Lutheran Studies

The Lutheran Studies Program at Yale Divinity School provides Lutheran students with an integrated approach to theological education and pastoral training at Yale Divinity School, encompassing both their program of study and their spiritual formation for ministry.  The former is addressed by a required curriculum with distribution requirements similar to those of Lutheran seminaries.  The latter is addressed by a program of formation for ministry that includes retreats, colloquia on the practice of ministry in the Lutheran tradition, and opportunities for worship and social interaction.

In 1995 the Lutheran faculty at Yale Divinity School, in cooperation with Berkeley Divinity School at Yale (an Episcopal seminary affiliated with Yale Divinity School), established the Lutheran Studies Program at Yale.  In 2003 the program was reconstituted as a standing committee of the Yale Divinity School faculty.  Membership on the Oversight Committee includes the Lutheran members of the faculties of the Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School’s academic dean, representatives of the Lutheran students and staff, and, as advisory members, representatives of the wider church.  The program provides two avenues of study:  a Certificate in Lutheran Studies, and a Diploma in Lutheran Studies.

The Certificate in Lutheran Studies

Candidates for the Certificate in Lutheran Studies must be in residence at Yale Divinity School in a degree program for a minimum of one year, must take the course in Lutheran Confessions, must participate in at least three of the four colloquia offered for Lutheran students, and participate in the life of the Lutheran community at Yale.

The Diploma in Lutheran Studies

The Diploma in Lutheran Studies is designed for students seeking ordination in the Lutheran Church (especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), but is open to any YDS student enrolled in the Master of Divinity program.  Candidates must complete the course of studies approved by the Committee of Oversight, participate in at least three of the four colloquia, and in the life of the Lutheran community at Yale.

While the course offerings can vary with changes in the faculty, YDS is committed to providing courses in the Lutheran tradition in the curriculum.  One such provision is authorization for the appointment of a visiting professor of Lutheran studies on an annual basis.  The visiting professor helps to foster a strong Lutheran presence at YDS.

Candidacy in the ELCA

Information about candidacy for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be obtained from the ELCA Division for Ministry web site (  Students considering ordination in the ELCA should note that those attending non-Lutheran schools are required by the ELCA constitution to spend a year in residence at one of the ELCA seminaries.  All decisions about the “Lutheran year” should be made in consultation with the student’s synodical candidacy committee.  In some cases, the student’s synodical candidacy committee may waive the “Lutheran year” requirement.

Formation for Ministry

A series of colloquia focused on formation for ministry are offered for those in the Lutheran Studies Program.  In the fall semester of their first year, Lutheran students meet on a weekly basis to consider issues relating to vocation, candidacy, and theological education.  In the spring semester all students in the Program meet for a colloquium on the Practice of Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition.  The specific topics covered varies from year to year, depending on the interests of the leader of the colloquium.  Those chosen as leaders of the colloquia are familiar with candidacy in the ELCA, including visiting faculty from Lutheran seminaries and retired bishops.

Lutheran students are encouraged to participate in the Annand Program for Spiritual Formation at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, which offers a variety of groups, retreats, and conferences.  The Annand Program also provides spiritual directors, some of whom are Lutheran.

Community Life

Lutheran students meet on a regular basis for worship and social interaction.  The Yale Divinity School community gathers for daily worship in Marquand Chapel during term, with a weekly Eucharistic service.  Berkeley Divinity School at Yale also sponsors daily worship to which Lutheran students are invited.  Lutherans are invited each semester to lead one of the weekly Eucharistic services at Berkeley, and provide regular leadership in Marquand Chapel.  The Lutheran community gathers on a regular basis for Evening Prayer and other services.

The Lutheran community at Yale meets regularly for social activities, including picnics at the beginning and end of the year.  Area clergy and church leaders are invited to meet with Lutheran students to discuss their ministries.   On the first weekend in February the “Lutherans in Diaspora” conference brings together Lutheran students from Harvard, Princeton, Union, and Yale.  The conference site rotates among the four member schools, with the host school establishing the theme and inviting speakers.

Course of Studies

Biblical languages (6 hours)

  • New Testament Greek (6 hours), preferably completed prior to entrance, during summer after first year, or taken as additional credit course.
  • Also recommended, Biblical Hebrew (3-6 hours)

Holy Scriptures (15 hours)

  • Two courses in Old Testament interpretation (6 hours)
  • Two courses in New Testament interpretation (6 hours)
  • One additional course in exegesis, Biblical interpretation, or Biblical theology (3 hours)

History and Theology of the Christian Tradition (12 hours)

  • One course in the history or theology of the early church (3 hours)
  • One course in the history or theology of the medieval and Reformation church (3 hours)
  • Theology of Martin Luther (3 hours)
  • Lutheran Confessions (3 hours)
  • Also strongly recommended:  one course in American religious history (3 hours); two additional courses in theological studies (6 hours)

Christian Ethics (one course, 3 hours) 

Social, Cultural, and Global Contexts of the Church’s Mission (one course, 3 hours)

Liturgy and Preaching (9 hours)

  • Foundations of Liturgical Study (3 hours)
  • Planning and Presiding at Worship (3 hours)
  • One additional course in preaching (3 hours)

Theory and Practice of Ministry (9 hours)

  • Lutheran Ecclesiology, Ministry and Polity (3 hours)
  • Two additional courses in pastoral care, counseling, or Christian education (6 hours)

Additional Requirements/Comments

A parish setting is encouraged to fulfill the field placement requirement.  The ELCA normally requires a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education and a yearlong full-time internship for candidates for ordained ministry, but these are not degree requirements of Yale Divinity School nor of the Lutheran Studies Program.


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