Diversity among doctors of divinity

I READ with great interest your cover story on doctored degrees, Dr Tom, Dick and Harry (Star Education, Jan 26).  

I would particularly like to respond to what Reverend/Pastor Rudy Lui said in an accompanying article, titled Doctors of divinity. There are more than just those two doctoral degrees mentioned by him.  

For those serving in the church as a pastor or minister, there are many more doctoral degrees they can obtain. In fact, each doctoral degree conferred by a theological school or seminary indicates a major or specialisation.  

Many universities in Britain and the United States award theological degrees through their divinity departments, schools or divisions. 

Some of the doctoral degrees available are: Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Theology (ThD) 

Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD), Doctor of Pastoral Studies (DPS), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Sacred Music (SMD) and Doctor of Missiology (DMiss). I believe there is more to this list. 

I agree with Pastor Lui that the Doctor of Divinity is a degree conferred on individuals for their leadership contributions to the Christian community. However, it must be noted that nowadays, doctoral degrees can be obtained through non-traditional theological education modes as well. 

Theological schools and seminaries can grant advance standing by giving credits to students for experience gained in pastoral ministry, and hence decrease their duration of study. 

So if a particular doctoral degree needs, say about 34 credits for completion, a student may be granted exemption of 10 to 12 credits because he has 15 to 20 years of experience in full-time ministry.  

Hence, the student will only be required to complete the balance of another 24 credits, which usually includes the writing of a thesis or dissertation. The accreditation of the school or seminary must also be taken into account, as students graduating from accredited schools can later transfer their studies to other schools or higher theological institutions.  

Schools and seminaries in the US often have more than one accreditation. They are usually accredited regionally; most traditional schools are accredited with the Association of Theological Schools in the US and Canada or others.  

Accrediting bodies in Asia include the Asia Theological Association, the Association of Theological Education in South-East Asia, and the Asia-Pacific Theological Association. There are also regional bodies in India, Africa, Europe, Latin America, etc. 

I trust that I have helped to further explain the types of degrees available for those in Christian ministry. 

REV DR STANLEY LIM Petaling Jaya, Selangor 

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