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Doctor of Intercultural Studies

School of Intercultural Studies

A primarily online doctoral program for leaders with a master's degree and five or more years of mission or ministry experience, Fuller’s Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS) helps students integrate theory and practical research to develop an individually tailored action plan to effect change in their service context. Guided by experienced faculty, students participate in a unique cohort learning approach, growing holistically as missional leaders and change agents, and graduating with a project directly applicable to their work.

Individually Tailored

Customize your research to accomplish concrete change in your specific context

Holistic Formation

Benefit from supportive, formational guidance toward your growth as a leader

Collaborative Community

Be sharpened, challenged, and supported by peers within your cohort

Accessible Format

Develop your ministry effectiveness without leaving your context of service
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The DIS is a four-year program consisting of annual nine-month modules representing the major stages of completing your applied research dissertation. The modules require an average time commitment of 12–16 hours per week. The program is primarily online, with one on-campus visit each year for face-to-face collaboration, study, and mutual sharpening. Students apply missiological and theological principles to a specific need for change in their context, engaging in research that culminates in a practical dissertation with a robust action plan.

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MAGL cohort students speaking with each other

Upcoming Cohorts

DIS students progress through the program with the same peer group—or “cohort”—of 8 to 12 students, led by faculty mentors who are scholar-practitioners. Cohort members interact online and meet face-to-face at annual on-campus intensives, where students further sharpen and support one another as they journey together in a learning community.

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"The professors don’t just know the material––they’ve lived it. All of them have missional experience, so they think about theories through a more practical lens. They stand firmly in both waters of theory and practice."
– Vandyck L., DIS Student

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Applied Research

The DIS enables students to make an impact on a significant issue, problem, or opportunity in their context to effect change. By first looking at relevant literature, students then research any gaps and information needed to impact their particular context. Considering how you might focus your work in the DIS? Visit our Digital Commons for a list of titles and abstracts from prior DIS graduates' dissertations.

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The DIS is a 48-unit program (12 quarter units per year); please check the Tuition and Fees schedule for current per-unit tuition rates. Students should also consider the cost of books, as well as travel and lodging for the annual intensives. All students may apply for the need-based Charles E. Fuller scholarship, and returning students are eligible to apply annually for endowed scholarships.

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After losing his leg in a car accident, doctoral student Chris Ng finds a new, unexpected mission field

Peter Lim speaking

Compare Doctoral Programs at Fuller


  • Prepares scholars for research, writing, and teaching
  • Research focus with emphasis on developing theory
  • Language requirement: Language proficiency appropriate to proposed research
  • Program structured around tutorials and dissertation in a community of scholars
  • 3–5 years to complete (full-time)
  • Residential with 18-month minimum requirement
  • Program: 64 units


  • Equips leaders for research and missionally informed action
  • Applied research with emphasis on introducing positive change in your particular context of service
  • Language requirement: None
  • Program structured around cohort-community based modules and an applied research dissertation
  • 4 years to complete (part-time)
  • Non-residential with 4 on-campus intensives (3 are two weeks in length and 1 is one week long)
  • Program: 48 units


  • Shapes leaders theologically and practically to engage ministry challenges
  • Content focus with emphasis on providing theological insight and skills for ministry
  • Language requirement: Some Greek or Hebrew (requirement can be met within DMin program)
  • Program structured around courses and ministry project (through either cohort or personalized tracks)
  • 4–6 years to complete (part-time)
  • Non-residential with 3–5 one- to two-week intensives, as well as online courses
  • Program: 48, 60, or 64 units, depending on previous degree work
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MA in Global Leadership (MAGL)

Experienced leaders strengthen and sharpen their ministry in context through this primarily online, cohort-based program


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