7.0 Degree Programs

.7.0     Degree Programs

7.1     Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

7.2     Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

7.3     Master in Pastoral Studies (M.P.S.)

7.4     Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

7.5     Non-Degree Students

7.0 Degree Programs

Students must fulfill the requirements of the curriculum of the degree to which they have been admitted that were in force at the time of their admission.

Should a student desire to change from one program to another, or to change from non-degree to degree-seeking status, a request for the change must be submitted to the Director of Admissions. The request must contain the reasons for the request. The Director of Admissions will review the request and make a decision or request additional information.

7.1 Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

7.1.1 Purpose Statement

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is a professional degree designed to help men and women preparing for Christian ministry and especially congregational ministry.

7.1.2 Program Learning Goals

    • Students will gain the skills and knowledge in the fields of Interpreting the Scripture for the Church, Interpreting the Past for the Church, Interpreting the Faith for the Church, and Interpreting the Behavior For the Church that are needed for effective ministry in the Christian community.
    • Students will gain the skills and knowledge in the fields of Leading the Church in Worship (including preaching), Leading the Church Through Care, Leading the Church Through Formation, and Leading the Church Into Mission that are needed for effective ministry in the Christian community.
    • Students will learn to think critically and creatively about the Christian faith, including how that thought affects their own theology and life of faith.
    • Students will learn to appropriate the Gospel for their varying socio-cultural and ecclesial contexts.
    • Students will learn to integrate the spiritual, intellectual, and practical aspects of ministry.

7.1.3 Time Limit

The Master of Divinity degree must be completed within ten years.

7.1.4 Curriculum Requirements

The total number of credits required to complete the M.Div. degree is 76. These are allocated in specific ways as spelled out on the M.Div. curriculum worksheet and the web page with an M.Div. Curriculum Overview.

7.1.5 Residency Requirement

Eighteen credits of the work required for the M.Div. degree must be completed through courses taken at the seminary’s Lexington campus.

7.1.6 The Congregational Requirement

A major component of the Master of Divinity degree is the participation in the life of a congregation. The congregational requirement is designed to support the intellectual, practical, and spiritual goals of the M.Div. curriculum. The Seminary’s curriculum recognizes the congregation as the primary context where students integrate what they have learned in courses, their growing familiarity with and basic competence in the skills of ministry, and the practical wisdom about ministry generated by their participation in the life of the congregation. In turn, this integration in the congregational setting contributes to their learning in courses.

Therefore, all M.Div. students at LTS are required to engage in an accountable work role in a congregation. Full-time students will engage in an accountable work role for a minimum of ten hours a week, and part-time or less students for a minimum of seven hours a week, through all levels of the M.Div. program when enrolled in courses.

“Engaged accountable work” entails all related tasks and responsibilities associated with congregational sites including but not limited to travel to the site, communications such as phone calls, emails, and zoom or other online meetings, preparation for Bible studies and sermons, delivery of Bible classes and sermons, counseling, consultation with supervisors of the accountable site, and other related tasks.

A student who wishes to have a fulltime chaplaincy position recognized as the context for this requirement must petition the Dean for an exception to this policy. Renewal of this exception must be requested annually and will be limited to one third of the student’s program. Being granted this exception does not release the student from congregation-based course assignments.

Each M.Div. student will submit a Congregation Information Form signed by a congregational representative each year the student is enrolled in courses. The form will be submitted upon initial enrollment in the M.Div. program, and no later than the completion of three credit hours of coursework. Students will update and submit signed Congregation Information Forms every year they are enrolled in courses by a date determined by the Coordinator, verifying their continued accountable work role in a congregational context. Failure to submit a form will make the student ineligible for enrolling in further courses at LTS. Students must continue to meet the congregational requirement so long as they are enrolled in the M.Div. program. If they find it necessary to leave their service in one congregation before starting in another, they will be granted a “grace period” of three credit hours during which they may continue to enroll in courses without a congregational context. After the end of the grace period, they will be ineligible for enrolling in further courses at LTS until they have a new congregation. Only one “grace period” during the course of the M.Div. degree program, beyond the initial three credit hour period, will be allowed.

7.1.7 Mentors

Each Master of Divinity student will be partnered with a local mentor during his/her degree program. The mentors help students reflect upon the ministry in which they are participating as well as participate in the evaluation of the students’ competency exercises and consult with them in the development of their capstone project in Level III of the degree program.

7.1.8 Covenant Groups

Master of Divinity students are required to participate in four covenant groups during their course of study. Each covenant group lasts three months and earns 0.5 credit hour toward the degree. The covenant groups meet twice a month and are co-led by a professor and an experienced pastor. Students will participate in two covenant groups during Level I of their program (CO 501) before their competency exercises are completed, one while taking 600-level electives during Level II (CO 601), and one while working on their capstone project during Level III (CO 701).

7.1.9 Competency Exercises Goals and Definitions

In the Master of Divinity program competency exercises are designed to allow students to demonstrate basic competence in two subject areas in the way that a pastor must demonstrate such competence. This is not yet the level of competence an experienced pastor would display or even that a new-minted MDiv graduate would display, but a basic level such as would be expected of someone who has done the foundational work in the two subject areas.

