Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP)

Concordia Seminary’s Specific Ministry Pastor program is a four-year distance education program that prepares men for pastoral ministry in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The program was established by the LCMS in 2007.

It is contextual in that students receive their academic training in the setting where they will continue to serve following ordination. They work with local pastor-mentors who support and guide them in the program and who provide day-to-day guidance, encouragement and prayer.

SMP courses are supported by state-of-the art technology which engages the students with their instructors and with fellow students while building an interactive learning community. Each course includes a blend of internet-based instruction, mentor interaction, practical ministry application and two hours each week of live instruction by the instructor and interaction with fellow students.

The SMP program is designed to meet the needs of the church for pastors in mission and ministry opportunities where a pastor with a seminary degree may not be available. (And it is doing so in surprising ways.)

In order to be eligible for the SMP program, men must be serving in a ministry of a Lutheran congregation which desires their service as a pastor. They must be nominated for the program by their LCMS district president. Based upon this nomination and their previous ministry experiences, the men begin their academic work as concurrent-deferred vicars.

After two years of vicarage and nine classes they become eligible for ordination in the specific ministry where they are serving following certification by the faculty of Concordia Seminary. They are then required to take two more years of classes in order to complete the basic SMP program.

PLEASE NOTE: With the change to semesters in the fall of 2017, courses now taken in the Winter Term will be taken as on-campus one-week intensives in January of each year. (Previously such intensives were optional opportunities where possible.) Students should be aware that this will mean an extra trip to St Louis, with travel and accommodation costs, each January.

In January 2017 (still under the current quarter system), all courses will be offered as intensives in January, with 102, 106, and 114 as optional. SMP-104, 108, 110, 112, and 116 (concluding seminar) will only be offered as intensives.

Information and Timeline for 2016-17 Academic Year

A. Admissions

Application forms and information are provided via the links below.

NOTE: Deadline dates are firm and are for the receipt of complete applications, submitted through the office of the LCMS district president to the Seminary. Complete applications (with all approvals and attachments) should be mailed as soon as possible, but no later than one week prior to the deadline date.

  • Applications are sent FROM the LCMS district office.
  • Applications are sent TO the admissions office of Concordia Seminary.

Applications for the fall cohort which are received by the deadline will be presented at the July meeting of the Admissions Committee (ordinarily the second Monday of the month).

Applications for the spring cohort which are received by the deadline will be presented at the December meeting of the Admissions Committee (also the second Monday of the month).

The application deadline is about a month before the deadline for completing the three Entrance Level Competency Exams (ELCE). Any acceptance will be contingent on a passing score on all three exams by this second deadline.

Complete applications submitted in advance of the application deadline will be eligible for earlier decision. All applications will be considered, and cohorts will be filled, by priority of the date received, subject to the passing of all competency exams (ELCE in OT, NT and Doctrine). Incomplete applications and those received after the deadline will be given priority for the next cohort date (fall for spring cohort, spring for fall cohort).

District offices should also inform the Seminary of potential and forthcoming applications to assist in planning and timely processing of applications.

1. Fall 2016 Cohort:

Application deadline: May 31, 2016
ELCE deadline: June 30, 2016
Vicarage application deadline: June 30, 2016
NOTE: Completed applications for fall 2016 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by May 31, 2016. Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

The complete application must be received by the Seminary no later than the due date. All ELCEs (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. June 30.

Students who are accepted and will begin in fall 2016, along with their pastor/mentor, will be required to attend the orientation seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus, Aug. 30 – Sept. 2, 2016, from “noon-to-noon” (opening session at 1 p.m. Aug. 30, concluding at noon Friday, Sept. 2.

PLEASE NOTE: With the change to semesters in the fall of 2017, courses now taken in the Winter Term will be taken as on-campus one-week intensives in January of each year. (Previously such intensives were optional opportunities where possible.) Students should be aware that this will mean an extra trip to St Louis, with travel and accommodation costs, each January.

2. Spring 2017 Cohort:

Application deadline: Oct. 31, 2016
ELCE deadline: Nov. 30, 2016
Vicarage application deadline: Nov. 30, 2016
NOTE:  Completed applications for spring 2016 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by Oct. 30, 2015.* Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

*The complete application must be received by the Seminary no later than the due date. All ELCEs (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30, 2016.

Students who are accepted and will begin in spring 2016, along with their pastor/mentors, will be required to attend the orientation seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus in February. These dates are tentatively set for Feb. 6-8, 2017.

PLEASE NOTE: With the change to semesters in the fall of 2017, courses now taken in the Winter Term will be taken as on-campus one-week intensives in January of each year. (Previously such intensives were optional opportunities where possible.) Students should be aware that this will mean an extra trip to St Louis, with travel and accommodation costs, each January.

