Resources for PDS Supervisors

Below you will find resources helpful for coaching your D.Min. and D.Ed.Min. students through the writing portion of the professional doctoral degree. The information below follows the student's progression from proposal to defense hearing and all of the stages between. If you have any questions, please contact the PDS office directly.

Professional Doctoral Students have the the option of writing a formal Ministry Research Project or a Research Thesis during their time at Southern. Click the link below for a brief overview of these options.

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Proposal Stage

At the end of the five day Project Methodology seminar, a final copy of the student’s proposal will be sent to the PDS office for the student to be paired with a supervisor. Once assigned, the supervisor reviews the student’s proposal requesting revision or resubmission as they see fit. When the proposal is approved the student can then move forward in writing and submitting subsequent chapters.

Here’s an evaluation tool to help supervisors know what should be included in each chapter.

Approval of Student Titles

Once the student’s proposal has received final supervisor approval, the title will be presented at the next scheduled seminary faculty meeting for full approval. The student is permitted to move forward with the submission of chapters to their supervisor while awaiting faculty title approval.

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Contextualized Writing Seminar

Students will complete four Contextualized Writing Seminars during the first two years of their degree program. These non-residency seminars are structured in a way as to allow students to work with their faculty supervisor toward the completion of their project or thesis while also completing coursework seminars.

Each semester the student is required to submit a chapter to the supervisor by the specified submission dates. Supervisors are then asked to review the chapter and reply to the student with feedback and a grade for the chapter.

Spring submission – March 1st

Fall submission – October 1st

Chapters Two & Three

Two students looking at a laptop

Beginning with chapter two, all student chapter submissions are done through Canvas directly to the supervising professor. Below you will find a step by step guide for retrieving student submissions. After reviewing the students work, please reply to the discussion thread with your feedback as well as a grade for the reviewed chapter.


Ministry Research Project

Chapter two of a ministry research project should address the question “What does the Bible say about my topic” by engaging 4-5 major biblical texts. The student should engage scholarly commentaries and strong academic resources as they exegete and apply each text.

Chapter three is often the most difficult for the student to write as it deals with theoretical and sociological aspects of the project. The goal of chapter three is to answer the question “What else do I need to study to complete this project.”

Research Thesis

Chapters two and three of a research thesis should be used primarily for the argumentation of the central claim which the student is trying to prove through their research and writing.

Unless otherwise instructed by the supervisor, students are expected to employ 4-5 resources to validate their thesis statement. In some cases, the supervisor may feel it necessary for the student to employ additional resources to adequately address their topic.

Style Reading & Ethics Forms

When chapter three is submitted to the supervisor, all students should also submit their initial style reading to our office for review. Additionally, Ministry Research Project students should submit their Ethics Committee Forms at this time. For more information on style reading and ethics committee submissions, please direct your students to the writing resources page below.

Chapters Four & Five

Two male seminary students chatting outside chapel

During the student’s last year of study, they will focus primarily on the completion of their project or thesis. Ministry research project students will focus on implementation and analysis while thesis students wrap up their research and argumentation.

Ministry Research Project

In chapter four of the ministry research project, the student should focus on describing their project in detail. The aim is to provide enough detail to where someone could take only this chapter and duplicate the project at their church.

Chapter five will serve as the culmination of the student’s project, including analysis of the strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, this chapter should include personal and theological reflection from the student.

Research Thesis

Thesis students will continue working to validate their overall thesis statement through chapter four.

Finally, in chapter five the student will switch gears to discuss the major implications of this research for the broader (not just local) church. These implications should be tied directly to the student’s thesis statement.

Graduates at Southern Graduation

Defense Hearing & Graduation

To be considered for graduation, three defensible drafts must be received by the PDS office by the follow submission deadlines:

May graduation – February 1st
December graduation – September 1st
The defense drafts will be processed and distributed to the supervisor, second reader, and style reader each semester.

The PDS office will work with supervisors and students to schedule defense hearings each semester. Defense hearings must be completed by the first week of April (for May graduation), or the first week of November (for December graduation).

The specific structure of the defense hearing is determined by the supervisor. The hearing will typically last 60 – 90 minutes. Traditionally, the hearing begins with an overview presentation (use of visuals at the supervisor’s discretion). Students should plan to share this overview, along with implementation and details as to the outcome of their project.

Following this presentation, questions and concerns will be offered by the committee. The committee will then determine a final written and oral hearing grade (see the grading rubrics below). These grades, along with any final instructions, should be communicated to the student. The supervisor should then deliver all defense hearings forms to the PDS office.

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