Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.)

Church musicians serve congregations faithfully throughout the United States and beyond. While continuing education events are numerous, few programs exist for church musicians that allow them to retune their vocation in the context of the changing demands of the music ministry. The Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.) is designed for experienced church musicians who have achieved a Master of Sacred Music degree or its equivalent and who are devoted to increasing their effectiveness in and broadening their vision of the pastoral dimensions of music ministry into the larger community. Classes are held in an intensive one-week format that allows students to maintain their positions in congregations or other church-related institutions.

The Doctor of Pastoral Music program offers:

  • An experienced and diverse faculty from Perkins School of Theology and Meadows School of the Arts
  • An ecumenical program that allows both pastors and musicians to interact and learn from each other
  • Advanced study in liturgy, congregational song, worship leadership, performance skills, deeper theological understanding of church music, vocational renewal, incorporation of worship arts, current church music trends, music in the community and a variety of cultural contexts, and peer feedback on the practice of music ministry
  • Supervised practicum experiences and a variety of thesis options that enhance the effectiveness of students in their current position with the congregation and in the community
  • Individualized course assignments, practica, and thesis approaches that relate directly to the student’s ministry goals and setting
  • 39-hour graduation requirement.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the D.P.M. degree is to provide an environment for the vocational renewal of practicing and experienced church musicians and equip them for changes in the profession of church music in the areas of liturgical skills, cultural diversity, theological perspectives, congregational song, contextual musical analysis, and additional competencies related to the performance of music, enhancing their effectiveness both within their ministry setting and missionally in the broader community.

To fulfill this purpose, the D.P.M. degree has the following objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify critical issues of vocation and leadership in pastoral ministry related to worship and church music and implement holistic strategies for improvement in relationships and performance.
  2. Students will be able to evaluate research that integrates various musical traditions with recent developments in liturgy, culture and worship, ritual studies, and hymnody.
  3. Students will be able to demonstrate refined skills in an applied area including, but not limited to, organ service playing, keyboards in worship, congregational song, choral conducting, guitar, percussion, and music technology in conjunction with their primary focus.
  4. Students will be able to apply these methodologies and performance skills in the context of their social location with strategies for outreach through music and the arts into the surrounding community.
Questions concerning the D.P.M. Program should be addressed to Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Director of the Doctor of Pastoral Music Program, at


Degree Course Requirements

*Indicates that courses with an asterisk (*) are taken with Doctor of Ministry students


CM 9370 The Person and Role of a Leader in Ministry* (three term hours)
CM 9380 Vocation, Leadership, and Community* (three term hours)
These two courses are taken together at the beginning of the program in the first two-week June term.

CM 9379 Models of Leadership, Social Institutions, and Community Engagement* (three term hours)



The D.P.M. Concentration Courses are conducted in intensive one-week seminars in Dallas with the exception of CM 9323 Applied Studies in Church Music. This course is conducted in the student’s parish. 

The required courses in the DPM Concentration are:

CM 9301 Music and Arts in Missional Ministry (three term hours)
CM 9323 Applied Studies in Church Music (conducted in student’s parish) (three term hours)
CM 9373 Issues in Liturgical Theology and Practice (three term hours)
CM 9324 Issues in Pastoral Music (three term hours)
CM 9344 Music in Worship and Renewal (three term hours)

Each seminar emphasizes the integration of theological disciplines with the practice of ministry. Prerequisites for participation in any of these seminars are the successful completion of CM 9370 The Person and Role of a Leader in Ministry and CM 9380 Vocation, Leadership & Community.

Each seminar will consider a topic relevant to the practice of music ministry in the contemporary church and world with the goal of enhancing the student’s ability to reflect critically on ministry and develop the student’s initial ideas on the practicum and thesis. Only course grades of 80 or higher will qualify toward meeting the requirements for graduation.



An elective course in pastoral ministry. One elective course (three term hours) will be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser in preparation for the thesis. The following is a list of suggested courses, though final selection is not limited to this list:

DM 9349 Vocation, Leadership and the Bible in Contexts (three term hours)
DM 9350 Ecclesiology, Community and Models of Leadership (three term hours)
DM 9347 Contextual Analysis (three term hours)
CM 9369 Leadership and Vocation in Church and Community: A Theological/Historical Exploration (three terms hours)
CM 9390 Directed Studies in Pastoral Music (three term hours)



CM 9309 Integrative Seminar and Strategic Planning in Contexts of Change and Transitions* (three term hours)
This course offers the students a case study approach where theological knowledge, tools for leadership, and strategic planning for community are employed for contextual analysis in order to implement desirable goals, manage organizational complexities, and provide a vision coherent with a Christian vision.

CM 9696 Pastoral Music Practicum (six term hours)
The project practicum has two options depending on the student’s context. 1) The Applied Pastoral Music Practicum is a supervised experience in pastoral music ministry in a student’s congregation and community setting. 2) The Research Pastoral Music Practicum allows qualified students to engage more deeply in research on an approved topic.

CM 9398 Doctor of Pastoral Music Thesis (three term hours)
Building upon the Applied or Research Pastoral Music Practicum, the written project thesis is a contribution to the understanding and practice of pastoral music ministry through the completion of a doctoral-level thesis.


The Doctor of Pastoral Music Thesis Committee

During the second year of study, the student will invite, in consultation with the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, two people to serve on a supervisory committee for the thesis. The Thesis Committee will consist of the Thesis Adviser and a Second Reader, both usually from the Perkins faculty though the Second Reader may come from another school within SMU or another institution if approved by the director of the D.P.M. Program. If the thesis topic requires additional expertise, a third reader may be invited upon the approval of the Thesis Advisor. It is required that a regular Perkins faculty member serve the Thesis Adviser.

When the thesis is completed satisfactorily as determined by the committee in consultation with the director of the Doctor of Pastoral Music Program, the student will participate in an oral evaluation on the school campus or by electronic means with the committee members.


Project Practicum and Thesis

The professional practicum and thesis combine research within a designed ministerial field experience that addresses both the nature and the practice of ministry and has the potential for application in other ministry contexts.


The thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to reflect theologically, liturgically, and contextually on the use of music and other arts within a specific ecclesial perspective and missionally in the broader community. The thesis may take on one of several forms including, but not limited to, the following:

  • an original musical composition or other creative project designed for the student’s ministry location in a church, or other institution, and community;
  • a theological document that deepens the student’s awareness of their congregation’s contextual and social situation and offers strategies for ministry in the community;
  • a musicological analysis that includes reflection on the historical context, theological insights, social location analysis, and performative implications of a particular work within the student’s ministry situation;
  • a curriculum design in church music and the arts for those whose ministry includes an educational setting;
  • the evaluation of a program or aspects of a program initiated by the student that establishes a link between the student’s congregation and the community.
The written thesis must be submitted in an approved style and format. At completion of the D.P.M. thesis and successful oral evaluation, the completed written project thesis will be accessioned in Bridwell Library. A summary of the thesis proposal and its results will be posted on the D.P.M. website. Further information on the D.P.M. thesis process is available at D.P.M. Thesis Requirements.