15 Best Online Doctor of Ministry

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: April 11, 2024, Reading time: 26 minutes

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While a formal degree is not required to become faithful to The Word of God, an advanced and accredited degree will help you broaden your understanding of the Bible. A degree will also help you pursue positions in bigger congregations.


Graduates with a doctorate in ministry will stand out when applying for jobs as ministers, missionaries, or theology instructors. A Doctor of Ministry program will improve your knowledge, contacts, leadership, and ministry skills.

The Lowdown

An online Doctor of Ministry program prepares ministers to write articles and provide knowledge about organized religions, such as Catholicism or Judaism. Following the same on-campus curriculum, with highly interactive online coursework, DMin students will obtain high ministry leadership skills and practice standards. Graduates will be able to hold various roles in the religious sector.


To help prospective students earn a respected and highly valued Doctorate in Ministry degree, each doctoral program on the list was picked based on the following:

Please check out our Methodology for more details on our ranking process.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 15 Online Doctorate in Ministry Programs

Liberty University


Doctor of Ministry

Liberty University is among the top schools that offer online programs in various fields, including a Doctor of Ministry. With accelerated 8-week online courses, the DMin program can be completed in as few as two years—students with more transfer credits can complete the program even faster.

The program’s curriculum aims to give students a deeper understanding of biblical concepts and outreach techniques to help them become better ministry leaders. 

Students must complete 30 credit hours to earn the degree, which includes core courses, specialization courses, portfolio, and thesis project report.

The program offers several specializations to help students acquire the knowledge and skills required for a specific field. Specializations include Biblical Studies, Ministry Leadership, Next Generation Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Theology and Apologetics, and more.

Thanks to its 100% online format, doctoral students can earn a degree without compromising their current job positions, and family, community, and church responsibilities. 

Interested students must have a master’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA from an accredited college/university.

Additional requirements include official college transcripts, 18 graduate hours of Bible/Theology or ministry-related courses, a statement of purpose, an ecclesiastical endorsement, and a professional vita. International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency, such as TOEFL or IELTS scores.

South University


Doctor of Ministry

South University’s Doctor of Ministry is among the best DMin programs for students from various faith traditions. While the program can be completed 100% online, students must frequently participate in the Discussion forums and upload their tasks at least twice weekly on separate days. Classes start on Tuesdays, go for ten weeks, and are scheduled back-to-back for optimal efficiency.

Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree and actively engaged in the ministry will be enrolled in the Standard Track.

This track builds on students’ undergraduate and professional knowledge and will start with foundational courses followed by ministry skills courses, advanced courses in ministry studies, and a doctoral project. This sequencing allows students to explore and refine techniques for integrating biblical and theological perspectives into their workplace.

Candidates with a master’s degree in Divinity with at least a 3.0 GPA will follow the Advanced Track sequencing. In this track, students will take a shorter path through the ministry study and skills courses, eventually tackling their doctoral ministry project before completing their degree. Students can graduate in 4 semesters.

Portland Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

Portland Seminary at George Fox University offers an online Doctor of Ministry that follows the rigorous on-campus curriculum. Designed as a professional degree program, students who qualify can develop skills valuable for application-oriented research in a ministry context.

Unlike other DMin programs, where all courses are offered in an asynchronous format, students at Portland Seminary progress through the program in small cohorts with a few face-to-face required experiences. Classes are led by inspiring faculty members.

This online ministry program offers two specialization options: DMin in Leadership and Spiritual Formation and DMin in Semiotics, Church, and Culture. Both specializations require students to complete 38 credit hours and train them to become “Doctors of the Church,” with a completion time of 3 years.

The latter specialization focuses on helping students realize themselves and rekindle their relationship with God. In contrast, the former focuses on equipping students with the ability to lead with assurance in a rapidly changing culture. Students are required to build a portfolio as they go along the program.

