Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church, and Culture

Purpose

The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree is the highest professional degree for those in parish or related ministries. It is designed for educated, experienced practitioners who desire to stimulate renewal in themselves and in their ministries through the integration of their experience with advanced training, research, and reflection. The DMin is distinctive from academic doctorates such as the Ph.D. and Th.D. in that its primary focus is on the practice of ministry. The DMin is also distinctive from other professional degrees such as the EdD and the PsyD in that it builds on the three-year master of divinity (MDiv) and at least three years of post-MDiv ministry experience.

The Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church, and Culture (DMin SCC) develops Christian leaders skilled at recognizing the signs of Jesus' work in the world and proactively guide the churches into the future. It proposes a missional, relational, and incarnational framework of discipleship as the most effective way to engage culture.

The delivery system of the Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church, and Culture program includes personal mentoring by both the lead mentor; regular online interactivity with cohort members and professors; three 'advance' face-to-face intensives; and a portfolio-based, milestone-oriented research project guided by a project faculty member.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Semiotics, Church, and Culture Doctor of Ministry track will:

  • Apply a critical understanding of semiotics, future studies, and leadership to better anticipate ministry trends within diverse communities.
  • Skills and competencies in DMin research process, facilitating stakeholder focus groups, critical thinking, academic voice, and ministry application.
  • Gain expertise in chosen need/problem/opportunities (NPO) research area.
  • Contribute to the understanding and practice of ministry through the completion of a doctoral-level project.

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the Doctor of Ministry program must hold an ATS-accredited MDiv degree or meet the seminary's MDiv-equivalency requirements†, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. In addition, applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

  • Completion of the DMin application and payment of application fee
  • Submission of one official transcript from each college, seminary, or university attended.
  • Curriculum vitae or resumé
  • Documentation of ministry experience that demonstrates that the applicant possesses the level of competence and reflection appropriate for advanced, professional ministerial studies. This is normally reflected in the applicant's documentation of full-time participation in ministry for at least three years after the completion of the MDiv degree.
  • Three letters of reference (as specified in admissions materials)
  • Five self-assessment essays that outline the applicant's spiritual pilgrimage, leadership experience, purpose for pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree, and research interests.
  • An academic writing sample
  • An entrance interview with the director or associate director of the DMin program (by invitation only)
  •  
  • Non-native English speakers must submit a TOEFL score of 80 (Internet based) or IELTS 6.5 and complete the Declaration of FinancePDF file.  For more information, international applicants can reference the International Graduate Admissions page.

Equivalency Procedures
An applicant who holds a master's degree but does not hold the MDiv degree from an ATS-accredited seminary may qualify for admission to the DMin program by meeting the ATS requirement of a 72-graduate-semester-hour educational equivalent in theology, biblical studies, and the arts of ministry from an accredited institution.

The MDiv standard below serves as a guide for assessing equivalency:

Biblical Studies 21
Christian History and Thought 18
Spiritual Formation and Discipleship 6
Pastoral Studies 27
Total 72

Upon submission of official transcripts from all prior graduate work, the DMin program director or associate director will assess the correspondence between the applicant's educational portfolio and the 72-graduate-semester-hour MDiv standard and make a recommendation to the DMin Director concerning the applicant's equivalency status. Applicants needing extra graduate-level coursework to attain equivalency status may be admitted to the program with the stipulation that the appropriate 'leveling' coursework be completed in order to graduate. Note:        

  • Applicants not holding the MDiv and requiring 18 hours of MDiv equivalent leveling work or less may be admitted into the program.
  • Applicants with greater than 18 hours of MDiv equivalent leveling work will not be permitted to enter the DMin program until the remaining amount of required leveling work has been reduced to 18 semester hours of MDiv equivalent leveling work or less.

Students may complete the 'leveling' work at Portland Seminary or any other ATS-accredited institution. Course grade points must average a minimum of 3.0.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit from another doctoral program may be allowed up to a maximum or 19 semester hours. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the registrar's office for information on eligibility of transfer credit.