Because the exercises assess competence in the way pastors must display competence, they are built around actual pastoral practices carried out in the student’s congregational site, and the exercises integrate one Interpreting field and one Leading field.

After completing all other 500-level course requirements in a subject area a student is ready to take the competency exercise in that area. Subject areas are always paired in competency exercises, one Interpreting field (IS, IF, IP, IB) with one Leading field (LW, LC, LF, LM). Thus a student must complete the course requirements in two subject areas in order to be ready to register for a competency exercise. The choice of which Interpreting field and which Leading field are paired is up to the student. Ultimately, MDiv students must pass four competency exercises, covering all eight subject areas. Competency exercises are either 1.0 credit and last four weeks or 1.5 credits and last six weeks. The credit hours earned and length of the competency exercise depend on the subject areas being combined.

*Definition: Concepts are the ideas, methodologies and processes that frame the knowledge and data being imparted. Principles are the theories, paradigms, or frameworks applied in a given field or body of work. Learnings are the insights, theoretical and experiential that are provided by both student and teacher throughout mutually dialogical engagement.

Upon completion of the competencies, students will be able to:

      • Articulate the relevant concepts, principles and/or learnings acquired in given areas of the 500-level courses.

[Explanation] Students are expected to draw upon concepts, principles, and learnings that present as relevant, appropriate, and necessary for successful completion of the exercise. The concepts, principles, and learnings will vary in relationship to the student, their coursework, their interests, and the shape of the Competency Exercise.

      • Articulate in a concise and coherent manner how these relevant concepts, principles and/or learnings relate with their personal, congregational, and/or denominational contexts.

[Explanation] Students come from, and will minister in, varying socioeconomic, cultural, racial, and theological contexts. In addition to demonstrating intellectual and practical knowledge, students must also intentionally integrate concepts, principles, and learnings gained throughout their seminary education. Consequently, students are expected to articulate a critical reflection about their personal, congregational, and denominational contexts as part of their faith journey.

      • Apply these relevant concepts, principles and/or learnings consistently to all parts of the Competency Exercise.

[Explanation] Students will learn to critically engage with these elements gained throughout different courses and apply the various elements to questions posed about the practice and life of ministry. This can be achieved through critical reflections on ministerial praxis and through the application of various elements gained throughout their courses allowing them to provide a reasonable articulation of their faith and faith journey.

      • Demonstrate an ability to think integratively between the two areas chosen for the Competency Exercise.

[Explanation] Students will identify the ways in which concepts, principles, and learnings acquired in the two areas chosen for the competency exercise intersect and co-inform each other. Moving beyond analysis of each individual area, students will synthesize their knowledge by planning and carrying out a ministry event and/or process that incorporates elements of both areas. In this way, students will articulate the ways in which the two areas are interrelated and coordinated within ministry. Requirements

      • The competency exercise integrates two subject areas, ordinarily one from the Interpreting area and one from the Leading area.
      • The core of a competency exercise is an event or series of events in a student’s accountable ministry site that displays a coherent pastoral practice or set of practices.
      • Competency in each of the two subject areas, as well as their integration, is to be exhibited in this pastoral practice or set of practices.
      • The student builds a portfolio of materials around this event or events that displays the pastoral practice(s). This portfolio is the basis for instructor evaluation of the student’s competency. The portfolio includes the following types of materials:
        • advanced writing about the pastoral practice from the perspective of the two subject areas as a preparation for the event(s) that display the pastoral practice;
        • a recording of the event(s), e.g., a videotape of a worship, a pastoral care verbatim, or an audio tape of a meeting
        • written evaluations by the church, the student, and the student’s mentor of the efficacy of the pastoral practice displayed in the event(s).
      • The instructors will prepare a description of the work the student must do to complete the exercise and an assessment rubric identifying the specific knowledge, skill, and character competencies on which the student will be assessed. This rubric should be structured in correlation with the five curricular goals for the M.Div. The instructors also design the assessment instruments used by church, student and mentor to record their evaluations of the student’s performance.
      • The faculty member in each subject area assigns the grade for that subject area.
      • If a student fails a competency exercise, he or she is allowed to re-take that same exercise once. If the student fails the second time, he or she may not continue the M.Div. program. The student is eligible to be considered for transfer to another of the seminary’s programs. Competency Exercises – Procedures

      • The Dean will review competency exercises designed by adjunct faculty to ensure consistency with the above framework and its implementation by regular faculty.
      • The subject areas paired in each competency exercise are chosen by the student.
      • Students will both register separately, and receive separate grades, for each area of a competency exercise. For example, an IF-LM competency exercise is actually registered as two separate items, an IF competency exercise and an LM competency exercise, for which the student receives separate grades. Competency Exercises – Effect of Waivers

Students may receive a waiver for competency exercises in specific subject areas by virtue of transfer credit. Since competency exercises normally integrate one Interpreting subject area and one Leading subject area, waivers may create two kinds of exceptional situations that this policy addresses.

      • If, due to waivers, a student is left with a single subject area that cannot be paired with another to create a competency exercise, the student is not required to complete a competency exercise in that subject area but must take 500-level courses in the subject sufficient to complete the credit hour requirement in that area, and must take a 600-level (Level II) elective that integrates that subject area with another.
      • If, due to waivers, a student cannot match Interpreting and Leading subject areas for every competency exercise, the student may complete one competency exercise matching two Interpreting subject areas or two Leading subject areas. However, the student must take a 600-level (Level II) elective in the subject areas that were waived initially.

7.1.10 Policy for Moving from Level I (Apprenticeship Stage; 500-level) to Level II (Journeyer Stage; 600-level) Coursework

Students may begin to take Level II courses when they have passed one Competency Exercise. In order to take Level II courses in a subject area in which they have not passed a Competency Exercise, students must have completed at least 60% of the Level I credits in that subject area. Students may take no more than eight credits of Level II courses before passing all competency exercises. Students who fail a competency exercise will not be able to take Level II courses until that competency is completed successfully.

7.1.11 Capstone Project

The Capstone Project constitutes the Master level of the M.Div. curriculum. This 6- credit project begins with a proposal from the student defining a project to be carried out in the student’s congregation and around which the student builds a portfolio of materials. The portfolio provides the basis for evaluating the student’s performance.

      • The Capstone Project is usually carried out in the student’s congregation. Students may petition the Dean for an exception to this requirement. The student will develop this petition in consultation with her or his faculty advisor.
      • Students will usually complete the project and submit the portfolio to the evaluators no sooner than 3 months and no longer than 6 months after the proposal is approved. Students should expect to spend at least 240 hours of work to complete their projects successfully. Those who intend to complete the Capstone in 3 months should therefore anticipate spending no less than 20 hours a week working on this project. Those who anticipate completing it in 6 months should expect to spend no less than 10 hours a week. Work combines reading, research, congregational activities, and writing.
      • Students develop proposals for their Capstone Projects in consultation with their faculty advisors (as well as other persons the advisor deems appropriate), who gives approval when they judge proposals to be sufficiently well-developed. A completed proposal should include at the following items:
        • A hypothesis about the issue faced by the congregation that will be the focus of the project. This issue should an on-going problematic calling for adaptive change rather than a problem for which an immediate, technical solution can be constructed.
        • A brief sketch of a multi-faceted strategy for responding to the issue, including a definition of progress in addressing it.
        • A brief description of the student’s initial understanding of the biblical, theological, historical, and ethical foundations for analyzing the issue.
        • A brief description of pastoral leadership approaches for addressing the issue, including liturgical, educational, programmatic, pastoral, administrative, and leading.
        • An initial annotated bibliography of resources related to the issue.
        • The contents of the portfolio that will be submitted for evaluation at the end of the project.
        • The name of the local expert (e.g., local clergy mentor, work supervisor) who will serve as a consultant for the student during the project and who will join the faculty advisor in evaluating the portfolio upon its submission.
      • Students register for the Capstone Project in the month after their proposal is approved.
      • Students submit a portfolio by their chosen submission date (see above). Portfolios contain the following contents and are submitted as follows:

At least one week before ministry events the student must submit:

        • A 4,000-5,000 word analysis of the issue being studied. An analysis incorporates research in the relevant literature and data gathered in the congregation and/or community. It looks at the general problem and how it is manifested in the student’s location. It also includes the theological affirmations (with appropriate justification) that ground the student’s understanding of the issue. This paper demonstrates how the student’s learning in seminary contributes to her or his understanding of the issue.
        • A 4,000-5,000 word description of the approaches the student has taken to address the issue and a justification or rationale for taking that approach. The justification/rationale must draw on various disciplines and show how they are used in a coherent fashion. This description includes the concrete steps taken in applying these approaches to the issue being addressed. It also includes the theological affirmations that ground the student’s approaches to the issue. This paper demonstrates how the student’s learning in seminary contributes to his or her understanding of the issue.
        • An annotated bibliography that includes all literature cited in other materials included in the portfolio. It is divided by discipline and includes resources the student has utilized in his or her seminary studies.

After pastoral events the student must submit:

        • Any surveys, questionnaires, programs, literature, sermons, lessons, etc. that were used in carrying out the project in the congregation
        • Evidence of work within the congregation approximating the amount of such work in four competency exercises. Work may include video recordings of 3- 4 pastoral events (e.g., sermons, lessons, etc.) as examples of how the student’s ministry addressed the issue. Pastoral events will have reflected the diversity of disciplines used in the approaches taken to address the issue. Pastoral events should reflect the same depth of work as the written work.
        • A 750-1,000 word assessment of the effectiveness of the project. This consists of evaluation of the degree to which the progress aimed at was achieved and what the next steps for pastoral action might be.
        • Evaluations of the project’s reception by the recipients of the ministry, normally including data gathered from the recipients and “exit data” gathered from the congregation gauging the project’s effectiveness.
      • The project is evaluated by the local expert named in the proposal and the faculty advisor. Upon initial evaluation, the evaluation team may ask the student to re- work some part of the project or portfolio before assigning a final grade. The faculty advisor assigns the final grade for the Capstone Project. A passing grade for the Capstone Project is C (i.e., 73 or higher). A student who receives a lower grade may re-take the Capstone Project once. A student re-taking the Capstone Project may be asked to re-write all or part of their proposal. The Capstone Project is evaluated using a rubric based on the learning goals of the M.Div. program.