Applicants with a master’s degree in divinity are preferred. Those without an MDiv degree must perform an MDiv Equivalency Evaluation of their total academic portfolio.

Chicago Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

Chicago Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry is a 3-year public ministry-focused online program requiring students to complete at least 30 credit hours. The program’s curriculum equips students with skills for leadership roles in Islamic Religious Leadership, thanks to the school’s relationship with the Bayan Islamic Graduate School.

Required DMin courses of this program include Theory & Theology for Public Ministry, Leadership for Public Ministry, Applied Research Methods, and DMin Directed Study Project I and II. Classes are led by a world-class faculty that will guide students in choosing the appropriate advanced electives at 500 or 600 levels that apply the school’s unique emphasis to particular problems in religious leadership.

The program will conclude with a writing seminar where the student finishes their project-based applied research dissertation in a recognized area of advanced religious leadership.

Applicants must hold a master’s degree in divinity or a closely related field, such as theology and religious studies, from an accredited higher learning institution. Additional requirements include three years of work experience in ministry/religious leadership, autobiographical and programmatic essays, academic records, and four letters of reference and recommendation.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the top accredited seminary schools dedicated to providing students with rigorous training for ministry through a gospel-centered, theologically grounded curriculum. The Doctor of Ministry at SBTS is a fully online program with low optional residency requirements designed to help church leaders obtain a degree without leaving their current responsibilities.

The program will start by requiring students to work on a 100–125 page research project presented and submitted before the conclusion. An oral examination covering the written and proposed research project then serves as the degree’s capstone.

The program is one of the most customizable doctorates in ministry online. Students have various options for full online concentrations, including Applied Theology, Biblical Counseling, Christian Ministry, and Global Missions.

Three more concentrations are available but will require a few on-campus visits: Discipleship and Christian Education, Old Testament Exposition, and Urban Ministry.

Applicants must have a 72-hour MDive degree in Biblical Theology, Expository Preaching, New Testament Exposition, or Old Testament Exposition. The degree must be from an accredited institution and must have a GPA of at least 3.0.

Regent University


Doctor of Ministry

Regent University’s online Doctor of Ministry is a 36-credit hour program with no required on-campus visits, giving students a 100% online learning delivery. Students will study in a curriculum that rigorously trains them to become flexible and skilled ministry leaders in various contexts.

The coursework is designed to give students increased training and information to help them become more effective leaders in various fields, focusing on practical and applied aspects of ministry.

The curriculum will explore qualitative and quantitative research topics to provide students with the ability to understand various ministry aspects in-depth. Students can concentrate on Chaplain Ministry and Leadership or Christian Leadership and Renewal.

The program’s core courses include Advanced Cosmogony and Anthropology, DMin Orientation, and The Ministry Leader. Graduates can pursue careers as pastoral leaders, parachurch executives, ministry consultants, and more.

Admission requirements for the online program include a master’s degree in divinity, or its equivalent with at least 72 credit hours, from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants not meeting the minimum requirement must have their master’s degree evaluated and reviewed for admission.

Supplemental requirements include a ministerial resume and unofficial college transcripts.

Northeastern Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

Northeastern Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry is a 34-credit hour program that allows online doctoral students to enroll part-time. Students will conclude the program with a dissertation, which serves as the program’s capstone, allowing them to specialize in Leadership, Scripture, or Spiritual Formation.

The dissertation will be a publishable work that discusses the nature and practice of ministry while drawing on theoretical and theological sources.

The program’s coursework includes Transformational Leadership, Spirituality for Ministry, and Advanced Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. The coursework for DMin classes occasionally includes personal retreats and reflection assignments. This may require students to visit the campus for spiritual formation weeks and groups.

Applicants must be holders of an MA or MDiv degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. A non-seminary degree holder may need to take as little as six classes before starting the DMin program. The applicant must also have at least three years of experience as a practicing ministry professional.

Additional requirements include letters of recommendation, transcripts, theological paper and application essay, and professional resume.

