Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Unification Theological Seminary: Master Plan Amendment to authorize a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)


May 30, 2006



Goals 2 and 4







Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


Should the Regents approve an amendment to the master plan of Unification Theological Seminary in order for the Seminary to award the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree?


Reason for Consideration


          Required by State regulation.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its June 2006 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken. It then will come before the full Board at its June meeting for final action.


Procedural History


Master plan amendment is required because this would be the Seminary’s first program at the doctoral level.







Background Information


Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) was chartered by the Regents in 1990, and is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. UTS now proposes to offer a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program.




The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.


It is recommended that the master plan of Unification Theological Seminary be amended, effective June 20, 2006, to authorize the Seminary to offer a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program. This amendment will be effective until June 30, 2007, unless the Department registers the program prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.


Information in Support of Recommendation


The Unification Theological Seminary’s (UTS) proposed Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program seeks to further prepare mature men and women to achieve ministerial excellence in serving God and the Unification global community by providing a theologically sound, academically rich, and spiritually strong advanced educational opportunity. Institutionally, a stated goal of UTS is “To offer academic programs that provide an effective balance of theological and professional studies that enable students to pursue leadership roles in the church or specialized ministries upon graduation and/or pursue continuing education.” The proposed program in Theological Studies leading to a Doctor of Ministry degree supports UTS in fulfilling that goal. The proposed program is an advanced degree program designed to offer students who are engaged in some form of ministerial/religious leadership the opportunity to enhance and expand their ministerial skills and competencies as well as to reflect more profoundly on their own theological and spiritual development as men and women of God.




The proposed D.Min. degree is the capstone professional degree for those individuals who hold the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or its equivalent, thereby distinguishing the D.Min. from research-oriented doctoral programs at the Ph.D. level. As UTS is a narrowly focused graduate school offering only the Master of Religious Education and Master of Divinity degrees, the proposed D.Min. degree program is a natural expansion of its two theological degree programs, in particular that of the M.Div. degree program.


Relying on a peer learning pedagogical model, the proposed Doctor of Ministry program will challenge students to: (a) develop new insights into their ministerial effectiveness and leadership, (b) re-examine their own continuing theological and spiritual development in light of their present ministerial responsibilities, (c) develop greater competency in their ministries, (d) pursue more comprehensive research in their chosen ministry areas allowing them to critically examine contemporary developments in the theology and practice of ministry, and (e) recognize the changing nature of ministry, society and the congregation so as to achieve greater integration of theology and practice in one’s chosen ministry path.


This non-residential program requires students to complete 28 credits of coursework and 6 credits for a written doctoral-level dissertation project utilizing an action research model, for a total of 34 credits for the D.Min. The 28 credits are divided between four specialized D.Min. Seminar courses that all students will take, worth three credits each; four Concentration Courses, chosen from either the Family and Educational Ministries concentration or Peace and Justice concentration, worth three credits each; plus four Research Methodology Seminars that all students will take to support their dissertation-project development worth one credit each. With one entry point per year, and class enrollment placed at 8-12 students per entering class, the D.Min. courses will be offered over a two year period. Allowing time for completion of the dissertation, students will have a total of three to six years to complete their degrees.


The dissertation project, the capstone requirement of the degree, utilizes an action research methodology as students apply the insights, knowledge and perspectives gained throughout the doctoral program to pressing issues in ministry with the intent to offer either greater insight into one issue or concern of ministry or a solution to a problem in ministry, thus grounding the theory in practice.


A faculty advisor will be assigned to each student at the beginning of the program. The faculty advisor is an important link between the student, his/her degree work and the Seminary. Students will receive further support through a supervisor/mentor in ministry and peer ministry site teams who will serve as mentors and a personal support network for the students during the program. Students will benefit from the peer learning potential and support structure of the entering class cohort of 8-12 students with whom they will share coursework, reflections, and discussions. Admission requirements stipulate that the students possess the Master of Divinity or its equivalent and that they have been engaged in a ministry for three years since their first advanced theological degree. This ensures that ministry remains as the central focus for all coursework, reflection and project development.


