Doctor of Pastoral Music Application Procedure 

We are pleased that you are interested in pursuing the Doctor of Pastoral Music degree at Southern Methodist University. Please note that the responsibility of securing and submitting the application materials, transcripts, and other necessary information rests with you. 

Requests for information

Dr. Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program Director, at

Pamela Hogan, Coordinator of Doctoral Programs, at
Telephone: 214-768-2432 Fax: 214-768-2117


The professional nature of the Doctor of Pastoral Music (D.P.M.) Program requires that students have leadership responsibilities in their ministry setting. Applicants must have all application material completed no later than two months before the beginning of the program. In order to build a viable DPM cohort and for more effective class interaction, no more than five students will be admitted to each entering class by March 15 for the June term. Applicants wishing to enter the Doctor of Pastoral Music program must have:

  1. A Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.), Master of Church Music (M.C.M.), M.A. in Church Music, or equivalent 48 semester hour degree recognized by the National Association of Schools of Music with a cumulative grade-point average in the master’s level program of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (B or 80). In cases of demonstrated extraordinary ability and experience in the practice of ministry, applicants with a lower grade average may be considered for conditional admission with the requirement to complete the first term with a grade of B or better in order to be granted full admission and continuation in the program.

    For applicants with a Master of Music or similar degree, their study should include the regular graduate courses in music theory, musicology, applied music study, as well as other areas of study such as music education. An equivalency should include a minimum of five additional courses in the following areas:
         •  Biblical Studies (six term hours)
         •  Theological Studies or Church History (three term hours)
         •  Liturgical Studies (three term hours)
         •  Hymnology (three term hours)

    The Director of the Doctoral of Pastoral Music program will work with each applicant to develop a plan to meet the equivalency requirements for admissions following the examination of transcripts and professional experience

  2. Significant experience and demonstrated competence in ministry, as attested by four references. (See more specific information concerning references under Application Procedure below.)

  3. A minimum of five years of full-time experience following completion of the master’s degree (or its equivalent).

  4. The ability to reflect theologically and communicate effectively as reflected in short essays. (See more specific information concerning the essays under Application Procedure below.)

  5. Because the Doctor of Pastoral Music is a degree given in the context of ministry, generally no transfer credit is accepted.

Application Procedure

All admissions are done electronically through the Slate admissions website: Once all official transcripts and letters of recommendation are received, the application will be forwarded to the Director of the D.P.M. program. The application does not go forward until all official documentation is completed. You may check your documentation on the Slate admissions website throughout the process to see which items are pending. The required materials are included in the following application-procedure checklist:

  1. Complete the online application form.

  2. Complete and upload the two essays.

    • Essay 1. Important experiences since graduation from your graduate degree: a) Identify the primary theological and practical issues you confronted in the positions you’ve held since graduate school; b) share two or three of the most significant experiences that have contributed to your decision to apply to the D.P.M. program. These may be professional, personal, or both.

    • Essay 2. Your specific interest in the DPM program. Write an essay of no more than four double-spaced typed pages concerning the following: a) theological concerns that are taking on greater importance for your practice of music ministry, the issues of music ministry that are challenging you as you carry out your responsibilities in your ministry setting, and avenues you have to enhance your effectiveness in ministry; b) the second part should provide your objectives in undertaking the D.P.M. program including a preliminary statement of a proposed area or areas you want to consider for a practicum and thesis, and an assessment of the contribution to your ministry that these proposed areas of study could make; c) discuss the information you have shared about the program and the support you will receive from your congregation regarding the time commitment, financial resources, and willingness to support you in your practicum and thesis. Specifically, include conversations with your pastor, personnel or staff/parish relations committee, and music and/or worship committee.

  3. Arrange for the submission an official transcript, certified and translated if from a foreign institution, directly from each school of higher education you have attended. To order and track your official transcript online go to:

  4. Follow the instructions for requesting four recommendations as follows: a) a professor from a college, university, or seminary; b) your pastor or supervisory staff member; c) a person in leadership in your church; d) a person (either a second professor or person in the community) who can evaluate your competence in music ministry. As prompted in your online application, list the names and contact information of the persons you have asked to write a recommendation. SMU will email each of these people and direct them to the online recommendation form. Your application will not be processed until all four statements of reference arrive in our office.

Application Deadline

Start Term June
Location Dallas
Application Deadline
March 15

Admission to the Doctor of Pastoral Music Program is offered once per year. Intensive study on campus begins in June of each year with 2 one-week courses.

Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all the requisite application materials are submitted in good order and on time. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Each cohort is limited in size and applications received before the March 15 deadline will be considered in the order of when the completed application is received by the Director of the D.P.M. Program.

General Information

Admission: Official notification will be sent through the Doctor of Pastoral Music Program, signed by the Director of the Program.  Financial Obligations: Students are responsible individually for their financial obligations to the University through the SMU Division of Enrollment Services. Students registering must ensure that payment is received by the due date to avoid late fees or holds on registrations.

Financial Aid
: Students may be considered for tuition grants from Perkins School of Theology by submitting the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through by March 15 for the following academic year (June 1-May 31). 

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