Duke Divinity School


Doctor of Ministry

The Doctor of Ministry at Duke Divinity School is a hybrid program that provides students with the unique opportunity to engage with professionals and leaders from other Christian institutions. It is designed to give students a rigorous but engaging theological reflection curriculum that combines a few on-campus intensives and online courses that conclude with a research-based thesis.

For the on-campus intensive part of the program, students must be on campus five times over two years; each residency/visit may last for a week.

The program uses a cohort structure to offer students the support they need. Core coursework of the program includes Old Testament and Christian Leadership, Inspiring and Guiding Change, Forming and Implementing Vision, and Sustaining and Strengthening Mission.

Moreover, DMin students must submit a Student Portfolio for the Program Director’s consideration that will be reviewed after the fifth term.

Applicants should have a master’s degree in divinity, theology, or the equivalent earned from an accredited institution. Required materials include unofficial transcripts, resume or curriculum vitae, recommendations, and statement of purpose.

Fuller Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

The Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary is one of the most sought-after online doctorates by international students. It is available entirely online in Korean and Spanish. This online DMin program is a practice-based doctorate that allows students to customize their degrees with the help of academic advisors.

The program’s curriculum aims to produce ministry leaders with creative and practical excellence and passion for the field.

The program offers two tracks: Personalized and Specialized Track. The personalized track is designed for students with a degree tailored to their needs and interests. Students in this track can select their electives upon completing one online course.

However, this track may require a one-week intensive seminar on campus. The Specialized Track offers two concentrations: Healthcare Chaplaincy Track and Military Chaplaincy Track.

Regionally and nationally accredited master’s degree in theology or divinity with a 3.0 minimum GPA is accepted into the program. Interested students without a master’s degree in a related field must have graduate-level courses in Old Testament and New Testament and one in Biblical Studies, Theology, Church History, or Christian Ethics.

Additional requirements include three years of ministry leadership experience.

Wesley Seminary


Doctor of Ministry

Wesley Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program is a 17-course program with an average completion rate of 2 years. Designed for employed ministry professionals, this program is delivered in a fully online learning format that allows students to enroll in asynchronous classes.

Upon enrollment, students will have a one-on-one talk with an academic advisor to help them tailor their schedules to fit them best. The curriculum explores theology, biblical studies, church history, the growth of spiritual life, and ministry practice.

Required courses include Spiritual Life and Research courses, Advanced Exegesis, Advanced Studies in Christian History, and Advanced Studies in Theology for Ministry Practice. Students must also complete three seminary courses for their Ministry Practice coursework.

Applicants must have an accredited Master of Divinity degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, three years of ministry experience beyond the master’s degree, graduate transcripts, a ministry resume, completed recommendation forms, and a spiritual journey essay. Students without an accredited MDiv will be evaluated for admission.

Bethel University


Doctor of Ministry

Bethel University’s Doctor of Ministry is among the list’s best and most affordable online doctoral programs. Taught by world-class professionals with years of experience as ministry leaders—some have an active status in ministries—this online DMin program has an estimated tuition of only $18,000.

In addition to its affordability, students can also expect full flexibility in completing the program, thanks to its fully online format. A hybrid learning format option is available for students pursuing the degree with various on-campus intensives.

The program offers four concentration areas: Biblical and Theological Engagement, Church Leadership, Congregation and Family Care, and Transformational Leadership. Core requirements of the program include Integral Research & Writing and Integral Research and Writing: Workshop; and Thesis Proposal Foundations and Thesis Proposal Workshop.

Regardless of concentration, online doctoral students will be required to pursue a career out of social research exploring current issues in churches and the culture around them. Graduates will have the necessary strategic leadership skills to serve and lead in the dynamic environments of the field.

A Master of Divinity degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 minimum GPA is required. However, interested applicants with a master’s degree in theology or a ministry-related field can also apply.

