May 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin 
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Intercultural Studies DIS

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The Intercultural Studies DIS program equips practitioners, leaders, and trainers who minister in cross-cultural mission and ministry situations through focused study and research in theological and social science fields of study. For more detailed guidelines and program structures see the DIS Handbook. A copy may be accessed online at:

Total Credits - 48

In order to fulfill the requirements for the DIS degree, students must register for 48 MSSN credits at the 800 level by completing 42 credits of formal course work and 6 credits for the dissertation.

Intercultural Studies, Mission, and Ministry - 36

36 credits of MSSN 800 level courses

Dissertation - 6

Additional Requirements


Dissertation Proposal


Proposals for the dissertation will be accepted following the completion of the second module. Under the guidance of the Program Director and the student’s dissertation advisor, the student will write a proposal. The final proposal must be approved by the student’s advisors, the proposal committee and the DIS Program Committee.

The proposal must contain a basic survey of pertinent literature, a clear statement of the problem, a succinct purpose statement, a description of the methodology to be employed, a list of tentative chapters and subsection titles, and a preliminary bibliography. This will be submitted with the completed form found at:

Following the fourth module and the proposal approval, the student registers for MSSN 899 DIS Dissertation for 2 credits for each of the following three semesters. If the dissertation is not completed after one year, the candidate must register for MSSN 888 (DIS Dissertation Continuation) every semester, and pay a continuation fee until the dissertation is completed and the defense is held, or until the time limit has expired.

Dissertation Preparation

The dissertation prepared by the DIS candidate must:

  • Demonstrate the candidate’s competence to do independent research.
  • Reveal the candidate’s familiarity with and proficiency in handling the pertinent literature.
  • Present a logically organized, methodologically sound, and readable account of the investigation, findings, conclusions, and implications of the study.

Oral Defense of the DIS Dissertation

The date is set and advertised by the director of the DIS program. The oral defense is conducted by the dissertation defense committee and is held no later than four weeks before the degree is conferred. To pass the oral defense, candidates must receive a vote of approval from at least three of the four examiners. The committee votes in one of the following ways:

  • Acceptance of the dissertation as presented.
  • Acceptance of the dissertation subject to minor revisions.
  • Acceptance of the dissertation subject to major revisions.
  • Rejection of the dissertation.

Normally, rejection of a dissertation terminates the student’s doctoral candidacy, but the DIS Program Committee may consider whether to allow him/her to prepare and submit another dissertation and what specific requirements would apply, including possible further course work.

After Defense

  • The student makes all corrections
  • The deadline for dissertations to be submitted to the Dissertation Secretary with the signed approval page is no later than Wednesday, 10 days before graduation. Strict adherence to this deadline is essential or graduation is postponed. For more detailed guidelines and schedules see the DIS Handbook (

Maintaining Academic Standing

Time Limits

Since the program is module-based, the student is expected to finish all modules as scheduled. All degree requirements, including the dissertation must be finished within ten years of initial registration.

Admission Requirements

 All applicants must meet the general admission requirements listed in the Graduate Programs Admission and in the Seminary Admission Requirements ( Admission to the DIS program is granted by the DIS Committee to applicants who:

  • Hold the MDiv degree or its educational equivalent, or other advanced master’s-level degrees in the related cognate discipline with a GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4-point scale.
  • Have taken MSSN 546 Mission in Cultural and Religious Context (3 semester credits) or its equivalent.
  • Pass the TOEFL test for English proficiency with a minimum TOEFL score of 85 (iBT) or 565 (paper based) if Secondary and Undergraduate schooling was not in English or if requested by the DIS Program Committee.
  • Be competent in at least one modern language other than English.
  • Have significant work experience (typically three years or more) in a cross-cultural ministry context.
  • Show high promise of future usefulness in the mission of the church.
  • Have recommendations, which include at least one church leader from a cross-cultural/mission setting.

Application Process

Application for the DIS program should be submitted at least 6 months before the start date for classes.

In addition to submitting the items required of all graduate students, applicants to the DIS program must also submit:

  • Write a 1200-1500 word personal statement with the following headings:
    • My Philosophy of Mission and Cross-cultural Engagement
    • Religious, Cultural, and Ethical Considerations in Mission
    • My Personal Aspirations in Cross-cultural Mission
    • How the DIS Will Contribute to My Ministry
    • My Experience in Cross-cultural Ministry
  • A significant research paper (term paper or thesis), normally written during MA or MDiv studies. This paper should show the applicant’s ability to carry out research and to present the results and conclusions of such work with correct English and acceptable style. The topic of this paper should be in an area related to mission if possible.

Transfer Credits

The DIS program is module-based. Therefore, it is expected that all students will complete all activities as a module. Only in cases where a student has completed extensive mission studies beyond a master’s degree would an exception be considered.

Student Learning Outcomes

The purpose of the DIS program is to advance theologically competent intercultural and mission leadership for the global church. Although graduates may be asked to teach intercultural studies and mission, this degree is not primarily a teaching degree but a professional one. The emphasis of the degree is on knowledge, skills, and mission research, which result in practical applications for effective intercultural ministry. This degree is not earned by the mere accumulation of credits. It is conferred on those who demonstrate advanced knowledge of missiological themes and the ability to integrate theology and social science research into actual contextual mission leadership and ministry.

Graduates will:

  • Grow in spiritual disciplines and cross-cultural competence.
  • Develop theological and biblical foundations for their intercultural ministries and mission practice.
  • Conduct research on cross-cultural mission challenges of the church which results in recommended solutions.
  • Implement mission-contextual strategies that are biblically faithful and culturally appropriate.
  • Demonstrate ability to train others for cross-cultural work and ministry.

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