Course Work


Participation in the Semiotics, Church & Culture 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 709, 719, 729, 739, 749, 759

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 face-to-face for one day of the Advance for DMIN 713, 723, and 743 and online for DMIN 733.

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

Len Sweet's courses are characterized by directed reading and cohort-based interaction. Following Len's lead, students explore various aspects of applied semiotics and leadership in a changing culture. Len's courses normally include the following elements:

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

  • Online discussions: Cohorts engage with one another in weekly online forums to discuss and analyze the assigned course materials.

  • Chat: Students meet once a week for a synchronous video conference. Dr. Sweet personally facilitates these discussions with the cohort.

  • Advances: As a part of DMIN 709, DMIN 729, and DMIN 759, Wednesday through Friday of the advances, students engage in face-to-face teaching sessions with Len Sweet.

Program Course Sequence

Year One

Fall Semester — Personal Leadership Formation (6 hours)

DMIN 713 Introduction to Research and Resources 


DMIN 716 Customized Course I


DMIN 709 Introduction to Biblical, Ecclesial, and Cultural Semiotics (includes Orientation Advance)


Spring Semester — Dynamics of Leadership (6 hours)

DMIN 726 Customized Course II


DMIN 719 Semiotics as a Change Agent in Preaching, Ministry, and Mission (Church and Culture)


Summer Semester — Leadership and Personal Spiritual Formation (4 hours)

DMIN 723 Developing a Topic for Research


DMIN 729 Re-Cognizing and Re-Signing Jesus in 21st Century Culture (includes Second Advance)


Year Two

Fall Semester — Leadership in Global and Local Perspectives (6 hours)

DMIN 733 Designing a Research Model


DMIN 736 Customized Course III


DMIN 739 Global Church and Local Church


Spring Semester — Leadership in Theological and Practical Perspectives (6 hours)

DMIN 746 Customized Course IV


DMIN 749 Cultivating Imagination and Innovation in Ministry and Mission


Summer Semester — Leadership and Community Spiritual Formation (4 hours)

DMIN 743 Writing the Dissertation


DMIN 759 Semiotic Shifts: Perspectives on Changing Trends  in Church and Culture (includes Orcas Advance)


Year Three

Fall Semester

DMIN 800 Dissertation


Spring Semester

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

Learn more: Explore the course descriptions in the university catalog