meet N. A. Missiology, Ph. D.

Even if this idea doesn’t fit you, I encourage you to read and pass on this exciting news for our field!

This weekly “Fridea” space is usually reserved for cool methods you might apply within your college ministry – although on occasion, I throw out something that might help in other ways. Today’s Fridea is definitely in the latter category!

But since I just received word about this (and it’s very time-sensitive), here’s this week’s Fridea… for the academically inclined: Consider the new PhD in North American Missiology. Or at least spread the word!

(You can see all the other Frideas right here.)

Several months ago, Ed Stetzer, guru of all things “missional,” mentioned a cool new project on his blog: a PhD in North American Missiology offered by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Technically, the degree is a Ph.D. in Applied Theology concentrating in Missions – North American Missiology track. But that’s nearly 90 characters right there.)

Doesn’t that sound like a perfect degree for college ministers? It wouldn’t even require relocation to the seminary; instead, a cohort of about a dozen students would study together at the seminary once or twice a year. Other projects could be completed at home.

But sadly, it sounded like college ministers were not included in the desired applicant pool. Stetzer stated that “each participant will be a church planter, pastor, or leader who is actively working in church planting or renewal in a North American context.” (Bruce Ashford’s Between the Times blog post gave perhaps a bit more hope for us: “The degree is available to those persons with some experience in church planting, church renewal, or some other facet of North American missiology.”)

Still, I’ve been describing this degree as an example of the type of PhD I might pursue someday – and that might fit others laboring in the great missiological endeavor called “college ministry,” too. And this week, I finally got to discuss the degree with some SEBTS folks.

I’m not only excited by their answers to my questions, but also by how they answered. Here’s the response from the administrative assistant who helped sort this out, Debbie Blaylock:

The answer [to whether college ministers can participate] came quicker than I had expected and involved the thoughts of several professors on our campus who were involved in the initial stages of formulating this degree and are currently actively promoting this degree. Their response was, and I quote, that they “would unequivocally say that we would want people doing collegiate ministry in the program. The theological foundations and strategic considerations are of the same sort that are taken up in church planting and missiological contexts.” … I would encourage you to highlight the degree program as a possibility for missiological-minded college ministers. You have our blessing! Hopefully, in the next few years we will receive some applicants from those involved in Collegiate Ministry. [emphasis added]

So there you go. Apparently we have some sympathizers in the world of higher academia!

Some key facts, as best I understand things (be sure to confirm any details that are important to you!):

  • The application deadline for this first cohort is March 1st, but they hope for another round in 2 years.
  • The basic educational requirement is an MDiv or equivalent, but there are other stipulations, as well.
  • Southeastern is located in the North Carolina Triangle area, one of the coolest collegiate (and college ministry) environments in America. (I spent two weeks there – “Chapter 7” of my yearlong research trip – and it was a blast.)
  • Reportedly, you will study with people like Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, J. D. Greear, and Andreas Kostenberger.
  • Remember, this is a Ph.D. Not for the faint of heart.

(For more, check out those posts by Stetzer and Ashford. Then use the contact info I include at the bottom to get the full info packet sent as a PDF.)

I do understand that those who are academically inclined might still not be ready to apply for a PhD this month. As for me, it’s probably not an expenditure I can make right now. But we have the chance to let SEBTS know we’re interested and that we appreciate their help in what we do. Remember, this opportunity will (hopefully) come back around two years from now.

But I am also praying that some college minister might even join this first cohort. It would not only be valuable for that minister, but it could be very valuable for our field – since other Christian leaders involved in this program would get to see the missiological approach (and missiological importance!) of college ministry.

For more info about the PhD in North American Missiology (either for this cohort or the next one), you should check out the very helpful information / application packet. To receive that or to ask questions, contact either of these people. Be sure to introduce yourself, so they know college ministers are interested!

  • Jake Pratt, Assistant to the Director of Ph.D. Studies: jpratt <at> or 919-761-2491
  • Debbie Blaylock, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Ph.D. Studies: dblaylock <at>


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  1. Benson–thanks for drawing this to our attention! Sounds great! I’m especially curious as to why this is a Ph.D as opposed to D.Min.

    Not sure about yours truly, but I do hope there’s at least one campus minister in that cohort!

  2. Benson,

    This degree program sounds fantastic. I especially love the “residency requirement” that permits students to stay on the field as practitioners. Thanks for the alert. Who knows—maybe we’ll be in the 2nd cohort together?


    The main difference between PhD and DMin is original research and especially thesis. DMin papers can be surveys, and their arguments can basically defend one already-proposed thesis by critically surveying existing work. PhD papers have to advance the scholarship in some meaningful way. A PhD paper must be an “original contribution”. And, as a credential, it is therefore more respected in the academy, because it proves that the would-be academician is not merely conversant with the academy, but has advanced the discussion. That’s my shot at it, anyway.



  3. Thanks for passing on that info. I’m starting to think about what PhD program I might pursue in a few years and this is definitely one I’d want to consider. It’s a needed area of focus today in academia. I’ve imposed a 3 year grad school ban on myself though so I can pay off my Master’s degrees first :)

  4. Glad this seems to have struck some people’s fancy! It definitely seems like it could be a great fit for some college ministers!

    Andy, thanks a bunch for the info – that’s a really helpful differentiation.

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