotional and psychological formation)
  • Who you are as a child of God (spiritual and ecclesial formation)
  • What you do (skills formation)
  • What you know (intellectual formation)

The program concludes with the proposal and implementation of a thesis project that centers on the church and its ministry. The project is shaped by learning components throughout the first three years and demonstrates competence in theological reflection, church leadership, cultural discernment, and pastoral wisdom. All phases of the program are outlined in detail in the D.Min. Reference Guide.


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Rev. Stephen DeWit, Pastor, Alger Park Church, Grand Rapids, MI 

"Eventually, it struck me like a bold of lightning. All the learning units, all the fields of study, all of the questions I was asking, all the books I was reading, all the sermons, teachings, interviews, and papers--my participation in the DMin. program itself--was an expression of a (mostly) dormant ache within me. I had serious questions about my faith, my calling, and my life. If not for the spiritual autobiographies we were asked to write and the loving, persistent probing of my cohort, I'm not sure I ever would have made the connection between my program and the goings-on deep in my heart. My academic questions about mission, culture, and the nature of belief were more personal than I knew."  



Rev. Dr. Reggie Smith,  Pastor, Roosevelt Park CRC, Grand Rapids, MI

"One of the things I was looking for in any Doctor of Ministry program was a sense that the professors would be there for me. Western’s professors were interested in my formation as a pastor.

The program maintained a careful balance with constructive feedback on my learning units and creative freedom to pursue the areas that fed my soul and heart in ministry.

The D.Min. program at WTS was not about getting a degree, but making new friends and walking together to lead the most creative thing in the world—the local congregation.”

Application and Progression Requirements

Application Requirements
  • Hold a M.Div. degree or its educational equivalent
  • Have at least three years of ministry experience since the M.Div. was completed.
  • Have at least one year of experience in the current ministry setting.
  • Be prepared to participate in seminars for two weeks in May/June in each of the next three years.
  • Application must be completed by January 15 (Cohort begins in May).
Expectations of Student Progress

The D.Min academic year begins on May 1 of each year and ends on April 30 of the following year. The program is full-time and students are expected to complete the degree in three years but not more than four years.

Candidates are expected to complete one seminar and 2 learning units (12 credits) each of the first two years and a project seminar (4 credits) the third year. The third and fourth year of the program are devoted to completion of the thesis. The thesis is 16 credits. 

The D.Min degree is granted when a student has completed the core curriculum of 44 credits. Students not progressing at the above listed rate will not be considered making progress towards a timely completion.


DM810 Orientation Seminar

Introduces major components of the program. During the seminar, students refine their program of study and work on designing learning units. Meets for two weeks in May; 4 cr

Learning Units

Learning units are primary building blocks of the D.Min. program. A learning unit is a specific action-reflection exercise that furthers the candidate’s knowledge, skill, and personal competence in ministry in a specific discipline with carefully defined objectives related to the overall program goal. Students develop and complete four learning units.

DM820 Candidate Seminar

Begins the second year of the program. This seminar focuses on questions of context in relation to one's program of study.. Meets for two weeks in May; 4 cr

DM830 Project Seminar

Begins the third year and focuses on vocation and the D.Min. project based upon their first two years' work. Meets for two weeks in May; 4 cr

DM840 Project

Design and execution of a thesis project is the final stage of the D.Min. program. The D.Min. project consists of an original investigation or activity in ministry and affords students an opportunity to develop a mature practice of ministry characterized by careful scholarship and pastoral wisdom. 12 cr


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