Australian College of Theology

Doctor of Ministry

Course CodeDMin
Course TypePostgraduate Degree (research)
DurationMinimum 3 years (Full Time), or up to 6 years (Part Time)
Credit Points288


The Doctor of Ministry is an AQF level 10 research doctoral award whose graduates make a significant and original contribution to knowledge as applied in the context of professional Christian ministry practice.

The degree is designed to enable men and women to produce significant and original research outcomes and as beginning researchers demonstrate the capacity to design, implement, gather and interpret data, and communicate the results of the research for theses undertaken in specific fields of knowledge applied to various areas of professional ministry.

The degree would be for theological and non-theological graduates already in significant leadership positions in churches, denominational offices, para-church agencies and non-church agencies and institutions where people wanted to enhance their research by also applying insights from Christian traditions.

Graduates with a Doctor of Ministry have already been employed in significant denominational positions for strategic planning as well as teaching pastoral and missions courses at theological colleges, bible colleges and seminaries in Australian and overseas and would continue to do so.

Entry Requirements

1. Academic Qualifications

Candidates must either be a graduate of one of the following awards of the ACT or its equivalent as determined by the Research and Research Studies Committee of the ACT.

    • Bachelor of Ministry (Honours) or Bachelor of Theology (Honours) with at least 2A honours level.
    • OR

    • Master of Divinity with a GPA of at least 3.0 and Distinction grade in a minimum 8cps project.
    • OR

    • Master of Theology (Research) with at least 2A honours level.
    • OR

    • Master Arts (Theology) or Master of Arts (Ministry) with a GPA of at least 3.0 and Distinction grade in a minimum 8cps project.

Other Academic Prerequisites
A coursework masters, research Masters or Doctorate in another field of study which is considered to contribute significantly to the proposed research topic.

Recognised Prior Learning
The Research and Research Studies Committee will consider applications from those who do not meet the above academic prerequisites where extensive experience and expertise have been developed by the candidate. The normal rules for establishing RPL will apply.

2. Ministry Experience Prerequisites

    • Applicants must be able to demonstrate a minimum of five years of significant contribution in their ministry context since completion of their first degree. All applications would include a curriculum vitae, outlining various roles they have undertaken, positions held, major goals and most significant achievements.
    • Applicants would normally currently be ministry practitioners in positions of significant ministry responsibility, aspiring to positions such as senior pastors, mission/denominational board representatives, tertiary educators, denominational leaders, church planters, mission directors, church consultants, department leaders, or senior positions or researcher positions in work contexts where a specific Christian reflection on their work would be beneficial to their employing organisation.
    • If currently employed, applicants are required to produce a letter of commendation from their employer. This letter must also provide evidence from their employing organisation that the organisation understands the extent of the commitment.

3. Evidence of Aptitude for Research and Training

    • Candidates who do not have any theological training in their previous academic work must submit a preliminary essay of 8,000 words (25 pages) to their potential supervising college. This essay should demonstrate their capacity for theological reflection relevant to their proposed research topic. This should be presented in a format expected of post- graduate work. It will be marked at coursework masters level by the faculty member of their supervising college who is anticipated to be their supervisor and will need to be deemed to demonstrate capacity to undertake theological reflection at a beginning researcher level. Candidates who do not show an aptitude for theological reflection will not be presented as applicants to the Research and Rarch Studies Committee.
    • Only candidates who meet all other requirements but do not demonstrate the required capacity for theological reflection in the preliminary essay may be invited to enrol in the Graduate Certificate of Ministry to complete a 16cps project supervised by the person who assessed the preliminary essay. The project should provide the candidate with the opportunity to demonstrate theological reflection on their proposed research topic. The project will be externally marked at Coursework Masters level. Where the candidate achieves a distinction or better for the project, they will be automatically admitted as a provisional candidate in the Doctor of Ministry program.

4. Professional References

Personal commendation from three referees should be provided on application for entry into the course. These should include:

    • a character reference from the senior minister of the church they attend.
    • a reference from someone in a position to comment on the candidate’s ministry contribution.
    • a reference form an academic who can comment on their capacity to undertake higher degree research study.

5. Language Qualifications for Non-English Speaking Background Applicants

All applicants must demonstrate English language skills appropriate to this level of study. Candidates will either have satisfactorily completed a qualification solely in English at an approved tertiary institution OR have been resident in Australia with English spoken at home and work for at least 10 years OR have achieved a minimum overall band score of 7.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with a minimum of 7.5 in reading and writing, 7.0 in listening and 6.5 in speaking.

Course Structure

The minimum time for candidature in the Doctor of Ministry is three years. The maximum time for candidature is six years. Candidates may study full-time or part-time. Full time students will normally take 16 credit points per semester from the scheduled subjects.

Credit points refer to the overall student effort including contact hours and time on assessment tasks. The degree requires the satisfactory completion of 96 credit points.

Higher Degree Research candidates may not be granted more than two (2) semesters of suspension of candidature during the term of their candidature, and may be granted no more than two semesters of extension of candidature prior to the examination phase of their candidature. The R&RSC will accept applications for suspension beyond the two semester limit on a case by case basis only for extraordinary circumstances, supported with written evidence.

Coursework Phase

This phase totals 32 credit points, with each candidate undertaking four 8cps units. Assessments for each of these units would be 8,000 – 10,000 words.

Research Phase

This phase totals 62 credit points, with each candidate undertaking a 60,000 word thesis.

Examples from past students can be found here.

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes may be organised into four distinct yet overlapping aspects that are addressed and reinforced by various phases and structures within the course.

Knowledge and Understanding Aspects

  • Systematic and critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge of theological, biblical- hermeneutical and, sociological methods as related to the research topic.


  • Independently and systematically engage in critical reflection, synthesis and evaluation of the body of knowledge related to their research topic.
  • Develop, adapt and implement research methodologies to extend and redefine existing professional practice.
  • Disseminate and promote new insights to peers and the community.
  • Generate original knowledge and understanding to make a substantial contribution to the professional practice of their
    research topic.

Applied knowledge and skills

  • Demonstrate their autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as an expert and leading practitioner in the field of their research topic.
  • Demonstrate their capacity to plan, execute, and evaluate research.
  • Demonstrate their skills as communicators by disseminating their finding to their peers and the wider community.

Personal Developmental Aspects

  • Doctor of Ministry graduates should demonstrate the capacity of life long learners committed to their on-going
    development with particular emphasis on their own personhood as Christians within a professional ministry context.

What options do I have after this course?

Ministry practitioners who take out this degree would, depending on the specialisation, be equipped to take up significant roles and responsibilities such as:

• Senior pastors
• Specialist pastors with departmental responsibilities
• Regional pastors with inter-church responsibilities beyond their own congregation
• Denominational, mission and para-church agency leaders
• Consultants to churches, mission agencies and other Christian organisations
• Educators of ministers in training in the fields of pastoral and theological education in theological colleges

Graduates holding the ACT DMin award enter their mature years of ministry as thoughtful and able practical theologians with a capacity to lead groups of Christians in ministry in ways that reflect the Gospel in contextually sensitive ways while they themselves enjoy a deepened faith and a more coherent theology of ministry.