Doctor of Worship Studies (D.W.S.)
The Doctor of Worship Studies is a 45-hour post-graduate, non-music, professional, non-terminal doctorate (commensurate to the Doctor of Ministry) that places emphasis on practical application of worship studies to the ministry. It is primarily targeted to the career minister of music/worship pastor constituent and provides theological, philosophical and practical studies based on the demands of the 21st-century evangelical worship ministry. Built on a graduate degree in music, church music or worship, the DWS provides an option for advanced studies at the professional doctorate level for worship practitioners desiring to expand their skill set to reflect a rapidly changing worship culture. As with all graduate degrees in the School of Music, the end goal is to develop knowledge and expertise to function in a variety of music and worship cultures and contexts within the evangelical community.
Program Learning Outcomes
The student will be able to:
- Examine the pastoral and worship leader roles in evangelical worship.
- Synthesize the historical development and relationship of worship to the Christian Church.
- Evaluate contextual approaches for worship leading.
- Analyze trends in worship theology, philosophy and methodology.
- Investigate the pedagogical role of the worship leader in evangelical worship.
Program Specific Admission Requirements
In addition to the general admission procedures, applicants to the Doctor of Worship Studies must meet the following requirements:
- An earned master’s degree in music or its equivalent from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (e.g., SACS, TRACS, ABHE, etc.). Master degrees qualifying for entrance into the Doctor of Worship Studies degree may include:
- Master of Divinity in Worship Studies
- Master of Arts in Worship Studies
- Master of Arts in Music and Worship
- Master of Arts in Worship Leadership
- Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology
- Master of Arts in Church Music1
- Master of Music in Church Music1
- Master of Church Music1
- Master of Music1
- Master of Arts in Music1
- Master of Worship Studies1
- Master of Arts or Master of Science in Related Degrees1
- Contact information for two recommendations from a pastor and/or college or university professor may be requested as an additional requirement on a case-by-case basis.
- A graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale).
- Consideration will be given to those without a master level degree in music or worship [or equivalent] upon completion of an interview with and recommendation from the Program Director of the Doctor of Worship Studies degree.
- Professional vita showing three years of experience in full-time ministry
- Applicants must submit a 1000-to-1500-word Statement of Purpose that answers the following questions:
- How has your previous education and/or work experience prepared you for doctoral studies at Liberty University?
- What is your goal with regard to pursuing doctoral education at Liberty University?
- Please describe the character and values you possess that will help you succeed in your desired field.
- Interview and recommendation from the Doctor of Worship Studies Degree Program Director.
- TOEFL Scores for students who speak English as a second language (score of 600 paper –based test; 250 computer-based test, 80 internet-based test).
Applicants must finish the equivalent of 45 graduate hours of which at least 9 of these hours must successfully be completed with a minimum of a “B” grade in: WRSP 635 Building a Theology of Worship (3 c.h.), WRSP 510 Biblical Foundations of Worship (3 c.h.), and WRSP 502 History and Philosophy of Worship (3 c.h.).
Transfer students will be required to submit transcripts for evaluation as per the normal process established by the University. Students may transfer a maximum of 12 hours of coursework from an accredited institution. In order to be eligible for transfer credit, course work must have a minimum grade of B-, and must have been completed within the past seven (7) years. Credits from a degree on the same academic level previously earned through Liberty University are considered transfer credits.
In addition to the other regulations governing graduation, graduates of the Doctor of Worship Studies program must meet the following requirements:
- Complete 45 hours.
- A minimum of 33 hours must be completed through Liberty University, not to include credits from a prior degree earned through Liberty.
- A maximum of 12 hours of transfer credit, including credits from a degree on the same academic level previously earned through Liberty, may be applied to the degree.
- Required 3.00 GPA.
- No more than two grades of C may be applied to the degree (includes grades of C+/C-).
- No grade of D or lower may be applied to the degree (includes grades of D+/D-).
- For information regarding the repeat policy, please refer to “Course Repeat Policy” in the Academic Information and Policies section of this Catalog.
