Academic Programs

Master of Divinity Courses

Bible (28)
BI 301 Old Testament Survey (2)
BI 311 Pentateuch & History (3)
BI 321 Psalms & Wisdom Literature (3)
BI 331 Prophets (3)
BI 302 New Testament Survey (2)
BI 341 Synoptic Gospels (3)
BI 351 Gospel of John/Johannine Literature (3)
BI 361 Pauline Epistles 1 (3)
BI 362 Pauline Epistles 2 (3)
BI 371 Pastoral Epistles (3)

Theology & History (25)
ST 300 Lutheran Hermeneutics (2)
ST 301 Creation and the Triune God (3)
ST 302 Jesus Christ the Savior and the Triune God (3)
ST 303 Holy Spirit and the Life of the Church (3)
ST 310 The Lutheran Confessions (3)
ST 401 The Theology of Martin Luther (2)
HI 301 Church History 1: To the Reformation (3)
HI 302 Church History 2: The Reformation (3)
HI 303 Church History 3: Since the Reformation (3)

Practical Theology (23)
PT 301 Homiletics I (3)
PT 302 Homiletics II (3)
PT 311 Worship (3)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 1 (.5)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 2 (.5)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 3 (.5)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 4 (.5)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 5 (.5)
PT 321 Being a Pastor 6 (.5)
PT 331 Introduction to Pastoral Care (3)
PT 341 Introduction to Children & Family Ministry (2)
PT 351 Introduction to Youth Ministry (2)
PT 361 Introduction to Senior Adult Ministry (2)
PT 371 Introduction to Education (2)

Mission/Evangelism (8)
ME 301 Foundations of Evangelism (2)
ME 302 Church Planting (2)
ME 303 Effective Lutheran Witness (2)
ME 304 Community Building & Outreach (2)

Parish Service
Certificate Courses

Lutheran Hermeneutics (2)
(or) The Theology of Martin Luther (2)
Old Testament Survey (2)
New Testament Survey (2)

Systematic Theology
Creation and the Triune God (3)
Jesus Christ the Savior and the Triune God (3)
Holy Spirit and the Life of the Church (3)
The Lutheran Confessions (3)

Practical Theology
Homiletics I (3)
Homiletics II (3)
Worship (3)
Introduction to Pastoral Care (3)
* Introduction to Youth Ministry (2)
* Introduction to Senior Adult Ministry (2)
* Introduction to Child/Family Ministry (2)
* Introduction to Education (2)

* Any two courses in this series

Lutheran Year Courses

Lutheran Hermeneutics (2)
(or) The Theology of Martin Luther (2)

Systematic Theology
Creation and the Triune God (3)
Jesus Christ the Savior and the Triune God (3)
Holy Spirit and Life of the Church (3)
The Lutheran Confessions (3)

Church History 2: The Reformation (3)

Practical Theology
Homiletics II (3)
Worship (3)

Doctor of Ministry Courses

Year 1
Course 1 – The Law/Gospel Hermeneutic
Course 2 – The Law/Gospel in Preaching
Independent Study – Paper Project

Year 2
Course 1 – L/G in Pastoral Care/Education
Course 2 – L/G in Leadership
Independent Study – Thesis Proposal

Year 3
Course 1 – L/G in Evangelism
Course 2 – Elective
Independent Study – Thesis Defense

Mission Developer Courses

Semester One: Foundations

Semester Two: Entering the field
(Identification and Invitation)

Semester Three: Incorporation

Semester Four: Involving

Master of Divinity

The Master of Divinity program prepares pastors and missionaries to bear witness to the saving work of God in Jesus Christ. This 84 credit program is built on a firm foundation of biblical and theological studies, while also training students in the practice of parish ministry and mission development.

Students engage in their studies while simultaneously working in a parish context under the direction of a mentoring pastor and congregation. This method provides students with the opportunity to put their learning directly to work. The internship requirements of the program are built into the curriculum, to be completed throughout the term of enrollment.

Master of Divinity Program Requirements


  • Bachelor’s Degree (2.5 GPA)

Contextual Requirements

  • Mentoring congregation
  • Pastoral mentor

Degree Requirements

  • 84 credit hours
  • Internship/field education


  • $350/mo annually for duration of enrollment (up to 6 classes per semester)
  • or $350 per credit hour (3 credit course), 375 per credit hour (2 credit course).
  • Independent Study where applicable add $100 per course

Parish Service Certificate

In a variety of contexts, the Holy Spirit raises up leaders in congregations who have not gone through the traditional seminary program. In rural congregations, a local farmer is called to preach when the pastor retires. In urban centers, limited financial resources make the calling of a pastor difficult—so a committed volunteer steps into the void. In immigrant communities, the immediate need for preachers and teachers who speak the language of the people calls people into service without waiting for degree completion.

