Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church, and Culture

At A Glance

38 Semester credit hours
$628* Cost per semester credit hour
3 Years Program length


ATS (Association of Theological Schools), NWCCU


Hybrid (online courses with 3 in-person Advance intensives in Jackson, Michigan; Cambridge, UK; and Orcas Island, Washington)

Tuition cost for entire program

$23,864* (plus $2,000 per in-person Advance intensive)

* All stated financial information is subject to change. Financial aid available.

Len Sweet with Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics, Church and Culture students

Proactive Ministry
in an always-changing culture

with Len Sweet

What are the “signs of the times”? Portland Seminary’s Semiotics, Church, and Culture Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program addresses this very question and others associated with the study of semiotics.

He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."

Matthew 16:2-3.

The bigger question is, how will you use your newfound skills in exegeting biblical and cultural metaphors, narratives, and images to recognize the signs of Jesus' work in the world? How do you learn to see beyond the obvious?

Whatever your answer, think broadly, as graduates of the program serve as denominational leaders, pastors and church planters, nonprofit leaders, and educators.

What Will I Experience?

Under the guidance of lead mentor Dr. Leonard Sweet, the program emphasizes:

Course Work

As a student in this program, you will gain:

  • Competency to confidently lead in a fast-changing culture
  • An ability to communicate the gospel in a compelling manner
  • A lifelong learning community
  • Expertise to become a "Doctor of the Church"

What is Semiotics?

Watch video: "What is Semiotics?" Dr. Leonard Sweet explains.

Program Details

Dr. Len Sweet

Lead-mentor Directed

Lead mentor Dr. Leonard Sweet sets the overall inspiration, ethos and direction of the program and oversees course work. You will take six courses related to program themes with him over the first two years. He teaches sessions at the Advances, facilitates weekly video conversations with the cohort, and participates in the Project Portfolio examination.

Portland Seminary program cohort meets in small peer groups

Online and Flexible

Cohorts meet once a week for a Zoom conversation with Dr. Sweet and engage in online forum discussions with the cohort on their own schedule throughout the week. Students also regularly interact with their project faculty in small peer groups each semester.


Groups of 12 to 18 students journey together through the entire program. The cohort provides a peer-learning network for research, insights, and personal ministry experiences.


Students participate in one online orientation to begin the program and three face-to-face intensives (or what we call Advances) in the Fossores Chapter House, Jackson, MI; Westcott House, Cambridge (UK); and The Salish Seaside Escapes, Orcas Island, WA. During the Advances, students participate in sessions with Len Sweet, connect with their cohort, and engage with their project faculty member around their research.

Portland Seminary faculty mentor talking with student

Project Portfolio

In the Project Portfolio research sequence, you will journey through a series of milestone assignments to develop a doctoral project that addresses a Need, Problem, or Opportunity (NPO) in your ministry context.

Project Faculty

Students are paired with a project faculty member for three years. Project faculty join students at key Advances and meet regularly online in peer groups to guide them in their research.


Spotlight on Student Experience

Watch video: Pastor Jeff Tacklind shares about his experience in the Semiotics, Church, and Culture Doctor of Ministry program.

Napkin Scribbles

Listen to Dr. Sweet as he explains "Jesus Semiotics" in more detail in this six-minute Napkin Scribbles podcast:

Join the conversation on the Napkin Scribbles Facebook page.

Access Napkin Scribbles on all of the major platforms, including iTunes, Spotify,, Stitcher.

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Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons, DLd

Admissions Counselor, Seminary

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