Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

LSTC >> Academics >> Degrees

Master of Theology

The master of theology degree is the first step for those pursuing a Ph.D. at LSTC. Students may also apply for the Th.M. degree only.

Fields of Study

Students in the master of theology (Th.M.) degree program choose from five areas of concentration: Lutheran ministry studies, biblical studies, historical studies, theological studies, and world Christianity and mission.

The Th.M. in Lutheran ministry studies is designed for students who desire to acquire the knowledge, insight, and skills needed for visionary leadership in Lutheran ministry for today’s world. This degree program provides an attractive option for LSTC affiliates who have completed their M.Div. or equivalent at another institution and are spending their Lutheran year at LSTC. Download brochure about TH.M. degree in Lutheran Ministry Studies

The program offers a degree in biblical studies in two forms, one of which includes work in both the Old and the New Testament, the other concentrating in one testament. The student in historical studies may work generally on the history of the Christian tradition or may concentrate on a particular period or problem.

Theological studies in the Th.M. program consist primarily of work in contemporary theology with extensive attention to its historical background.

The program in world Christianity and mission involves students in missiology, ecumenics, cultural environment, and world religions, as well as in the relation of the church to the social and political situation in various areas of the world. Those on furlough from overseas ministries may find this program of special interest.

General Requirements and Time Limit

Requirements in the Th.M. program include:

  • six courses at the advanced graduate level,
  • one or two biblical languages or a modern research language, depending on area of study, and
  • a comprehensive examination.

Students must complete all requirements for the Th.M. degree within four years from the date of their first course registration.

Advanced Standing

The division in which students are engaged in Th.M. work may grant advanced standing of one semester course from an accredited institution outside of ACTS or the University of Chicago. Decisions concerning the transfer of credits into the Th.M. program are generally made after the first semester of studies at LSTC. The quality of the student's work must warrant such consideration and the division must judge the courses to be at a level comparable to those offered by LSTC.


In each field, the curriculum for the master's degree consists of six courses in the chosen field and in related areas determined in consultation with the faculty advisor. The normal load for a full-time student is three courses per semester. Th.M. students may consider pursuing the degree on a part-time basis, one course per semester for three years for example, or in a combination of part-time and full-time study. International students with F-l or J-l status must pursue a full-time course of study because of U.S. government regulations. For some first-year international students, two courses and intensive English instruction per semester may be considered full-time study.

Courses may be chosen from the University of Chicago and the offerings of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS), the ecumenical consortium of which we are a part.

The essential elements of the curriculum are divided into three components of the graduate program: 1. Courses, 2. Exams, 3. Dissertation. Each of these three elements is weighted equally and together build a successful program.

A full time student taking three courses per semester can plan to finish the program in approximately four to five years to finish the PhD program. Although this pace is possible, every student takes the program at his or her own pace.

Language Requirement

In all fields students must show competence at a scholarly level in the English language, which is the primary language used in the program of studies. Students studying both Old and New Testaments must be competent in both Greek and Hebrew for admission into the program, while those concentrating in the Old Testament must be competent in Hebrew and those concentrating in the New Testament in Greek. Advanced competence in the requisite biblical languages must be demonstrated through examination before the comprehensive examination.

In historical and theological studies and in world Christianity and mission, students for whom English is not a primary language may petition to have English count as their modern research language. Students for whom English is the primary language normally select German as their modern research language. Competence in the selected research language must be demonstrated through examination before the comprehensive examination.

Transfer from the Th.M. to the Ph.D. Program

Students in the Th.M. program who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree must submit a written petition along with any other materials required by the division and take the Th.M. examination at the qualifying level. In successful cases, this examination serves as the Ph.D. qualifying examination, and students receive credit for courses taken during the Th.M. program as part of the twelve courses required for the doctorate.

Page last modified Mar 24, 2016