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About the Doctor of applied intercultural studies Program

Program Philosophy

The AGTS Doctor of Applied Intercultural Studies is more than a degree program. It is an experience in developing greater discernment of the Spirit’s leading and greater dependence on the Spirit’s power.

J. Philip Hogan, executive director of AG Foreign Missions from 1959 to 1989, and a key player in the founding of AGTS as a training ground for missionaries, wrote:

“Make no mistake, the missionary venture of the church, no matter how well planned, how finely administrated, or how fully supported, would fail like any other vast human enterprise, were it not where human instrumentality leaves off, a blessed ally takes over. It is the Holy Spirit that calls, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires, it is the Holy Spirit that reveals, and it is the Holy Spirit that administers.”

The DAIS recognizes the priority of the Holy Spirit’s person and power in accomplishing the mission of God (Missio Dei) and creates an environment in which students can experience the kind of learning that connects them more deeply to the Spirit’s work in mission. Tracks in Intercultural Studies and Relief and Development allow students to focus their program on specific application of their learning in the field.


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Program Design

Core Classes (20 credits)

  • Leaders in a Global Context
  • Missio Dei and the Contemporary World
  • Intercultural Communication and Missions Anthropology
  • Theological Issues, Contextualization and Area Studies
  • Methods of Missiological Research

Choose One Track

Intercultural Studies Track (12 credits)

  • The History of Christianity in Missiological Perspective
  • Encountering Non-Christian Religions
  • Evangelizing, Discipling and Church Planting

Relief and Development Track (12 credits)

  • Biblical Perspective on Issues of Social Justice
  • Relief and Development in Mission: Theories and Strategies
  • Contemporary Social Issues in Mission

Electives (12 credits—Choose 3 courses)

  • Areas Studies Elective (required)
  • Alternative Approaches to Education
  • Leading the Christian Non-Profit Organization
  • Contextualized Leadership Training
  • HIV/AIDS in Global Context
  • Contemporary Missions: Issues and Strategies
  • Special Studies with an Approved Educational Provider
  • Special Studies: Tutelage

Project/Dissertation (4 credits)

  • Project/Dissertation Workshop
  • Project/Dissertation Development and Oral Defense

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Program Features

The AGTS Doctor of Applied Intercultural Studies consists of 48 credits earned in 11 modules and a professional project, and is built around several components.

  • Pentecostal perspective: Distinctive emphasis on Spirit-empowered mission in a global context.
  • Lifestyle fit: Relocating to Springfield is not necessary; in fact the DAIS requires only five visits to AGTS over the course of the program.
  • Cohort experience: Learning and growth occur through the bonds formed with other career missionaries in a diverse small group setting.
  • Modular convenience: Courses are taught in two, one-week blocks scheduled back-to-back allowing two classes on one airfare.
  • Contextualized study: Area studies, special study with an approved educational provider and/or tutelage offer field-based training.

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Program Goals

The Doctor of Applied Intercultural Studies Program will provide students with

  • a deepening biblical and theological understanding of Missio Dei and the kingdom of God;
  • a distinctively Pentecostal theology of intercultural ministry;
  • an understanding of the historical development of the Christian movement and the participant’s role in the contemporary world;
  • the ability to discern the Holy Spirit’s direction in the fulfillment of the mission of God in diverse cultural settings and to contextualize effective expressions of the Gospel;
  • an emphasis on the priorities of evangelism, church planting, leadership formation, and compassion ministries;
  • a continuing commitment to personal spiritual formation and growth as a member of God’s missionary people;
  • a working knowledge of the close relationship between the local church and missions; and
  • a scholarly contribution to the understanding and practice of intercultural ministry through the completion of a DAIS major applied research project or a dissertation that integrates theoretical and empirical disciplines important to a specific ministry.

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Core Courses (20 credits)

Core 1 - Leaders in a Global Context (4 credits)

This course will orient participants to the unique dynamics and requirements of Doctor of Applied Intercultural Studies education, highlighting issues that will impact their lives and ministries; provide an overview of the Tracks and courses, with special focus on missiological research; and guide participants in self reflection in light of their ministries and global issues.

Core 2 - Missio Dei and the Contemporary World (4 credits)

An examination of Missio Dei from biblical and Pentecostal theological perspectives. This interdisciplinary study integrates theory and praxis, preparing the student to develop strategies for accomplishing the mission of God in diverse cultural milieus.

Core 3 - Intercultural Communication and Missions Anthropology (4 credits)

Studies in the literature of intercultural communication, focusing on cultural contexts and barriers, with implications for Christian witness, lifestyle and relationships. Cultural anthropological issues will be examined to determine their application to a Christian view of intercultural ministry and the discipline of missiology.

Core 4 - Theological Issues, Contextualization and Area Studies (4 credits)

A course to enable students to respond to theological issues encountered in intercultural contexts, such as Trinitarian concerns, bibliology, local theologies, syncretism and Pentecostalism. Students will work with personally relevant area-specific case studies and principles of “doing theology” in another context will be analyzed.

Core 5 - Methods of Missiological Research (4 credits)

An introduction to the approaches to research design and research methods employed in missiological research. The relationships among theological inquiry, socio-anthropological inquiry, and missions practice will be examined. Attention will be given to each of the major components of a major applied research project and a dissertation: problem, review of the literature, research methodology, findings and conclusions. Development of a research design, bibliography and database for missiological research will be emphasized.

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Track Courses (12 credits)

Following their Core courses, DAIS students will choose between two tracks: Intercultural Studies or Christian Relief and Development. Each track involves 12 credits (Three courses) of study in a specialized area.

Missiological Studies Track: 12 credits

  • The History of Christianity in Missiological Perspective
    • A study of selected missiological paradigms throughout the expansion of Christianity from Pentecost to the present. Writings of mission theorists will be studied for understanding the advance or decline at key historical junctures, as well as the assessing of current missiology.
  • Missiological Engagement with World Religions
    • The process of engaging followers of other religions is examined with the purpose of facilitating effective communication of the gospel. Representatives serving in diverse religious contexts explore unique opportunities and challenges presented by various historical and contemporary religious environments.
  • Evangelizing, Discipling and Church Planting
    • An exploration of biblical principles, contemporary models, and effective strategies for evangelizing non-believers, discipling converts, and planting healthy churches. Global challenges of the urban context and assimilation will be considered. Case studies will be examined.

Relief and Development Track: 12 credits

  • Biblical Perspectives on Issues of Social Justice
    • An investigation of biblical perspectives on social justice and the formulation of a scriptural foundation for the Church’s response to human suffering with holistic ministries. Special attention will be given to racial injustice and global poverty. A prerequisite for Relief and Development Track.
  • Relief and Development in Mission: Theories and Strategies
    • This course facilitates the articulation of a Christian response to global relief and development. Classical and modern theories of economic development and poverty eradication will be examined from a Christian perspective. Community development within a Christian worldview will be informed by the role of the developer on a personal, local, regional and global level.
  • Contemporary Social Issues in Mission
    • This course will identify the major global issues of injustice that impact women, children and minority people groups, such as human sexual trafficking, children at risk and human rights abuses. It will explore issues that impact on development such as AIDS and other international health crises, urbanization trends, global economic threats, wars and refugees and environmental issues. It will provide a critical overview of best practice interventions by international agencies and Christian relief and development organizations who address these global issues of social injustice.

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Elective Courses (12 credits)

Students will select three classes from the available Elective courses to deepen their study of specific topics. One elective course in Area Studies is required.  

Area Studies Elective (required)

Specialized study in a particular area or region of the world. These studies may be taken as a tutorial or through course work in government-approved universities around the world. (In order to take this required elective course, the student must petition and secure the approval of his/her program advisor.)

Alternative Approaches to Education

An analysis of the principles of traditional and nontraditional education, both formal and informal, with emphasis given to ministry formation. Selected educational systems such as theological education by extension (TEE), distance education, in-service training, will be evaluated as to contextual suitability and effectiveness. Participants will engage in creative application of the principles presented and innovative modes of delivery systems.

Leading the Christian Non-Profit Organization

The critical role of the faith-based organization (FBO) has been universally acknowledged by the development community in its war on poverty. This course will trace the FBO’s road to recognition in both the United States and internationally and examine the unique contribution of the FBO in community development. It will explore international legislation governing the establishment of non-governmental organization's (NGO's), examine legal requirements for registration and identify the financial management and project reporting requirements that are expected of an accountable and transparent organization. It will further provide the student with the skills to create a community development profile, strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) analysis and strategic plan to assist a church community to mobilize for action. Finally, the student will be prepared in the skills of creating a viable business plan and the identification of potential funding resources for FBO activities.

Contextualized Leadership Training

A study to facilitate leadership development vision by analyzing leadership selection processes, authority patterns and spiritual formation in a particular setting. Participants will be encouraged to develop culturally appropriate principles, strategies and methods of leadership training including church-based, institutional and non-formal approaches. Emphasis will be given to designing resources and building team concepts for long-term reproducible models.

HIV/AIDS in Global Context

The course will explore the global HIV/AIDS pandemic from various perspectives such as its contribution to poverty and the medical, political, economic, social and security issues that it has created. The role of both the international and local church in prevention and ministry to the infected will be examined.

Encountering Non-Christian Religions

A focus on the biblical and theological understanding of non-Christian religions. Participants will examine critical issues facing the church in light of biblical teaching and current conflicting ideas and theories in pluralistic societies. Attention will be given to diversity, truth and salvation in religions.

