Frequently Asked Questions: Doctor of Education (Spiritual Formation and Discipleship)

  • Do I have the time for an EdD program?
  • Who will encourage me through the program?
  • Is there a program probation period?
  • Will I go through the program with a peer group?
  • What happens if I miss on-campus sessions?
  • Where are the module on-campus sessions held?
  • Where will I get resources for my program?
  • Can I use a language other than English?
  • Do I need my own computer?
  • Do I need broadband internet access?
  • How much will my program cost?
  • Do I have to pay my fees in full up front?
  • Are scholarships available?
  • Do I need a student visa?
  • What is the time limit to complete my program?
  • How original does my EdD dissertation research need to be?
  • Can I transfer into the PhD(Ed)?

Do I have time for an EdD program?

Our EdD may be completed in 3.5-4 years, with a 6 year maximum.

Given the nature of our EdD program, we assume that candidates will still be in (or have immediately come from) an active role which provides the locus for their study. Thus we expect EdD candidates more often than not to be part-time in their study program.

Thus, you can continue to live at home, and serve in your ministry or work. There’s no need to relocate your family or leave them for long periods.

But note these points:

  • If you plan to attend the modules consecutively, this is equivalent to at least 50% of a typical full-time seminary program load.
  • You need to attend the 5-7 day on-campus sessions, usually held at an AGST Alliance member seminary in Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand.
  • You also need to allocate good quality time for significant pre- and post-campus study.

Good time management is essential. You will need to restructure your work/ministry load and responsibilities for the duration of the program.

  • Some participants have study leave provisions in their church/organisation.
  • Others arrange to cut down their work/ministry load.
  • Others take unpaid leave.

Who will encourage me through the program?

Non-residential, modular programs are a challenge to complete.

We in AGST Alliance will encourage you as much as we can – but you also need to be disciplined.

We have two specific encouragement strategies for you:

1. Student support Memorandum of Understanding

You and the major stakeholders in your program – your family, ministry organisation/seminary and/or local church leaders – recognise the potential pressures, and may make a commitment to help you have adequate time and energy for your program.

Click here to download the Student Support Memorandum of Understanding guidelines and form.

2. Supervisor

When you move into the dissertation research phase of your EdD, you will be assigned a supervisor to journey with you.

Your supervisor will be selected in close consultation between you and the Education Programs Director. We will want to ensure as good a fit as possible for your supervisor to provide expertise in your specific field of research.

How often you meet with your supervisor will be mutually agreed. E-mail, Skype and/or telephone calls will be used extensively, and we recommend at least one face-to-face meeting with your supervisor every 3-4 months.

Is there a program probation period?

Yes – EdD candidates enter the coursework phase of the program on a two-module probationary basis. To continue, you need to complete the first two modules satisfactorily.

There will be another review after you complete the coursework, to confirm that you may proceed with the dissertation phase. If your coursework grades are not sufficiently high, you may be invited to complete the MTh(Ed) instead of the EdD.

Will I go through the program with a peer group?

The EdD is a ‘semi-cohort program’. You may start the program at any module, but we advise you to go through the modules consecutively. Then you will be with a core group of participants who are registered in both the EdD and MTh(Ed) programs.

As you share your experiences and challenges with others, they are likely to become friends and colleagues to network with after the program.

What happens if I miss on-campus sessions?

If you miss some of the on-campus sessions of a module for genuine reasons, you may be given some directed studies to take the place of the missed elements of the module. But if you miss all the on-campus sessions, you are unlikely to be allowed to complete the module.

Where are the module on-campus sessions held?

Mostly on campuses of AGST Alliance member seminaries in Malaysia/Singapore/ Thailand.

The decision about which campus is used is determined by:

  • The geographical spread of the module participants. More participants from one country may mean more modules taught on campuses in that country.
  • The preference of the person facilitating the module (= the lecturer).
  • The need to share module hosting.

Budget airlines ease the financial load!

Where will I get resources for my program?

AGST Alliance students have access to the libraries of a number of seminaries – those in our consortium and others. Students also draw on the resources of universities and public libraries. You should register with at least one seminary library. A list is available.

A growing number of program and research resources are accessible on-line. We will help you find these. And we encourage you to share your discoveries with fellow-students, too.

Can I use a language other than English?