Still, they will be required to complete a 3-unit integrative seminar at the program’s start and obtain a grade of B or higher. Applicants without a master’s degree related to the field will be enrolled in the Master of Christian Thought program and will soon be accelerated into the DMin.

Grace School of Theology


Doctor of Ministry

The online Doctor of Ministry at Grace School of Theology is a 30-credit hour program that can be pursued part-time, with an average completion time of 4 years. With an advanced professional degree, students will gain an in-depth understanding of theological grounding, develop advanced ministry skills, and broaden their perspective on ministry.

The program allows students to enroll in extensive courses while serving in their ministries. Every class builds on prior ministry experience and aims to connect learning to the student’s current ministry and their long-term objectives.

Of the 30 required credit hours, 12 will be spent completing electives. Students will receive guidance from academic advisors in choosing and scheduling their courses. The program’s electives include Ministry and Missions, Leadership, Practical Theology, Counseling, and Interdisciplinary Track.

Required courses explore Effective Biblical Leadership, Contemporary Theological Issues, and Issues in Grace Theology and Praxis. Upon completion of coursework, students must start a doctoral-level practical project to challenge the student’s personal ministry capabilities.

Admission to this online DMin program requires a minimum of 90 semester hours MDiv degree or equivalent. Supplemental requirements include a three-year ministry experience beyond the master’s degree and evidence of research and writing ability.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University


Doctor of Ministry in Leadership

Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s online Doctor of Ministry program is one of the most flexible 30-credit hour doctorates. With working ministry professionals in mind, students must only complete one course per semester in a cohort learning environment.

Only three cohort meetings are necessary for the online program’s ten semesters of enrollment. SAGU offers small class sizes to give students 1-on-1 interactions with faculty invested in their success.

The program’s core courses explore various topics, such as Spiritual Formation and Self Improvement, Fresh Approaches to Preaching in a Postmodern Era, Creative Communication and Technology, Organizational Behavior, and more.

Students will begin working on their research with a Project Advisor upon coursework completion. During the program’s research phase, doctoral students can access the university’s technology resources and support.

A master’s degree in divinity from a regionally accredited institution is required to gain admission into the program. Non-MDive applicants can still apply for the online program if they have earned at least 72 graduate hours within theology, biblical studies, and church ministry.

Applicants must also have professional ministry experience to be considered.

Oral Roberts University


Doctor of Ministry/Doctor of Theology

The Doctor of Ministry at Oral Roberts University is among the top online DMin programs focused on helping students comprehend the charismatic aspects of ministry leadership. The program moves in cohorts, allowing students to socialize and collaborate with faculty and peers frequently.

While some DMIN coursework is done through online discussions and assignments, students must visit the campus for face-to-face meetings. Students can earn all the required coursework in 3 years.

Students can tailor their online DMin programs by choosing their tracks. Students interested in pursuing positions as pastors, parachurch ministry directors, chaplains, missionaries, and denominational officials are best suited for the Church Ministries and Leadership Track.

On the other hand, students who want to focus on doing research projects on moral injury with a focus on chaplaincy are best suited for the Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy Track. Regardless of track, students will receive a curriculum that fosters personal growth, enhances ministerial skills, connects theory and practice, and integrates ministry with theology.

Applicants must have an MDiv degree from an accredited institution and at least three years of professional ministry experience after earning their master’s degree.

Columbia International University


Doctor of Ministry

Columbia International University offers an online Doctor of Ministry program designed to be completed online in 32 months. The program’s curriculum aims to give students a broad understanding of various leadership and ministry practices to help them properly serve their congregations or organizations.

It offers students the chance to personally and professionally grow. The program’s coursework also allows students to conduct research and scholarly work, improving their critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership capacity.

Part of the coursework includes Profile of a Godly Leader, Transforming Leadership, Multicultural Leadership with Global Focus, and a Capstone Project. The program does not offer any other concentration besides Leadership.

