Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

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Master of Arts in Theological Studies

The Master of Arts (Theological Studies) degree is the first theological degree for students interested primarily in the academic study of theology. The term "theological studies" refers to the whole spectrum of offerings in the curriculum. The two-year M.A.T.S. program consists of 16 courses. Half of the courses are in classical theological disciplines and half are electives which allows the student to shape the program in any chosen field in the curriculum or with a more generalist approach to theological study. It is an incredibly flexible program.

Students with significant undergraduate work in Bible, church history or systematic theology may petition to substitute more advanced courses for the foundational courses listed below or apply for Credit by Examination.

Program Outline

Bible 1. Pentateuch OR Prophets
2. Gospels OR Paul
History 3. and 4. Two of the following course options:
Church History I
Church History II
Lutheran Confessions
Theology 5. Systematic Theology I
6. Systematic Theology II
Area Options 7. 1 course from listings in Ethics, Communities of Color, World Religions, or Leadership for Mission and Public Life
Ministry None
Summative Evaluation 8. Academic paper as an Independent Study (with a summative evaluation advisor). To be completed in the Spring Semester of the final year of study.
Electives 9. through 16. 8 elective courses
Total Courses 16 total


M.A.T.S. candidates may develop an area of concentration in any discipline or specialization represented by the LSTC faculty. The professors in a specific field of study determine which courses are essential for a concentration in that field and identify pertinent related courses. A concentration requires six courses which may include those used to fulfill M.A.T.S. requirements. At least four of the courses must be electives at the 400 level or above.

Concentration in Theology and Art

This concentration combines theological studies with art studies, including both lecture and studio courses. The seminary offers this concentration in collaboration with the Grünewald Guild, Leavenworth, Washington. Grünewald theologian and artist, Dr. Richard R. Caemmerer Jr., is a member of the auxiliary faculty of LSTC. The curriculum for this concentration normally follows the M.A.T.S. format regarding curricular requirements in biblical studies, historical studies, theological studies, integrative studies, and electives. Students may take several courses in art at the Grünewald Guild. The seminary encourages students to design their own art concentration in consultation with Professor Caemmerer or with the Director of the M.A. programs.


An emphasis is a program of study designed by one or more faculty members that allows students to focus on a specific field of study in order to enhance their ministry preparation or to prepare for further graduate study. LSTC offers multiple emphases, and students are able to design their own emphasis if one does not exist for their area of interest.

Program Options

Credit for Previous Study

M.A.T.S. candidates may petition to gain credit by examination for any of the core course requirements. They may also petition to substitute a more advanced course for the core course if prior coursework has been successfully completed (B or higher) that covers the basic material of the core course.


The seminary strongly encourages its students to make use of the rich variety of courses offered in other Chicago area seminaries. Information about these offerings is available through the ACTS. The registrar publishes a list of courses that are suitable for substitution of core requirements each year.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

M.A.T.S. candidates may receive one elective credit for CPE.

Advanced Standing with Credit

International students who enroll at LSTC for a full academic year may earn the M.A.T.S. degree provided that they are assigned sufficient advanced standing on the basis of previous masters level theological study. Students must complete at least eight courses at LSTC, including the Summative Evaluation, in order to qualify for the M.A.T.S. degree. All students eligible for advanced standing may contact the Director of M.A. programs, who reviews the relevant academic records and determines what advanced standing may be granted.

Dual Degree Program

In consultation with the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, LSTC offers a coordinated program of studies. Students may earn the M.A.T.S. or M.A.M. degree from LSTC and the A.M. degree from the University of Chicago.

Area Options

Communities of Color

This area requirement has a multi-sided intent as it engages students in theological inquiry emphasizing communities of color and communities representing emerging majority cultures to:

  • ensure that all students experience a significant encounter with a cultural/theological heritage different from their own;
  • prepare students for deep dialogue in an increasingly multicultural world;
  • provide opportunities for students to prepare for ministry in a particular community of color.


This area requirement provides an opportunity for students to engage in critical reflection on contemporary issues facing church and society. It is designed in a manner which respects the varieties of preparation students bring to theological study. Students may choose from courses in biblical, social, and theological ethics, as well as courses which address specific issues (e.g., sexual ethics) or which approach ethics through a particular focus (e.g., womanist ethics). Students who have had little exposure to ethical theory are encouraged to begin by taking the introductory (300 level) course.

World Religions

This area requirement addresses the growing opportunity and challenge of living in an interfaith environment. The reality of religious pluralism is not confined to cities like Chicago, which is truly a city of many faiths. It is also increasingly the reality in rural and suburban U.S. contexts as well. Those who live their Christian vocations in this multi-faith world need skills in interfaith dialogue-skills crucial to making a compelling witness of their own faith as well as respectfully learning about the faith of others. Students may focus their work in world religions in a particular area or develop a working knowledge of more than one world religion.

Leadership for Mission and Public Life

Courses in this area are designed to assist students to develop particular leadership skills and thinking processes that help them navigate the challenges of church and community leadership. Theoretical models of leadership as well as practical application will be important elements of these courses. Students may choose from courses such as "Leadership Development for Public Life," "Mission Leadership in the Church," and other offerings.

Page last modified Mar 24, 2016