The Parish Service Certificate provides these faithful servants of the Word with the tools needed to engage in this work. A grounding in Scripture and the Lutheran theological tradition, along with basic skills in preaching, teaching, evangelism, and pastoral care, provides the foundation for effective ministry in these special circumstances. The Parish Service Certificate is not a shortcut to ordained ministry. Rather, it recognizes the ever-changing needs of congregations and is designed to meet those needs as efficiently as possible.

Parish Service Certificate Program Requirements

Contextual Requirements

  • Mentoring congregation
  • Pastoral mentor

Certificate Requirements

  • 34 credit hours
  • Field education

Lutheran Year

In cases where a student receives the bulk of their theological education from a non-Lutheran school, but intends to serve in Lutheran churches, certain core courses from a Lutheran perspective can be helpful. The Lutheran Year courses are recommended to help prepare students serve effectively and faithfully in a Lutheran setting.

Doctor of Ministry in Stewardship of the Word

Through this course of study, students will hone skills and understanding of the pastoral work of bringing God’s Word of Law & Gospel to bear in the variety of circumstances that arise in the course of parish service. Through a combination of course work, independent study, and a thesis, students will explore the rich depths of the Law/Gospel hermeneutic as the foundation of pastoral work.  All courses are taught online using video conferencing.

Admission Requirements:

  • Master of Divinity or equivalent (ministry experience does not substitute for degree).
  • Undergraduate and Seminary transcripts (sent directly from institution to SPLS).
  • Minimum of 3 years of ministry experience after receiving MDiv or equivalent.
  • 3 letters of recommendation.
  • Sponsoring congregation/ministry site.
  • Entrance essay.
  • Sermon sample.


  • $1500 per course
  • $400 thesis/project fee

SPLS Th.D. Program

St. Paul Lutheran Seminary is partnering with Kairos University in Sioux Falls, SD to establish an accredited Doctorate in Theology (Th.D.). The Th.D. is a research degree, preparing candidates for deep theological reflection, discussion, writing, leadership in the church and service towards the community. The goal of the program is to develop leaders in the Lutheran church who are qualified to teach in institutions across the globe, engage in theological and biblical research to further the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to respond with faithfulness to any calling within the church. Those who are accepted into and complete the program will receive all instruction from SPLS professors and will receive an accredited (ATS) degree from Kairos University.

The general area of study of the Th.D. program is in systematic theology. Specializations offered within the degree include, but are not limited to: reformation studies, evangelical homiletics, and law and gospel dialectics. The sub-disciplines within the areas of specialization are dependent upon the interest of the student provided they have a qualified and approved mentor. Other general areas of study, such as biblical studies, will be forth coming.


Students interested in the program must submit, by May 31st prior to fall admittance of the same year:

  1. All D.Min., M.Div., or M.A. Theology/Doctrine/Biblical Studies/Church History transcripts (G.P.A. 3.0 minimum)
  2. Record of minimum three years pastoral experience
  3. A scholarly writing sample of 3,000 – 5,000 words
  4. Three letters of reference from a 1) pastor, 2) colleague, and 3) mentor
  5. A five-hundred-word summary of your area of interest and your particular question from which you endeavor to generate original writing.
  6. For those whose first language is not English, you may either submit the scholarly writing for evaluation or submit satisfactory scores from a TOEFL exam. Please submit all documents to Dr. Marney Fritts:

Mentor Requirements:

Mentors are an essential part of the candidate’s program. Mentors shall function as an academic advisor for the prospective Th.D. candidate and actively engage in leader formation. All candidates must select a mentor by the beginning of the program who will closely advise, walk alongside, and communicate with the candidate, SPLS faculty, and Th.D. program director through all phases of the program, including the dissertation presentation. Mentors should have parish experience as well as a D.Min. or Ph.D./Th.D. in the student’s area of specialization. All mentors must be approved by the Th.D. program director.

Program Requirements: 42 credits

There are four terms of integrative courses to be completed, including residency requirements, plus a research seminar held in the fall preceding or concurrent with course work. Simultaneous with integrative courses, students will be engaged in intentional, guided learning within the candidate’s chosen discipline, ministry practice, or area of research, under the direct supervision of you mentor.

Integrative Learning Experience:

A research seminar is offered and recommended for any incoming student. This course shall expose and refresh students with the proper research methods, writing standards, and familiarize them with various resources, including the online Digital Theological Library.