However, the curriculum allows students to write about their area of interest from the leadership perspective. Each student of the online program will have free Accordance Bible Software.

Interested applicants must submit an application Essay, a summary of their ministry experience, a statement of purpose, a listing of their recent reading in theology/leadership/missions, and a church leader recommendation.

A master’s degree in other fields besides Divinity is accepted into the program. The minimum GPA for all graduate-level coursework is 3.0/4.0.

What To Expect in Online Doctor of Ministry Programs

Many pastors and missionaries find themselves unexpectedly called to ministry without plans for further education. However, as they gain experience, they may realize the value of additional training to become more effective pastors.

While many pastors stop at a Master of Divinity, the Doctor of Ministry remains the preferred choice for church leaders seeking the highest level of professional development and education.

Contrary to PhDs that prepare students for research and teaching careers, a Doctor of Ministry program is a specialized professional program designed specifically for practitioners in pastoral, missionary, and evangelistic roles. 

Most DMin students enroll after beginning their service, feeling the need for further training to address the needs of their communities. Pursuing a DMin online is a practical option for working pastors, allowing them to earn their degrees without uprooting their lives or ministries.

Online DMin programs often have hybrid or modular formats, combining brief, intense stays or retreats with online engagement.

Some programs require practical research projects tied to students’ ongoing service, while others follow a more traditional dissertation format, giving students the flexibility to accommodate their busy schedules and family commitments.

Common Coursework

Depending on the university or organization delivering the degree, the course requirements for an online DMin program may change. But some common themes and topics that can be learned throughout DMin programs include:

Admissions Requirements for Ministry Doctoral Programs

Specific admission requirements vary from school to school. The most common admission requirements for doctoral programs include:

DMin programs often require professional references from people who can testify to your ministerial past and talents, in addition to the typical graduate school materials. Several colleges request an academic writing sample to show that a student can engage with published research and formulate sophisticated arguments. 

Online DMin programs generally do not require applicants to submit GRE/GMAT scores. Other programs may set a minimum GPA, while others have no GPA cut-off.

The most common minimum GPA set by colleges and universities is a 3.0/4.0 on all graduate-level coursework. Non-native English speakers are required to submit their TOEFL or IELTS scores.


Extensive ministerial experience, often spanning at least three to five years, is the primary requirement for all DMin programs. You’ll usually be required to present proof of your leadership roles in the church or pastoral spheres. 

The generally accepted master’s degree in DMin programs is the Master of Divinity. Alternatives could be a master’s degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Christian Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Church Leadership, and Theological Studies. Other programs may accept students with a Master of Social Work and/or Master of Counseling.

Before being accepted, you might have an interview with several department members where you can discuss your objectives, professional background, and program appropriateness. You can also be asked to present a church member’s support letter.

Accreditation for Online DMin Programs

The university’s accreditation is the main distinction that it can offer high-quality education, whether online or on-campus. There are two types of accreditation: national and regional. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national accreditation. 

Many theological programs are verified and accredited by organizations like the Association of Theological Schools and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. One of these regional bodies might accredit your university as a whole:

Accreditation gives students, employers, and the public confidence in the quality and legitimacy of the education provided by regionally accredited institutions.

Ministry Doctorate Concentrations

Most online doctorates in the ministry are highly customizable. Students often have various options to align their degrees towards their career goals by choosing electives and deciding on a track.

Concentrations might focus on particular types of ministry, such as youth, urban, recovery, or even international ministry. They can focus on evangelism, church growth of various sizes, theology itself, or perhaps leadership concerns. 

Here are a few of the most common concentrations found in online DMin degree programs:

Global Ministry

This concentration allows students to study church leadership in a multicultural, global context. Topics combine biblical teaching with the customs of the surrounding community without alienating them.

Programs with this concentration may often require doctoral students to participate in field experiences. Students should expect to get involved in working abroad to put the theory they have been studying into practice while conversing with other ministry leaders from that nation.