Contemporary Missions: Issues and Strategies

A study of current issues and strategies in missions. Topics such as collaboration, short-term and career commitments, non-residential missions, the “business as missions” movement, theological education, training church leaders/planters, missionary lifestyle, interfaith dialogue and holism/international development will be considered.

Special Studies with an Approved Educational Provider

A track elective taken with an approved educational provider that facilitates the development of competencies germane to the major applied research project or the dissertation. (In order to take this course, the student must secure the approval of his/her Program Advisor.)

Special Studies: Tutelage

A track elective taken under the tutelage of an assigned professor of record. (In order to take this course the student must secure the approval of his/her program advisor.)

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Project Prospectus

At the conclusion of Core 5, Methods of Intercultural and Missiological Research, a formal project prospectus must be presented to and approved by the Intercultural Doctoral Studies Committee. The prospectus should include project title; a problem statement or thesis; research questions or hypothesis; an annotated bibliography of literature related to the research; methodology to be employed; a description of how track, elective, and research courses will be integrated in the research design; an explanation of how the findings will be reported; categories for the conclusions and recommendations; and a preliminary outline of the project. A draft prospectus must be presented at the “Project Design Seminar” during a “Value-Added Week” for peer and faculty critique. With the successful completion of the qualifying exam and the approval of the project prospectus, the student will be assigned a guidance committee comprised of the project coordinator, a content-specialist advisor, and an outside reader whose research expertise is directly related to the projected research identified in the prospectus in order to develop the study program. Prerequisite: Completion of core courses.

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A research project advances knowledge in the field of study and enables the participant to integrate and apply his or her learning in an intercultural ministry context. Upon the completion, acceptance, and successful oral defense of a written project which makes a scholarly contribution to the discipline and practice of intercultural ministry, four credits will be recorded on the transcript. Prerequisite: Completion of core and tack courses.

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Qualifying Exam

The qualifying examination is intended to demonstrate an acceptable level of competency in missiology and the ability to apply the literature to a set of circumstances. The student is required to submit to the qualifying exam within a three-year period of the start of his or her first course and is eligible to take the examination upon successful completion of the following core courses:

Core 1 – Leaders in a Global Context

Core 2 – Missio Dei and the Contemporary World

Core 3 – Intercultural Communication and Missions Anthropology

Core 4 – Theological Issues, Contextualization and Area Studies

A list of recommended readings to support competencies developed in the core courses will be provided at the beginning of the program.

The qualifying examination is composed of two exams. One exam is based on the missiological content and disciplines of study introduced in the core courses MS/MSS 901 Leaders in a Global Context and MH/MHT 902 Missio Dei and the Contemporary World; the second is based on MC/MCC 903 Intercultural Comm. and Missions Anthropology and MC/MCC 904 Theo. Issues, Contextualization and Area Studies. Each exam will be comprised of two questions. One question will be selected from two summative questions developed and approved by the Intercultural Doctoral Studies Committee, one for each core course; The second question will be a context specific question selected by the committee from questions submitted by the student.

The student will submit to the Intercultural Doctoral Studies Committee two summative context-specific questions for each exam (a total of four questions, one for each core course listed above) which seek to integrate and apply the content of the courses to the student’s specific missional environment. If the questions are not approved, they will be returned to the student with suggestions for resubmission. If approved, the committee will select one question for each exam. The questions for each of the two exams will be sent electronically to a preapproved proctor.

The student will make arrangements with the proctor to schedule and take the exams in an appropriate context on a computer that is not connected to the Internet and contains no files related to the exams. For each exam the proctor will present the two selected questions to the student who will write a response to each. Each exam should be minimally 2000 words (1000 words per question1) referencing the appropriate literature (author only, bibliographic reference not required). Four hours will be allowed for each exam. The two exams are to be taken within a two-week period. Upon completion of each exam the proctor will email the student’s response in electronic format to the Intercultural Doctoral Studies Committee, retain one copy as a backup and provide one copy to the student (e.g. by email, thumb drive). Each exam will be graded by a specialist in the field and by a generalist according to the following classifications: Superior, Satisfactory, Marginal or Unsatisfactory. Any grade of unsatisfactory by either grader or marginal by both will require retesting in that discipline/course. A marginal or unsatisfactory score by either grader on the retest will result in disqualification from the program.

1 The average exam response is between 2800 and 3800 words (1400–1900 words per question).


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What will a DAIS do for me?

  • Enhance your missionary practice and resources
  • Prepare you to teach missiology at any level
  • Build foundations for you to train missionaries overseas
  • Train you for leadership in Christian compassion ministry agencies and projects around the world

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A fee for the entire program is $23,400 to be paid in 12 equal installments over four years. AGWM and AGUSM appointed missionaries are eligible for a discounted fee of $18,400. (Applicable for the 2016–2017 academic year and subject to change thereafter for new participants.)

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Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 7:33 PM

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