MDiv Equivalence

While the most straightforward approach for meeting Doctor of Ministry (DMin) prerequisites is applying with a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree already completed, we do make considerations, in accordance with our accrediting body, for students who wish to apply to a DMin program without an MDiv. We call this equivalency.

We know this can seem overwhelming, but we’re here to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible for you. Here are the steps to determining MDiv equivalency and how we’ll partner with you every step of the way:.

Don’t have your MDiv but know that a seminary doctorate is the next step? Check out our Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives, which doesn’t require completion of an MDiv or equivalency work in order to be qualified to apply.

Pursuing a DMin without an MDiv

  1. Request an MDiv Leveling Evaluation Checklist

    Request an MDiv Leveling Evaluation Checklist from your admissions counselor.

    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 resumé or curriculum vita (CV).

    Additionally, after submission of your transcripts and CV or resumé, the admissions counselor may request documentation of relevant ministry-related educational experience (college courses taught, books published, ordination course work completed, etc.), and one to three short essays.

  2. Obtain an MDiv Equivalency Evaluation

    In order to apply to the Doctor of Ministry program without an MDiv, program administrators must perform an MDiv Equivalence Evaluation of your total academic portfolio. The meeting of MDiv equivalency does not automatically 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. It’s easier to see an example first, so check out this sample of what a report could look like as a helpful start.

    The MDiv Equivalent Evaluation could result in any of the following outcomes:

    • Eligibility for admission: Applicants requiring 18 hours of MDiv equivalent leveling work or fewer may be admitted into the program.
    • Nine semester hours or fewer of leveling work: Applicants with nine semester hours or fewer of required leveling work may begin the DMin program. Their status in the program remains “probationary” until all leveling courses are completed.
    • 12 to 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 one year while completing some or all of the leveling course work.
    • 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.
  3. Apply

    If you have fewer than 18 semester hours of leveling work, we want to see your application!

  4. Complete Required Leveling Course Work

    If you have to complete any leveling course work, you can complete it the following ways:

    • 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 you a flexible option to complete your leveling work at a time and pace that fits your life. Signing up for a course is as 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: The 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.

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.

Laura Holland

Graduate of the Semiotics, Church, and Culture DMin Program, pastor, Fayetteville, Arkansas

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 course work gave me the additional confidence and assurance I wasn't even aware I needed.


Haley Holman

Haley Holman

Admissions Counselor, Portland Seminary