Program Structure

The McAfee Doctor of Ministry Degree program is a 33-hour program developed to concentrate on the content of the program's various components. Students remain in their fields of service for the entire program, coming to McAfee for classes and focused collegial interaction, for individual study at the library, or to engage in consultation with the student's faculty supervisor.

Faculty Supervision

Each student in the D. Min. program will work with a Faculty Supervisor in their area of specialization. Supervisors provide advising in the program process, collaboration on experiential learning modules integrating research and ministry, and supervision of the Project Thesis. A faculty supervisor will be suggested in consultation with the student and the Associate Dean. All students must be assigned to a faculty supervisor prior to beginning the program. Changes may be made in Faculty Supervision if the student's Project Thesis proposal changes or requests are made to the Associate Dean. Normally, Faculty Supervisors may teach only one D.Min. seminar in an academic year and are limited to a supervisory load of five students per year.

Experiential Learning Units

A variety of learning experiences to enhance one's knowledge and practice in ministry are completed as a core part of the degree. These units are completed in the student's place of ministry and do not require an on-campus presence. Students will participate in one of the three options below:


Ministry Coaching: (6 hours of credit, 2 hours for each four-month unit) Normally the first formal work of the student in the program will be a semester of Ministry Coaching. A small group of experienced and competent ministry leaders will work with the school, be provided training in the expectations of the program and processes of content-based coaching, and support the student in the integration of learning with ministry. The Associate Dean will assign each Ministry Coach after consultation with the student, based on his/her interests, ministry setting, and potential Project Thesis. Coaches will maintain communication with each student on a biweekly basis, including personal conferences, telephone conversations, and email exchange. The coaching experience will be evaluated carefully each semester and students may request a change in Ministry Coach. Ministry Coaches should hold at least a master's degree such as the M.Div. or M.R.E. or equivalent and, preferably, a professional or academic doctorate from an accredited program.Year's of service in ministry are also taken into consideration when coaches are selected. Ministry coaching is at the center of the design of D.Min. program for the integration of theory and praxis, classroom and church, and research and ministry. Three units of Ministry Coaching is required.

Preaching Consultation: (6 hours of credit, 2 hours for each four month unit) Students in the preaching specialization will work with a Preaching Consultant to complete three units of specialized study and to present preaching materials. Each consultant is selected by the school for his or her expertise and experience in preaching.All preaching consultants will have advanced degrees in preaching and extensive experience in the practice of preaching. The consultant meets six times in person or by telephone during each thirteen-week unit of consultation.All materials submitted during the three units will be submitted by email to both the Preaching Consultant and the Faculty Supervisor.


Spiritual Practice: (8 hours of credit). Students in the Christian Spirituality specialization are required to register for one hour of Spiritual Practice each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer of the first two years; Fall and Spring of the final year.)The spiritual practice for the semester prior to the first seminar will be attending a 5-day major retreat.The costs of this retreat shall be the responsibility of the student in addition to the tuition for the program. Thereafter, spiritual practice will include receiving spiritual direction once a month, taking a 24-hour individual retreat once a quarter, and readings assigned by the Christian spirituality faculty. In the third year of the program students will also receive at least monthly supervision of their ministries of spiritual guidance for their Project Thesis.


Students will attend three on-campus D.Min. seminars of two weeks' duration each. The seminars will normally be scheduled for the last two weeks of May each year, but may be scheduled at other times of the year depending on enrollment in the program. Each seminar will be a combination of core requirements of reading, reports on readings, written presentations integrating the seminar subject with one's ministry, and additional readings and assignments negotiated with each student. Students are encouraged to focus their reading, presentations, and other assignments upon their specific areas of specialization. A variety of assignments may be expected including case studies, research papers on a ministry topic, or examples of ministry from one's setting (sermons, verbatim, organizational analyses, contextual studies, coaching process, issues of spirituality, etc). All students are required to register for two hours of Seminar Preparation in the semester prior to the scheduled seminar with completion of the core preparation about two months prior to the scheduled seminar.The additional student-negotiated research and writing for the seminar will be complete on a schedule approved by the seminar faculty leader.

Students in the Christian Spirituality specialization have a different seminar structure from all other students in the program. The seminars in Christian Spirituality are described below.

Seminars may be completed in any sequence. Normally each student will complete one seminar each year of the three-year program. The three seminars and their course descriptions are listed below. A common syllabus has been developed by the faculty for each seminar and will be available to the student at the beginning of the semester of each unit of Seminar Preparation.

Biblical/Theological Foundations for Ministry
Seminar Preparation DMIN 720 (Two hours)
Seminar DMIN 732 (Four hours)

Course Description: This seminar pursues biblical and theological promptings toward the mission of the church and the role of the minister. It will include a brief overview of recent methodologies in biblical exegesis and ministry-oriented themes in contemporary theology. It will involve the participants in the habit of theological thinking about pastoral issues and hermeneutical moves from biblical texts. The seminar will also focus on the selection and integration of texts and theological themes for specific ministries to which the student is involved as related particularly to project theses.


Contextual Ministry and Culture Today
Seminar Preparation DMIN 733 (Two hours)
Seminar DMIN 734 (Four hours)

Course Description: This course will study the dynamics between congregations/organizations as systems within which ministry occurs and the cultural, community, and local environments which impact strategies for mission, evangelism, and service. Students will complete analyses of their community context, interpretations of the impact of cultural change on ministry, and explore the role of organizational identity in adapting to changing environments. Emphasis on the importance of ethics as a constructive response to culture will be given


The Practice of Ministry
Seminar Preparation DMIN 730 (Two hours)
Seminar DMIN 731 (Four hours)

Course Description: This course will deepen the student's understanding and practice of a variety of core skills and meta-skills that are essential for all types of ministry will seek to improve their ministry practice and assess their strengths and weaknesses in various areas of ministry. These skills may be applied in whatever tasks of ministry are appropriate for the student's context including preaching, teaching, pastoral care, administration, evangelism, Christian education, spiritual guidance, and leadership. Competence will be enhanced in the following areas:1) self-awareness; 2) other awareness;3) self-management; 4) social skills; and 5) spiritual awareness and leadership.


Christian Spirituality students will complete one of the above seminars and each of the two following seminars:

Coaching Individuals, Groups, and Congregations Toward Spiritual Growth
Seminar Preparation DMIN 702 (1 hour of credit)
Seminar DMIN 703 (4 hours of credit)

Course Description: This seminar focuses on teaching ministers to model and coach the informed and intentional practice of listening to God and growing spiritually.The human sciences and theological disciplines will be explored for models of the spiritual life and of the spiritual world that can enhance the understanding of one's own spiritual life and the practice of spiritual guidance through coaching. Seminar participants will be introduced to a process of coaching individuals for spiritual growth in a short-term and/or informal context. Partcipants will also explore the theory and practice of leading retreats and spiritual growth groups. Finally, the seminar will also explore how pastors and other leaders can facilitate the provision of spiritual care within the organization.


Spiritual Practices in the Life of the Church
Seminar Preparation DMIN 704 (1 hour of credit)
Seminar DMIN 705 (4 hours of credit)

Course Description: This seminar focuses on classic spiritual practices of the Christian tradition, with particular attention to spiritual direction, a form of spiritual guidance in which one person serves as a companion and experienced guide to another person or group that is seeking to discern where God is actively present in their lives and how to respond faithfully to that Presence.The seminar participants will study and practice these disciplines with a view toward integrating them fully into their inner and outer lives and into their ministries of spiritual guidance.The goal of this seminar is to provide the participants helpful resources in their pursuit of delight in the Presence of God, obedience to Christ, and discernment of the Holy Spirit as they seek to lead Christ-like communities speaking and doing the truth in love.


Project Thesis

The culmination of the D.Min. program is the completion of a Project Thesis. The Project Thesis should reflect the research skills learned in the program and demonstrate the student's capacity to integrate biblical, theological, historical, and contextual research with a specific ministry project that is practical and reflective of the student's abilities as a leader and minister.

