How much work is a Doctor of Ministry


This photo is of Dwight Friesen, who was a year ahead of me on the George Fox D.min programme with Len Sweet. I remember reading about him getting ready to submit his dissertation and wondered if I would be in that place a year later.

And then looking at his graduation photo, wondering if I would be in that place in May 2006. Dwight inspired me in terms of his research, seeing what could be achieved with a Doctor of Ministry programme. Also watching someone move to the end of the process gave me hope that it was possible to complete this programme. The photos and images of his graduation are something I have kept copies of and imagined what it would feel like to submit, complete, and graduate. Thanks Dwight.

Being on this D.Min programme has been so life giving to me. Time to study, reflect, interact with others, in a way that helped my faith, the growth of our community, and brought opportunities I didn't expect for teaching/speaking/coaching/training, outside my own church community.

I get lots of people asking how much work is a Doctor of Ministry, how many years, what kind of work does it take. I've already written about the difference between professional and academic doctorates here.

Here is a summary of some of the answers I give:

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1. It's what you make of it. Put in little and you'll get little out. Put in too little and you'll get nothing.

2. Expect to work hard, why else engage on a doctorate unless you expect to be stretched to the limit, and not have the time, and wonder how you are ever going to complete it. A doctorate should have you falling over the finish line, with exhaustion, otherwise everyone would do them.

3. I took two years very part time masters research, and then for the last year, have done about 20 hours a week, reading, writing, so maybe over 1,000 hours of research, not including advances, course, and other assignments, and time in ministry that is applicable to this. Maybe 2,000 hours in total with related ministry experience and study that goes with it.

4. There are two stages, the guided, cohort research that you have to pass with a GPA of 3.0 ( a 'B'), and then the doctoral dissertation. Most people quit before going onto the dissertation, up to 50% more of people, become 'ABD', all but dissertations. You can take 7 years on some programmes, but stats show very few do by then. Get it done early, or you likely won't at all. There are some notable exceptions.

5. I will produce a 160 page dissertation, that tries to sum up my learning, show my research and application.

The hardest bit has been the last 5 months. The writing of the dissertation has been enjoyable and tiring, but editing, with footnotes, style formats, grammar and punctuation, are all elements that are just a grueling grind. I have never read so little as I have in the last few months, as I attend to editing.

And now, I am testing out the waters of moving onto a P.hd. At this stage of life, I don't have the finances to do a new research project for 3 -4 years full time, and it would take me out of the ministry I feel called to. And 7-8 years part time doesn't appeal either. So I am looking to parlez this doctoral dissertation into a P.hD dissertation, which would take another 2-3 years part time work, and would involved editing and adding some material. It's pragmatic, takes my research further, and open more teaching doors.

Meantime I have some book projects to work on next year. But before then, I need to finish my editing, submit 1st week of jan, pass my viva and graduate end of April!