Online Deaconess Studies (ODS)

Concordia Seminary’s Online Deaconess Studies (ODS) program prepares women to share the Gospel through works of mercy, spiritual care and teaching the Christian faith in congregations, hospitals, nursing homes, social service organizations and foreign missions. The four-year distance education program leads to certification as a commissioned deaconess in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

The integrated curriculum includes 16 master’s-level courses offered one at a time in a live, online format. Students are required to participate in three activities on campus: orientation at the beginning of the program, and formation seminars midway and again near the end of the program.

Students serve as interns in their location of service upon entering the program and beginning course work. Online deaconess students are advised by and supervised by Ministerial Formation. At the end of the program, students are eligible to receive deaconess certification and placement as a deaconess in the LCMS.


Applicants must be active members of a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation, and have been active members of an LCMS congregation or church body in fellowship with the LCMS for at least two years before enrolling in the Online Deaconess Studies (ODS) program.

Each applicant must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be committed to the Lutheran confession of faith and willing to uphold the doctrine of the LCMS.

College Preparation

All Online Deaconess Studies (ODS) courses are taught at the master’s degree level and, as such, applicants should have the experience and capability to study at this level.

Students who qualify and want to receive a Master of Arts (M.A.) (Spiritual Care Major) after completing the program must have a bachelor’s degree.

For more information, review the Academic Catalog and Entry Level Competency Exam requirements.

Online Deaconess Studies (ODS) Curriculum

Course 1 PRA471 Introduction to Deaconess Ministry
Course 2 PRA472 Introduction to Spiritual Care
Course 3 SYS471 The Master Narrative
Course 4 SYS472 Creedal Themes
Course 5 SYS473 Lutheran Distinctions
Course 6 PRA473 Spiritual Care of Women
Course 7 PRA474 Teaching the Faith
Course 8 SYS474 Means of Grace
Course 9 SYS475 Lutheran Confession of Faith
Course 10 EXE471 Scripture and Faith
Course 11 EXE472 Old Testament Theology
Course 12 EXE473 New Testament Theology
Course 13 HIS471 The Lutheran Reformation
Course 14 PRA475 Teaching the Word to Women
Course 15 EXE474 The Church and Its Life
Course 16 PRA476 Deaconess as Leader and Theologian

Students serve as interns in their location of service upon entering the program and beginning course work. The internship is supervised by a qualified LCMS rostered church worker. For more information, please contact

Paths to Certification

At Concordia Seminary, there are two residential degree routes: The Master of Arts (M.A.) with Deaconess Certification and the dual-degree Master of Arts (M.A.) with Deaconess Certification + Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) Program. There are also three additional paths to certification via distance and extension education through the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS), the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) and the Deaconess Studies Program (Online-ODS).

Additional Programs and Opportunities