Skip to main content

Doctor of Ministry in Integrative Chaplaincy (D.Min.)

Chaplaincy image two people holding hands


The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Integrative Chaplaincy is a three-year, 36-credit professional program undertaken alongside a student’s work as a chaplain in a professional ministry setting (e.g. healthcare, military, prisons, organizational chaplaincy), with the aim of better equipping students to address whole person healthcare needs - both as individual spiritual care providers and as collaborative professionals partnering with other care providers. 

Chaplains who complete this program will be able to: 

  • Identify the signs and symptoms of mental health (MH) problems;

  • Use evidence-based psychological practices and principles within the scope of chaplaincy practice;

  • Collaborate effectively with MH and other healthcare professionals;

  • Foster resilience and prevention of MH problems;

  • Critically interpret, use, and potentially participate in scientific research;

  • Understand important psychological processes, psychosocial issues, and their intersection with religion and spirituality;

  • Provide care for care providers and practice good self-care;

  • Address the distinctive religious, spiritual, cultural, and relational needs of persons with MH problems;

  • Think theologically and engage religious and/or spiritual traditions as sources of strength and transformation;

  • And develop a pastoral-theological ethic that guides their ministerial identity and understanding of suffering, trauma, and human flourishing.

Study includes interactive hybrid courses that feature a range of interdisciplinary experts and that are designed for application within the diverse contexts where chaplains work. Courses consist of online modules, group consultation calls, and in-person training intensives (four total), with the degree culminating in a final project.

About VDS

Since its inception along with the founding of the university, Vanderbilt Divinity School has functioned as a university-based, interdenominational school, seeking to embody the Purposes and Commitments. This non-denominational affiliation and commitment to forming students for ministry in a global and multi-religious world provides strong synergism with the work of chaplaincy – especially for chaplains who serve in diverse, pluralistic, multi-religious contexts, such as healthcare settings, the military, prisons, or organizational chaplaincy.

Chaplains serve as spiritual and emotional caregivers who often operate in ministry contexts where they are called upon to meet the needs of a wide-array of individuals, frequently doing so in collaboration with other professionals. The aim of this program is to better equip chaplains to provide high-quality, collaborative, evidence-based care for persons with diverse psychosocial-spiritual needs.

In various ways, the D.Min. in Integrative Chaplaincy program truly seeks to make chaplaincy more integrative . The program integrates research-informed knowledge and evidence-based approaches with spiritual care practices, and integrates chaplains more completely as valued partners and leaders in the variable systems where they operate. The coursework and range of faculty disciplines (e.g., psychiatry, chaplaincy, psychology, theology) reflect and model this commitment to integrative care and training. 

About the Degree

The curriculum is structured to combine 15 hours of coursework, 12 hours of practicum/praxis, and 9 hours of a final D.Min. project (see table below). The three-year program of study for the degree is designed to complement work with which students are simultaneously engaged in the context(s) where they are chaplains.

DMin Coursework Table

For the first three semesters, courses and practica are tightly connected with each other, such that content from the coursework is applied and consultatively reviewed as part of each practicum. Core instructional and consultative capacities for this foundational part of the D.Min. are anchored by chaplaincy, MH, and VDS’ diverse faculty who are affiliated with Mental Health and Chaplaincy in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and completion of this portion of the program results in a Mental Health Integration for Chaplain Services (MHICS) Certificate through VA. For the last three semesters, students will build upon their work in the program by focusing on systematic inquiry and research in the context of chaplaincy and conducting a D.Min. final project. In consultation with the advisor, students develop a project that is practice-oriented, theologically grounded, and theoretically informed, articulating a concern for integrative chaplaincy, and a method for responding to it. This project will be a praxis-oriented 35- to 50-page project.

Three 3.5-day and one 2.5-day on-campus training intensives occur at VDS, one per semester for the first four semesters. The remainder of the coursework is conducted utilizing online educational platforms, video conferencing, and other distance education modalities. Most work can be conducted asynchronously to fit students’ schedules.


2020-2021 Intensive Course Dates

September 1-4, 2020 

January 12-15, 2021


  • Students must have completed a Master of Divinity or Master of Theological Studies degree from an ATS accredited school, or the educational equivalent from an institution of higher education accredited by a US agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or approved by a Canadian provincial quality assurance agency. Comparable degrees from institutions outside North America are accepted after review by Vanderbilt’s International Curriculum and Credentials Analyst.

  • Student’s academic record must evidence master’s level work in a wide range of theological disciplines and the capacity to integrate, critically and constructively, theory and practice.

  • Students are expected to have achieved a GPA of 2.6 or above in their M.Div., M.T.S., or equivalent degree as part of the evidence of aptitude for advanced theological study.

  • Students are assumed to have endorsing religious bodies, and applicants functioning as clinical chaplains are assumed to have at least two units of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). CPE is not required; students should be engaged in a structured counseling context to provide adequate opportunities for reflection during the practicum.

  • Students for the inaugural year will be chaplains serving in the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense (active duty, guard, and reserve). Beginning in Fall 2021, students will also include chaplains serving in other healthcare settings, prisons, and organizations such as colleges and universities.

Costs/Financial Aid for D.Min. Students

The hour-per-credit cost for 2020-2021 is $1,004. Military chaplains (active duty, guard, or reserve) receive a 30% discount off the standard tuition rate. VA chaplains pursuing the D.Min. who are admitted through the MHICS Certificate program receive a discounted rate that is detailed via communications with VA Mental Health and Chaplaincy. Additionally, students will be responsible for cours e materials and books, travel when face-to-face intensives resume, and a university Student Service Fee. Students must submit the graduate insurance waiver by August 1st or participate in Vanderbilt University’s health insurance. More information available at  

There is no financial aid for D.Min. students at this time. For present or past members of the military, Vanderbilt is a full participant in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers financial support both for U.S. veterans / service members and their families (learn more at Vanderbilt University’s Yellow Ribbon  website - Veterans Educational Benefits | VA ). Applicants are also encouraged to seek funding from their sending institutions and religious communities.

Application Information

The priority deadline for the D.Min. application is April 1st for a Fall 2021 matriculation. Applicants are invited to apply through the following  portal .

MHICS Certificate applicants: Students who are initially admitted through the MHICS Certificate will receive a link to the application after being referred by the Certificate program, with applications for VA-related MHICS candidates due on April 1st, and the DOD MHICS candidates' applications due on May 15th.


Please contact Laura M. Cheifetz, the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship.