Doctor of Intercultural Studies

Further the cause of world missions through advanced study, training and research.

Program at a Glance

  • Program Credits:

    40 semester credits

  • Class Formats:

    • Hybrid (2 weekends plus online)
    • Online (up to 50%)
    • On campus intensive (2 weeks in the summer)
    • Chiang Mai Thailand intensive (2 weeks in January)
  • Average Completion Time:

    4.5-5.5 years

  • Accreditation:


  • Location:

    La Mirada, California, and up to half the credits in Chiang Mai, Thailand or Switzerland, depending on enrollment

Tuition & Financial Aid

Find information about tuition and financial aid opportunities.

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This professional doctoral degree further equips workers already engaged in a cross-cultural or multicultural setting by deepening their understanding and application of lessons from history, theology and the social sciences. Many graduates of this program continue in their present vocational placement; others assume positions of leadership or of teaching and training others. Cook’s Doctor of Intercultural Studies (D.I.S.) may be completed wholly on campus, up to 50 percent in Thailand and Switzerland depending on enrollment, and up to 50 percent online.

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average.

  2. An appropriate accredited master's degree of which at least 9 credits will be in biblical and theological studies. A 3.00 GPA in their previous studies is required for admission.

  3. Demonstrate three years of cross-cultural or multicultural ministry experience.

  4. Present evidence of second language acquisition as needed for their capstone project.

  5. Writing: Applicants must submit a one-two page statement outlining their vocational objectives and how the degree will relate to those objectives, with possible capstone project idea included. Submit a writing sample in the form of an essay or research paper. Applicants should attach written statements to the application.

  6. Three letters of references on forms supplied by the school are required.

  7. Official transcripts for all previous schools attended are required.

  8. Conduct an oral interview with either the program director or his designate (may be completed over the phone).

  9. Application and all required materials must be submitted for fall by January 31, for spring by August 31. Applications may be submitted after deadlines, along with an application fee of $65, but will only be considered if space and time allow. Late applications may be postponed to later terms.

Note: Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student’s academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.

Program Requirements

The Doctor of Intercultural Studies program requires a minimum of 40 credits in addition to the master's degree, with 36 credits of coursework and 4 credits for the capstone project. The 36 credit component of the program contains 6 credits of foundational courses, 6 credits of theological integration, 18 credits of intercultural studies specialization courses and 6 credits of research methods. Students are encouraged to integrate each modular into their capstone project. A faculty advisor will guide each student in planning a program of courses to serve his or her ministry needs. Students are expected to choose courses most appropriate to their research interest and will select a mentor from the graduate faculty to guide their capstone project. Admission into the graduate program of the Cook School of Intercultural Studies does not guarantee completion of the doctoral degree.

Below are some of the courses you’ll have an opportunity to take as a student in this program. Note: This list is intended to give you a quick glimpse into the program’s academic offerings, and should not be used as a guide for course selection or academic advising. For official program requirements see catalog for details.

Foundational Courses (7 credits)

ISCL 700 Orientation to Graduate Intercultural Studies 1

Choose 2 of the following courses: 

ISCL 709 Intercultural Communication 3
ISCL 742 History of the World Christian Movement 3
ISAN 761 Culture and Transformation 3
ISCL 765 Cross-cultural Leadership 3

Bible/Theology Courses (6 credits)

Choose 2 of the following courses: 

ISCL 722

Spiritual Conflicts in Cross-cultural Context

or ISCL 724 Issues in Spiritual Warfare  
ISCL 744 Narrative in Scripture & Teaching 3
ISCL 751 Theology of Mission 3
ISCL 752 Acts: Biblical & Missiological 3
  Bible/Theology elective 3

Specialization Courses (18 credits)

Choose 6 of the following courses (without duplicating above): 

ISAN 721

Anthropological Theory in Practice

or ISCL 853 Theoretical Issues in Cross-cultural Engagement  
ISAN 731 Culture, Cognition and Worldview 3
or ISCL 852 Contemporary Issues in Cognitive Anthropology and Worldview Studies  
ISAN 702 Social Organization 3
or ISAN 751 Social Anthropology  
ISAN 761 Culture and Transformation 3
ISCL 703 Curriculum Design for Intercultural Contexts 3
ISCL 727 Principles of Church Multiplication 3
ISCL 732 Church Planting Models & Strategies 3
ISCL 735 Principles of Church Growth 3
ISCL 742 History of the World Christian Movement 3
ISCL 744 Narrative in Scripture & Teaching 3
ISCL 750 Contextualization 3
ISCL 765 Cross-Cultural Leadership 3
ISCL 801 Method & Theory in Intercultural Studies 3
ISCL ___

Tutorial or Elective


Research Courses: (6 credits)

ISCL 872 Foundations of Doctoral Research 3
ISCL 883 Action-Reflection Research 2
or ISCL ISCL 879 Research Design  

Capstone Project: (4 credits)

ISCL 880 Dissertation/Capstone Project 2
ISCL 881 Dissertation/Capstone Project Proposal 2

Time Limit for Degree Completion

All course and academic requirements for the Doctor of Intercultural Studies degree must be completed within 7 years, beginning on the date of the student’s first registration. Petitions for extension beyond 7 years will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students who may need extensive time on the field.

Withdrawal & Readmission Procedures

A student who must drop out of school or is planning to return to field service must go through the formal withdrawal process. To return to active status the student should contact the program director and file a readmission form with the admissions office.

Leave of Absence

Inactive students are those who have requested and been granted leave of absence from the program. A leave of absence may be granted upon petition for change of status if there is deemed sufficient reason for interrupting the program and intention to return to the program. A leave of absence must be renewed by petition each semester and may not exceed two consecutive semesters. A leave of absence longer than two semesters will require withdrawal from the program and a petition for readmission if the student later wishes to regain active status. Each leave of absence must receive the approval of the student’s program advisor and the dean of the school. Students on leave are required to register for ISCL 893 leave of absence each term.

Oral Interview

If needed, an oral interview with a faculty committee may be held to evaluate a student’s progress and potential for successful completion of the doctoral program. The interview will be scheduled after at least one significant piece of written work demonstrating the student’s skill in research writing is completed. The result of the interview will determine the student’s status within the program.

Admission to Candidacy

Students who successfully pass their course requirements reach candidacy and must complete a  capstone project prior to graduation. During the capstone project phase doctoral students are considered full time for a maximum of two years.

Candidates will select a chairperson from Cook’s graduate faculty to guide their capstone project.

If the doctoral candidate has not defended the capstone project by the time the 4 capstone project credits are completed, the candidate must enroll continuously for 0 credits of ISCL 880 Dissertation/Capstone Project, each semester until graduation.

Capstone Project

The capstone project process begins with approval of a candidate's proposal before one's doctoral committee prior to beginning the student's field research. It is based upon ministry reflection and is expected to demonstrate the candidate's capacity to enhance ministry practice in its cultural context.

Final Oral Examination

The final examination is an oral defense of the capstone project before the doctoral committee and other invited guests.

Graduation Requirements

All students must present an acceptable capstone project and have completed all required coursework with a minimum 3.00 GPA to qualify for graduation.

Careers for those who have a Doctor of Intercultural Studies:

  • Professor at a university in the USA
  • Adjunct professor
  • Missionary
  • Missions pastor
  • Founder/CEO of a business
  • Seminary professor at a foreign university
  • CEO/Founder of a missions organization
  • Pastor
  • CEO of an international business


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