McAfee Revises Doctor of Ministry Degree

The McAfee School of Theology has revised its Doctor of Ministry degree to make it more flexible for working students, potentially shortening the time it takes to complete the degree by as much as a year.

By implementing ministry coaching over the summers and by revising a series of on-campus seminars, McAfee streamlined the timeline for earning the degree from four years to as little as three. The changes will help students in the program who are practicing ministers or church staffers, said Dr. Larry McSwain, recently named associate dean of Doctor of Ministry studies. The new ministry coaching process will involve three semesters of work by students in their ministry, integrating practice with ministry research.

“We’re expecting a positive response from these changes,” said Dr. McSwain. “By making this degree more flexible for our students, who are all involved in ministry in some way, we’re helping those ministries to flourish.” 

The Doctor of Ministry is a professional doctorate designed to help students develop advanced skills in an area critical for their ministries. Students are required to have a Master of Divinity degree and be involved in ministry to apply. The program focuses on faculty-student interaction, academic research and practical ministry application. One of the program’s strengths is the built-in support system for the doctoral candidates. Each student will have a faculty supervisor and a ministry coach. The faculty supervisor will be a McAfee faculty member, while the ministry coach will be an active ministry leader chosen and trained in coaching skills by McAfee.

The program was modified based on feedback from the School’s first graduating class, who received their degrees in May 2008, as well as faculty and field supervisers. The self-assessment is required by the Association of Theological Schools.

“The faculty has worked hard to restructure the Doctor of Ministry degree, and I am confident that pastors who pursue this degree will find that it reignites their ministries, engages them with resources that are vital for ministry and offers them a network of relationships with professors, other pastors and a ministry coach,” said Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, dean of the School of Theology. “The new format for the program also makes it much more adaptable to the schedules of busy pastors.”

The program will hold an information session during the William L. Self Preaching Lectures on Feb. 16 at 3:30 p.m. in Day Hall on Mercer’s Atlanta Campus. More information is available on the program’s Web site,

An application for the program can be downloaded from the site as well.

For campus visits, or to speak with an admissions professional, contact Michelle Brooks Garber, at (678) 547-6412 or

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