Frequently Asked Questions: Doctor of Ministry

  • ‘Do I have the time for a DMin program?’
  • ‘Who will encourage me through the program?’
  • ‘Is there a program probation period?’
  • ‘What is the value of the DMin qualification?’
  • ‘Will I go through the program with a peer group?’
  • ‘What happens if I miss on-campus sessions?’
  • ‘Why do the on-campus sessions include Sunday, my busy ministry day?’
  • ‘Where are the module on-campus sessions held?’
  • ‘How will the program recognise I’m already a professional?’
  • ‘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?’
  • ‘When do I need to start thinking about my dissertation topic?’
  • ‘How original does my DMin dissertation research need to be?’

Do I have time for a DMin program?’

Our DMin program may be completed in 4–5 years, with a 6-year maximum.

Given the nature of our DMin program, we assume that participants will still be in (or have immediately come from) an active role which provides the locus for their study. Thus we expect DMin 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. 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 about 40-50% of a typical full-time seminary program load. [Each module will likely require about 200-250 hours of learning activity, e.g. pre-campus reading and preparation, on-campus sessions participation, post-campus reading and assignment work, etc.]
  • You need to attend the 6-day on-campus sessions, usually held at BCM, MBS or another seminary campus in Malaysia
  • 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 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 will encourage you as much as we can – but you also need to be disciplined, and take responsibility for your progress.

We have two specific encouragement strategies for you:

1. Student support Memorandum of Understanding

You and the major stakeholders in your program – your family, church and/or ministry organisation 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 DMin, you will be assigned a supervisor to journey with you.

Your supervisor will be selected in close consultation between you and the DMin Program 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! DMin candidates enter the coursework phase of the program on a two-module probationary basis. To continue, you need to complete satisfactorily the core Christian thinking and ministry practice module and one other.

There will be another review when you are close to completing the coursework, to confirm that you may proceed into the dissertation phase. If your coursework grades are not sufficiently high or we are aware of other factors which make us doubt that you are likely to be able to complete the dissertation at an appropriate level and in good time, you will be awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma in Leadership.

What is the value of the DMin qualification?

Graduates will be awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree. This will be awarded by the institution through which you have come into the DMin program: AGST Alliance, BCM or MBS.

We anticipate our DMin will be accredited by the Asia Theological Association (once we have graduates in the program) – as AGST Alliance, BCM and MBS programs presently are.

Will I go through the program with a peer group?

The DMin is a cohort program. You will be with a group of participants who proceed through the coursework together, maximising the learning experience as you interact and “contextualise” with others.

As you share your experiences and challenges with others, they are likely to become friends and colleagues to network with after the program. All in all, great potential for a mutually enriching and ongoing process!

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.

Why do the on-campus sessions include Sunday, my busy ministry day?

The on-campus intensives run from Thursday to Tuesday. This intentionally includes Sunday, which will be a day set aside for reflection, spiritual formation activities, corporate worship and sharing, and some recreation.

So you will need to arrange to NOT return to your home/church for the Sunday of the on-campus sessions. Don’t plan other off-campus activities/visits on the Sundays, either.

We have planned this for two reasons:

  1. To enable participants (especially those who are pastors) to focus more fully on their module, rather than having to plan for their weekend church responsibilities.
  2. To significantly enhance the spiritual formation component of the program.

We sense that you will come to appreciate the Sunday focus as a welcome change of pace from both the on-campus activity and ministry busyness.

�Where are the module on-campus sessions held?�

Usually they are held at BCM, MBS or another seminary campus in Malaysia where adequate accommodation and learning spaces are available. It is also possible that other non-campus locations that fit our needs may be used occasionally.

‘How will the program recognise I’m already a ministry professional?’

We recognise that you and your peers will come into the DMin program with a wealth of experience � in ministry and life generally – and we want to capitalise on that.

So, don’t think of a typical, passive “school approach” to learning in this program. We anticipate the coursework modules will have plenty of scope for participatory, collaborative, applied learning processes in your pre-campus preparation, during the 6-day on-campus intensive, and for the post-campus assignment activity of each module.

That’s why we emphasise that each module spans 4 months, not just a few days. It’s much more than the intensive on-campus time.

Come prepared for mutual and active learning!

Where will I get resources for my program?

Participants have access to the libraries of a number of seminaries – BCM, MBS, as well as seminaries within the AGST Alliance consortium and others. You should register with at least one seminary library. A list of possibilities is available.

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

Can I use a language other than English?

Our DMin program is conducted in English medium.

However, there may be some scope for some work in the program 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.

Discuss this further if you wish with the DMin Program Director.

‘Do I need my own computer?’

A reliable computer is an indispensible resource for your DMin 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?’

This is a necessary component

  • Edbrite (a learning management student) is the means to submit assignments, host discussion forums, upload module guidelines and readings.
  • We are encouraging more on-line student/faculty interaction.
  • Research and access to databases is increasingly common via the internet.
  • Some instructional sessions will be online also.

‘How much will my program cost?’

Click here to see the program fees and other costs of the DMin 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 (e.g. module by module) 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.

If you have come into the DMin program through BCM or MBS, check with that seminary about whether scholarship money may be available to subsidise your program.

‘Do I need a student visa?’

If you live outside Malaysia, usually a social visit pass is adequate for entry into Malaysia to attend module on-campus sessions. (You are officially attending a short training program.) Likewise, if you plan to spend time at a Malaysian 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 if you need to travel into Malaysia for the on-campus sessions of modules, to visit your supervisor, or to spend time at a library/study centre.

AGST Alliance, BCM and MBS are 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 4-5 years.

If DMin candidates complete the coursework but fail to complete the DMin dissertation, they may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership.

‘When do I need to start thinking about my dissertation topic?’

You may come into your DMin program with a reasonable idea of an area you would like to research for your dissertation. If so, you will be in a good position to be thinking about that focus as you go through your coursework, and ensure that your assignment work helps lay groundwork for the later research.

However, we don’t hold you to that idea. As you move through your coursework, you will be exposed to a wide range of topics and perspectives that will be eye-openers for you, and stimulate your interest for further research.

So we recommend:

  • if you come into your DMin program with a dissertation research idea, keep it in mind but be open to other possibilities arising during your coursework.
  • if you don’t have a research idea in mind when you start your DMin, don’t worry. Rather, keep alert during the early coursework for what interests and excites you, and opt for assignment work which helps you develop some of those ideas further.

In both cases, the time to sharpen up your proposed focus will be towards the end of your coursework when we confirm that you are able to move into the dissertation phase.

‘How original does my DMin dissertation research need to be?’

A successful DMin dissertation reflects original research in your ministry/professional sphere. The research will most likely be of an applied nature, with implications for ministry leadership and practice.

“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)