Year 1: Macro Context: Impact of Luther on Preaching and Vocation

                        Fall: Reformation to Lutheran Orthodoxy

January Residency Intensives: Luther & Ritschl and Protestant Liberal Theology

Language proficiency exams taken during this time, as needed. (See below)

                        Spring: Enlightenment to Post-Modernism

Year 2: Micro Context: Doctrine & Theology of Law & Gospel for the Formation of the Church and its Practitioners

Fall: Augustine, Aquinas, & Luther and the Office of Ministry in the Church and the World

January Residency intensives: The Uses of the Law & the Gospel in Reformation Writing and Public Praxis During the Interims

Language proficiency exams taken during this time, as needed. (See below)

Spring: Karl Barth, Oswald Bayer, & Gerhard Forde on the Formation of the Public Preacher and the Distinction function of The Earthly and Heavenly Kingdom

Year 3: Comprehensive Examination & Dissertation Proposal; Research upon approval

            Year 4: Dissertation research, writing, and presentation

Specialized Guided Reading Inquiries:

Parallel to the integrative learning courses, students will, individually or in a group of fellow students in an area of specialized interest, engage in intentional, guided learning under the direct supervision of your mentor team. There are three required specialized areas of inquiry in a student’s area of interest: literature and history, concepts and models, and practices and methods.

Residency Requirement:

To complete the Th.D. program, there is a 3-day residency requirement for each of the four courses. This 3-day, in-person, intensive course per term that takes place on the Kairos University campus in Sioux Falls each January. Students and SPLS faculty should expect and plan for two, back-to-back, 3-day intensives (6 days total) on the campus of Kairos University during January each of the two years of course work. This minimizes the required travel of students and faculty during the course of the program, yet the benefits of community in person during these courses are immeasurable. The specific dates of the intensive courses shall be determined by each summer and students and faculty shall be notified immediately upon determination. Special online arrangements may be made for international students, only.

Research Language Requirements:

In order to engage in the original material and produce high-level, quality scholarship for the dissertation and future writing, students will be required to pass research language proficiency examinations in two research languages (e.g., German, Latin), or the equivalent (e.g., native language of the student; academic articles clearly demonstrating use of research languages) before proceeding to the comprehensive examination. The number of (two languages or more) and specific languages required for examination depend heavily upon the student’s area of specialization. The examination is a timed translation of approximately 500 words into written English prose. Students are expected to gain translation proficiency of the anticipated languages specific to their area of study either prior to entry to the program, concurrent through another institution, such as Kairos, or other independent means. Exams will be administered during January residencies on the Kairos campus.

Comprehensive Examination:

Comprehensive examination of the Th.D. candidate is variable and particular to the student and the specialization of the area of study. Following review of all course work and language proficiency of the student, and in conversation with student, mentor, and the director of the Th.D. program, the determination will be made whether the student is fully prepared to move into the dissertation phase or whether further examination is required.

Dissertation Proposal and Requirements:

Students who have completed all integrative learning courses, specialized inquiries, all research pertinent research language proficiency exams, and the comprehensive examination, may prepare and present a generative dissertation proposal of no less than 150 and no more than 250 body pages for review. The proposal shall include:

  1. Approved three-member mentor team
  2. Working title
  3. Working thesis statement and abstract of exiting scholarship
  4. Detailed outline of each chapter
  5. Initial bibliography
  6. Proposed schedule for writing, completion, and presentation.

Upon approval of the dissertation proposal, the student shall prepare a high-level generative dissertation for dissemination, meeting all scholarly standards. The student will continue to work alongside a mentor team designed around the candidate’s specialized field of study and reflect your entire learning experience a tailored to the candidate’s context to allow for the flourishing of exploration in the research area.

Graduation Requirements: All requirements through the dissertation presentation must be completed in a maximum of 7 years. Students who need time to work beyond the fourth year, must submit a written description for the plan forward to the director of the Th.D. program for approval to continue.

Mission Developer Certificate

Planting and serving a new congregation is a special calling, involving a unique set of skills and gifts. This practicum-oriented program spans four semesters over two years, addressing knowledge, skill, aptitude, formation, action, and accountability in the new ministry development field. Combining directed reading, 1-2 monthly online lecture and discussion sessions, and practicum assignments to be completed between sessions, preferably in the context of the student’s role as a mission developer, this hands-on program is perfect for pastors or lay leaders who are interested in serving as mission developers.


  • $700 per course (for credit)
  • $350 per course for auditors/clergy continuing ed.

* Accredited program fees slightly higher and intensive courses (if any) may require a short campus stay. Fees for Parish Service Certificate and Lutheran Year are the same as Master of Divinity.