Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

LSTC >> Academics >> Degrees

Master of Divinity Program

The master of divinity degree (M.Div.) prepares persons for ordained ministry and for pastoral and religious leadership in congregations and other settings. Upon graduation, recipients of the degree will be able to:

  1. articulate their personal understanding of the Christian faith in relation to the world in which they live;
  2. interpret responsibly the classic sources and traditions of the faith (the Bible, Church history, doctrine);
  3. express their faith in effective practices of ministry and leadership.

Academic coursework for the M.Div. may be completed in three years plus one summer of clinical pastoral education. For full-time students preparing for ordained ministry in the ELCA, the M.Div. is designed to be completed in four years. The first two years focus on building a strong biblical and theological foundation for ministry and strengthening pastoral skills through arts of ministry courses and contextual education. The third year is spent on internship, engaged in full time ministry. The final year is spent on campus integrating the internship experience and supplementing it with further academic study. LSTC welcomes part-time students as well, and works with them to develop a course of study.

Program Outline

Note: Requirements listed in bold can be met by a choice between two or more courses.

Biblical Studies History/Theology Ministry Field Work
  1. Hebrew
  2. Pentateuch-Wisdom
  3. Prophets
  4. Greek
  5. Pauline Epistles
  6. Jesus & the Gospels
  7. Advanced Exegesis
  1. Church History I
  2. Church History II or American Lutheran Church History
  3. Lutheran Confessions
  4. Systematic Theology I
  5. Systematic Theology II
  6. Constructive Theology Seminar
  1. Worship
  2. Preaching
  3. Educational Ministry
  4. Pastoral Care
Interdisciplinary and Core Area Options
  1. Communities of Color
  2. Ethics
  3. World Religions
  4. Leadership for Mission and Public Life
  5. Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar (team-taught)
Growth in Faith
Electives: 4
Total Courses: 27

*Required for ELCA candidates for word and sacrament ministry

Core Area Requirements

Included in the LSTC M.Div. core curriculum is the area requirements component. M.Div. students will find a variety of courses that will fulfill the following area requirements:

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.

Senior Interdisciplinary Seminar

Courses which fulfill this area option are designed to build upon students' internship experiences and to deepen their knowledge and skills in at least two theological disciplines. In order to model an interdisciplinary approach, the courses are normally team-taught by professors representing different theological disciplines (e.g., "Preaching the Gospel of John" is team-taught by a professor in the Bible division and a professor of homiletics).

Growth in Faith

Growth in Faith (GIF) activities include non-graded workshops and retreats on the expressions and practices of spirituality from various enduring Christian traditions. Activities focus on soul care and nurturing intimacy with the loving mystery of God revealed in Christ. M.Div. students are required to participate in five of the scores of options that will be available to them during the course of their study. First year students are requested to participate in a special GIF activity designed for members of their entering class. Growth in Faith activities are open to LSTC students whatever their degree program or curriculum. Family members of students and LSTC faculty and staff may also participate. LSTC also provides for monthly spiritual direction sessions as part of the Growth in Faith program. The Cornelsen Director of Spiritual Formation supervises the GIF program.

Field Work

Clinical Pastoral Education

In this supervised experience of pastoral ministry, students undertake direct ministry to people, report and evaluate these experiences, and receive feedback from peers and supervisors in the context of a small-group setting. M.Div. students usually take clinical pastoral education following the first year of study. The field education office assists students to find placement in one of the more than 300 centers throughout the United States. An urban ministry setting is available through the Urban CPE Program.

Clinical pastoral education is open to students in any degree program.

Ministry in Context

In the second year of full-time study, students participate in a field ministry placement in which they experience firsthand how a particular congregation and its leaders cope with the challenges and celebrate the joys of ministry. This supervised ministry course involves seven hours of field experience per week and a two-hour monthly seminar. The course is led by the Director of Field Education.


A distinctive feature of Lutheran theological education for candidates for ordained ministry is a 12-month internship, usually taken in the student's third year of a four-year program. The goals of the internship experience are to:

  • help students fine-tune the discernment of their call by identifying strengths and weaknesses of their preparation,
  • explore various models and styles of doing ministry,
  • determine what should be emphasized in the final year of study.

Students on internship are engaged in as wide an experience of pastoral ministry as can be arranged. The seminary's program ensures that interns receive the opportunity to serve and learn in the nine areas which the ELCA Constitution designates as primary functions of congregational ministry: worship, education, preaching, pastoral care, social ministry, evangelism, stewardship, ecumenism, and administration. Specific projects designed to cover significant topics not dealt with elsewhere in the curriculum are included. All candidates for internships also participate in two workshops on ministry before the internship year and upon return to campus engage in a senior interview in which students reflect with faculty members on the learning and experience gained on internship and prepare for the final stages of the process that leads to graduation and ordination.

For M.Div. students who are diaconal ministry candidates, the diaconal field studies and internship requirement substitutes for the 12-month internship that focuses on preparation for ordained ministry.

The internship program is open to any student who wishes to apply. The field education office will work with students from other denominations who are seeking to meet their denomination's field study requirements.

Page last modified Mar 24, 2016