Timeline and Process
Students are encouraged to begin thinking about possible dissertation topics early in their D. Min. program. This allows the coursework in the D. Min. program to begin informing and enriching the student’s thinking about the possible topic(s).
The following steps outline the formal process of researching, writing, and defending the dissertation:
- The student participates in dissertation orientation. An orientation to the dissertation process is offered during the student’s first residential week (normally during the initial retreat associated with DMIN 852NE: Calling and Vocation). The dissertation process and requirements will be outlined and discussed, and the student will be encouraged to begin preliminary thinking about possible dissertation themes. Attendance at this session is required.
- Preliminary Dissertation Topic and Advisor Information Form. This form should be completed as soon as possible during the student's first semester or early in the second semester so an initial faculty advisor can be assigned and collaboration with that advisor can begin.
- Faculty Advisor Assigned. Based on the preliminary form and the dialogue with the D.Min. director, an official faculty advisor will be assigned. The student should initiate regular and ongoing contact with the faculty advisor from this point and throughout the dissertation process.
- The student takes DMIN 860NE: Research Methodology. Offered in an online format, this course prepares the student to write the first draft of Chapters 1-4. DMIN 860NE is a 3-credit course that is divided into three 1-credit sections offered over three consecutive semesters (860-A; 860-B; and 860-C). Students should register for these one-credit classes in the second, third, and fourth semesters of their D.Min. program.
- Dissertation Committee Named. When the student is close to finishing the first four chapters of the dissertation, the faculty advisor initiates the appointment of the dissertation committee. In cooperation with the D.Min. director and in consultation with the student, two other members of the committee are named who will serve as readers both for the proposal and final defense.
- Dissertation Workshop and DMIN Colloquium. Participation in the DMIN Dissertation workshop and DMIN colloquium is expected of all doctoral students from the time they enroll in DMIN 860-A until the successful completion of the proposal defense (see #8 below). The Dissertation workshop takes place during the January residency and the DMIN colloquium during the June residency. They occur on Friday afternoon during the week of each required (non-elective) DMIN course (855, 865, 875, and 885).
- Writing of Chapters 1-4 (i.e., the proposal). Guided as necessary by the faculty advisor, the student prepares the first four chapters of the dissertation. Chapters (or sub-sections of chapters) should be submitted to the advisor as they are completed so that regular, ongoing feedback is received. Students should proceed with successive chapters while they wait for feedback on submitted chapters. Upon the advisor's approval of the full proposal (chapters 1-4), a proposal defense with the dissertation committee is scheduled.
- Proposal defense. Upon completion of the dissertation proposal, the student will be expected to participate in an oral defense and evaluation before his or her dissertation committee. Copies of the four-chapter proposal (in 3-ring binders with tabbed chapter dividers) must be submitted to all committee members at least three weeks prior to the defense. The student functions as recording secretary for the meeting and submits a transcript of the notes to all members of the committee following the meeting. The dissertation committee has several options: a) accept the proposal; b) accept the proposal with relatively minor editorial changes subject to the faculty advisor's approval; c) accept the proposal with substantive revisions subject to the committtee's approval; d) require a second proposal defense. If the student does not receive committee approval by the second defense, he or she will not be allowed to continue the dissertation process. The proposal must be approved before the student is permitted to conduct the research and complete writing. The proposal defense should take place at least six months prior to anticipated graduation. Please note that depending on the type of research being conducted, more than six months may be necessary.necessary.
- Research: The student conducts the research exactly as described in the approved dissertation proposal.
- Writing of Chapters 5—6: The student reports the results of the study (Chapter 5) and offers an evaluative discussion of the findings (Chapter 6). Upon approval of the faculty advisor for matters of content, form and style, a dissertation defense may be scheduled with the dissertation committee. Copies of the dissertation (in 3-ring binders with tabbed chapter dividers) must be submitted to all committee members at least three weeks prior to the defense.
- Writing of the Integrative Statement. By answering four integrative questions, the student prepares one's Integrative Statement, which helps to evaluate how the course of the study influenced the student's ministry. The special attention is paid to the three foci of the NES DMin program: Bible, spiritual formation, and leadership. The statement must be submitted to all committee members together with the copy of the dissertation, that is, at least three days prior to the defense.
- Dissertation defense: The student meets with the dissertation committee to defend the completed dissertation and to discuss one's Integrative Statement. The dissertation committee has several options: a) accept the dissertation; b) accept the dissertation with relatively minor editorial changes subject to the faculty advisor’s approval; c) accept the dissertation with substantive revisions subject to the committee's approval; d) require a second final defense. If the student does not receive committee approval by a second defense, he or she will not be allowed to finish the dissertation process. The dissertation defense should be held approximately three months prior to anticipated graduation.
- Final edits, binding, and publication: Upon approval by the dissertation committee, the student makes final revisions based on committee recommendations and works with the Assistant to the Vice President and Dean to make arrangements for binding and publication. A copy-ready, final version of the dissertation must be submitted to the D. Min. office no later than March 30 for a May graduation.
- Graduation: The Doctor of Ministry degree is conferred upon completion of all degree requirements.