Pre-Ministry Studies at Luther College

Congregational Council 2014-2015

Luther College has been a leader in preparing its graduates to serve faith communities across the country and the world. In the last decade alone, over 100 Luther alumni have attended seminaries within the college’s denominational body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and many more have studied in other denominational seminaries and divinity schools. Luther alumni have also participated in service and volunteer programs across the world, including the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Program and Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

The Department of Religion works closely with students whose vocational interests include ordained parish ministry, youth ministry, chaplaincy, Christian education, and pastoral counseling. 

The following are common questions asked by prospective and current students concerning pre-ministry studies at Luther College:

What experience do religion professors have in helping students prepare for seminary and for religious vocations?

The religion faculty has significant experience in helping students prepare for seminary studies and for careers as religious professionals. Many of our faculty members have experience teaching in seminaries and working with churches. Several of our department members are also ordained clergy with experience both in the parish and in seminary or divinity school teaching. The combined experience of our faculty members enables us better to mentor students with interests in pursuing seminary studies and a variety of religious vocations.

Is a major or minor in religion required for pre-ministry students?

A religion major or minor is not a requirement for admission to most seminaries or divinity schools. However, many students who graduate from our religion program later tell us that their coursework at Luther gave them a much-needed foundation upon which to build in seminary. Our graduates also appreciate the opportunity they had at Luther to take courses in multiple religious traditions, particularly since courses in traditions beyond Christianity are not always offered in their seminaries.

Does the Department of Religion recommend certain courses for pre-ministry students? 

We believe that all of the courses taught in our department are beneficial to anyone who intends to enter seminary. We offer a wide array of courses that provide students with facility in biblical languages and literature as well as knowledge of the history and theology of Christian traditions. The department also has a designated internship coordinator who, in conjunction with the Luther College Career Center and College Ministries, helps interested students set up internships in churches and other religious organizations. These internships prove invaluable in assisting Luther students with their vocational discernment.

In addition to courses in Christian traditions, the department provides students with the opportunity to gain a level of competency in many other religious traditions, something that is not always possible in denominational seminaries. Our professors teach survey and advanced courses in Judaism, Islam, East Asian religions, and South Asian religions. These courses go a long way toward preparing students to serve as leaders and facilitators in interreligious dialogue and in building bridges between and among many different religious traditions in a globalized, pluralistic world.

What if I'm interested in children, youth, or family ministry?

We have many alumni who go on to serve with distinction as youth leaders in congregations and in other capacities such as in camp ministries. Luther offers a sound academic preparation and a wide array of opportunities for developing and practicing leadership skills that can be applied to children, youth, or family ministry.

The Department of Religion offers a broad program in the academic study of religion that helps students prepare for a variety of vocations in ministry. Students interested in children, youth, or family ministry will have the opportunity to work with an advisor to select appropriate courses and to explore internships that will assist with vocational discernment and preparation.

Who should I speak with if I wish to explore the possibility of seminary and to plan an appropriate course of study? 

Any faculty member in the department, in consultation with the student’s advisor, can help devise a course of study in preparation for seminary. Interested students are also encouraged to engage in ongoing conversations with any of the campus pastors in College Ministries, each of whom has substantial experience both in the parish and in working with preseminary students. Luther’s Roman Catholic chaplain is also available to work with and mentor preseminary students. Finally, College Ministries provides students with plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on leadership experience through volunteer, work study, and a broad spectrum of ministry experiences and leadership opportunities.

Which seminaries or divinity schools are the most common destinations for Luther graduates?

Our graduates have gone on to study at seminaries and divinity schools near and far. We have plenty of Luther alumni who have graduated from ELCA institutions such as Luther Seminary, The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Other recent graduates have studied or are currently studying at institutions not affiliated with the ELCA, including Harvard Divinity School, the University of Chicago Divinity School, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary.

Financial Assistance Available

Luther College offers students considering ministry financial assistance in several ways:

For details about seminary visit travel funds and funds for unpaid internships, contact College Ministries.