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Coursework Overview

Participation in the Leadership and Spiritual Formation DMin program can be broken into three phases: application and enrollment, 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: Written up at the beginning of the semester and approved by their faculty advisor, students propose a course of study for each semester that includes a reading pool, field research experience, and essay concentrated on their topic area.

  • Field Research: Students design a field research experience that supports their personal research interests.

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

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, a “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. 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 Understanding Leadership and Formation Project, Leadership Self-Assessment Project, Change Project, and a Summative Project. This portfolio week 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 dminlsf group blog platform.

  • 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 advisors, research course instructors, and special guests twice a year in October and March at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

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