- Degree must be completed within 7 years.
- Submission of Degree Completion Application must be completed within the last semester of a student’s anticipated graduation date.
Delivery Format: Online Only
- Worship Pastor
- Worship Theologian
- Worship Coach or Analysts
- Worship Counselor and Advisor
- Professor of Worship Studies
- Music and Worship Instructor
A study of the dynamic theological, historical and cultural influences on corporate worship in the evangelical community. Application is made to the influence of worship paradigms and practices of the great revival movements on 21st Century corporate worship. Major emphasis is placed on student-based research and inquiry.
A study of the Biblical, Theological, and Historical foundations for Christian Worship. The Biblical foundations of worship are identified and explored, with attention given to practical integration into the worship practice of 21st Century evangelical culture.
An examination of how different cultures practice worship. Students investigate how worship both influences and is influenced by life as lived within a cultural community or specific ethnic group. Application is made to the role of various art forms (i.e. music, dance, drama, video, visuals, storytelling) have in the proclamation of the gospel and celebration of the Eucharist event.
This course explores the practical integration of theological foundation with modern culture as it relates to 21st century evangelical worship. Specifically, core beliefs that define evangelicals are identified and examined, and are then applied to worship within a variety of national and international ministry contexts.
A study of the many and varied roles and relationships of the worship leader. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between the worship leader and the pastor. Also considered are the relationships between the worship leader and other staff members, singers, instrumentalists, and the congregation. In addition to required reading, significant research within the evangelical community, and application to various worship ministries, students are required to complete 10 projects that integrate learned principles and practical application.
This course is a comprehensive study of the purpose and practice of a theology of worship in the Evangelical church community. The study is divided into three parts: 1) cognitive theology that includes the understanding and discovery of a biblical theology of worship and music; 2) personal and professional philosophy derived from the application of theology to worship; and 3) methodology for worship ministry which includes developing a strategy for teaching theology as a worship leader. The class is guided by a series of projects whereby students build a personal theology for private and public worship and then develops a pedagogical paradigm for inclusion of the course material and constructs in a worship curriculum. This course is offered online only.
A study of the current trends and issues related to leadership, music, worship, and culture. Consideration is given to music education standards, technology, and classroom strategies as well as worship models, multi-cultural issues, worship transitions, and worship trends. The course includes research into emerging practices within school districts and universities as well as emerging practices in worship.
This course provides clarification of the various and many pastoral roles of the worship leader in the Evangelical community. Responsibilities worship pastors have to the gospel call and ministry are defined and articulated. Practical application is made through class and small group case studies, interviews, on-location observations, and personal evaluation. Students are required to develop a pedagogical paradigm for inclusion of course materials and constructs in a worship curriculum. This course is offered online only.
An in-depth look at the person and individual growth, development, and spiritual formation. Extensive testing will form the foundation for this course and the results of the testing will be used to develop a growth profile for the individual student.
This is a course that looks at the various responsibilities music educators and worship leaders have in building a community of well-balanced, well-conceived partnerships. Consideration is given to the worship leader's responsibility to build relationships with various ministries in the church, with those in the community and with other worship pastors. Consideration is also given to the music educator's responsibility to build community within the school, within the culture, and with other music educators.
WRSP 880 - Introduction to the Thesis Writing Project (3 hours)
Online Prerequisite: WRSP 889
Designed for the advanced student in good standing who has demonstrated an ability to work independently. This course should/can only be used if a student lacks a seminar for graduation and the needed seminar is not offered in their last semester. If approved, the student will work with the instructor in developing a proposal for guided research in a specific area.
An intensive study in a specific subject of worship studies. This course allows variation in the approach and content of the regular curriculum and often will be used by visiting professors.
WRSP 899 - Worship Self-Study and Apprenticeship (3 hours)
This course focuses on a study of worship practices in the evangelical community. Student and faculty work together to develop and tailor assignment to each student's individual preference, professional goals, needs, and objectives. A 30-50 page major paper demonstrating research ability must be completed. This major project must be practical in application to the student's ministry.