MDiv Equivalence

MDiv Equivalence Admissions Standards

As a degree program approved by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the DMin program supports ATS Standard 5.5, which states:

The Doctor of Ministry degree is an advanced professional doctorate that builds upon an accredited master’s degree in a ministry-related area and upon significant ministry experience. Students without an accredited Master of Divinity degree may be admitted, provided the school has publicly stated admissions criteria that address the following six areas and provided the school documents how each applicant meets each of these criteria: (a) the ability to thoughtfully interpret scripture and the theological tradition of one’s ministry context, (b) the capacity to understand and adapt one’s ministry to the cultural context, (c) a basic self-understanding of one’s ministerial identity and vocational calling, (d) a readiness to engage in ongoing personal and spiritual formation for one’s ministry, (e) an accredited master’s degree (or its educational equivalent) in an area related to one’s ministry setting or vocational calling, and (f) significant ministerial experience that enables the applicant to engage as a ministry peer with other students in this advanced professional doctorate.

Pursuing a DMin without an MDiv: Steps to Equivalence

Request an MDiv Leveling Evaluation Checklist

Request an MDiv Leveling Evaluation Checklist from our admissions counselor, Michael Simmons.

Using the checklist as a guide, you will compile an academic portfolio to demonstrate MDiv equivalency. The portfolio requires all unofficial undergraduate and graduate transcripts and your résumé or curriculum vita (CV).

Additionally, after submission of your transcripts and CV or résumé, the Admissions Counselor may request documentation of relevant ministry-related educational experience (ex. college courses taught, books published, ordination coursework completed), and 1-3 short essays.  

Obtain an MDiv Equivalency Evaluation

In order to apply to the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program without an MDiv, program administrators must perform an MDiv Equivalence Evaluation of your total academic portfolio. The meeting of MDiv equivalency does not result in the conferral of the MDiv degree. Its sole purpose is to qualify the applicant for pursuing admission to the DMin program.

The DMin office will evaluate your portfolio and report their findings to you directly. The report would look like this sample PDF.

The MDiv Equivalent Evaluation will yield the following possible results:

  • Eligibility for admission: Applicants requiring 18 hours of MDiv equivalent leveling work or less may be admitted into the program.
  • 9 semester hours or less of leveling work: Applicants with 9 semester hours or less of required leveling work may begin the DMin program. Their status in the program remains ‘probationary’ until all leveling courses are completed.
  • 12-18 semester hours of leveling work: Applicants with 12 to 18 hours of leveling work may proceed with the application process, but they may be required to wait 1 year while completing some or all of the leveling coursework.
  • More than 18 semester hours of leveling work: If the applicant needs more than 18 semester hours of leveling work to achieve MDiv equivalent, he or she is ordinarily considered ineligible for the DMin program.

We invite prospective students with less than 18 semester hours of leveling work to continue the formal application process.

Complete required leveling work

Required leveling work can be completed through either:

  • Independent Study: Complete the courses through independent study at Portland Seminary. Students may satisfy the required leveling work by completing independent studies under the guidance of Seminary faculty. These instructor-directed, distance courses are available online and allow students a flexible option to complete their leveling work at a time and pace that fits their lives. Signing up for a course is a simple as filling out a brief survey. Financial aid is available for courses taken at Portland Seminary.
  • Traditional Course Work: Complete the courses through traditional course work at Portland Seminary or any other ATS-accredited institution. Students desiring to complete required leveling work through another institution must obtain approval from the DMin program director prior to registering for the courses in question.

Records of all leveling work: DMin office maintains all leveling work records. All non-Portland-Seminary leveling work will be credited toward MDiv equivalent when the DMin office receives the institution’s official transcript (unofficial copies will not be accepted). All transcripts must be mailed to:

Office of Admissions 
George Fox University 
414 N Meridian Street #6089>
Newberg, OR 97132 

Audits of leveling work: The DMin office conducts regular audits of non-MDiv holding students. We will notify students in writing of outstanding leveling work once the student is eligible for candidacy. Students must complete all leveling work in order to graduate.

DMin independent study leveling courses at Portland Seminary

I had mixed feelings finding out I had six hours of leveling course work before starting my DMin program. I was grateful for the opportunity to fill in educational and experiential gaps, but I was concerned adding two courses to my schedule would be challenging. I was pleased to discover how much I enjoyed and learned. My instructor was so supportive and helped tailor the courses to what I needed to be successful. I was already sure the DMin program was what God was leading me to pursue, but the leveling coursework gave me the additional confidence and assurance I wasn't even aware I needed.

-- Laura Holand, student in the Semiotics, Church, and Culture DMin Program, pastor, Fayetteville, Arkansas


Contact your admissions counselor for more information about MDiv equivalency:

Ty Sohlman Michael Simmons 
Admissions Counselor