Curriculum Revision

A revised Master of Divinity curriculum has been developed for Concordia Seminary, St. Louis that will take effect in the 2017-18 academic year. The updated Master of Divinity (M.Div.) curriculum will better prepare pastors to lead congregations in the 21st century.

Highlights

  • The new curriculum enhances study of the Scriptures in their original languages and in the Lutheran Confessions as they define our confession of the faith in a new generation.
  • The new curriculum provides a holistic formation program for students that addresses their relational, personal and spiritual growth alongside rigorous theological formation and practical training.
  • In addition to the residential field education and vicarage learning experiences, new service learning components offer students opportunities to connect classroom learning directly to congregational settings.
  • The new curriculum provides for greater electivity in the classic theological disciplines.
  • A more effective biblical language acquisition learning program is integrated across the curriculum that ensures that students leave Concordia Seminary well-equipped to use the languages in their study, preaching and teaching of the Scriptures.
  • For Concordia University System (CUS) students who have completed Greek and Hebrew, the new curriculum gives credit for their academic studies, a less expensive overall program and advanced standing for key course offerings.

FAQs

Download PDF on the Curriculum Revision and Semester Conversion.

We are updating the curriculum for Concordia Seminary, St. Louis’ Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program, which will take effect in the 2017-18 academic year. Specifically, the courses that are being revised are those currently numbered 100-799 (used by Ministerial Formation and Master of Arts [M.A.] students and to some extent, Master of Sacred Theology [S.T.M.] students.)

We developed an updated M.Div. curriculum in response to numerous issues related to emerging needs and opportunities of the congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, as well as the learning, spiritual and personal growth priorities for students. The last comprehensive curriculum revision was in 1958, with significant adjustments and additions in 1978 and again in 1995. It was time for a comprehensive look at the structure, sequence and effectiveness of the program. The goal is to make sure that each student’s time at the Seminary is as productive and formative as possible, ensuring that students learn all that they need to learn within a fiscally viable structure, and that they are fully prepared to serve in their first calls as Lutheran pastors.

Not by any means. The strong biblical and theological foundations of the M.Div. program at Concordia Seminary have always been greatly appreciated by the church and were noted again and again as the faculty heard from graduates, district presidents and laity. The expertise gained over 177 years of teaching biblical truth at Concordia Seminary will continue to be a significant part of the revised curriculum. However, as the curriculum was adjusted by the faculty over the last decades, content began to overlap and it became much more difficult to coordinate courses. We are retaining the fundamentals and adding the elements that will be crucial to our students’ future service as pastors. Courses in the Bible, taught on the basis of the original languages, will continue, as will core courses in the creeds and Lutheran Confessions, Lutheran theology, the history of the church and, in particular, the Lutheran church, and courses in teaching, preaching, outreach and pastoral care will remain vital and significant, both in time and content, in the revised curriculum.

When a plan is drafted for a student, he or she will have an opportunity to review the plan. Where there is an opportunity to take an elective, the student will be able to make this selection.

The new curriculum will take effect in the 2017-18 year. Students admitted to the Seminary beginning May 1, 2016, will be admitted under the updated curriculum.

We are committed to enabling the timely graduation of current students and those who will be enrolled during the 2016-17 academic year. The academic administration will develop an individualized graduation plan that is mapped to the updated curriculum for each current student based on his or her current intended graduation date. The length of each student's program and his or her costs will remain the same.

The academic calendar will be converted from a quarter to a semester basis for all academic programs, including the M.Div. program, in fall 2017 for the 2017-18 academic year. The updated curriculum and the semester conversion are being implemented together as a matter of practicality. (Note: Please click to view FAQs.)

All M.Div. students will be affected. Courses in the Deaconess Studies and Residential Alternate Route programs and, to some extent, Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.), will be conformed to the updated curriculum. No changes are planned at present for the curriculum in other programs. (Note: The Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) curriculum is under a separate review and development process.)

Beginning in November 2013, a committee of faculty members began a formal review of the M.Div. curriculum by researching the needs of congregations, students and the shifting American culture. The faculty used a “backward design” process that focused on the core competencies that a student must achieve in order to graduate and then designed courses and experiences to help students meet those outcomes. The faculty’s goal was to expand and solidify the four M.Div. degree program standards recommended by the Association of Theological Schools:

  1. Personal and spiritual formation
  2. Religious heritage
  3. Ministerial and public leadership
  4. Cultural context

After progressing through the research and various committee review processes, the updated curriculum was formally approved by the faculty in March 2016. The faculty is now involved in designing and naming the courses collaboratively across departments and constructing the syllabi with a goal of completing this task by August 2016.

Thanks to generous donor support and scholarships, the average M. Div. student at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis pays about $3,000 annually for tuition. This is a substantial savings on the published average annual tuition rate of about $25,000. We have worked diligently over the last several years to make tuition costs low for students, and we are committed to keeping tuition costs low in the future.

The faculty added a personal and spiritual growth component to the curriculum that focuses on a student’s personal faith, emotional maturity, moral integrity and public witness. Students will meet weekly in close-knit mentor groups where they can delve more deeply into biblical study and application in a supportive Christian community. The groups will be led by faculty members and will stay the same as the students progress through their studies, fostering deeper relationships among the students as they move from the Seminary into ministry.

Concordia University System students who have completed Greek and Hebrew courses at their universities (earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average) will be able to enroll in some advanced sections, such as “The Gospels” and “Church and World” while in the M.Div. program. They also will be able to earn dual credit toward an S.T.M. degree. They will not have to retake the Seminary’s Greek or Hebrew classes, thus saving time and costs.

A serving/learning requirement during J-term or summers will place students in congregations for three weeks so they can learn leadership and administration skills in a congregational setting. This hands-on learning opportunity will enhance the residential field education and vicarage components of the program.

Absolutely. The faculty’s immense investment in this revision is testimony to its commitment to residential pastoral formation for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Although the Seminary has several tracks that lead to first calls as pastors, the Master of Divinity remains by far the largest and the most consequential. A residential program allows students to learn deeply in ways that are not possible in other pedagogical models. Most students will never again have the opportunity to learn from such gifted faculty, or to worship together regularly with their colleagues in chapel. And, the community formed on campus among students and faculty forges strong relationships that will continue to sustain and support them as pastors for years to come.

Faculty testimonials about the revised curriculum