Coursework Overview

Participation in the Leadership and Spiritual Formation DMin program can be broken into two phases: engagement with the coursework, and completion of the dissertation.

During the coursework phase of the program, students participate in three sets of courses over six semesters (Years 1-2):

  • Research courses: DMIN 713, 723, 733, 743

  • Customized courses with Faculty Advisor: DMIN 716, 726, 736, 746

  • Lead Mentor courses: DMIN 710, 720, 730, 740

Research Courses

The research courses prepare students for the dissertation phase of the program by helping them gain greater competence in information literacy: how to access, evaluate, and incorporate information for application-oriented research. Students meet online and face-to-face at each of the retreats for these courses.

Customized Courses

The four customized courses are designed to give students greater flexibility to engage in research and writing on subjects of interest to them, but under the supervision of a Faculty Advisor. Each of the customized courses include three major elements:

  • Learning Plans: Students propose a course of study for each semester that includes a reading pool, field research experience, and annotated bibliography/essay concentrated on their topic area. These are approved by their faculty advisor.

  • Annotated Bibliography (first semester only): In lieu of the essay and field research, students identify and annotate a selection of sources related to their ministry research topic and problem.
  • Field Research: Students design a field research experience that supports their personal research interests in the second-fourth semesters.

  • Essays: Students produce a 4,000-word academic essay at the end of second-fourth semesters.

Students select an area they wish to research over the first two years of the program that focuses on their particular ministry context. On the basis of their chosen topic and ministry context, the faculty advisor is assigned to students at the outset of the program, who personally supervises and evaluates their work for these courses.

Students utilize the four customized courses to explore more deeply their area of specialization, focusing on the underlying ministry problem in the first year and resources to address the problem in the second. The research associated with the customized courses also serves as a foundation for the research related to their dissertations. The faculty advisor normally becomes the student’s dissertation advisor.

Courses Taught by the Lead Mentor

Dr. MaryKate Morse serves as the Lead Mentor for the Leadership and Spiritual Formation program. Dr. Morse's courses consist of directed readings, individual and group assignments, and cohort-level interaction. These courses generally include the following elements:

  • Reading: The Lead Mentor provides a reading list and schedule of books, articles, and websites for students to explore and discuss.

  • Academic portfolio: Under the Lead Mentor’s guidance, students develop an academic portfolio that includes a Rule of Life, an Integration Paper, Integrative Change Assignment, and a Summative Learning Paper. This portfolio will enable students to explore and track ther own thinking and growth as spiritual leaders.

  • Asynchronous discussion: Students discuss online the assigned course materials each week on the course website discussion forum.

  • Chat: Students meet once a week for a synchronous video conference. The Lead Mentor facilitates the discussion.

  • Academic Retreats at Cannon Beach: Students join the Lead Mentor, their faculty advisors, research course instructors, and special guests twice a year in October and March at Cannon Beach, Oregon

  • Course sequence topics: The four Lead-Mentor courses topics are addressed through a sequence of guiding questions: 

    • DMin 710: Who am I at this stage of my life? How do I thrive in Christ for the long haul of my calling? 
    • DMIN 720: What is Spiritual Formation (definition & characteristics) in my context? What is Leadership (definition & characteristics) in my context?  
    • DMIN 730: How do I co-create with the Spirit & others systemic transformation in my context?
    • DMIN 740: How do the Creative Arts, Economics, Diversity, and Culture contribute to systemic transformation in my context? 

Program Course Sequence

Year One

First Semester (8 hours)

DMIN 710 Leadership and Spiritual Formation - The Inner World of the Leader (includes Retreat)


DMIN 713 Introduction to Research and Resources


DMIN 716 Customized Course I


Second Semester (8 hours)

DMIN 720 Leadership and Spiritual Formation - Historical and Biblical Perspectives of Leadership and Formation (includes Retreat)


DMIN 723 Developing a Topic for Research


DMIN 726 Customized Course II


Year Two

Third Semester (8 hours)

DMIN 730 Leadership and Spiritual Formation - Processes and Principles of Systemic Transformation (includes Retreat)


DMIN 733 Designing a Research Model


DMIN 736 Customized Course III


Second Semester (8 hours)

DMIN 740 Leadership and Spiritual Formation - Cultural, Artistic, and Global Engagement (includes Retreat)


DMIN 743 Writing the Dissertation


DMIN 746 Customized Course IV


Year Three

First Semester

DMIN 800 Dissertation


Second Semester

DMIN 805 Dissertation (non-credit continuation billed at 1 hour)

Learn more: Explore the course descriptions in the university catalog