Spiritual Formation

This concentration is typically offered to applicants with a longer history of working in the ministry. The history of Christian influence and how to apply these insights to your work in your target community are often studied. This concentration may also require community engagements. 

Growing a Church

This specialization focuses on establishing a Christian organization’s strategic, logistical, pastoral, and theological aspects. Possible course topics explore the practical aspects of expanding a church and how to develop the church’s followers and group leaders. Course topics often span from ministry to finances. 

Applied Theology

This concentration aims to close the gap between theological understanding and actual ministry implementation. Students who pursue this focus gain advanced theological knowledge and the ability to use it realistically in various ministry contexts.

Students often take courses that explore theological principles and how they apply to current ministry issues. 

Biblical Counseling

This concentration will give ministry professionals increased knowledge and abilities in offering biblically-based counseling and pastoral care. It incorporates biblical concepts, theology, and counseling theories to address the spiritual, emotional, and psychological needs of individuals and communities.

A wide range of topics connected to counseling and pastoral care are covered in this specialization. 

Christian Ministry

This concentration is a vast and adaptable specialization that enables students to investigate and improve numerous facets of Christian ministry. This focus is intended for ministry professionals who wish to enhance their leadership abilities, gain a deeper grasp of ministry ideas and practices, and gain knowledge in various ministry-related fields.

Depending on the program and the university awarding the degree, the precise courses and focus areas within the Christian Ministry concentration may change. 

Doctor of Ministry Career Outlook and Salary

Christian ministers in their early and mid-career are the target audience for the DMin. However, various roles are available in the Christian ministry for qualified and experienced applicants to pursue.

Since most programs have specialties, you should think about your ministry career goals before and during your first DMin semesters so that you can adjust your studies to meet those needs.


Although becoming a minister does not require a doctorate, most people in this position choose to pursue advanced professional degrees. Christian ministry positions range from small congregations to enormous megachurches, each paying a different salary.

With a median salary of $143,138 and a considerable range above that for expensive urban locations and larger congregations, there is a significant pay gap between pastors with lower incomes and those with higher incomes.

Theology Teacher

While most formal colleges and universities require teachers to hold a Ph.D., seminaries or a collegiate context accept teaching applicants with a DMin. Those instructing in these environments will probably possess good writing and rhetorical abilities, the ability to simplify complicated concepts, and sufficient ministerial experience to train future church leaders.

The base pay for seminary lecturers ranges from roughly $114,792 annually to over $189,000 annually, depending on the size and reputation of the institution providing the education.

Senior Church Administrator

Churches can be huge organizations that require the same financial and logistical management as a corporation. DMin graduates who prioritized strategic leadership in their academic work may flourish in the role of senior church administrator.

This job entails mixed pastoral concerns with CEO-like duties, overseeing volunteers and staff, growth plans, and financial planning. Depending on the location and size of the church, salaries might vary greatly, with a median of $73,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do online DMin students need to complete a dissertation?

To obtain their doctoral degree, students in most online ministry programs must finish a dissertation or research project. Students typically enroll in a workshop or series of classes where they select a topic to research and write a proposal or final project.

How long does an online Doctor of Ministry take?

The time it takes to earn a ministry doctorate mostly depends on the university’s curriculum and if you have to submit a dissertation. It takes a year to complete an accelerated program at some universities. Others take the conventional three-year route.

Are there licensure and certifications required in ministry?

For pastors and spiritual counselors, ordination may be necessary in addition to state and/or church licensing. Depending on the denomination, there are differences between ordained and licensed ministers.

How can students pay for an online Doctor of Ministry?

Paying for an online DMin can be hefty, but various options are available to help finance your studies. Some common ways include tuition assistance or reimbursement programs, scholarships and grants, federal financial aid, student loans, payment plans, crowdfunding, and part-time work. 

Summary Points

Additional Information: