Statement of Educational Effectiveness

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University prepares leaders through professional graduate programs that draw upon multiple disciplines to strengthen theological engagement and expand ministry skills. Graduates are prepared to serve in a variety of placements, including lay, commissioned, ordained, chaplaincy, non-profit, and academic settings.

Courses at PLTS are designed to meet program and school outcomes for developing the theological engagement and ministry skills needed by novice practitioners. 

 The program goals for the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) are:

SPIRITUALITY AND VOCATION: Graduates with a Master of Divinity degree are capable of articulating their experience and understanding of who God is; of facilitating faithful conversations among people with varied perspectives; of appreciating a variety of ways to engage God’s presence; and of using biblical and theological tools for building vibrant faith communities.

HERMENEUTICS AND INTERPRETATION: Graduates with a Master of Divinity degree can make normative use of critical, intersectional and constructive theological theories; recognizing and utilizing hermeneutical approaches other than those of one’s own cultural/social group. They can demonstrate how these tools of interpretation ground their preaching, teaching, worship leadership and pastoral care.

CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS: Graduates with a Master of Divinity degree have learned to identify privilege and oppressions; to articulate the root causes of systemic inequity and environmental degradation in their specific ministry context; to teach and preach from various biblical and theological bases for the work of social transformation toward restorative justice. They can lead worship that integrates each Christian’s baptismal call to “seek justice and peace in all the Earth” with core strategies to engage self and communities in the work of dismantling “isms.”

PASTORAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Graduates with a Master of Divinity degree have developed skills in teaching, preaching, pastoral care, worship leadership and planning, outreach, conflict resolution and congregational fiscal responsibility. They understand how denominational identity [Lutheran and others] informs one’s understanding of God and celebrate how multicultural, ecumenical and interfaith perspectives deepen, challenge and animate each spiritual journey.

 School goals for all programs are:

LIFE-GIVING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD: All graduates of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University learn how to celebrate, nourish and deepen not only their own life-giving relationship with God; but also how to empower individuals and communities of faith to deepen and nourish their own such relationships.

INTELLECTUAL ENGAGEMENT WITH SCRIPTURE, FAITH TRADITIONS AND THE WORLD: All graduates of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University have engaged Scriptures, faith traditions and contexts with intellectual rigor and curiosity, utilizing a triple hermeneutic—critical, appreciative and constructive—in both the classroom and in contextualized ministry experiences and settings.

PRACTICES OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION AND LIBERATION: All graduates of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University have explored and learned to employ theologies of liberation and advocacy in their present and future ministries, including collaboration with ecumenical, interfaith and secular partners in the work of congregational, ecclesial and social transformation.

RACE-CLASS-GENDER-EARTH NEXUS: All graduates of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University have learned to seek out and recognize the race-class-gender-Earth nexus as they engage the work of contextual analyses and in their critique, retrieval and reconstruction of Christian beliefs and practices.

Learning is assessed by assignments scaffolded or structured over the duration of a course to develop, improve, and integrate the competencies to be demonstrated in cumulative course assignments. Learning is also assessed through contextual education evaluations, course evaluations, feedback sessions, and surveys. Academic advisors work regularly with students to plan and review their program progress and students demonstrating growth areas participate in a formation conversation to develop goals and means to demonstrate growth toward ministry readiness.

For the past 7 years for which PLTS of Cal Lutheran has completion data, 98.9% of students start PLTS of Cal Lutheran seeking to be rostered (licensed) by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Therefore, programs at PLTS of Cal Lutheran intersect extensively with ELCA candidacy. As a professional licensure process, ELCA candidacy runs parallel with seminary programming at decision points. Decision points require student input and seminary evaluation and are designed to show student progress from awareness of call to ministry and faith tradition at entrance, to articulation of faith tradition and development of ministry skills at endorsement, and to integration of ministry skills and appropriation of faith tradition at approval. Contextual coursework in Clinical Pastoral Education, Teaching Parish/Ministry in Context, and Internship are designed to measure this progression from articulation and development to integration and appropriation in an action-reflection-action immersion model of learning under the supervision of seasoned professionals. 93% of PLTS of Cal Lutheran students who remain in ELCA candidacy to approval are approved by the ELCA at the close of their program.

As is common in higher education, two indicators of educational effectiveness are completion rates and the placement of graduates.

For the 7 most recent class years for which PLTS of Cal Lutheran has completed student data from entrance through graduation, 91% of 99 entering students who intended to earn a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree successfully completed the degree program. 88% of 90 students who completed this degree have found placement related to this degree program. Because most of our M.Div. students choose this degree to prepare for call and ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), placement for this degree is mostly contingent on the needs of the ELCA, and will therefore vary in timing of placement following completion of this degree, and is not a good indicator of educational quality. Of those placed, 92.8% were placed in a congregation or chaplaincy setting, 7.1% were placed in other field related work, and 0.01% were placed in continued field-related study.

See the following for additional information: