Doctor of Ministry | Hartford Seminary

Doctor of Ministry



Learning Outcomes


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BEC_5839The Doctor of Ministry degree program at Hartford Seminary stresses the reflective practice of ministry, that is, ministry grounded in a practical theology that grows out of an understanding of the social context in which it occurs. The program seeks to provide opportunities for broadened perspectives on ministry that come through the shared wisdom of diverse colleagues and faculty and study in a variety of disciplines. Drawing on the tradition of “congregational studies” pioneered by the Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research, the program invites students who work in many different ministry settings – such as denominational agencies, religious orders, faith-based social service agencies, or chaplaincies, as well as congregations – to explore the human and cultural dynamics of ministry. Recognizing that all ministry happens in a multifaith world, the program also provides the opportunity to engage in study with the faculty of the Seminary’s Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

Since the degree is based on concrete practice and reflection, candidates for the degree are expected to remain in a recognized form of ministry for the duration of the program.

D.Min. Schedule (Monday Colleague Seminars):


September 15-16 (Retreat)
October 7
October 28
November 18
December 9
January 27
February 17
March 16
April 20
May 4


Course of Study

The Doctor of Ministry degree requires successful completion of 36 credits. The course of study is as follows:

Colleague Seminar I-II (DM-710/DM-711) 6 credits
Colleague Seminar III-IV (DM-720/DM-721) 6 credits
Six Elective Courses:

  • Three of the six elective courses must be taken in different topic areas (see the Course Description section)
  • One of the six elective courses must be in a faith tradition other than one’s own, or an interfaith or dialogue course
18 credits
The Ministry Project (DM-796/DM-797) 6 credits
Total Credits 36 credits

The time most students require for completion of the program is typically three to four years. All degree requirements must be completed within six years.

Doctor of Ministry Degree Program Chronology of Study*

First Year
Fall Semester Colleague Seminar I **
D.Min. Elective Course **
Winter/Spring Semester Colleague Seminar II
D.Min. Elective Course
Summer Session D.Min. Elective Course
Second Year
Fall Semester Colleague Seminar III
D.Min. Elective Course
Winter/Spring Semester Colleague Seminar IV
D.Min. Elective Course
Summer Session D.Min. Elective Course
Third Year
Ministry Project Colloquium (recommended but optional)
Ministry Project Proposal submission
Candidacy Examination
Ministry Project Implementation and Evaluation
Ministry Project Final Report — Write-up
Ministry Project Final Report — Submission
Final Report Examination
Ministry Project Report Revisions and Final Submission
Graduation — Awarding of Doctor of Ministry Degree

*This progression of study is a recommended schedule for students wishing to complete the Doctor of Ministry degree in three years. The six elective courses may be taken concurrently with the Colleague Seminars, during summer sessions or during subsequent semesters. All requirements for the Doctor of Ministry degree must be completed within six years.

**The Colleague Seminars meet during the day on five designated Mondays each semester; the D.Min. elective courses meet on the five subsequent Tuesdays. Students may also choose to take electives offered on the course schedule as long as the course is numbered 600 or above.

Program Components

Colleague Seminars I-IV

Each entering Doctor of Ministry class forms a Colleague Seminar that meets ten days a year for two years. The purpose of the Colleague Seminar is to explore the reflective practice of ministry in an atmosphere of personal and professional sharing and to produce a set of analytical and theological papers as background to the Ministry Project. The goal of the first year Colleague Seminar is to ground the practice of ministry in an understanding of its cultural and organizational context. The goal of the second year Colleague Seminar is to develop a clearer theological consciousness about ministry and to deepen the student’s understanding in the arts of ministerial leadership and practice. The Colleague Seminars offer students an opportunity to develop the basic components of the Ministry Project Proposal.

Successful completion of four semesters of the Colleague Seminar is required for the Doctor of Ministry degree. Students must complete all coursework for Colleague Seminar I and II before beginning Colleague Seminar III.

Colleague Seminar Retreat: The fall semester begins with a required evening retreat for Colleague Seminars I and III (first year and second year Doctor of Ministry students). Attendance is mandatory for the retreat, which lasts from Sunday 3 PM through 8 PM.  This retreat is open to all D.Min. students and Alumni.

The Ministry Project

The Ministry Project follows the successful completion of Colleague Seminars I-IV and at least four of the six required electives. The Ministry Project will involve the design, implementation, and evaluation of an action in ministry and reflection on its process and outcome. It should address a significant situation or issue within the student’s ministry setting and set out a strategy to effect change in that setting, transforming and/or intensifying the faith and practice of the religious community. While it is expected that the Ministry Project will be grounded in the student’s particular faith community, the project must also have relevance to the wider community and contribute to the general body of knowledge about and practice of ministry.

Project Proposal Research and Development

During the first two years of the program, as students deepen their understanding of their own ministry context, explore and articulate their theology of ministry, and sharpen their skills in the practice of ministry, they will lay the foundation for the Ministry Project they hope to undertake.

Students will work closely with their advisors to focus and clarify their thinking. Approval by the advisor is required before a proposal may be submitted for examination.

Because Ministry Projects are grounded in a particular setting, students will be expected to involve participants within their ministry setting (or other appropriate partners) in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Ministry Project.

Project Proposal and Candidacy Examination

Students who have successfully completed Colleague Seminars I-IV and at least four of the six elective courses, and have the approval of their advisor, may submit a Ministry Project Proposal for oral examination by a committee of the faculty. Committee members are chosen by the Dean of the Seminary and will include the student’s advisor and two readers. The examining committee’s approval of the proposal constitutes admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Ministry degree.

Students will submit a 20-25 page Project Proposal for this exam. This proposal should demonstrate the student’s ability to draw widely and deeply on work they have done in the Colleague Seminars and other courses in the program, strategically integrating that learning around the particular action in ministry the student proposes to undertake.

The proposal should begin with a succinct statement of what the student hopes to accomplish, followed by 1) explicit attention to and grounding in the student’s context of ministry, showing how the proposed project addresses and grows out of the social realities internal and external to that specific place; 2) an explication of the theology that calls forth the proposed project’s action, including attention to scholarly sources and sacred traditions, to relevant theoretical analyses, and to the student’s own experiences and convictions; 3) a detailed outline of the actions the student wishes to undertake, showing how those actions are grounded in an understanding of the specific practices of ministry the student will use; and 4) a brief description of how the student plans to evaluate the proposed Ministry Project.

A student who does not pass the candidacy examination may be permitted a re-examination at the discretion of the examining committee. Re-examination must take place within six months of the original exam.

More detailed requirements are outlined in “Guidelines for Doctor of Ministry Project Proposals and Examination,” which is available at the Student Forms Center (located at 77 Sherman Street on the 2nd floor), on the Seminary’s website (under Student Resources/Online Forms Center), and from the Seminary Academic Advisor.

Ministry Project Implementation and Evaluation

Upon approval of the examining committee, the student may register for the Ministry Project and begin implementation of the proposed action in ministry, including undertaking strategies for evaluating its effectiveness.

Ministry Project Colloquium

Students who have successfully completed Colleague Seminars I and II and at least four of the six elective courses, may enroll in the Ministry Project Colloquium. The Colloquium, which meets periodically during the year, provides a supportive environment for the preparation of Ministry Project Proposals, the execution of Ministry Projects, and the writing of Ministry Project Final Reports. Students may remain enrolled in the Colloquium until their Ministry Project is complete.

The Colloquium, while highly recommended for those working on their Ministry Project, is not required. The Colloquium carries no tuition or fee; however, students participating in the Colloquium and not registered for either courses or the Ministry Project in any given semester, will be charged the $300 Program Extension Fee.

Ministry Project Report

The final written report must include a description of the action undertaken, theoretical and contextual analysis of the action, and theological reflection on what transpired. It will draw appropriately on relevant literature and include a bibliography of the sources used.

Students are expected to work closely with their advisor during all phases of their Ministry Project, but especially in writing the final report. The Report must follow the requirements as outlined in the “Doctor of Ministry Final Project Report Manual,” which is available at the Student Forms Center (located at 77 Sherman Street on the 2nd floor), or on the Seminary’s website (under Student Resources/Online Forms Center).

The criteria for judging the adequacy of a Ministry Project are:

  1. The issue or situation addressed in the project is clearly related to the student’s ministry setting and reflects her or his theology of ministry.
  2. The project demonstrates the student’s capacity to function as a reflective practitioner, bringing to bear theological, theoretical, and practical insight that is grounded both in relevant scholarly literature and in careful observation of the ministry action and its setting.
  3. The project demonstrates appropriate participation of persons from the ministry setting or other partners.
  4. The Final Report is presented in a form that is both appropriate to the setting and generally accessible to other reflective practitioners of ministry.
  5. The Final Report is no more than 75 pages, excluding appendices and bibliography. It must accord with acceptable writing standards and must demonstrate a level of research, critical reflection, and writing proficiency commensurate with doctoral level work.

Ministry Project Final Examination

The student’s Ministry Project Final Report is examined orally by a committee of the faculty convened by the student’s advisor; committee members are chosen by the Academic Dean. Final approval of the final report rests with the faculty examining committee. Prior to scheduling the final oral examination for the Ministry Project, all coursework (including Colleague Seminars I and II and the six elective courses) must be successfully completed. All financial obligations to the Seminary must be met before a student takes a final project examination. Students planning to schedule their final oral examination must contact the Executive Assistant to the Dean at least four weeks prior to the proposed exam date and must complete the final oral examination checklist before the exam may be scheduled.

Students who have completed the Doctor of Ministry program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the larger social and cultural dynamics affecting religious life and organizations in the 21st century and their implications for ministry setting.
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess with concrete evidence the local contextual, identity, process dynamics and to formulate new approaches.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, capacities, and willingness to respectfully engage the religious pluralism of contemporary American society through exposure to the teachings of other faiths and those who practice those faiths.
  • Demonstrate reflective and intentional critical assessment of their style of ministry in effecting change of their ministry setting.

BEC_3472The Doctor of Ministry program is open to persons who have three years of ministry experience after the completion of the Master of Divinity degree (or its educational equivalent, equivalency is defined on page 38 of the Catalogue) from an accredited institution. Students must have regular participation in their ministry setting for the duration of their program. Only students who meet this criteria will be considered for admission.

Applications for the Doctor of Ministry program and all supporting materials should be submitted to the Admissions Office no later than July 15 of the year for which admission is sought. The applicant must supply the following:

  1. The application form and application fee of $50.
  2. A personal statement of three to five pages identifying the applicant’s personal goals for the Doctor of Ministry program and her or his perceived strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Complete official transcripts sent directly from all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions.
  4. Three letters of recommendation from persons able to assess the applicant’s academic and professional potential: one from a professor with whom the applicant has studied, one from a minister or official of the denomination with which the applicant is affiliated, and one from a professional colleague or associate.

One can apply through either a paper-based or an online format, both available on our website Detailed instructions for completing the application are also provided at this link. You may also request a paper application by calling our Admissions Office at 860-509-9512.

Interview: Applicants will be contacted by the Admissions Office to schedule an on-campus or phone interview.

Once all application materials have been received and the personal interview has been conducted, the applicant’s file will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

Entrance and Deferral: Students admitted to the D.Min. program may defer their entrance for no more than one academic year after the fall semester to which they are admitted. This intent must be received in writing by the Registrar. Students unable to enroll in the program after this period may apply for readmission.

Entrance to the program formally begins with enrollment in the fall first year Colleague Seminar (DM-710). If entrance is deferred, students may enroll in D.Min. elective courses, but no more than two electives may be completed before the enrollment in the first year Colleague Seminar begins. In all cases, enrollment in the first year Colleague Seminar must begin no later than one academic year after the fall semester to which a student is originally admitted to the program. Students are expected to remain with their colleague group during the two year sequence of the Colleague Seminar.


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