3. Fall 2017 Cohort:

Application deadline: May 31, 2017
ELCE deadline: June 30, 2017
Vicarage application deadline: June 30, 2017
NOTE: Completed applications for fall 2016 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by May 31, 2016. Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

The complete application must be received by the Seminary no later than the due date. All ELCEs (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. June 30, 2017.

Students who are accepted and will begin in fall 2017, along with their pastor/mentors, will be required to attend the orientation seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus in early September 2017.

PLEASE NOTE: With the change to semesters in the fall of 2017, courses now taken in the Winter Term will be taken as on-campus one-week intensives in January of each year. (Previously such intensives were optional opportunities where possible.) Students should be aware that this will mean an extra trip to St Louis, with travel and accommodation costs, each January.

B. Term Dates, Seminar Dates, Intensive Weeks

The SMP curriculum follows the 10-week terms of the seminary academic year, as indicated in the Academic Catalog. Courses extend into the week following the final day of each term to allow the tenth journal to be submitted and discussed in the evening online session.

1. Term Dates:

Summer 2016 (Full Term): June 6 – Aug. 19, 2016
– Online sessions: June 6-7 – Aug. 22-23  (no class July 3-4)
– Intensive week:  June 27 – July 1

Fall 2016: Sept. 6 – Nov. 11
– Online sessions: all meet Tuesday, Sept. 6, then Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 12-13 through Nov. 14-15

Winter 2016-17: Nov. 28 – Feb. 17
– Online sessions:  Nov. 28-29 – Feb. 20-21
– Intensive week:  Jan. 9-13, 2017

Spring 2017:  March 6 – May 18
– Online sessions:  March 6-7 – May 22-23 (note: no session April 17-18)

Summer 2017: NOTE: SUMMER 2017 FULL TERM DATES ARE TBD.
– THE SEMESTER CALENDAR BEGINS IN FALL 2017. THIS WILL AFFECT THE PRECEDING SUMMER SCHEDULE AS WELL.
– Intensive week:  July 10-14

2. Intensive Course Weeks:

Note: Intensive courses meet Monday noon through Friday noon.

Summer 2016 intensive week: June 27 – July 1, 2016

January 2017 intensive week: Jan. 9-13, 2017

NOTE: In January 2017 all courses will be offered as intensives in January, with 102, 106, and 114 as optional. SMP-104, 108, 110, 112, and 116 (concluding seminar) will only be offered as intensives.

Summer 2017 intensive week:  July 10-14, 2017

January 2018 intensive week: TBD. PLEASE NOTE: With the change to semesters in the fall of 2017, courses previously taken in the Winter Term will be taken as on-campus one-week intensives in January of each year. Students should be aware that this will mean an extra trip to St Louis, with travel and accommodation costs, each January.

3. Residential Seminars

Note: Residential seminars meet Monday noon through Friday noon.

2016-17:

Fall 2016 (SMP 105 and 109): Oct. 3-7, 2016
– SMP Call Service: Oct. 7, 2016 (9:30 a.m.)

Spring 2017 (SMP 105 and 109):  April 3-7, 2017
– SMP Call Service: April 7, 2017 (9:30 a.m.)

C. 2016-2017 SMP Program Costs

Concordia Seminary’s SMP program consists of 16 courses, which are taught sequentially, one per academic term. These courses are counted as 3-credit-hour courses and are billed as such. During the first two years of the program the student is also a vicar serving in the congregation that has asked him to prepare for the pastoral ministry. The standard vicarage administrative fee is a one-time charge for the entire vicarage, but it is billed over two years.

The SMP fee structure for the 2016—17 academic year is as follows:

  • Tuition: $2,055 per course
  • Noncredit Reintegration: $205
  • Vicarage-Congregational Fee: $605 (billed in two installments)
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Student Technology Fee: $75 per course
  • Residential Seminars: registration fee: $100

Plus travel, housing and meals at individual expense

Students will need to purchase some books; an estimate is $100-200 per course. It is recommended that you budget between $8,000 and $10,000 per year for the SMP program. These costs may be shared by the calling (sending) congregation, district and student.

Additional information

SMP Admissions Criteria
SMP Admissions Sequence
SMP Application Form
District Interview Report Form
SMP Pastor Supervisor’s Position Description
SMP Partnership Covenant
SMP Curriculum
Recommended Field Seminars: Recommended and Suggested Opportunities
SMP Policy Manual

Instructions to Congregations Applying for an SMP Concurrent Vicarage (the “Vicarage Application” is available through your district office. Please contact that office for this form).

Read the Synod resolution that established the SMP program (pdf).

For further information, call 314-505-7764 or write to smp@csl.edu.