Next cohort begins July 2024

The West Ohio Conference Alford-Cantlin Fellows Doctor of Ministry cohort at MTSO

A partnership between West Ohio and MTSO supports United Methodist clergy who are seeking next-level leadership opportunities.

Methodist Theological School in Ohio offers a special cohort within the MTSO Doctor of Ministry program, in partnership with the United Methodist Foundation of West Ohio and the West Ohio Conference Office of Ministry. The next cohort begins July 2024.

This partnership between West Ohio and MTSO is designed to support United Methodist clergy who are seeking leadership opportunities and academic training focused on transformational change.


West Ohio is seeking a diverse cohort of ordained West Ohio clergy who meet the criteria for admission to the MTSO D.Min. program. Ordained United Methodist clergy of all ages and backgrounds who meet the criteria may apply, and diverse candidates are encouraged to apply. The program welcomes a new cohort every other year.

Known as Alford-Cantlin Fellows, participants receive additional support beyond that provided by their academic program at MTSO, including:

  • peer and family support;
  • one-on-one clergy mentoring;
  • lay mentorship;
  • mental health/wellness support;
  • and scholarship funding.

D.Min. classes begin meeting the week of July 22, 2024. Students may attend either in person or online, thanks to MTSO’s HyFlex education model.


Qualified candidates must meet the following criteria for both enrollment in the MTSO D.Min. program as well as acceptance into the Alford-Cantlin cohort with West Ohio:

  • An M.Div. degree (or its educational equivalent) from a school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.
  • A minimum of five years in professional ministry following graduation from seminary or theological school.
  • Ordained and currently engaged in applicable ministry (such as a parish pastor or a chaplain) in the West Ohio Conference.

The length of the program is three to four academic years. The West Ohio Conference will work with each each potential cohort participant to determine what financial aid they may qualify for, including local church funding, the Ministerial Education Fund and aid from MTSO. West Ohio may offer last-dollar support for up to half of the cost of the program. These funds come from the Alford Endowment and/or Frazer Excellence in Ministry Scholarship of the United Methodist Foundation of West Ohio; the West Ohio Conference is grateful for this financial support toward the continued formation of pastoral leaders.

To maintain scholarship eligibility, program participants will be required to participate in regularly scheduled programming developed for the cohort, including personal mentoring.

Additional support during this experience includes participation in a cohort group for the duration of your studies; invitation to a program orientation event; partnership in maintaining ministry, study and life balance; and one-on-one mentoring.

Application and deadlines

Applicants must complete two processes by May 1, 2024:

  1. Submit all required admissions documents to the MTSO Doctor of Ministry program for Summer 2024. Application for the D.Min. is open now.
  2. Submit the West Ohio Alford-Cantlin Fellows cohort application and scholarship form. The 2024 form will be posted in January 2024. The 2022 form is available for viewing here.

Acceptance decisions for both MTSO and the Alford-Cantlin Fellows cohort (including scholarship awards) will be made by June 14, 2024.

Frequently asked questions

What if I am a clergy member of the West Ohio Conference and already enrolled in MTSO’s D.Min. program?

You are eligible to apply for the Alford-Cantlin Fellows cohort. Please submit the cohort application, and include on your application a statement as to why you want to be a part of the cohort.

What if I am a clergy member of the West Ohio Conference and I am currently enrolled in a D.Min. program at another seminary or theological school?

You may be eligible to apply for the Alford-Cantlin Fellows cohort and transfer to MTSO. You will need to both apply for the cohort and apply for admission to MTSO’s D.Min. program. Your current coursework will be evaluated for transfer eligibility into MTSO’s program.

What if I have not yet been in ministry for five years?

Previous years of service may help fulfill this requirement. Email April Casperson at with questions regarding your specific circumstance.

Further questions?

Please contact MTSO Director of Enrollment Management April Casperson at