Currently, AGST Alliance programs are conducted in English medium. However, there is scope for some work in our programs to be completed in other languages, subject to special conditions, and on a case-by-case basis.

For example, a dissertation may be written in a language other than English if a suitable supervisor is located. An English translation of the work will be required; and an oral examination is likely to be necessary.

The director of your program will be able to give you further details.

Do I need my own computer?

A reliable computer is an indispensible resource for your AGST Alliance program. If your current computer is not very reliable, or you need to share it with too many other people, or it is placed in a noisy environment, then it may be well worth budgeting to acquire another one at the start of the your study program.

We advise you to revise/enhance your computing/word-processing skills, too; as well as make sure you apply common-sense computer security practices (like backing up your data regularly, and installing reputable anti-virus software and keeping the virus definitions up to date).

Do I need broadband internet access?

We strongly recommend it.

  • Email attachments are the preferred means of submitting assignments.
  • We are encouraging more on-line student/faculty interaction.
  • Research and access to databases is increasingly common via the internet.

How much will my program cost?

Click here to see the program fees and other costs of the EdD program.

We try to keep the program fees affordable for students, taking into account their home country standard of living.

You will need to factor other significant cost into your program. See the details in the fees schedule here.

Do I have to pay my fees in full up front?

No. Program fees may be paid in instalments rather than as one lump sum.

Click here to see the payment schedule.

Are scholarships available?

No scholarship money is directly available from AGST Alliance.

However, we support candidate applications to trusts/foundations for financial assistance.

Do I need a student visa?

Because AGST Alliance is a regional, non-residential educational institution without its own campus, our students do not qualify for student visas.

Usually, when you travel to another country from your own to attend module on-campus sessions, a social visit pass is adequate. (You are officially attending a short training program.) Likewise, if you plan to spend time at a library or with your supervisor, a social visit pass is usually sufficient.

It is your responsibility to check carefully about immigration regulations well in advance of the on-campus sessions of modules being conducted in a country other than your own, if you are travelling to visit your supervisor, or you are planning time at an overseas library/study centre.

AGST Alliance is able to provide official letters if required for immigration purposes.

What is the time limit to complete my program?

Six years is the maximum time limit to complete the program. With consistent and diligent work it may be completed in 3.5-4 years.

If EdD candidates complete the coursework and critical engagement project but fail to complete the EdD dissertation, they may request to complete either a MTh(Ed) thesis or 4 extra module credits plus a MTh(Ed) 4 credit educational project, and be awarded a MTh(Ed).

If EdD candidates complete only the coursework and not the critical engagement project, they will be awarded a Postgrad Dip Ed.

How original does my EdD dissertation research need to be?

A successful EdD dissertation reflects original research, in candidates’ organisational/professional sphere. The research will most likely be of an applied nature, with implications for senior educational leadership in professional and/or policy areas.

‘Making an original contribution’ may seem a daunting prospect! But several writers have suggested what this means in practice. Think about these two lists, and relate them to your likely area of research.

Possible areas of originality:

  • a new product/theory
  • a development of – or improvement on – an existing product/theory
  • a reinterpretation of an existing theory
  • a new research tool or technique
  • a new model/paradigm/perspective
  • an in-depth study of a previously less-studied area
  • a critical analysis
  • a portfolio of work based on research
  • a collection of generalizable findings or conclusions

(Pat Cryer, The research student’s guide to success. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996, p. 149.)

These examples of originality were collected from supervisors, examiners and research students by Estelle Phillips:

  • Carrying out empirical work that hasn’t been done before.
  • Making a synthesis that hasn’t been made before.
  • Using already known material but with a new interpretation.
  • Trying out something in [one] country that has previously only been done in other countries.
  • Taking a particular technique and applying it to a new area.
  • Bringing new evidence to bear on an old issue.
  • Being cross-disciplinary and using different methodologies.
  • Looking at areas that people in the discipline haven’t looked at before.
  • Adding to knowledge in a way that hasn’t been done before.

(Zuber-Skerritt & Ryan, cited in Cryer, 1996, p. 154)

Can I transfer into the PhD(Ed)?

Yes, candidates in the EdD may request to transfer to the PhD(Ed). Candidates will need to provide a strong justification for doing so, and (if appropriate) with the support of their EdD research supervisor.

Transferring to the PhD(Ed) will involve additional program fees.