Master of Sacred Theology Program at Concordia Seminary

Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.)

The purpose of studying for the degree of Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) is to acquire a special competence in some field of theological learning, and to gain skill in effectively using the tools and results of theological research.

The Master of Sacred Theology degree is appropriate for clergy who hold a Master of Divinity degree and seek to do further work. It is more general than the Ph.D. Program. After successfully completing 12 hours of course work and demonstrating competency in a modern foreign research language, the S.T.M. student may submit an application to the Advanced Studies Committee to roll up to the Ph.D. Program.


Applications are considered by the Advanced Studies Committee (ASC) at set times throughout the year. All application materials must be received, in their entirety, by Feb. 28 (Nov. 30 for international students) each year in order for an applicant to be considered for admission.

Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) Requirements

In order for an application to be considered, the following are required:

  • Concordia Seminary, as part of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), adheres to the doctrinal belief and practice that women may not be ordained as pastors. Accordingly, women are not eligible for application to the S.T.M. Program.
  • An applicant must have earned a Master of Divinity degree (or its educational equivalent) from an accredited theological seminary with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).
  • There are no general requirements for foreign language proficiency for the M.A. Program. However, a student whose major is Exegetical Theology will be required to demonstrate proficiency in biblical Greek and biblical Hebrew in order to attend courses conducted in these biblical languages.
  • Previously established language proficiencies expire after five years. The director of the Graduate School must approve the transfer of the established proficiency and report to the registrar at the time of matriculation.
  • An applicant is required to submit scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), which include the analytical writing section. These scores may be no more than five years old.

General Procedures

  • All applications presenting adequate qualifications for acceptance are considered by the ASC and are approved or declined by it.
  • All applications are considered in their totality. It should be noted that a student who meets stated requirements is not in any way assured of admission.
  • Neither grade-point average nor GRE scores are the sole consideration. It should be noted, however, that a grade-point average below the minimum standard or GRE scores below the 50th percentile constitute sufficient cause for declining admission to any of the graduate programs. Scores more than 5 years old may not be submitted for consideration.
  • The procedure for the acceptance of Ph.D. students is more complex than that for the other degrees. The following is the regular procedure:
    • The ASC will rule on the general qualifications of all applicants. All will be placed into one of three categories:
      • Highly qualified and highly recommended
      • Basically qualified
      • Unqualified and declined
    • To develop a greater understanding of the various theological disciplines and how they relate to each other.
    • That department will judge on the possibility of accepting new students into the doctoral program and will report its judgment to the director of the Graduate School. Key will be the availability of an appropriate Doktorvater (doctoral supervisor). Normally, unless the department rules otherwise, each doctoral supervisor should have no more than three active students at any one time.
    • The department may, for various reasons (e.g., manpower), recommend that the applicant consider another department in which to undertake doctoral work.
    • Certain entry-level work also may be required of the incoming student as deemed necessary by either the ASC or the department.

For more information, review the academic catalog and entrance level competency exam requirements.

To be considered a Graduate School applicant, please submit the following items:

  1. Statement of background and intention
  2. A brief essay written in English, on a theological topic of your choice
  3. Three academic references (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis graduates need only submit two academic references)
  4. Transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate credits you have earned. Request an official transcript from each institution and have the registrar mail it to: Graduate School, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105 or
  5. If planning to write a thesis for an S.T.M., please submit a written statement describing in detail a topic you have an interest in pursuing.
  6. A document explaining how you intend to finance your degree work, including living expenses
  7. A recent photograph of yourself. All international applicants to the Seminary must include a clear photocopy of the identification and picture page of their passport.
  8. Statement of previous employment or ministry experience
  9. All applicants are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), which include the analytical writing section. These scores may be no more than 5 years old. The Concordia Seminary number for the GRE is R-6115-0

To apply:

  1. Complete the online application.
  2. Submit a $100 nonrefundable application fee. (The fee is waived for Concordia Seminary graduates and international applicants.)
  3. For applicants whose native language is not English, please submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test scores. The Concordia Seminary number for the TOEFL is R-6115-0.

Submit documents as attachments when submitting your application or send to

There is a size limit of 10MB for each document uploaded with this application and a limit of 10 total documents that may be attached.

All submissions will be acknowledged by our office and recorded in SemNet.

Questions? Contact the Graduate School at 314-505-7100 or

The student must complete a minimum of 24 semester hours of credit beyond the M.Div. degree or its equivalent with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

Each student must declare a major, choosing from Exegetical, Systematic, Historical, or Practical Theology.

The student may not fail more than two courses. If the major is Exegetical Theology, the student must earn at least two semester hours of credit in Old Testament and two semester hours of credit in New Testament.

S.T.M. students should seek graduate advising through the program director. Language proficiency must be demonstrated as described in the Academic Catalog.

Each student will complete the S.T.M. using either the examination option or the thesis option, subject to departmental approval.

S.T.M. Comprehensive Examinations

Students must pass a written comprehensive examination that tests their knowledge and understanding in the major area. Comprehensive exams may be taken at any time but are normally taken during the last semester of course work or after all course work has been completed.

Master of Sacred Theology

Major 12 credits
Free Electives 12 credits
Comprehensive Exam in Major or Thesis 0 credits
Language Requirement: German prior to completion of 12 credits
Total credit hours for Master of Sacred Theology degree 24 credits

All courses of the S.T.M. degree are taken at the 900 level (two credits each).

After completion of 12 hours of 900-level courses, students may apply to the Ph.D. Program (roll-up).

Master of Sacred Theology with Dual Credit Option (M.Div./S.T.M.)

Major 12 credits
Free electives 6 credits*
Comprehensive Exam in Major or Thesis 0 credits
Language Requirement: German prior to completion of 12 credits
Total credit hours for Master of Sacred Theology degree 24 credits

**Students in the dual-credit program may take up to six hours of approved courses (required or not for the M.Div. Program) that may be upgraded to the S.T.M. Program. They may not take 900-level courses while still M.Div. students. The rest of their courses in the S.T.M. Program will be at the 900-level.

Additional Programs and Opportunities