Brandon R. Grafius

Director of the Urban Ministry Diploma

Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies


The Urban Ministry Diploma Program (UMD) is a non-degree course of study in theology and ministry designed for clergy and laypeople. The aim of the program is to provide theological and ministerial training that is concise, practical, specific to urban church ministry—and that is multicultural, cross-cultural, and ecumenical in focus. It is intellectually and spiritually empowering for leaders and laity in any Christian tradition, who work in an urban context. The only requirement for entrance is a High School Diploma or GED, as well as a passion for ministry. Students who excel in the UMD program may be admitted into one of ETS’s Master’s programs, even without a Bachelor’s Degree.

The program, begun in 1994 as the Christian Ministry Diploma Program (CMD), targeted persons who desired a seminary-type educational experience that would ordinarily be out of their reach. To meet this need, the UMD Program offers alternative seminary ministry training that embraces and reflects the heart and soul of the city and surrounding communities. Each of the six courses includes 40 hours of classroom instruction over a ten week period.

Application Information

Our recruitment team and admissions personnel are ready to assist you. To apply for the Urban Ministry Diploma program, please prepare and submit the following:

  • Online Application

  • A non-refundable application fee of $45.00 must be paid at the time of submitting the application. Your application will not be processed until payment has been received. 

  • A copy of your High School Diploma or GED Certificate.

  • Official transcripts from any undergraduate institutions attended (if any) should be mailed directly from the institution(s) to ETS. Student-issued transcripts are not acceptable. All transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope. 

  • Two letters of recommendation. At least one must be from a pastor, others may be from co-workers, professors, fellow parishioners, or anyone else qualified to speak about your academic abilities or your spiritual gifts. If you have a difficult time obtaining the letters of recommendation, please contact the admissions office. All references must be submitted to ETS in sealed envelopes.

An interview with the Program Director may be required based on an evaluation of your completed admission file. The final admission decision will be made by the Admissions Committee on a rolling basis.

Apply today to take the next step into your future.  We look forward to talking with you soon.


The UMD program requires six 4-credit courses. Each course is offered once per year. In addition, the program requires the student to take two ten-hour workshops, offered at various times and on various topics throughout the academic year.











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Ecumenical Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools​ in the United States and Canada, and the following degree programs are approved: MDiv, MA, MA in Pastoral Ministry, DMin.

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