Certificate in Practical Ministry

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The Perkins Certificate in Practical Ministry is designed to equip students with relevant, applicable, practical knowledge and tools to empower them in their life-long spiritual journey and ministry. 

The certificate program is great for both lay and clergy students looking to expand and enhance their education related to ministry both within and without the walls of the church. 

Stay up-to-date with certification news!

Church Staff seeking training opportunities to expand their theology and ministry toolbox for the ministry context within which they serve. 

Laity looking for theological educational opportunities that feed their desire for lifelong learning and expand their theological understanding in practical, applicable ways. 

Current Perkins Students desiring concentrated study in a ministry area outside of their current curricular opportunity at Perkins School of Theology.

Perkins Alumni interested in continuing education opportunities in applicable ministry areas.

Undergraduate Students  serving in ministry roles or feel a current call to ministry and would like to experience graduate theological education.





The Certificate in Practical Ministry consists of five two-hour, graduate level, non-credit courses.

  • Engaging Theology
  • Engaging the Bible
  • Adaptive Leadership or United Methodist Studies
  • Two Specializations of your choosing


Offered beginning in 2022

Offered beginning 2023 or later*

  • Camp & Retreat Ministry
  • Church Leadership
  • Ministry on the Margins
  • Ministry with Adults
  • Ministry with Young Adults
  • Sexuality and the Church
  • Urban Ministry
  • Women & Gender Studies

See the specializations page to read more about the courses required for each specialization. 

Specializations can be combined to create unique certification areas. For example, you can combine Children's and Youth Ministry or Youth and Young Adult Ministry specializations to create a specialization in "Student Faith Formation" or "Student Discipleship." These combinations will be considered on a case by case basis by the certification staff. 

*cohorts must have at least eight students to begin a specialization track. 

Certification Course Term Dates


January 5-13 Dallas, TX May 18-21 (Location TBD)


January 11-19 May TBD

Courses will either be three-day or five-day intensives within the eight-day term. A three-day and a five-day course can be taken concurrently. Some courses will require virtual meetings after the intensive. Specific course dates will be shared each term.

Core courses are offered each year, in alternating terms. Specialization courses are offered in consecutive terms.


Time to Complete the Program

You can complete the program at your own pace, based on the availability of your courses. The program is designed for students to complete the program at a pace that fits their work and life schedule, whether they take one class a term, January only, or May only, they can complete the whole program in two - five years. The certificate must be complete within eight years of a student's first course. 


Where will the certificate courses take place?

January certificate courses will take place on the SMU campus at Perkins School of Theology. May intensives will be at satellite campuses.

Hybrid courses are indicated on the course page. 

Online courses will be offered occasionally throughout the rotation, and will be indicated on the course page. 

Want more info?

Come to an Info Session!

Our lunchtime virtual info sessions happen twice a month and give you an opportunity to learn about the program, ask your questions, and get excited about the possibilities.

Sign Up for an Info Session


Ready to apply?

Application Requirements:

Application Fee

  • $50 through August 31, 2022
  • $75 August 31 - October 31 

Pay Application Fee

In celebration of the launch of the new Certification in Practical Ministry, the application fee will be $50 through August 31, 2022! Additionally, applications to start in the January 2022 courses will be accepted through November 30, 2021!

Application Form

No more annual application! All students need only apply ONCE for the certificate program.

Application Window:

January Term start: June 1 - October 31

May Term start: November 1 - March 31

Apply Today!

Written Responses

These responses should be well-thought-out should be about 400-600 words. You are encouraged to write your responses in a separate document and then copy and paste them into the application. 

  • What do you believe are your gifts for ministry?
  • Tell us about your experience in ministry?
  • List any experiences you've had in theological education or continuing education for practical ministry (conferences, trainings, etc.) (a list is acceptable)
  • Give at least one example of how one of the trainings listed impacted your practice of ministry.
  • What are your long-term goals in ministry and how will a certification from Perkins help you achieve those goals?

Three Letters of Recommendation

Of the three recommendation letters needed, at least one must be from your pastor or spiritual leader. Other letters of recommendation can come from ministry volunteers, church leaders, small group leaders, co-workers, Sunday school teachers, parents, friends, etc. Please be sure to contact your recommenders prior to submitting your application. The letters must answer the following questions:

  • How long have you known the candidate?
  • Do you believe the candidate is well suited for and called to ministry?
  • What do you believe are the candidates gifts for that ministry?

Letters of recommendation can be emailed to theoexternalprograms@smu.edu.

Financial Aid

We do not offer scholarships through our office. We encourage you to contact your employer, local church, district, conference, denominational body, and any special interest groups that may have scholarship funds to support your continuing educational opportunities.