Doctor of Ministry Programs

Updated May 18, 2023 | Genevieve Carlton

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Doctor of Ministry Programs

Doctor of ministry programs train pastors for leadership roles in the church. During a ministry program, doctoral students build leadership and research skills while focusing their studies through a specialization. With a doctorate, clergy can increase their responsibilities and earning potential.

Doctoral students may specialize in areas like spiritual leadership, pastoral care, or church management. Applicants typically need a master's in ministry degree.

Our list ranks the best doctor of ministry programs. Prospective applicants can use the rankings to find the right fit for their budget, schedule, and career goals.

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Questions About Doctor of Ministry Programs

What is the difference between a doctor of ministry and a Ph.D.?

A doctor of ministry emphasizes practice and real-world church leadership skills. As a research degree, a Ph.D. approaches the subject in a more theoretical way.

What can I do with a doctor of ministry degree?

A doctorate in ministry prepares graduates for careers in church leadership. The degree emphasizes pastoral skills. Graduates may also work as college professors.

Can you teach with a doctor of ministry degree?

Yes, a doctor of ministry prepares graduates for teaching positions. The degree includes training in religious education, and a doctorate meets the requirement for college teaching roles.

Featured Online Programs in Ministry

Why Get a Doctor of Ministry Degree?

A doctor of ministry degree prepares graduates for leadership roles within churches. During a doctoral program, learners strengthen their ministry leadership, pastoral counseling, and church management skills. The degree also builds strong communication and religious education abilities.

Graduates with a doctor of ministry degree earn an average of $70,000 annually, according to March 2022 Payscale data. Many schools offer an affordable route to a doctorate. At some schools, doctoral students pay less than $5,000 for doctor of ministry programs. Online programs provide affordability and flexibility.

How Much Does a Doctor of Ministry Degree Cost?

The cost of a doctor of ministry degree varies by program. For example, the Colorado Theological Seminary charges around $4,320 for its online doctor of ministry program. At Bethel University, the online doctor of ministry costs $21,000-$25,000, depending on learners' specialty.

Doctor of ministry programs cost much less than other doctoral programs. Doctorates in other fields cost an average of $114,300, according to

Still, students pursuing a doctor of ministry degree should budget for extra costs. These may include books and commuting expenses. Choosing an online program can help degree-seekers reduce costs. Rather than restricting their search to local schools, distance learners can choose more affordable programs in other states.

How Much Do Doctor of Ministry Majors Make?

With a doctor of ministry degree, graduates can move into leadership roles that pay above-average salaries. Clergy earn a median $51,940 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure surpasses the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

Salaries vary by location, job title, and experience. Clergy generally earn more with a higher degree and experience. The congregation size can also affect salaries. A doctor of ministry also meets the requirements for academic roles like theology professor. College professors earn a median $80,560 annually, according to the BLS.

Courses in a Doctor of Ministry Program

During a doctor of ministry program, graduate students take classes in ministry leadership, biblical studies, pastoral care, and church management. The curriculum emphasizes leadership, communication, and counseling skills.

In many programs, doctoral students choose classes to customize their degree. Common specialties include applied theology, pastoral counseling, and church leadership. Some programs incorporate a practicum or project to provide hands-on experience. Doctoral candidates typically complete a dissertation to earn their degree.

This section includes common classes in a doctor of ministry program. Keep in mind that classes vary by program.

  • Ministry Leadership

    Clergy require strong leadership skills to counsel and lead their church. Enrollees examine leadership methods and examples of church leadership in practice. Learners conduct self-assessments to create their own leadership style. They also explore literature and case studies on ministry leadership.
  • Church Management

    A doctorate in ministry prepares graduates for decision-making roles within churches. This class emphasizes the strategic planning and leadership skills necessary to develop short-term and long-term plans for the organization. Topics may cover mission planning, budgeting, and management training. Enrollees gain skills to take on lead pastor responsibilities.
  • Pastoral Counseling

    This class trains doctoral students in counseling techniques and issues that arise during pastoral counseling. Learners examine the relationship between a pastor and church members seeking counseling. The class also covers common types of pastoral counseling, such as premarital counseling.

How to Become Clergy Person

Clergy take on critical roles in religious organizations. They develop religious education programs, counsel members of the church community, and create a church's long-term plans. During a typical day, clergy may write sermons, lead religious services, and meet with members of the church or broader community.

Many clergy positions require a graduate degree. A doctor of ministry degree prepares clergy for leadership roles. Clergy also typically bring a background in church service or leadership. A ministry degree plus experience builds the required knowledge and skills for leadership positions within church organizations.

Doctor of Ministry Programs

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