7.2 Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

7.2.1 Purpose Statement

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a program designed to provide a basic understanding of a variety of theological disciplines and develop skill in thinking theologically so as to deepen and enrich graduates’ participation in a variety of forms of service in church or society, and/or to deepen and enrich their personal spiritual lives. It may also serve graduates as a foundation for further advanced study in one of the theological disciplines. There are three tracks: the general MTS, the bilingual MTS in Latinx Studies, and the MTS in African American Studies.

7.2.2 Program Learning Goals

    • Graduates of the MTS will integrate broad knowledge and basic interpretive skills in the disciplines of Interpreting Scripture, Interpreting Faith, Interpreting the Past, and Interpreting Behavior.
    • Graduates of the MTS will show beginning acquaintance with the fields of Leading through Care, Leading in Formation, Leading the Church into Mission, and Leading in Worship, and will demonstrate basic knowledge and skill in one of them.
    • Graduates of the MTS will work critically and creatively with the Christian tradition, including reflecting on how that work affects their own theology and life of faith.
    • Graduates of the bilingual MTS in Latinx Studies and MTS in African American Studies will be familiar with their theological, hermeneutical, historical, and ecclesial contexts.
    • Graduates of the bilingual MTS in Latinx Studies and MTS in African American Studies will be familiar with project management and creatively complete a project that addresses a critical issue pertinent to the congregation or ministerial site.

7.2.3 Time Limit

The Master of Theological Studies degree must be completed within ten years.

7.2.4 Curriculum Requirements

The total number of credits required to complete the MTS degree is 40. These are allocated in specific ways as spelled out on the MTS curriculum worksheet and the web page with a MTS Curriculum Overview.

7.2.5 Residency Requirement

There is NO requirement that credits earned for the MTS degree be completed on the seminary’s Lexington campus. Thus, if a student wishes, the degree may be completed entirely online.

7.2.6 Ministry Site Course

Students may receive credit for a single course for work in a ministry site after completing 20 credit hours of work in the program. This course may be taken for between one (1) and three (3) credit hours.

The student will register for a Directed Study with the Professor of Pastoral Leadership. Students will receive only Pass/Fail grades for the Directed Study in a Ministerial Site.

Each credit hour of supervised practice must include:

    1. at least 40 hours of supervised practice,
    2. under the supervision of that faculty member before the supervised practice begins, an articulation of the learning goals to be accomplished, and
    3. a structured reflection with that faculty member about achieving the learning goals.

7.2.7 Master of Theological Studies Project

The MTS final project is the culmination of the general Master of Theological Studies degree is the culmination of the Master of Theological studies at LTS.  It may not be started until the student has completed no fewer than twelve hours of 600-level courses. The bilingual MTS for Latinx Studies and the MTS for African American Studies final projects also require that the student has successfully completed LM 540 or LM 541, “Project Management and Ecclesial Capacity for Transformative Action.” The MTS final project is directed by a Project Advisor

Steps for Selection of Project Advisor:

    • The student will compose a brief summary (between 50-600 words) of the project topic or interest.
    • Students will discuss the topic with their academic advisor and then communicate it with the Dean.
    • Upon discussion with the student regarding possible advisors, the Dean will provide the name(s) of a project advisor(s) unless the student’s academic advisor has agreed to work with them. Subsequently, the dean will discuss the matter with a potential project advisor.
    • If both parties agree, the Dean will formally contact the project advisor.
    • A form must be completed with the Registrar’s office within two weeks after the agreement as per the discussion with the Dean.
    • The student will then contact the project advisor to establish a reasonable timeline for completion of all aspects of the MTS project.

Standards for an MTS Final Project: The final project consists of an 800- to 1,200- word (approximately 3-5 page, Times New Roman 12 pt, double-spaced) proposal and two 5,000-word (approximately 20 pages, Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced) papers. Alternatively, it can be a research thesis of 12,250 to 15,000 words (50-60 pages, Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced). Whether two papers or a thesis, the project must follow the current edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: The Modern Language Association, in matters of form and style.

The MTS final project displays a level of rigor and depth that exceeds that of M.T.S. coursework. The general MTS is a combined theoretical and practical project in which the student writes a theoretical/theological paper and then applies the learnings in a second paper that addresses an issue the student identifies in the student’s congregation or community. The bilingual Latinx Studies and African American Studies MTS combines a theoretical framework (integrating the areas of study) with a project that is contextualized to their congregations or ministerial site and communities.

The project provides an opportunity for a student to engage in an inquiry that will:

    • Develop and demonstrate a deep and coherent understanding of a theoretical/theological or religious area and enable the student to apply it to a practical issue or question,
    • Further refine and integrate various elements of the student’s academic work, and
    • Address an ongoing issue or question through a theoretical/theological or religious lens. Procedure for the Project

Project Proposal: The project begins with the student selecting a Project Advisor as delineated above in 7.2.7. Subsequently, the student registers for the course. Additionally, the bilingual MTS in Latinx Studies and the MTS in African American Studies students should identify a religious leader (or leaders) with whom they can collaborate on a strategic project that addresses a problem faced by their community. They should also identify members of their management team with whom they are going to collaborate as well.

The student should confer with the Project Advisor about procedures and faculty expectations. The proposed Project Advisor will discuss the main considerations in the proposal with the student. The proposal will cover work anticipated in both papers or thesis.  Students may not begin the project writing process until the Advisor determines that the proposal is sufficiently refined.

The project proposal is an 800- to 1,000-word (3-5 pages) document containing the following elements:

      • Title
      • General MTS: Statement of the nature and purpose of the project
      • Bilingual MTS in Latinx Studies and MTS in African American Studies: Statement identifying the key strategic issue or ministerial needs in their contextual setting that will be addressed and anticipated outcomes for change in the church and larger community.
      • Identity of collaborative (management) team and religious leader(s).
      • Outline of the project’s basic content (for both papers or research thesis).
      • Working annotated bibliography.

Project Writing and Completion: When writing the project, the student will work with the Project Advisor. Students will usually complete the project and submit it to their advisors within 15 months of registration. If the MTS project is not complete at the end of the 15-month limit, extensions will be allowed in accordance with Policy 5.6 in the Student Handbook. The following process must be followed:

      • Should extraordinary circumstances arise that preclude the student from finishing the project after a 15-month period of the calendar year from which they applied, the project advisor may opt to grant an additional 30- day extension.
      • If the student requires more than a 30-day extension, an additional 60-day extension may be granted. The project advisor and the student will enter into a written agreement that outlines a timeline for completion of the work. A copy of this written agreement must be approved by the Dean and provided to the Registrar prior to the initial 30-day deadline to prevent recording of an NC or F.

Project Grade and Final Requirements: Students must receive a minimum of 73 on their project in order to receive a grade of Credit in the course.

When the Project Advisor has graded the project, the student will submit it electronically according to standards and formats prescribed by the Director of the Library. No credit will be given for a project that does not conform to the correct form and style. The Library will retain the approved project in electronic format according to its policies for retention and circulation of such works.

7.3 Master in Pastoral Studies (M.P.S.)

7.3.1 Purpose Statement

The Masters in Pastoral Studies program acknowledges the important role that the laity play in the life and health of thriving congregations. The purpose of the Master in Pastoral Studies program is to prepare the laity for ministry at a congregational, diocesan, or parish level. The degree is designed in particular for lay persons who seek theological and biblical training to support the work of the Church, but who do not seek ordination. Graduates of this program will have a basic knowledge of scripture, contemporary biblical scholarship, the Christian tradition, theology, and for the Roman Catholic Studies track, sacramental and liturgical traditions. They will have skills in developing and executing programs of education, in administration of parish life, and in pastoral care and nurture of Christian communities, development of congregational and community programs that enhance ecological wellbeing and care, and development of educational programs.

7.3.2 Program Learning Goals

While each track will have its own learning goals attentive to the requirements of their particular focus, in general:

      • Students will gain the skills and knowledge in the fields of interpreting Scripture, interpreting the Church’s past, and studies that are needed for effective ministry in non-ordained positions within a congregation, para-church ministry, parish, or diocese.
      • Students will gain the skills and knowledge in the fields of leading the church through care, leading the church through formation, and leading the church into mission that are needed for effective ministry in non-ordained positions within congregations, para-church ministries, parishes, or other social settings.  Program Learning Goals for Masters in Pastoral Studies in Creation Care and Ecotheology

Students who complete the Creation Care and Ecotheology track will:

      • Explore the biblical, theological, and ethical bases for Creation care living and ministerial practice
      • Consider the importance of Creation care living in daily life habits and ethos
      • Explore the ecumenical dialogue that is taking place about Creation care with ecclesial and non-ecclesial organizations
      • Determine how creation care is related to acts of communal justice in the world and in the Church
      • Identify practical and literacy resources regarding Creation care and ecotheologies
      • Identify church and community partnerships and practice sites to join in active ministries in Creation care  Program Learning Goals for Master in Pastoral Studies in Roman Catholic Studies

Students who complete the Roman Catholic Studies track will:

      • Fully comprehend and integrate the complexity, history and living praxis of Roman Catholic traditions
      • Deepen their understanding of various Christian religious traditions, discovering areas of shared traditions and beliefs, that will enable ecumenical dialogue
      • Become familiarized with select non-Christian religious traditions
      • Gain the ability to live out the learning (praxis) achieved in the program, which in turn will support leadership in congregations, parishes, para-church, or social settings that have ministerial import
      • Express a renewed commitment to spiritual practices in their personal and professional lives  Program Learning Goals for Master in Pastoral Studies in Spiritual Formation and Care

Students who complete the Spiritual Formation and Care track will:

      • Deepen their knowledge about theological and biblical bases of spiritual formation
      • Be familiarized with the psychological theories that undergird spiritual formation and care
      • Explore different models of faith development and its impact on spirituality
      • Examine different issues that affect and contribute to spiritual formation and care of others such as trauma, grief, suffering, and discrimination
      • Consider the role of spiritual formation in areas of chaplaincy, spiritual direction, congregational leadership and education, and other practical applications

7.3.3 Time Limit

The Master in Pastoral Studies degree must be completed within ten years.

