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DMin at Palmer Seminar

Emile Durks

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I am currently enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Luther Rice College and Seminary. I earned my M Div at Luther Rice and found it to be very helpful and rewarding, however, having completed 12 out of 36 required credit hours for the DMin program, I am finding that the DMin program is no more academically challenging than the M. Div. I would even say that the coursework is also less helpful for practical application to ministry contexts.

The DMin at Luther Rice has not been a complete waste, but I am considering starting over at nearby Palmer Seminary. Palmer is an ATS school and has a better academic reputation than Luther Rice. I have repeatedly read articles and posts of individuals regarding Luther Rice as a diploma mill, though I would disagree with that sentiment. Though I would like to have something to show for the DMin coursework I have completed thus far, I would much rather earn a DMin from an institution where I can be stretched academically/theologically as well as receive the degree from a more reputable institution.

Can anyone provide any insight on the reputations of Palmer Theological and Luther Rice?

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Palmer being a genuine accredited institution will almost certainly not take transfer credit from a non-ATS school, especially one like Luther Rice. Luther Rice is, deservedly, considered a diploma mill, and if you want an accredited D.Min you will probably have to do a real MDiv first. 

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As @Kuriakos notes and I've seen prospective students run into at my former seminary - without an ATS accredited M.Div program and three years of work experience post-M.Div, you shouldn't be accepted anywhere. This is one thing that the ATS doesn't really allow member schools to budge on.

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I will try to give you some hope but not a false hope. (Former Seminary Admissions Counselor here.)
First, non-ATS to ATS transfers can happen, but they rarely will happen. Also, the transfer amount from one degree to another is small. In your case, I would assert that there might (and that may be a generous word) be a chance for three hours to transfer. 
Second, within an ATS accredited institution not every student actually has to meet the admissions requirements. At my former school of employment (SACS and ATS accredited) up to 10% of students within a specific degree program could be admitted under special provisions (in the case of the D.Min. it was most often the waiving of the M.Div. requirement for those who had 2 M.A.'s or something of the sort). 

Third, since there is actually wiggle room in the requirements the first thing you need to do is talk with the Director of any Doctor of Ministry program you are looking at, explain your situation, and ask if there is the possibility for an exception to be made. Granted, since your M.Div. is not ATS accredited you will have a harder time. Also, looking at Luther Rice, they now have at least ABHE accreditation. If your M.Div. has that accreditation attached to it you will still have a chance. Either case, talk with the Director about additional steps that could be taken to prove your capability (GRE, 12 hours at the MA level from an ATS accredited institution with a 3.5+ GPA [better than a full M.Div.], etc.).

Fourth, do not set your heart on a single school. If you want an ATS accredited D.Min., you will need to take any chance that is given because it may not come again.

Fifth, ask first, apply later. There is no reason you need to fill out a single application to anywhere before you hear back from the Director that there is a possibility for you to be accepted.

At the end of the day, if your M.Div. does not have ABHE accreditation at least, you will be hard pressed to find a seminary willing to offer you the chance to pursue a D.Min. apart from those that are not ATS accredited. As noted above, some schools won't admit those without an ATS accredited degree. Because you are looking at a Doctor of Ministry degree, less schools are going to be able or willing to allow exceptions than if you were looking at doing an MA at a school without capped enrollment. 

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