Thank you for your interest in the Doctor in Ministry programme awarded by the Western Orthodox University Faculties of Theology and Church Music. This professional (practitioner) doctorate programme is designed to be completed within twenty-four months by a student devoting ten to twelve hours a week, working by distance learning.
The programme is outlined below, but individual details may be varied on the initiative of the Mentor and/or student, always subject to ratification by the University. In principle, the aim is to provide a fully bespoke, individualized learning experience that takes into account the particular strengths, interests and previous learning of the student, and thus offers a flexible but rigorous route to the degree.
The programme is suitable for ministers in the Christian faith and may also be suitable for some who conduct an interfaith ministry including Christianity.
2. Entry requirements
Candidates must have completed
the degree of Master of Theology, or an alternative degree
have served in continuous and active full-time ministry at the rank of priest or its equivalent for at least ten years (or part-time pro rata).
In addition, they must hold a full-time or part-time position in active ministry for at least the duration of the practicum component of the programme, and should have at least five years (or part-time equivalent) of experience in a similar setting to draw upon. This programme is not suitable for those who do not have such experience or who are not currently employed in such a position; nor is it suitable for those whose ministry is sporadic or does not involve regular activity within a designated community. The student will need to designate a senior member of their spiritual community (who may be lay or ordained) to act as on-site mentor for the practicum component, which may incur additional fees payable from the student to the person concerned for this supervision. For the purposes of the programme, “senior member” is defined as a person who is either ordained and in a role equivalent or senior to the student, or, if a layperson, who holds a recognized office within the community. In both cases, they should have at least seven years of service to that community.
Candidates will normally have attained the age of twenty-eight years. All candidates will be expected to show a proficiency in the English language.
It is a key principle of the University that each application should be considered on its own merits, and admission to the course and all interpretations as to the eligibility for such admission remain at the discretion of the University.
3. How the programme works
The student will be assigned a Mentor by the University.
Part 1 – Portfolio of existing professional practice
The student will be required to prepare a portfolio of existing professional practice comprising a detailed survey of experience in ministry and issues arising from it. The portfolio should be fully annotated to focus on skills developed and learning experiences encountered, with an emphasis on professional and pastoral development as a minister within the community environment. It will be expected that other clergy and members of the community will also contribute to the portfolio through supporting affidavits. The portfolio should function as a reflective element of the programme in which the student’s history as a minister is encapsulated. The portfolio is assessed by the University.
Part 2 – Supervised practicum
Working under the supervision of a designated mentor (see above), the student will complete a practicum of not less than six months, in which their professional practice will be assessed in a reflective setting. Essentially, this aspect of the programme concerns the creation of a second portfolio, but with the difference that this portfolio is concerned with a specific period under assessment rather than being extensively reflective of past learning. The student should set out the aims of the practicum at the outset, focusing particularly on practical projects and likely challenges, and explain in detail the nature and aims of the work they are to undertake. These aims should in turn form the basis of discussion with the mentor and the agreement of what amounts to a learning contract in a ministerial setting. Outcomes should where possible consider the overall contexts of ministerial work within a holistic plan for the community. Where an outcome is not achieved, it may still provide a valuable learning experience. The focus of the practicum is on a holistic assessment of the minister as a functioning professional, and it may quite properly include any relevant projects undertaken outside the formal community itself.
The practicum is assessed by the student-designated Mentor and ratified by the University.
Part 3 – A Dissertation
If Parts I and 2 have been passed successfully, the student may proceed to the preparation of a dissertation of not more than 30,000 words on a subject relevant to ministry agreed with the University. They will work with their Mentor and possibly other external experts to produce a cogent examination of a specific topic or issue, which may be related to their practical ministry or to an aspect of theology or spirituality.
4. Aims and objectives
The programme is aimed at the ordained minister of a variety of Christian traditions who desires to undertake a programme of direct relevance to their working life and that reflects on their vocation and its practical fulfillment. The programme has been designed by serving ministers, and fulfils a need for the recognition of achievement that is often ignored by the mainstream or not recorded as formal learning. The successful graduate will be equipped with an awareness of their own ministry that should enable clear thought and planning as to how they can go on to best serve their faith community in the future.