7.3.4 Curriculum Requirements

The total number of credits required to complete the M.P.S. degree is 40. These are allocated in specific ways as spelled out on the M.P.S. curriculum worksheet and the web page with a M.P.S. Curriculum Overview.

7.3.5 Residency Requirement

The program is completed fully online with no residency requirements, other than the student’s chosen practicum site.

7.3.6 Pastoral Studies Practicum (LM 677)

The pastoral studies practicum is a 3-credit hour course that entails a 15 week, 10 hours a week hands on learning experience with supervision in a parish or congregational setting, chaplaincy or hospital, or para-church or community setting that reflects the student’s area of study and interest.  The practicum will provide students with opportunities to observe and then practice a ministry, develop  the spiritual and relational skills needed, and envision a project that can be carried out after completing the degree.

Student responsibilities:

        1. Meet with supervisor and draw up a list of goals and tasks
        2. Observe
        3. Incrementally take responsibility
        4. Keep “planning book”
        5. Journal
          • Keep track of hours and how they are spent
          • Keep a record of reflections: what worked, what went wrong, what you think and feel about this experience
        6. Final assignment

After having a conversation with your supervisor about your practicum experience, write a paper (8-10 pages, double spaced) that sums up in hindsight answers to the questions:

          • What did you learn?
          • How did you grow?
          • In what areas do you want to grow?
          • From a philosophical and practical viewpoint, how did the practicum further (or fail to further) your formation?

Advisor’s role:

            1. Keep in touch with the student.
            2. Have conversations with the student and the supervisor twice during the practicum: as the student assumes responsibility and at the end.
            3. Read the journal and final paper. Inform the Registrar when the practicum has been completed. The Practicum receives a pass/fail grade.

7.3.7 Masters in Pastoral Studies Final Integrative Paper (MPS 770)

At the completion of LM 677 (Practicum)  and coursework in a given track, students will have an opportunity to demonstrate competencies in the subject matter and its integration of learning from the practical ministerial site experience, and how they plan to apply this integrative competence in their daily life and vocational calling by writing a final integrative paper [6000-7500 words (double-spaced, Times New Roman); or 25-30 pages]. The topic will be approved by the program advisor.  A faculty advisor in the discipline will be assigned by the program advisor in consultation with the Dean.

The paper will be comprised of four key parts:

            • Presentation of a particular pastoral issue the student has encountered, or about which they desire to deepen their knowledge and response. This can be written in the form of a case study (where the student presents a situation they have really encountered), or a brief presentation of a hypothetical situation they are likely, or fear, to encounter [600-800 words or 2-3 pages].
            • A theoretical exploration of how the selected topic is handled in literature, with a particular attention to the perspective of theology and the human science, teachings of the church, or other relevant fields of study. This would include how systematic or constructive theologians, biblical scholars, ethicists, or other related fields of study might interpret the predicament presented. The current version of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (NY: The Modern Language Association) is to be followed. This section will be 2000–2200 words or 8–9 pages.
            • A plan of care that weaves all these different dimensions of work together and that demonstrates how pastoral, spiritual, and/ or ecological care are best constructed in conversation with reality (the case or issue at hand), theory (all that we can learn from others about the issue), reflection (an essential ingredient for effective pastoral care response), and creativity (the response which reflects one’s own unique gifts and capacities for care). [2000–2200 words or 8–9 pages].

7.4 Doctor of Ministry-Building Capacity for Transformative Ministries

The Doctor of Ministry program at Lexington Seminary, a graduate professional degree, is designed to enhance pastors’ capacity to critically interpret and engage contemporary cultures and structures as a means to give fresh expression to the gospel and to transform their communities.

7.4.1 Program Goals

A graduate of the LTS D.Min. Building Capacity for Transformational Ministries program will:

            • Have a basic acquaintance with a range of approaches to interpreting contemporary cultural and structural contexts, and facility in at least one approach,
            • Have facility in integrating advanced work in the classical theological discipline with the critical interpretation of culture and structures in service to the church’s articulation of the gospel,
            • Have a basic acquaintance with a range of approaches for re-imagining organizations and institutional practices that are informed by the critical interpretation of cultures and structures, and facility in at least one approach, and
            • Have a basic acquaintance with approaches to building capacity and empowering congregations/ministerial sites for transformative ministry.

7.4.2 Residency Requirement

Four credits of the work required for the D.Min. degree must be completed through courses taken at the seminary’s Lexington campus.

7.4.3 Course Work

Students will enter the D.Min. program as a cohort and work through the initial required courses with their cohort. All classes receive two hours of credit and follow the letter grade scale of the Master’s-level programs. Initial Required Courses

Scheduled over approximately eighteen months, an entering cohort of students will take the following courses (for a total of ten hours of credit) in order:

              • DM 811, Building the Capacity of the Reflective Practitioner (online)
              • DM 812, Building Cultural Frameworks for Contemporary Contexts (on- campus intensive)
              • DM 813, Building Congregational/Ministerial Frameworks for Contemporary Contexts (on-campus intensive)
              • DM 814, Building Theological Frameworks for Contemporary Contexts (online)
              • DM 815, Building Capacity for Transformative Ministries (online) Electives

Students will complete twelve hours of electives. These electives will be taken primarily after the completion of the initial required courses. However, one elective (a two-credit hour course) may be taken following the successful completion of DM 811 and another two electives (each a two-credit hour course) may be taken following the successful completion of DM 812 and DM 813. These courses will primarily (but not exclusively) be 600-level M.Div. courses with added requirements for D.Min. students. These added requirements must include individual research in which course content is related to the interpretive approaches learned in the required courses.

