Largest D.Min. Programs 2012, 2011, 1988
The rise of the non-M.Div. theological masters degree ATS Enrollment 1999-2012

D.Min. enrollment hit an all-time high in 2012



Year 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
ATS 6459 6462 6741 6934 7274 7610 7423 7844 7923 7968
  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
  8373 8425 8322 8436 8827 8920 9216 9045 9151 9066
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012          
  9183 9077 9063 9047 9335          
Annual Data Tables/FactBooks    
The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
Collated by Andrew D. Rowell, April 2013          

  Download Excel document of ATS DMin Enrollment 1988-2012

Comments: Why are there so many people today in Doctor of Ministry programs?


5 reasons why there are so many people doing D.Min. programs today

1. A Ph.D. is too painful and a D.Min. is just right. I think it is too expensive, long, and painful to get a Ph.D. for most people. The average time for a Duke Ph.D. in Religion is 5.8 years and that is one of the very best stipends and student-friendly programs anywhere. And, even if you survive for 6 years living on $20,000 a year (at best), it is very difficult to get a job. A D.Min. is not a Ph.D. or Th.D. but does demonstrate initiative, a zeal to learn, and perseverance. 

2. A D.Min. is a way of carving out space to learn. Yes, there are enormous resources available on the web for pastors and many superb books to read but it is of course very difficult to find time to get away from the daily hectic routine and learn. Some ministry leaders are capable of getting away enough to cultivate vision, assess themselves, even write books, but for many ministry leaders, a D.Min. program (with the discipline of coursework and time away) is ideal for carving out time to study, learn, and find solace and friendship with other pastors.

3. Sometimes churches help with the cost. Sometimes churches will share some of the cost of the D.Min. program knowing that it benefits them to have a more balanced, rejuvenated, learning pastor. However, there are some churches who have had their clergy leave to a larger church after getting a D.Min. so they feel resentful toward what they paid. The church should structure their payments knowing that a pastor may leave because of course this can happen at any time for any reason; They may for example pay 1/2 of tuition right away but gradually pay for the whole thing if the pastor stays for 5 years after completing the D.Min.program. (There are a number of costs also for D.Min. programs that are away from home such as plane tickets and housing for intense courses but these trips are so rich-in-experience that few seem to complain about the costs).

4. D.Min. programs are getting better with the web. Rather than just reading at home by yourself before the intensive courses on campus, with online course components, ministry leaders can now bond, share, empathize, and learn online with other pastors in their class before meeting.

5. D.Min. programs have tracks for all sorts of specializations. You can do a D.Min. in spiritual formation, executive leadership, marriage and family counseling, preaching, leading parachurch organizations, etc. 


Two things to ask about prospective D.Min. programs 

1. Ask whether you have the opportunity to study with regular seminary faculty or just adjuncts. What is odd is that some D.Min. programs use adjuncts almost exclusively so that a student may have very little interaction with the regular faculty from the school. It is cheaper for the seminary that way. But you have to wonder as a DMin student if you are getting a first class education from that seminary with all adjuncts. Some seminaries justify this as "The regular residential seminary faculty don't know anything about ministry so it is good they don't teach in the D.Min. program!" But it would be better if regular seminary faculty could invest in D.Min. students and learn from them. 

2. Beware of the tendency to get stalled during the dissertation-writing phase. The other thing to note is that many students get stalled after coursework writing their "project" or "dissertation" or "thesis." A program should have a workable template which makes completing the dissertation fairly straightforward but should also allow room for creative, ambitious projects for those highly motivated and capable for pulling them off. Ask about how they help students finish their projects in a timely way.




Note: I did this research for a separate project but thought I would share it here for others' benefit.

See also my posts:

The rise of the non-M.Div. theological masters degree ATS Enrollment 1999-2012


Largest D.Min. Programs 2012, 2011, 1988