The research and writing process is guided by a faculty advisor, who is assigned to the student in his/her first or second semester. The assignment takes place in conjunction with the choice of an appropriate research topic and after the conversation with the Director of the Doctor of Ministry program.
The topic of the dissertation research is chosen in relation to the student's ministry context and the faculty advisor works with the student throughout the design, research, and writing of the dissertation. It is assumed that the results of the dissertation research will enhance and strengthen the student's personal ministry and benefit the student's ministry site (church or institution).
When the student is in the final stages of writing the theoretical and theological foundation for her/his research project (the first four chapters), the faculty advisor, in cooperation with the Director of the Doctor of Ministry program, assigns a dissertation committee that presides over two defenses. The proposal defense reviews the first four chapters and, if successfully defended, allows the student to perform the research project in the student’s ministry context. Following the practical part of the project, the student composes the report and evaluation of the project (chapters five and six), which is subsequently presented at the final defense.
The completed dissertation should be a publishable document that displays the student's ability to use appropriate theoretical and theological resources in addressing both the nature and the practice of ministry.