Director

Dr. William Donahue has served churches in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, including 18 years with Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association. His research, writing, leadership coaching, and teaching focus on building transformational leaders, groups, and teams. He has authored and co-authored over 20 books and leadership training resources, including the best-selling Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, Coaching Life-Changing Leaders, Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry, In the Company of Jesus, and The Irresistible Community: An Invitation to Life Together.

Purpose of the DMin Program

The Professional Doctoral Degree is a practical, ministry-focused degree designed to equip pastors, missionaries, and key church leaders and para-church leaders with ministry tools for service in today’s complex and challenging world. Our focus is the development of advanced ministry skills, strategies, and theology for solving problems and building Christ-honoring ministries.

Program Outcomes

There are four core outcomes for students in the DMin Program. The purpose of the DMin curriculum is to fully integrate these four outcomes.

  1. The Student will develop INCREASED LEADERSHIP CAPACITY evidenced by the ability to deepen personal spiritual maturity, thrive in current ministry contexts, and increase the scale and scope of ministry effectiveness, responsibilities, and opportunities.
  2. The Student will practice INTENTIONAL THEOLOGICAL INTEGRATION evidenced by the ability to effectively engage one’s cultural context with advanced theological acumen and critical thinking.
  3. The Student will engage in IN-DEPTH CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS demonstrating the ability to identify and frame crucial ministry issues and outline potential solutions.
  4. The Student will utilize INNOVATIVE STRATEGIC PLANNING evidenced by the ability to create and develop key ministry initiatives and achieve desired ministry goals.

DMin Concentrations

Ministry concentrations allow a student to focus a significant portion of their research and coursework in an area of ministry that expresses their personal ministry calling or interests. These concentrations include:

  • LM (Leadership & Management)
  • ME (Missions & Evangelism)
  • PMC (Pastoral Ministry & Care)
  • PT (Preaching & Teaching)
  • SFE (Spiritual Formation & Education)

NOTE: From time to time the opportunity may arise to launch a concentration based on a strategic ministry focus in response to a cultural movement or phenomenon or one that is structured within an organization or church network/denomination. These concentrations will meet the overall requirements of the program as delineated herein but may have unique electives or experiences. Each of these potential concentrations will be reviewed and approved by the Professional Doctoral Committee before being offered.

Structure of the DMin Program

Since the DMin is not designed to be a residential program, all classes are offered in one-week intensive class sessions. Each year classes are held on the Deerfield campus, typically in March, July, and November. Non-residential courses may include those taken in conjunction with a ministry conference or event in a wrap-around format. There also exists the potential for courses to be taken in partnership with other doctoral programs at Trinity, such as our PhD programs. 

Each doctoral course consists of three parts:

  1. About three months prior to each class period, the student is provided with information about forthcoming classes, including a list of required reading and written work for each course. All pre-course assignments are to be completed prior to the beginning of the class sessions. The professor will ask for an accounting of the completion of the assignments, and failure to complete them prior to the first class session may result in a grade reduction for the course.
  2. The second part of each course is the class week of interaction with the professor and other students. Twenty-eight clock hours of class time are involved, usually running from Monday through Thursday. Generally, there will be few out-of-class assignments given during this week.
  3. The third part of the course requirements is a project based on the reading and classwork to be completed after the class sessions. The project will require students to integrate the course content with their own ministry. The integration factor in ministry is viewed as the most crucial phase of the student’s coursework.

DMin Admissions

Trinity’s professional doctoral program is for students who have already completed a Master of Divinity degree or other acceptable master's level qualifications, have a minimum of three years’ full-time ministry experience following completion of the MDiv, and wish to pursue advanced studies in their field of interest.

Application Deadlines and Review Dates

Doctor of Ministry (DMin) applications are reviewed three times per year, corresponding to the three periods in which courses are offered (fall, spring, summer). In each case, a completed application file is required before final action is taken to admit a student to a doctoral program. DMin students may begin their studies during any of the three sessions. Deadlines for receipt of completed application files are:

Program Application Deadline
Fall Admission June 15
Spring Admission October 15
Summer Admission February 15

Application files completed after the deadline will be postponed for review until the next review date.

