Admissions Standards


Admission to Deaconess Studies (M.A. with major in spiritual care plus ministerial formation component leading to certification) ordinarily is contingent on the student’s membership in a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or of a church body in fellowship with the Synod. An applicant is to have been involved actively as a communicant member in a Lutheran congregation for not less than two years prior to enrollment.

College Preparation

Applicants to Deaconess Studies ordinarily must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). The degree should represent a broad liberal arts background and should include courses in English composition, writing, and speech. It also should include courses in the humanities, psychology, social sciences, natural sciences, and religion. Applicants also may find it helpful to take at least one foreign language.

Entry-Level Competencies

All students admitted to Deaconess Studies must demonstrate entry-level competence in the following areas: Old Testament content, New Testament content, and basic Christian doctrine. Competence is demonstrated either by passing the applicable Entry-Level Competence Examinations (ELCEs) with a score of 80 percent or higher by April 30, or by passing the corresponding preparatory courses. The Admissions Department will provide information to all applicants regarding administration of the ELCEs.

The following standards apply to the ECLEs:

  • ELCEs may be taken up to 12 months before the date of beginning Deaconess Studies.
  • 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.
  • The Deaconess Studies program does not require Greek or Hebrew. However, 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 at her own expense if she so desires; 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 courses in the Summer Quarter.