A minimum of four credits must be taken in the practical disciplines (Leading courses), and a minimum of four credits must be taken in the classical theological disciplines (Interpreting courses). Concluding Required Course

Once students have successfully completed all their electives, they will take a final online required D.Min. course, DM 890, Writing the Final Project. This course will help them prepare and present for critique a proposal for their final project. The course is considered completed and passed when the D.Min.
Committee approves the proposal. Transfer Credit

D.Min. students may transfer up to six elective hours into the program. For information on allowable transfer credits see Student Handbook section 5.11, “Transfer Credit.”


7.4.4 The Final Project

The final DMin project represents six credits of doctoral level work on a problem, issue, or question that a congregation/ministerial site has identified as critical for the Church and wider community. The student will develop and implement a contextually sensitive and theologically consistent project, intervention, or program that builds capacity in the congregation/ministerial site for transformative ministerial action in the community. The project will employ a reflection-action-reflection methodology, and use the approaches to cultural and structural analysis, congregational/ministerial analysis, theological reflection, and building capacity for transformative ministry developed in the program. The audience of the project is the student’s peers in ministry. Project Proposal

DM 890, Writing the Final Project

Once D.Min. students have independently completed their electives, a new D.Min. cohort will be created to form a community of co-journeyers through the final phase of the program and help them prepare and present for critique a proposal for their final project.

Each student will work with a project advisor in developing their individual proposal. The student will work in consultation with the D.Min. Director to select an advisor in advance of the course.

Upon completion of the project, the student with the D.Min. Director and advisor, in consultation with the Dean, will select two additional readers for the institutionally approved list to form the Project Committee.

The instructor will guide the cohort through the specific expectations for the final project and proposal.

Proposal Contents

The project proposal should demonstrate to the D.Min. Committee that the student:

              • has developed a critical assessment of a problem, issue or question in the community that can be addressed by the congregational/ministerial context;
              • has developed a sound approach drawing on methods of cultural and structural analysis, congregational/ministerial analysis, and contextual theological reflection learned in earlier coursework for studying the problem, issue or question;
              • has developed a plan to employ a method of building capacity for transformative ministry to address the problem, issue, or question; and
              • has engaged the scholarly literature related to the problem, issue, or question.

The proposal should include the following four elements:

              • a title page with the project title, student’s name, project advisor’s name, and date of submission;
              • a 1500-word presentation of the project including the elements described in the preceding paragraph;
              • an outline of the chapters of the project following the format described below, with each chapter described in 100 words; and
              • an annotated bibliography of scholarly and practical books, journal articles, and online resources related to the problem, issue or question being investigated consulted in the literature review required in the preceding paragraph.

The proposal should be formatted in the same style as the final project.

Submission of the Proposal

Students may only submit the proposal to the D.Min. Committee with the approval of their project advisors. When such approval has been gained, students should email a digital copy of the proposal to the D.Min. Director, who will present it to the D.Min. Committee.

After reviewing the proposal, the Committee will take one of the following actions:

              • approve the proposal, so that students may move forward on their project with their advisor without any further oversight by the Committee,
              • approve the proposal with suggestions, so that students may move forward on their project with their advisor without any further oversight by the Committee, but with the expectation that the work will take into consideration and make adjustments for concerns raised by the Committee,
              • require the submission of a revised proposal, in which case students, with their advisor, must address concerns raised by the Committee before moving forward, or
              • reject the proposal, in which case students must seek a different problem, issue or question to address and develop a completely new proposal to be considered by the Committee. Project

The project will follow a reflection-action-reflection logic.

              • Using methods of cultural and structural analysis, congregational/ministerial analysis, and contextual theological reflection, students will reflect on a problem, issue, or question that arises out of their ministerial experience and in conversation with scholarly literature.
              • Students will develop a strategy aimed at building capacity for transformation in addressing the problem, issue or question and carry out the strategy in their congregational/ministerial context.
              • Finally, students will reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the actions taken, naming potential directions for future action.

The chapter structure of the D.Min. project tis to be as follows:

              • Introduction to the problem, issue, or question
                • A description of the problem, issue or question should be one in the student’s individual context, but one which can be found more widely in the field of ministry in relevant contexts,
                • A review of the scholarly literature related to the problem, issue, or question,
                • A description of the student’s approach in relation to literature and statement of the thesis for the project, and
                • An introduction to the structure of the rest of the project.
              • In the following two to three chapters, all three of these approaches need to be included and integrated in analyzing the ministerial context and the wider community:
                • Cultural and Structural Analysis (drawing on one of the methods learned and tested in coursework)
                • Congregational/Ministerial Analysis (drawing on one of the methods learned and tested in coursework)
                • Contextual Theological Analysis (drawing on one of the methods learned and tested in coursework)
              • The closing two chapters should be as follows:
                • A Proposal for a project in building capacity in their congregational or ministry for transformation in the community (drawing on one of the methods learned and tested in coursework) and
                • A Description of the Action Taken, Lessons Learned, and Reflection on what was done including next steps.