The application review process begins immediately after the deadline and normally takes three weeks. Subsequent to the review process, applicants are notified by letter of acceptance or denial of admission.

Application Procedures

In addition to the application form, credentials that are required of all doctoral applicants are outlined in the application instructions in the back of this catalog.

The Admissions Committee may grant admission on the basis of the required credentials alone, or it may request the applicant to submit additional materials. If admitted, the new doctoral student is required to submit a nonrefundable tuition deposit to confirm acceptance of admission.

If the Admissions Committee denies an applicant admission, the applicant may send a letter of appeal to the Admissions Office, which must be received no later than ninety days following the date of the Admissions Committee decision.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the DMin program are required to

  1. Possess a Master of Divinity degree or other acceptable masters level qualifications from an accredited school that maintains academic standards similar to those of Trinity. (Other acceptable masters level qualifications are defined as an earned ministry or theology related masters degree, including at least 74 semester hours of graduate study in areas closely parallel to Trinity’s MDiv curriculum. Specifically, this should include 12 semester hours of Old Testament, 12 semester hours of New Testament, 12 semester hours of Systematic Theology, 3 semester hours of Church History, and 35 semester hours of free electives. On rare occasions, credit may be given for distinguished teaching experience. Students who lack a limited number of these prerequisites may be admitted with a deficiency that must be removed through appropriate master’s coursework taken at or through an accredited seminary before enrolling in the fifth DMin course.)
  2. Have earned a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for all master’s work. For students who have not achieved a 3.0, the Miller Analogies Test will be required to confirm their capacity to handle doctoral level studies at a graduate institution.
  3. Have had at least three years of consistent full-time ministry experience after receiving the Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent. Exceptions may occasionally be made on the basis of extensive ministry experience prior to receiving the MDiv degree. Such exceptions are normally considered on the basis of three years full-time experience prior to the MDiv as equivalent to one year of post-MDiv full-time experience.
  4. Meet, if an international student, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations in obtaining an F-1 (student) visa. This requires additional admissions information and paperwork. International applicants whose first language is not English must also submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  5. Since the program is heavily dependent on computer skills, applicants should be able to use a current word processing program. Ownership of a desktop or laptop computer is required, along with Internet and email capabilities. 

Special Instructions for International Applicants

All international DMin program students, including Visiting DMin students and students from Canada, are now required to enter the United States with an F-1 visa. DMin residential students (i.e. living in or near Deerfield and taking semester-length courses) must comply with the same visa requirements as other program residential applicants (see Admissions section).

DMin nonresidential students (i.e., commuting to the Deerfield Campus on a course-by-course basis) must also obtain an F-1 visa. Students who enter the United States to pursue the Doctor of Ministry degree without the F-1 visa potentially jeopardize their ability to complete the degree and reenter the United States. F-1 visas will remain valid as long as reentry into the United States for the purposes of study occurs at least once every five (5) months. A new visa will be required if reentry does not occur within this time period.  Hence, full-time progress for DMin international nonresidential students is defined as taking at least one course in each of the three sessions (Fall, Spring, Summer) per year.

DMin Candidacy Requirements

Admission to the DMin program does not guarantee acceptance into candidacy for the degree. Candidacy will be granted when the student has demonstrated the ability to complete all degree requirements as evidenced by the following:

  1. All prerequisite deficiencies (if any) have been removed.
  2. Twenty-seven semester hours of coursework, including MN 9550 and MN 9990, have been completed with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
  3. The student’s proposal for the DMin major project has been approved by the Human Rights in Research Committee, the Project Committee, and the Program Director.
  4. The student has demonstrated writing skills appropriate to doctoral work and to the successful completion of the major project.
  5. The student has demonstrated proficiency in the integration of course work and ministry.

