- Application Steps
- Standards for Admission by Program
- PhD, ThD, MA Applications
- International Students
- Policies and Deadlines
- General ELCA Candidacy Requirements
- Download and complete the application either for a degree program or non-degree program. Those wishing to take course(s), including Summer Biblical Greek, should complete the non-degree admission form. The streamlined requirements are stated on the form. To have a paper copy of either application mailed to you, please contact our Admissions Office. For a summary of supporting documents for all programs click here.
- Have official transcripts sent to PLTS from each school of higher learning you previously attended.
- Applicants to a degree program, have a letter of recommendation sent to PLTS from one pastor, one former or current employer, and one professor with whom you did work in your major. For non-degree admission, only the letter of recommendation from one professor is required.
- For applicants to a degree program, complete the autobiographical statement following the instructions.
- Include the $35 application fee.
- Submit these materials, together or as they are available, to the Admissions Office, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, 2770 Marin Ave, Berkeley, California, 94708.
- Finally, complete and submit all financial aid paperwork as instructed in the Financial Aid section of this site, and Housing paperwork as instructed in the Housing section.
We will notify you when your application file is complete and then again when the Admissions Committee has taken action on your file. If you have questions at any step of the process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Admission standards vary for each of our degree programs, but include common elements such as the completion of a bachelor’s degree, academic ability, and appropriate background in pre-theological study. Before applying you should check the requirements that are specific to your degree or certificate program:
- Master of Divinity
- Master of Arts
- Joint Master of Divinity / Master of Arts
- Master of Theological Studies
- Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Theology
- Certificate of Theological Studies
- Certificate of Advanced Theological Studies
- Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM)
If you are applying to the PhD, ThD, or MA programs, apply to the Graduate Theological Union. Identify PLTS as your school of affiliation and you will be assigned a PLTS faculty member as an advisor, be eligible for housing, and other commuity benefits.
If you are an international student and will need a student visa, Contact Rev. Holly Johnson, Director of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Christopher Evans at (510) 559-2737 or . Also see additional requirements for international students.
Priority Application Deadline
The priority deadline for application to PLTS is March 1st. Students who have submitted complete 1) Admissions, 2) Financial Aid, and 3) Housing applications by the priority deadline of March 1st will know by April 1st if they have been 1) admitted, 2) awarded financial aid, and 3) will be assigned housing. These Admissions, Financial Aid, and Housing decisions will be effective until 1 July and must be accepted before that date.
Late Application Deadline
Applicants who apply after March 1st must complete Admissions, Financial Aid, and Housing applications before 1 July to be eligible for Financial Aid or Housing, which will be granted from what remains after applicants meeting the Priority Deadline have been awarded. There is no guarantee of housing after the April 15th deadline and what is available will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.
For students who are candidates for ordination in the ELCA, PLTS follows the procedures for candidacy prepared by the ELCA.
A seminary’s role in the ELCA candidacy process, (as described by the Division for Ministry candidacy manual), is as follows:
Seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are important partners in the candidacy process. Every Candidacy Committee includes an ELCA seminary faculty representative appointed by the Division for Ministry. ELCA seminaries make recommendations to the Candidacy Committees concerning the approval of every candidate for ordained and diaconal ministry and provide evaluative material to the Candidacy Committee and the Department for Synodical Relations/Conference of Bishops.
For students who are candidates for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, PLTS follows the procedures for candidacy adopted by the ELCA. The procedures are based upon the belief that candidates for ordination are candidates of the church as a whole and will be available for service throughout the entire church. Both the standards and processes attend to the “whole” person, including physical, emotional, academic, theological, and spiritual dimensions. The process provides ongoing evaluation and support for students throughout their seminary education.
During each candidate’s first year of seminary, representatives of the candidate’s synodical or multi-synodical candidacy committee and members of the faculty conduct a review process with the candidate, including consideration of an endorsement essay written by the candidate. The review leads to the decision by the student’s candidacy committee whether to endorse the student for preparation for ordination. However, denial of endorsement by the candidacy committee without a specific recommendation to the contrary will not effect termination of studies in the MDiv program should the student elect to continue.
The candidacy committee maintains contact with the candidate. During the final year of study each candidate must receive recommendation for approval by the faculty reflecting the suitability of the candidate for ordination from the perspective of the faith heritage of the church. The faculty recommendation is forwarded to the candidacy committee as a separate assessment, which informs the committee’s decision on approval for ordination. Students write an ordination approval essay and meet with the committee for an interview based on the essay and their overall experience. The committee then grants, delays, or denies approval for ordination. Ordination itself depends upon receipt and acceptance of a letter of call. The ELCA cannot guarantee that a candidate who has prepared and received approval will receive a call. The personal, academic, and character expectations for seminarians and clergy can be found in Vision and Expectations, an official ELCA policy document available from the Academic Dean’s office.
A parallel process takes place for students seeking approval for Associate in Ministry status.
To further the goals of this mandate, the PLTS Assistant to the Dean provides ordination-track students with the following materials, information, and services:
- ELCA Endorsement and Approval Essay Packets to all on-campus students (Students who are elsewhere are responsible for communicating with their home synods).
- Necessary information regarding all essay submission, address and due date requirements.
- Scheduling of on-campus students’ Endorsement interviews (AIM and alternate route students are responsible for communicating with their home synods).
- Information in writing of students’ scheduled Endorsement interview time and location.