The design of the proposed D.Min. program is one that is utilized by most seminaries throughout the United States and reflects the standards set by the Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting organization that is generally viewed as the standard bearer for the degree. The proposed program will be based on UTS’ main campus, a 250-acre, 250-bed capacity facility in Barrytown, New York. The D.Min. degree will require no more than two classrooms at any one time and living space for up to 24 students at a time, for the first three years, and 30 students thereafter.


A team of peer reviewers conducted a site visit and concluded that the program design “has its own integrity and substance and is in line with other accredited D.Min. programs.”




The proposed program will be administered by a full-time Director, the existing UTS faculty, with six full-time faculty and 22 adjunct faculty. In addition, two full-time faculty hires in the existing programs, and one full-time and one part-time staff hires for the D.Min. program will allow the proposed program to develop appropriately.


The UTS library continues to actively prepare its resources for the D.Min. program through the purchase of all core and supplemental texts for each D.Min. course, in addition to increasing its ministerial and theological bibliographical resources. In addition, on the recommendation of the Peer Review Site Team, the library budget was substantially increased to allow for a new subscription to ATLAS (American Theological Library Association Serials), a theologically-rich database central to seminary education. With its 64 full-text journals, the Library has now added 47 new journal titles to its collection. The addition of ATLAS gives students access to five valuable databases, together with a collection totaling 51,200 titles and 58,500 volumes. Further, the Library is publishing its online catalog data, with scheduled updates, thus allowing all students remote access to the Library’s collection. Beyond its own collection, the Director of Library Services is forming agreements with other theological libraries in the New York region that will give access to their collections for UTS students. Finally, each student will receive onsite instruction in Information Literacy as well as a take-home packet to guide their research from their home networks.




As part of the initial preparation, UTS distributed over 220 surveys during the course of two ministerial conferences. The larger of the two surveys targeted interest in the program directly while the second, smaller survey included questions about clergy interest in a UTS D.Min. degree program. Out of the 220 total surveys distributed, 145 responses were received. The combined surveys found 121 respondents who were interested in registering for the D.Min.; 57 respondents have the qualifications to apply immediately to the degree program. An additional 24 have a Master’s degree and are interested in registering for the equivalency program or the M.Div. itself in order to qualify for the D.Min. degree. In addition, there are another 98 potential candidates for the D.Min. degree at UTS from among those students who are either finishing their Master’s degree or are beginning their M.Div. degree program. Finally, 77 of the 145 respondents also indicated that they would be interested in sending their elders, lay leaders, deacons and assistant pastors to UTS for the D.Min. program. The design of the D.Min. program meets with the approval of a majority of those who responded favorably, with 82 respondents indicating that this type of non-residential degree program is best for them. All of this indicates a support base for the UTS D.Min. program with initial classes of 8 to12 students each year for the first two years and 12 to 15 students for the next several years.


Shorter surveys were distributed over several different occasions to the more than 750 UTS alumni. Results from these surveys indicated that another 10-15 percent were interested in the degree program and also favored the non-residential design and courses selected. With all the surveys combined, UTS sees this as a base from which it can confidently begin its D.Min. degree program. The current group of M.Div. students have expressed an interest in the degree as well, showing a continuing interest and pool of prospective students for the degree at UTS.


UTS is the only graduate-level theological institution for the Unification Church and movement.  The presence of the D.Min. is of vital importance for the added ministerial proficiency of its clergy. The UTS D.Min. degree program will also be of tremendous importance for clergy from historically underrepresented segments of the population who are also seeking admission into the program, as no other program fits their needs at this time. In addition, the proposed D.Min. degree program is of great benefit to the existing degree programs at UTS for the cross-fertilization that will result from the presence of the doctoral students on campus each year.






Effect on Other Institutions


A statewide canvass was conducted of all doctoral degree-granting institutions and seminaries and all institutions in the Mid-Hudson Region. Five responses were received with none expressing any objection to the proposed program.