Pastoral Certificate (PRcert)

The Certificate program (residential) is the alternate route most closely parallel to the M.Div. Students in this program study alongside those in the M.Div. program, including the study of the New Testament on the basis of its original language, Greek. The key differences from the M.Div. program are a reduced number of courses and Old Testament studies carried out on the basis of the English language. Although the Certificate program itself does not lead to a degree, some students in this program also qualify for admission to the Master of Arts program in the Graduate School.



Admission to the Certificate program is contingent on the applicant’s membership in a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Each applicant must meet the criteria of one of the following categories:

  • Men who are graduates of a synodical college/university, whose names appear on the synodical roster of commissioned ministers, and who have accumulated at least eight years of successful experience as commissioned ministers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
  • Men who ordinarily are at least 35 years of age at the time of application, who ordinarily have accumulated at least 10 years of significant experience related directly to Word and Sacrament ministry within The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (elder, lector, evangelism caller, Bible class teacher, etc.), and who ordinarily have completed successfully at least 60 semester hours of college-level course work.

College Preparation

Applicants to the Certificate program at Concordia Seminary ordinarily must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). The degree should represent a broad liberal arts background and must include courses in English composition and writing, and speech. It also should include courses in the humanities, psychology, social sciences, natural sciences, foreign languages (preferably German and/or Latin), and religion.

Entry-Level Competencies

All students admitted to the Certificate program must demonstrate entry-level competence in the following areas: Old Testament content, New Testament content, Christian doctrine, and Biblical Greek. Competence is demonstrated by passing either the applicable Entry-Level Competence Examinations (ELCEs) in each area or the corresponding preseminary courses conducted by Concordia Seminary (see schedule below). A passing score of 70 percent is required on each of the ELCEs. The Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment will provide information to all applicants regarding administration of the ELCEs.

NOTE: The Admissions Committee ordinarily will grant admission to the Certificate program prior to the demonstration of competence in these four areas, with the condition that such admission is subject to the demonstration of competence in these four areas. Consequently, students who have not demonstrated competence in any of the four areas must register for the applicable pre-seminary courses before they will be permitted to enroll in Certificate courses.

The Seminary offers the pre-seminary competence courses according to the following schedule:
Old Testament – Summer Quarter only
New Testament – Summer Quarter only
Christian Doctrine – Summer Quarter only
Elementary Greek – Summer and Fall Quarters only

Please note the following guidelines:

    • One may begin taking the content ELCEs May 1 of the year prior to enrollment, and the language ELCEs August 1 in the year prior to enrollment.
    • A student ordinarily will be afforded as many as three opportunities to pass each ELCE. After an unsuccessful attempt to pass an ELCE, an interval of 21 days must pass before another attempt to pass the same ELCE. This means that fewer attempts will be available to a student as the April 30 deadline approaches. A student who has passed the Old Testament, New Testament, and Christian Doctrine ELCEs by April 30 may register for one of the biblical language classes in the Summer Quarter; Greek is usually taken first.
    • A student who has not passed the Old Testament, New Testament, and Christian Doctrine ELCEs by April 30 should register for any applicable pre-seminary remedial courses in the Summer Quarter.
    • A student who is enrolled in Elementary Greek may exceed 12 credit hours only with the permission of the director of academic programming.
    • A student who is enrolled in Elementary Greek may take Certificate courses only with the permission of the director of academic programming.
    • Elementary Greek (full course) may be repeated only once. If a student fails this course the second time, the student will be dismissed for academic reasons from the certificate program. Such a student may apply for readmission as a Special Student to attempt the course a third time and will be authorized to take the course at the prevailing audit rate but will not be eligible for Seminary-administered financial aid. A student who successfully completes the course on the third attempt may apply for readmission to the certificate program.


All applicants must provide transcript evidence of satisfactory completion of a college course in the preparation and delivery of speeches. Although St. Louis-area community colleges and universities offer such courses, trying to take such a course after arriving at the Seminary may impinge on one’s availability to take the proper Seminary course load. Therefore, applicants are strongly urged to take such a course at an institution in their home area.