DMin Graduation Requirements

The following general graduation requirements apply to all Doctor of Ministry students of Trinity:

  1. Evidence of a working knowledge of the content of the English Bible.
  2. Evidence of Christian life and character and recommendation accordingly by the faculty. All students are expected to give evidence of a consistent Christian testimony, a concern for others, and a sincere commitment to Christ such as to qualify for Christian service. The attitudes manifest to other students, professors, and others are to be such as to commend the gospel, strengthen the church, and honor the Lord.

The following 36 semester hours of work are required of those planning to receive the DMin degree:

  1. The completion of at least 27 semester hours of credit in doctoral courses, with a minimum cumulative grade point average for program coursework of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). No more than nine semester hours of credit may be derived from Guided Research and transfer courses from other DMin programs.
  2. The completion of the DMin major project, including a successful oral defense. Major project research constitutes nine hours of credit. All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. If requested, 11 years may be allowed for those serving in overseas assignments. If degree requirements are not completed within the allowed time limits in effect at matriculation, an extension may be requested through the program director. A continuation fee will be charged for each six-month period in which the degree requirements remain incomplete. Continuation fees may be waived at the recommendation of the Professional Doctoral Committee in extenuating circumstances.
  • A student who fails to pay the continuation fee must do the following
    1. Write for reinstatement to the Doctor of Ministry Office
    2. Pay the fee for the time of absence from the program
    3. Resubmit application for the major project topic if such had previously been approved
    4. Apply to the Professional Doctoral Committee for an extension of time to complete the program, providing a new target date for graduation.

Curriculum

Each student is required to complete 36 semester hours of work as follows

Core Courses
MN 9550Leadership in Today's Church 13
MN 9990Ministry & Missions Research Methods 23
Concentration Curriculum12
Courses selected from one area of concentration: Leadership and Management (LM), Missions & Evangelism (ME), Pastoral Ministry & Care (PMC), Preaching & Teaching (PT), or Spiritual Formation & Education (SFE)
1 (one) Theological Foundations course
3 (three) Concentration courses chosen by student
Electives9
Select 9 hours of electives
Major Project9
Major Project Research 3
Total Hours36
1

Must be taken as one of first three courses

2

Must be taken as one of the first four courses

3

The student receives one hour of credit for each of the first three chapters of their project in rough draft form. These will be completed during the coursework phase of the program. The remaining six hours of the project will be completed over two semesters at the conclusion of the student's coursework. For additional information about the major project, please consult the DMin handbook. 

Concentration Course Offerings

Trinity provides significant breadth in the subjects offered in the Doctor of Ministry program. Because of the elective nature of the DMin program, the rotation of courses varies from year to year. Courses are generally determined at least one year in advance of being offered so that students can plan accordingly. Trinity seeks to balance course offerings in each of the concentration areas to represent current issues in the world that require church leaders' thoughtfulness and response, as well as core courses in each concentration area for mastery. As such, courses will be offered in the five major concentration areas previously described (this includes the Theological Foundations course required within each concentration).

For a list of the most up-to-date course offerings, please see the Doctor of Ministry website.

Leadership & Management (LM)

Courses in this area are offered to help ministry leaders gain awareness and competency in strategic issues facing churches, mission organizations, and other Christian institutions. The focus of these courses will be in areas of personal and institutional leadership development, effective ministry management, and creativity in ministry leadership. 

Preaching & Teaching (PT)

Courses offered in this area are designed to help preachers and teachers gain expertise in their craft so that they become better communicators of the Christian gospel to their audiences.

Missions & Evangelism (ME)

Courses in this area focus on the missional emphasis of God’s work in the world, both local and global. Classes will address evangelistic strategies, church-planting initiatives, cross-cultural ministry, and other related topics.

Pastoral Ministry & Care (PMC)

Courses offered in this area will address concerns facing pastors in their roles as church leaders, helping them solve issues of pastoral care they face in local church ministry. This is a broad concentration area, which allows students the freedom to choose courses from the PT, LM, and SFE concentration areas. 

Spiritual Formation & Education (SFE)

Courses offered in this area are designed to help ministry leaders develop spiritual formation initiatives and educational programs within a church or organization.