Length and Formatting of the Project

The optimum length of the final project (excluding the bibliography) is approximately 125 pages, and there is an absolute maximum of 150 pages.

The project is to be written using 12 point, Times New Roman Font.

Pages are to be double-spaced, with 1.5-inch left hand margins and 1-inch margins on the other three sides, printed single-sided.

The project must follow Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013) in matters of form and style. For formatting, see Student Handbook section,, Project Completion and Defense, Final Submission. Project Completion and Defense

Project Submission Deadlines

Projects deemed ready for defense must be submitted to the D.Min. Director no later than February 1 in the year the student intends to graduate.

The D.Min. Director will schedule the defense on a date that allows the readers adequate time to work through the project and allows the student adequate time to make revisions required before submitting the final copies of the project.

Following the defense, any required revisions and final approval, the final physical and digital copies of the project must be submitted to the Director of the Library by June 1 in order for the student to participate in graduation.

Completion and Submission for Review

The final project is designed as independent work that takes place under the guidance of the project advisor. The rhythm and process of advising is to be negotiated between the advisor and the student. The advisor must approve the completion of the project as ready for defense before it is submitted to the D.Min. Director.

Once completed, the project is to be submitted in digital form as a MSWord document (.docx) file via email to the D.Min. Director. At that point the Director, in consultation with the student and project advisor, will appoint two other readers to a Project Committee.

Project Defense

After being given adequate time to read the project, the Project Committee will convene for an oral defense that will last 1 to 1.5 hours. The student will open the conversation with a brief summary of the project. The Committee members will then ask the student questions concerning the project.

The Committee evaluates the final project on a Pass/Fail basis. The Committee will give a decision on the project as soon as possible following the meeting.
The Committee will take one of the following actions:

              • pass the project with honors,
              • pass the project as is,
              • pass the project pending required revisions, overseen by the project advisor and/or the D.Min. Director,
              • defer the decision concerning passing or failing the project and require the student to make significant revisions and present the project to the Committee again, or
              • fail the project.

If the Committee fails the project, the student may not continue to work on the problem, issue or question that was the focus of the project toward the completion of the degree program. This leaves the student two options:

The student may work with the D.Min. director to start the process for developing a new project (This does not require retaking DM 890, but does require working with a new project advisor to submit a proposal to the D.Min. Committee for approval.) or

The student may choose to be awarded the Certificate in Transformational Ministries and Leadership in lieu of finishing the degree program.

Final Submission

When the final project is submitted, it must be accompanied by a one- paragraph abstract of 100 words or less to be published in the American Theological Library Association’s Research in Ministry (RIM): An Index to Doctor of Ministry Theses and Projects.

The final copies of the project conform to the following formatting standards:

              • title page and signature page following the template established by the D.Min Committee;
              • pages are to be double-spaced, with 1.5-inch left hand margins and 1-inch margins on the other three sides, printed single-sided;
              • the paper copies submitted to the library should be laser printed on acid-free paper that meets the following minimum criteria: 20-pound weight, 92 bright, 25% cotton content.

The student must submit two physical copies and one digital copy to the Director of the Library. Students are responsible for the binding fees for two copies. One archival copy remains in the Library and the other is returned to the student. Students may pay for additional personal copies to be bound if they so desire. The digital copy must be submitted in MSWord (.docx) format. Time Limits

If a DMin student who is enrolled in DM 890, Writing the Final Project, or having in enrolled in DM 891 and are in the process of writing their project, ceases to contact their advisors and/or demonstrates no evidence of active participation in the life of the seminary—either through contact with advisor, office of the Dean, or faculty member—for a more than a calendar year from the date of their registration in either DM 890 or DM 891, they shall be administratively withdrawn from the program and the seminary. They can apply for readmittance if they desire to complete the program at a later date.

7.5 Non-Degree Students

Special students and auditors do not necessarily require or seek a terminal degree but are interested in furthering their theological education. They may enroll in one class to transfer to another school or simply to learn some new information. The Certificate in Continuing Education Program is a continuing education “micro-credentialing” program for pastors and graduates of theological programs who desire further theological training in a specific area of interest.

7.5.1. Special Students Once admitted, special students can enroll in up to 12 credit hours a year. The academic credit earned can be transferred to another school or into a degree program at LTS. Please refer to for further information. Special Students are required to complete all assignments as required as indicated by the course syllabus or course instructor to earn academic credit.

7.5.2 Auditors Auditors may enroll in as many courses as they wish. Auditors do not earn academic credit. Auditors are not required to complete any assignments or post on discussion boards. Course professors are not required to grade their work.

7.5.3 Certificate in Continuing Education Students enrolled in the Certificate in Continuing Education Program must complete the 5 credit hours associated with the particular topic or theme offered in a given academic year, complete 70% of assigned readings, and post twice a week on discussion boards, when applicable.

      • LTS Degree students who enroll in all classes and complete the requirements will receive a notation on their transcript. Non-LTS students will receive a certificate upon completion of all requirements and payment of fees.




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