Non-Degree Applicants

In a limited number of other cases, applicants without a bachelor’s degree may be admitted as non-degree students. The total number of non-degree students is restricted to a maximum of 10 percent of the total Certificate student body; therefore, non-degree admissions are highly competitive. Admission decisions regarding non-degree applicants for each academic year are made in the preceding April. In addition to meeting all other admission requirements, non-degree students:

    1. Must have reached age 35 by September 1, prior to their enrollment;
    2. Must cite circumstances (age, family, finances, etc.) that indicate it is unrealistic to expect them to obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to their enrollment;
    3. Must have received grades of “C” or better in courses that earned at least 60 semester hours of credit (90 quarter hours) at an accredited college or university, with the following minimum numbers of credits in specific areas:
      1. 12 in English and humanities (composition, communication, journalism, literature, art, drama, music, philosophy, foreign languages—also Greek);
      2. 2 in public speaking;
      3. 15 in social sciences (anthropology, economics, education, history, political science, psychology, sociology);
      4. 6 in science/mathematics (biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physical science); and
      5. 25 in electives.
    4. Must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) for all courses taken, including any for which a grade lower than “C” was received.


Application forms are available from the Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment. An application is not complete until it includes all of the following:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Application Fee of $50
  • Official Transcripts from each college/ university and seminary previously attended
  • Letter of Recommendation from Home Pastor
  • Letter of Recommendation from District President
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation from presidents of synodical colleges/universities attended
  • Interview Report from Home District
  • Protect My Ministry background check

All admissions to the Certificate program are offered subject to the completion of pre-seminary competencies and to the completion of all application requirements, e.g., official final transcripts from all post-secondary institutions previously attended. A student who continues to have missing items may be prevented from registering for courses until all requirements are complete. The application deadline for Summer/Fall 2016 is March 31, 2016.

Admissions Standards & Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are based on multiple criteria; each applicant’s overall record is examined in detail.

Academic criteria include an ordinary minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale), and an ordinary minimum GRE Verbal raw score of 400. An applicant will not be declined solely on the basis of a non-qualifying GPA or GRE score. In the case of international applicants, an ordinary minimum TOEFL raw score of 200 (computer-based test) is required, with an ordinary minimum raw score of 23 on the Structure/Writing portion of the test. Again, however, an applicant will not be declined solely on the basis of one non-qualifying score or measure.

Entry-level competencies are admissions standards. Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete as many as they are able before their application goes to the Admissions Committee. Demonstration of competence in one or more of the areas of entry-level competence enhances the application not only by the demonstration of competence as such, but also by emphasizing the applicant’s interest in and commitment to ministerial formation at Concordia Seminary.

Additional criteria include the results of the applicant’s background check; recomendation from the applicant’s pastor and interview report from the synodical district in which the applicant resides. The care and completeness with which an applicant prepares the application and responds to its questions also are factors—sloppily prepared applications, including incomplete responses, suggest indifference.

The districts of the Synod have begun to apply increasing scrutiny to the education and other debt balances of pastor and deaconess candidates from the Synod’s seminaries; consequently, it has become necessary for Concordia Seminary to consider more closely the debt load of its applicants, in order to protect its students from the predicament of beginning their ministries with unmanageable debt.

Most favorable admissions decisions are offered “subject to” the presentation of any missing items from the application file, including final transcripts for students who are completing their undergraduate degrees while they apply to Concordia Seminary. Any such items must be completed in accordance with announced deadlines, or the offer of admission may be withdrawn.

Intention to Enroll

An applicant expresses his intention to enroll by submitting a $100 tuition deposit to be received by the Admissions Office no later than 30 days from the date of the applicant’s acceptance letter. Failure to submit the tuition deposit within 30 days of the date of the applicant’s acceptance letter will void the Seminary’s offer of admission, necessitating readmission prior to enrollment. This deposit is refundable if the student submits written notice on or before July 15 indicating that he desires the Seminary to withdraw his admission.

Curriculum & Academic Advising

The curriculum for commissioned ministers requires 103 quarter hours of credit (including vicarage credit), distributed as outlined in Figure 3 (excluding the items in brackets); the curriculum for laymen over 35 requires 112 quarter hours of credit (including vicarage credit), distributed as outlined above (including the items in brackets).

To assist students in understanding the curriculum and their own progress through it, and because of the time constraints of the program, the registrar or the director of academic programming meets with each Certificate program student in advance of registration in order to select courses for the coming term.

