Many seminaries and divinity schools offer advanced degrees beyond the Master’s level, but it can be difficult to understand what they are and how they differ. Below is our short guide to postgraduate seminary degrees including Ph.D, D.Min, D.Miss, Th.D, D.Ed, Psy.D, and D.I.S. programs.
Seminary Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) Degree
Usually considered one of the most advanced post-graduate degrees, the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) involves a thorough amount of independent research, culminating in writing and defending a dissertation with a unique thesis. Graduates with a Ph.D. may go on to a career in conducting more research, teaching at the university level, or other academic pursuits.
Seminaries offering Ph.D. degrees often pride themselves on their programs’ academic rigor and opportunities for Ph.D. candidates to think critically about Scripture, church history, and world issues around them. These degree programs can also specialize in areas of ministry such as Educational Studies, Intercultural Studies, Psychology, or Theology.
Seminary Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) Degree
Similar to the Ph.D. degree, a Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) also focuses on independent research and a final dissertation. Students seeking this degree need to be highly self-motivated to complete the work required by these kinds of programs.
Doctor of Theology degree programs are predictably more focused on theological topics and is the most advanced degree offered in the discipline of theology. Seminaries with Th.D. programs hope that their graduates will go on to explore theology by asking innovative questions and engaging in thought-provoking dialogue in the field.
Seminary D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) Degree
The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) is a degree program more focused on a specific ministry and is designed to develop the skills of someone already serving in ministry with a Master’s level degree. This degree is at the doctorate level of a Ph.D. or Th.D., but usually concentrated less in academic research and more in practical ministry. Of course, there is still a fair amount of research and writing involved at this level.
Often, seminary D.Min. programs allow students to pursue their degree while continuing to serve in their current ministry. It’s a good idea to look into the requirements for each individual school, as many D.Min. programs offer the flexibility needed by working ministers.
Seminary D.Miss. (Doctor of Missiology) Degree
Like the above degrees, the Doctor of Missiology requires a doctoral project or thesis and follows completion of a Master’s level degree. This degree is focused on the area of missiology, including missions, church planting, evangelism, and other similar ministries.
Some seminary D.Miss. programs require students to have some years of ministerial experience prior to beginning the program, in addition to their graduate work for other degree programs. Like the D.Min. degree, this degree is designed to coincide with and complement current ministry being done.
Seminary D.Ed. (Doctor of Education) Degree
Like the D.Min. and D.Miss. degrees, a Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) is an advanced doctoral degree focusing on the field of education. People who hold a D.Ed. usually go on to become professors at the university level, education administrators, or other careers in the field of academics.
Seminary Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) Degree
The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) is another practically focused advanced degree for seminary students who want to be able to provide psychological services beyond Master’s level counseling and clinical psychology degrees. While research is involved, graduates who hold a Psy.D. do not need to continue in research careers but can provide services to patients and the public.
A few seminaries offer Psy.D. degrees for those interested in practicing clinical psychology after graduation.
Seminary D.I.S. (Doctor of Intercultural Studies) Degree
The Doctor of Intercultural Studies (D.I.S.) degree focuses on cross-cultural training at the most advanced academic level. Graduates holding this degree often pursue careers in overseas missions, teaching, and communication.
Specializing in the field of intercultural studies requires extensive graduate-level work often including foreign language training, cross-cultural research, and fieldwork abroad. Divinity schools and seminaries with D.I.S. degrees hope to prepare their students for intercultural missions and ministry.
To find other seminaries by degree type, check out our list of available seminary degrees.