Intercultural Studies, D.I.S.


The Doctor of Intercultural Studies is a practitioner's degree designed to enhance people, partnerships and publications that advance the missions enterprise in scholarship, spirituality, service, and sacrifice through the critical strategizing of three cross-disciplines: church history, theology, and the social sciences. The program's goal is to promote the development of teachers, missions administrators and consultants, Bible translators, church multipliers, curriculum developers, community developers, member care professionals, and business persons who will be able to conduct cross-cultural ministries with greater conviction, clarity, competence, and compassion, without compromising the sacred Scriptures.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Doctor of Intercultural Studies, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of important theories and theorists relevant to one’s research area and/or ministry context (ULO 1).

  2. Construct new applied understandings explaining how the student can improve vocational engagement outcomes (ULO 1).

  3. Demonstrate a mastery of important theoretical constructs in missiology applied to the student’s vocational engagement (ULO 2).

  4. Discuss and analyze the integration of one's faith commitments, theological understandings, and pertinent educational convictions (ULO 3).

  5. Exemplify rigorous scholarship accompanied by Christ-honoring professionalism in all scholarly activities (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Program Requirements

The D.I.S. program requires 40 credits past the master's degree, of which 6 credits are normally devoted to the capstone project, including ISCL 880 and ISCL 881.

The 34-credit coursework component of the program comprises 13 credits of theological and missiological foundations, 12 credits of missiology/intercultural studies courses, and 9 credits of research methods courses. Students are encouraged to integrate each module into their capstone project.

A faculty advisor will guide each student in planning a program of courses to serve his or her ministry needs. Each student is expected to choose courses most appropriate to their research interest and will select a mentor from the graduate faculty to guide his or her capstone project. Admission into the graduate program of the Talbot School of Theology does not guarantee completion of the doctoral degree.

Delivery System

Full-time students can complete all required coursework in four semesters, with an additional year generally devoted to the capstone project. Part-time students usually complete coursework in three years.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

All course and academic requirements for the D.I.S. degree must be completed within seven years, beginning on the date of the student's first registration. Petitions for extension beyond seven years will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students who may need extensive time on the field.

Withdrawal and Re-Admission Procedures

A student who must drop out of school or is planning to return to field service must go through the formal withdrawal process. To return to active status the student should contact the program director and file a re-admission form with the admissions office.

Leave of Absence

Inactive students are those who have requested and been granted Leave of Absence from the program. A Leave of Absence may be granted upon petition for change of status if there is deemed sufficient reason for interrupting the program and intention to return to the program.

A Leave of Absence must be renewed by petition each semester and may not exceed two consecutive semesters. A Leave of Absence longer than two semesters will require withdrawal from the program and a petition for re-admission if the student later wishes to regain active status. Each leave of absence must receive the approval of the student's program advisor and the Dean of the school. Students on leave are required to register for ISCL 893 each term.

Oral Interview

If needed, an oral interview with a faculty committee may be held to evaluate a student's progress and potential for successful completion of the doctoral program. The interview is scheduled after at least one substantial piece of written work demonstrating the student's skill in research writing. The result of the interview will determine the student's status within the program.

Vocational Experience and Language Requirement

All students must complete a minimum of three years of practical ministry experience in a cross-cultural (or multi-cultural) setting. It is assumed that the student will acquire fluency in a second language before or during this vocational service and that this language will be the language of field research.

Admission to Candidacy

Official candidacy for the doctorate signifies an advanced stage in the student's progress and is characterized by self-directed research and preparation of a capstone project under the direction of a faculty advisor. In order to be admitted to candidacy the student must have:

  1. Completed the field ministry requirement
  2. Received approval of the dissertation proposal by the Doctoral Committee

Upon reaching candidacy, a student usually registers for a total of 6 Capstone Project credits (including Project Proposal) prior to graduation.


The 40 credit hour D.I.S. program normally includes 34 hours of coursework followed by six credit hours of research, of which three are Capstone Project Proposal and three are the Capstone Project. Students who have completed 40 credit hours or more of coursework before reaching the capstone project phase of their program must still write a research proposal and complete a capstone project. If doctoral candidates have not defended their dissertations by the time all required dissertation credits are completed, they must enroll continuously in ISCL 880 for 1 credit each semester until the successful defense of the dissertation. 

The capstone project is generally based upon research conducted in the field of ministry and must demonstrate high attainment in applied scholarship related to professional missiology. The project proposal must be approved by the candidate's advisory committee prior to the beginning of the student's field research.

Final Oral Examination

The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the doctoral committee and other invited professionals.

Graduation Requirements

All students must defend a capstone project and complete all required coursework with a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for graduation. Also, students must meet with their department advisor and contact a graduate academic records and degree specialist one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in Admission, Enrollment and Graduation Requirements section).

Curriculum Requirements

D.I.S. students may take hybrid courses, which includes both on-campus courses and online courses, to complete their program. 

Foundational Missiology and Intercultural Studies Courses
ISCL 700Orientation to Graduate Intercultural Studies1
Select two of the following:6
Culture and Transformation
Intercultural Communication
History of the World Christian Movement
Cross-Cultural Leadership
Biblical/Theological Studies Courses
Select two of the following:6
Spiritual Conflicts in Cross-Cultural Context
Issues in Spiritual Warfare
Narrative in Scripture and Teaching
Theology of Mission
Acts: Biblical and Missiological
Bible/Theology elective
Missiological Specialization Courses
Select four of the following (without duplicating above):12
Anthropological Theory in Practice
Theoretical Issues in Cross-Cultural Engagement
Culture, Cognition and World View
Dynamics of the Religious Experience
Social Anthropology
Social Organization
Culture and Transformation
Curriculum Design for Intercultural Contexts
Principles of Church Multiplication
Church Planting Models and Strategies
Principles of Church Growth
History of the World Christian Movement
Narrative in Scripture and Teaching
Issues in Contextualization/Cross-Cultural Theology
Cross-Cultural Leadership
Method and Theory in Cross-Cultural Studies
ISCL Tutorial or Elective
Research Courses
ISCL 803Qualitative Research3
ISCL 872Foundations of Doctoral Research3
ISCL 879Research Design3
Capstone Courses
ISCL 880Doctoral Dissertation/Capstone Project3
ISCL 881Doctoral Dissertation/Capstone Project Proposal3
Total Credits40