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Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a degree designed to integrate general theological disciplines and specialized competencies in preparation for academic or ministerial vocations.   The MTS provides two years of graduate theological study of the core of church theology with a Lutheran emphasis—Bible, history, theology, and ethics and cultures. The MTS requires a focused specialization/area concentration and synthesis. A diaconal concentration is available for those preparing for Word and Service rostered leadership.  

Basic Requirements

The MTS consists of 49.5 credit hours, including one semester of a 1.5 credit MTS seminar (FT 2095 Fieldwork/Project Development), and 15 specialization credit hours devoted to the research and preparation of a thesis, preparation for comprehensive examinations, or preparation and completion of a project related specifically to a student’s chosen specialization. The MTS seminar will guide the student through the preparation and completion of an MTS thesis/project proposal.  25.5 of the 49.5 course credits must be taken at PLTS. A full-time MTS program is defined as at least 12 credit hours per semester.  A normal course load is considered to be 12 credits per semester.

Course Work Outside PLTS

MTS courses not taken at PLTS may be taken at other ATS-accredited institutions and may be negotiated to fit each student’s program with the help of the academic advisor in consultation with the Office of the Dean.

Specialization/Area Concentration in a Discipline

The first year of the program consists of a broad overview of theological studies, including courses in Bible, history, theology, and ethics and cultures. Students with a special interest in Biblical studies may enroll in Greek or Hebrew.

Students generally concentrate their studies in a one discipline or focus of interest during their second year following completion of the MTS seminar. They may choose to concentrate in any of the eight areas of study offered in the GTU, diaconal specialization, or a personalized focus responsive to their personal and professional educational goals developed in consultation with their academic advisor.

For students with prior university study in religion or theology and for students with completed theological degrees who are able to demonstrate competency by oral or written examination in the various theological disciplines, special curricular arrangements may be arranged through the Office of the Dean in consultation with their academic advisors and directors of their programs. These arrangements may include being waived out of introductory general coursework.


Comprehensive Examination or Project/Thesis

Comprehensive examination or a major thesis/project that demonstrates the student’s general understanding of and particular interest in the specialization/area of concentration is required. A thesis/project is the ordinary way to meet this requirement.

Comprehensive Examination

Should a student choose to meet this requirement by comprehensive examination, she or he will consult with her or his academic advisor and the Office of the Dean to arrange for examination with faculty in the area of concentration. The appropriate faculty will evaluate examination(s) and determine completion of the MTS comprehensive examination component of the degree. These faculty evaluators will submit notification of completion of comprehensive examination to the Office of the Dean for notation on the student’s transcript. All comprehensive examinations must be submitted to the faculty evaluators for determination of completion by November 15 for fall graduates and April 15 for spring graduates.

MTS Thesis/Project

If you choose to meet this requirement by a MTS thesis (25-35 pages in length) or project (with a written component of at least 10 pages), there are three main components to the process: proposal, completion, and evaluation.


In the first semester of study, each MTS student will consult with her or his academic advisor to determine area(s) of interest and potential faculty coordinators for her or his MTS thesis/project proposal. This consultation will include conversation about future employment placement using the PLTS MTS Initial Placement Consultation Form. The completed form must be submitted to the Office of the Dean following the consultation.

In the second semester, the student will work with her or his academic advisor and the instructor of FT 2095 to prepare a MTS thesis/project proposal. The student may enroll in an additional Special Reading Course as SRC 9999 MTS: Thesis/Project Research for 0-1.5 credits in the second semester in order to complete significant work toward the development of as well as completion this proposal.

The proposal must include an anticipated completion date, a proposed specialization/area of concentration, a tentative title, and a brief description of the intended thesis or project. The proposal must also include the names and signatures of the faculty coordinator and at least one other reader/evaluator who will constitute the evaluation committee for the completed thesis or project. It is the student’s responsibility to contact persons who are both competent and willing to serve in this capacity. The proposal form can be obtained from the Office of the Dean or online. The completed MTS thesis/project proposal must be submitted to the Office of the Dean for final approval.


During the writing of the MTS Thesis/Project, the student enrolls in MDV 3015 Comps/Thesis/Project for 3 credits. During the writing of the thesis or doing of the project, the student will regularly submit drafts of work to-date to the evaluation committee for feedback.


A final draft of the MTS Thesis/Project must be submitted to the evaluation committee for review by November 15 for fall graduates and April 15 for spring graduates. Upon completion of the final draft of the thesis or completion of the project and accompanying paper, the student will submit her or his work to the evaluation committee and schedule an evaluation meeting with the committee to occur no earlier than two weeks after submission of the completed draft. The coordinator will solicit feedback from the committee members in preparation for the meeting. During the meeting, the evaluation committee will converse with the student about her or his thesis/project, provide any additional feedback or corrections, and determine completion of the MTS thesis/project component of the degree and assign a grade. Upon determination of completion by the evaluation committee, the committee will sign off on the completion form available online or from the Office of the Dean.


Other Requirements

Co-Curricular Formation 

For all years in residence at PLTS, MTS students are required to participate in the annual Anti-Racism Training, FE 1200, as made available to them. MTS students are required to complete FE 1201 Professional Boundaries Workshop. MTS students are required to participate in three semesters of a Formation for Ministry in Community Group, FT 1024. 

Time Requirements

The minimum time for completion of these degrees is two years; the maximum time is four years, after which special permission from the Office of the Dean is required for continuance.


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