Deaconess Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Master of Arts (M.A.) with Deaconess Certification

Residential Deaconess Studies

Deaconesses are called by congregations and into foreign missions, employed by hospitals, nursing homes and social service organizations. Through her theological training, skills and practical experience, a deaconess serves the church by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through works of mercy, spiritual care and teaching the Christian faith.

The Master of Arts (M.A.), Spiritual Care Major with Deaconess Certification is the route to certification as a commissioned deaconess. The Residential Deaconess Program forms and equips students with the knowledge, attitudes and skills requisite for service within congregations and other institutions of the LCMS. The campus community and curriculum provide opportunities for growth in personal and spiritual maturity and moral integrity; knowledge of the church’s religious heritage founded in biblical revelation, historical context and development; and insights into the confessions and doctrine as these serve diaconal ministry appropriate to the mission of the church in its contemporary setting.

Residential deaconess students are advised by the Graduate School, yet they are under the supervision of Ministerial Formation and must apply to the Master of Arts Program (Spiritual Care Major) and also to the Residential Deaconess Program. They will fulfill the requirements of both the M.A., Spiritual Care Major and the Residential Deaconess Program, including Resident Field Education, internship and personal growth.


Admission to Deaconess Studies (M.A. with Major in Spiritual Care plus ministerial formation component leading to certification) ordinarily is contingent on the student’s membership in a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or of a church body in fellowship with the Synod. An applicant is to have been involved actively as a communicant member in a Lutheran congregation for not less than two years prior to enrollment.

College Preparation

Applicants to Deaconess Studies ordinarily must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). The degree should represent a broad liberal arts background and should include courses in English composition, writing and speech. It also should include courses in the humanities, psychology, social sciences, natural sciences and religion. Applicants also may find it helpful to take at least one foreign language.

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

Master of Arts (M.A.), Spiritual Care Major

EXE507 Interpreting and Communicating the Word 3 hours
EXE721 Reading and Using the New Testament* 3 hours
EXE731 Psalms for Spiritual Care 1.5 hours
EXE7XX English-based Old Testatment course** 1.5 hours

*EXE522 (Synoptic Gospels) and EXE525 (PaulineEpistles) can be taken in place of EXE721. Proficiency in biblical Greek required.
**EXE512 (Torah) or EXE515 (Prophets) can be taken in place of EXE7XX. Proficiency in biblical Hebrew required.

PRA711 Spiritual Care Foundations 3 hours
PRA712 Spiritual Care of Women 3 hours
PRA714 Spiritual Care & the Word 3 hours
SYS507 Introduction to Systematic Theology 3 hours
SYS511 Creeds and Confessions 3 hours
SYS512 Systematics I or SYS513 Church & World 3 hours
SYS528 Theology of Ethics and Human Care 3 hours
HIS507 Introduction to Historical Theology 3 hours
Comprehensive Exam or Thesis  
Total credit hours M.A. (Spiritual Care): 42 hours + Exam or Thesis

M.A. with Deaconess Certification

Master of Arts (Major: Spiritual Care) 42 hours + Exam or Thesis
Personal and Diaconal Formation Labs (non-credit) 0
Residential Field Education (non-credit) 0
Internship & Internship Seminars 12
Total Credit Hours for M.A. and Certification 54 hours + Exam or Thesis

Each deaconess student will participate in Resident Field Education (RFS) during four semesters. Assignments will be made in congregational and institutional ministry settings in order to develop diaconal skills under the supervision of an experienced pastor or deaconess.

A 12-month internship is required of all deaconess students. The internship ordinarily follows the completion of all class work and field education requirements.

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