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Course Work Overview

Participation in the Semiotics and Future Studies DMin program can be divided 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).

During the first two years of the program, students participate in three sets of courses over six semesters:

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

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

  • Lead Mentor courses: DMIN 717, 727, 728, 737, 747, 748

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 related to their proposed dissertation topic, 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. 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 717, DMIN 728, and DMIN 748, 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 (includes Orientation Advance)


DMIN 716 Customized Course I


DMIN 717 Engaging Leadership Concepts - Semiotics in Historical Perspective


Spring Semester — Dynamics of Leadership (6 hours)

DMIN 726 Customized Course II


DMIN 727 Developing Leadership Strategies - Missional Concerns  in Theological Perspective


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

DMIN 723 Developing a Topic for Research


DMIN 728 Spirituality and Leadership - Relational Concerns Sociological Perspective (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 737 Thinking Globally and Leading Locally - Church, World & Culture


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

DMIN 746 Customized Course IV


DMIN 747 Distilling a Dream for Leadership in the Emerging Culture - The Nature and Art of MRI Leadership


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

DMIN 743 Writing the Dissertation


DMIN 748 Spiritual Leadership in Christian Community - Geography of Personhood: Remapping as followership (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