Residence Requirements

All work leading to the DMin must be completed within seven years from the time of matriculation. Extension of this limit requires approval of the DMin Director. Program extension requests must be received prior to the conclusion of the sixth year. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree.

Because of the cohort model used for this DMin program, students must maintain full attendance throughout each module experience. However, a student in good standing who must interrupt his or her studies for compelling reasons may petition the DMin Director for a leave of absence of not more than one year. Students who discontinue enrollment without an official leave of absence will be withdrawn and required to apply for readmission.

Course Requirements

The Doctor of Ministry program requires three years and the completion of 38 semester hours of coursework as a minimum for graduation. A maximum of 16 semester hours of coursework may be completed during one calendar year, unless a student takes an approved leave of absence or works out an alternative plan with the DMin Director. The project portfolio is completed in the third year. Of the total hours required for the degree, 16 hours are in prescribed Lead Mentor 'taught' courses and 22 hours in the project portfolio research sequence. The program also requires participation in three ‘advance’ face-to-face intensives.

Candidacy

Students are eligible for admission to candidacy upon completion of all lead mentor coursework and the first 14 hours of the project portfolio research sequence at the end of the second year of the program (30 semester hours). To qualify as a doctoral candidate, each student must:

  1. Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 with no course grade lower than a B-
  2. Pass all four of the project portfolio research courses
  3. Submit a topic for a Concept Proposal and gain approval from the Project Faculty

Students advanced to candidacy continue in the program. Students not advanced to candidacy are given specific guidelines for reevaluation. The Doctor of Ministry Office will notify students of their status following the second year of the program.

Summative Project

The Portland Seminary Doctor of Ministry program requires students to develop a project portfolio documenting their 3-year research journey, which culminates in the production of a summative project and learning launch plan. The goal is to make a contribution to their ministry context, gain expertise around their research topic, and learn a process that they can utilize repeatedly after graduation. Twenty-two credit hours of pass/no pass coursework is allocated to the research process.

From the outset of the program, students are assigned to a small peer group under the supervision of a Project Faculty (PF) member. PFs guide their research through a series of key milestones to generate the final portfolio.

In the discovery phase, students apply ministry research skills to a significant real-world ministry Need, Problem, or Opportunity (NPO). First, students are introduced to research tools and library resources and are oriented to the DMin research process. They identify and articulate their ministry NPO and draft a discovery strategy to explore its contours. Next, students immerse themselves in the academic and theological literature relevant to their research, produce a draft of an essay positioning themselves among the expert perspectives in the field, and present on their findings to their cohort, PF, and Lead Mentor. This completes their first milestone.

Following training in facilitating discovery groups, students engage a variety of stakeholders from their ministry context in a grassroots discovery process to assess the real needs of those impacted by the NPO. The focus is on identifying the desired outcomes and questions of the stakeholders. Students generate a report on their findings. This comprises a second milestone.

In the design phase, students engage a set of ‘expert’ stakeholders from their ministry context to brainstorm concepts for addressing the NPO. Students generate a report on their findings and produce a Concept Proposal, identifying parameters, audience, outcomes, a test group, and metrics for assessment of effectiveness. Students present their idea to their cohort, PF, and Lead Mentor for feedback. This accomplishes the third milestone.

In the delivery phase, students create their Summative Project prototype, a fourth milestone. They next test the project with a focus group, evaluate and report their findings, and develop a post-graduation launch and sustainability strategy. An examination committee (including the PF, Lead Mentor, and external expert) evaluates the Summative Project and Launch Plan for final approval - the last milestone. Prior to graduation, students compile their portfolio to be archived in the University Digital Commons. The portfolio contains key milestone documentation.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the doctor of ministry degree students must:

  • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 38 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Achieve no grade lower than a B- in all ‘taught’ courses. If a grade of a C+ or lower is received in a designated course, that course must be retaken.
  • Achieve no grade lower than a Pass in all project portfolio research sequence courses. If a grade of a No Pass is received in a designated course, that course must be retaken or the grade must be improved as outlined by the course instructor's approval and direction.
  • Fully participate in all ‘advances’.
  • Complete any additional MDiv equivalency courses, as may be required.
  • Complete the Project Portfolio research sequence and pass the final examination.
  • Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from George Fox University.
Expand All

Curriculum Plan

Complete the following:
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. The purpose of the course is to provide learning experiences in which students encounter, critique, and hone each other’s thinking about the power of signs, symbols, and metaphors in scripture, church and culture. Additional course fee may apply for face to face component.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. The purpose of this course is to cultivate recognition and innovation of signs, to re-sign and re-frame Jesus’ presence in the church and world, and to activate metaphor as change agent in preaching, ministry, and mission within one’s ministry context and within current culture. Learning to speak the vernacular (narrative + metaphor + soundtrack) will be charted.
A course exploring and exegeting one’s own personal faith journey. Students are challenged by the reading and writing assignments to reflect on what it means to be a unique follower of Jesus in our current culture, and to configure the relationship between the particular and the universal. The course focuses on deepening faith and learning to recognize Jesus in every context and culture. Additional fee may be required for cross-cultural face to face experience.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. An interactive curriculum in which students explore how what they’ve learned in their cross-cultural experience impacts the practice of ministry and mission. Students will be challenged to consider how they might modify their semester learning plan (SLP) in order to incorporate these new global insights within their local ministry context.
An interactive course that engages students in synchronous and asynchronous online interaction. This course explores the nature of creativity and what it means to continue God’s creativity as creatures made “in the divine image.” Learning is designed to help students cultivate, initiative and innovate creativity and change within their current ministry context. This course will serve to guide and nurture thinking in the final formulation of the dissertation.
A final course on the 21st and 22nd century church and the impact of cultural trends, the need for community, and the changing practice of ministry. The difference between trend-tracking and truth-tacking will be defined. Students will evaluate their own faith within their ministry context and their elevated role as semioticians in a world of shifting signs and stories. Students will evaluate their own ability to (re)sign Jesus as Truth within a world of trends. Additional course fee may apply for face to face component.
Complete the following:
Introduces research tools and library resources and orients students to the DMin research process. Students identify and articulate their ministry NPO and draft a discovery strategy to explore its contours. Pass/no pass.
A course designed to immerse students in the professional, academic, and theological literature relevant to their research. Students will produce a draft of their Academic Literature Review Essay and present on their findings to their cohort. Pass/no pass.
In this course, students refine their Academic Literature Review Essay and submit the final draft for advisor assessment. Students also engage key stakeholders from their ministry context in a discovery process to assess the real needs of those impacted by the NPO with a focus on identifying desired outcomes and questions. Students generate a report on their findings. Pass/no pass.
this course, students engage a second set of ‘expert’ stakeholders from their ministry context in a discernment process to brainstorm concepts to address the NPO. Students generate a report on their findings, produce a Concept Proposal, and present their idea to their cohort for feedback. Pass/no pass.
In this course, students develop their Concept Proposal into a formal proposal for their Summative Project according to design standards for the chosen medium. The proposal identifies project parameters, audience, outcomes, a test group, and metrics for assessment effectiveness. Pass/no pass.
A final research course in which students create a prototype of their Summative Project and test it with a focus group. Students will evaluate and report their findings from the test and develop a post-graduation launch and sustainability strategy. Students will submit their Summative Project and Launch Plan for examination by the Project Faculty, Lead Mentor, and a third external examiner. Once approved, students compile a Project Portfolio to be archived in the University Digital Commons.

To maintain enrollment until project is complete. Pass/no pass.

‡Students must maintain continuous enrollment in the dissertation continuation until completion. DMIN 805 is required for students who do not finish their dissertation research within the minimum 4 hours. DMIN 805 is repeatable each fall and spring semester until the dissertation is finished.