It is recommended the Project Thesis Workshops (one hour credit per workshop) be taken relatively early in the program. At least one seminar and Experiential Learning Unit are prerequisites to enrollment in the workshops. Each workshop will be scheduled for one week, M-F sequentially. The workshops will guide the student in the processes of conceptualizing a ministry project including the specific ministry to be performed, foundational academic research related to it, and social research methods for analysis and evaluation. Attention will be given to the development of a Project Thesis Proposal, Mercer University expectations for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, necessary writing skills, and form and style expectations of the school will be reviewed. Completion of a Project Thesis Proposal worthy of submission to the D.Min. Committee is required for the completion of Project Thesis Workshop II.


Project Thesis Workshop I.DMIN 750 (One hour).

Project Thesis Workshop II.DMIN 751 (One hour).


Course Description: This course introduces students to the processes involved in writing a Doctor of Ministry Project Thesis.The course will cover such topics as determining a specific research objective; writing a thesis proposal; bibliographic research techniques; practical research strategies including developing quantitative and qualitative research procedures, and preparation and completion of IRB documentation.The course will also focus on issues of thesis form and style, general layout and chapter content, foot/end-noting, and bibliography.



Project Thesis Writing (7 hours of credit)

Once the Project Thesis Proposal is approved, including IRB approval, the student may begin writing.The Faculty Supervisor will provide primary feedback to chapters submitted in the writing stage, though it is recommended the student share written work with his/her Ministry Coach/ Preaching Consultant/Spiritual Guide to solicit reactions. Formal Faculty Supervision for Thesis Writing is available for three units during which the student must be registered for Project Thesis Writing.


Project Thesis Writing I
DMIN 755 (Two hours)

One may enroll for Project Thesis Writing after the completion of all Experiential Learning Units. A student may enroll for a seminar preparation course while enrolled for Project Thesis Writing as long as it is for the last required seminar of the program.


Project Thesis Writing II
DMIN 756 (Two hours)

Enrollment in Project Thesis Writing II requires a written schedule for completion of at least one third of the anticipated initial draft approved by the Faculty Supervisor.All written work should be submitted to both the Faculty Supervisor and Ministry Coach for review.


Project Thesis Writing III
DMIN 757 (Two hours)

The student should enroll for this course of supervision during a time frame the final draft of the Project Thesis will be completed.The final copy shall be submitted to the Doctor of Ministry office no later than February 1 of the year in which the student plans to graduate in May.

The Project Thesis is limited to 100 pages of content. Candidates may petition their faculty supervisor for an extension of content up to 25 pages. Bibliography and Appendices are not counted in the limit of pages.

The faculty supervisor will monitor the Project Thesis closely. Students must have the approval of the faculty supervisor at each stage of the writing. For example: Each chapter must be submitted to the faculty supervisor for approval according to the agreed upon time line negotiated between the candidate and the faculty supervisor. The candidate cannot submit further chapters or work on the Project Thesis until each submitted chapter is given approval. 


Oral Examination
DMIN 758 (One hour)

An Oral Examination is given to the candidate upon completion of the Project Thesis. The oral exam shall normally be scheduled within one month of submission and will include the Faculty Supervisor, the Ministry Coach/ Preaching Consultant/ Spiritual Guide, and a second member of the McAfee faculty. The Ministry Coach/ Preaching Consultant/ Spiritual Guide will be provided expenses for travel to campus from any location within a reasonable distance. Students may request a replacement when the person is unable to travel to campus or lives some distance from the campus. Please coordinate the scheduling of an oral with the Doctor of Ministry office. The candidate must make the appropriate corrections to the thesis project after passing the oral defense and submit the thesis project for binding in order to be eligible for graduation from the program.

Contact the Admissions Office at (888) 471-9922 to learn more about the structure of the program and completing the application for admission. We hope you will take a moment to get to know us and let us get to know you.