Credit Distribution

Exegetical Theology 26 hours
E700 Art of Interpretation 3 hours
EN101 Greek Biblical Readings 2 hours
EO707 Introduction to Old Testament 3 hours
2 Old Testament 700-level electives 6 hours
EN105 The Synoptic Gospels 3 hours
EN106 John and the Catholic Epistles 3 hours
EN107 The Pauline Epistles and Acts 3 hours
1 New Testament 400-level elective 3 hours
Systematic Theology 26 hours
S100 Lutheran Mind 3 hours
S115 Systematics I 3 hours
S116 Systematics II 3 hours
S117 Systematics III 3 hours
S118 Systematics IV 3 hours
S124 Lutheran Confessions I 3 hours
S125 Lutheran Confessions II 3 hours
S126 Religious Bodies of America 3 hours
S127 World Religions 2 hours
Historical Theology 9 hours [12 hours]
H100 Introduction to Historical Theology 3 hours
H130 The Lutheran Reformation 3 hours
H183 The History of the Lutheran Church&emdash;Missouri Synod 3 hours
[1 elective in the area of the Modern Church] [3 hours]
Practical Theology 21 hours [27 hours]
P101 Pastoral Ministry 3 hours
P102 Pastoral Theology 4 hours
P103 Pastor as Counselor to Individuals and Families 3 hours
[P120] [Pastor as Educator] [3 hours]
P130 Homiletics I 3 hours
P131 Homiletics II 3 hours
P140 Worship 3 hours
[P151] [Pastoral Leadership] [3 hours]
1 Homiletics elective 2 hours
Free Elective 3 hours
Vicarage 18 hours

Curricular Practical Training

Certificate program students participate in resident field education (see page 18) and also serve a vicarage (see page 19). Ordinarily, a Certificate program student’s vicarage follows the completion of the student’s resident course work, and the place where he serves his vicarage also ordinarily will become the place of his first ordained ministry.

Resident Field Education

The resident field education program consists of: (1) pre-vicarage, (2) institutional field education, (3) cross-cultural field education, and (4) course-related work.

Congregational field education begins with assignment by the director of resident field education to a congregation in the St. Louis area. The student is placed under the supervision of the pastor of that particular congregation. The program is designed to give the student experience with the role and functions of the pastor of a congregation.

During his first year of studies, the student completes the institutional and cross-cultural modules of resident field education, being assigned to a specific module for a quarter. Each module requires approximately half of the student’s field education time. The student will maintain as much Sunday contact as possible with his field education congregation. Resident field education normally should involve a maximum of eight hours per week for first-year students and 10 hours per week for second-year students. Participation is limited to Sunday morning and an average of one other time period per week.

Orientation seminars for the various modules are conducted at the beginning of the academic year. Time spent in orientation counts toward meeting resident field education time requirements. Field education also is correlated with courses such as P101 Pastoral Ministry, P140 Worship, and P130 Homiletics I.

A student may request assignment to full-time work in a congregation, institution, or camp for eight to 12 weeks during the summer under a qualified supervisor. Various sponsoring agencies submit placement opportunities through the district presidents of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. A student who applies is assigned to such a placement, if available, by the director of resident field education. If acceptable comprehensive reports have been submitted by the student and the supervisor, the student may request to be excused from one of the required quarters of his pre-vicarage congregational resident field education program.

Alternate Route Vicarage

Satisfactory completion of the Certificate Program (Residential) also requires completion of a 12-month vicarage, which follows the academic residency. A minimum cumulative curriculum grade point average (GPA) of 2.35 is required to receive a vicarage assignment.

Vicars are full-time students of Concordia Seminary during the course of the vicarage. Periodic reports are made by the student/vicar and the supervising pastor to the director of vicarage. A total of 18 credit hours is granted to the student upon successful completion of the vicarage.

Academic Standards, Dismissal, Withdrawal

A minimum cumulative curriculum grade point average of 2.0 is required for the academic certificate, but a minimum of 2.35 is required for certification and conferral of the theological diploma. The same standards and policies apply to students in the Certificate program as to M.Div. students.

Certification & Placement

Faculty Certification

A student must spend at least one full year at a synodical seminary prior to his placement and serve a vicarage assigned by the Board of Assignments of the Synod. Also, in order for a student to be declared qualified for a first call and recommended by the faculty for the Office of the Public Ministry, the faculty must be satisfied that the student will meet all personal, professional, and theological requirements of the office.

After the Division of Ministerial Formation has expressed satisfaction that the student is ready for the certification process, the student enters the certification process. The Director of Certification recommends certification to the plenary faculty; all students are approved by vote of the faculty in plenary session.


A candidate declared qualified for a first call shall have indicated complete dedication to the ministry and evidenced a readiness for service in the church. He shall receive his first call through an assignment by the Council of Presidents acting as the Board of Assignments of the Synod.

Download Forms

Gainful Employment Disclosure

View the Gainful Employment Disclosure.