News About PLTS Residential Programs

The mission of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) is to develop leaders in the Lutheran tradition for a complex and changing world by equipping them to put their faith into action as the church and culture face dramatic change; because people who follow their purpose can transform a community — and the world.

A major challenge for the ELCA and across theological education has been a significant decline in the number of candidates pursuing traditional paths to pastoral ministry. PLTS has responded to this challenge by developing degrees for diaconal leaders and programs for people of faith who may not be interested in professional ministry but are eager to learn and live out their faith in ways that make a difference in the world. PLTS now offers an MA in Spirituality and Social Change and has developed certificate programs in Climate Justice and Faith, and Racial Justice and Faith as well as a program of Theological Education for Indigenous Leaders.

As the seminary discerns what the Spirit is doing in the world, we believe the future of the seminary and a key to the renewal of the church is theological education for all people. Theological education has become accessible to more people through online degrees and programs. Most of the growth in enrollment at PLTS and most seminaries has been in online learning. Since there are fewer residential students coming to seminary, it is increasingly difficult to sustain a residential learning community. Therefore, PLTS has decided that 2024-2025 will be the last year that we will admit new residential students.

PLTS is fully committed to our existing students, as well as our incoming 2024-2025 students in both residential and online modalities. The seminary will remain rooted in our campus in Berkeley and continue to bring distance learning students to campus for intensives. The PLTS faculty is already at work developing a new curriculum that incorporates a certificate program that will be accessible to a wider constituency of learners and support a high-quality online learning experience with more online community engagement.

While we are excited about these innovations and the future of PLTS, we recognize that many of us are grieving the loss of what has been. Residential community has been a cornerstone of the seminary experience for many, and we lament that we will no longer be able to provide a fully residential experience for future students. This decision, however, does not come from a place of worry or fear, but rather confidence that this evolution of PLTS offerings has the potential to serve a wider diversity of faithful leaders and contribute to the ongoing transformation of our church.

We are excited about this expansive vision for theological education that reclaims core Lutheran ideas of the priesthood of all believers and the vocation of all followers of Jesus to live out their faith in the world. PLTS has an exceptionally creative and collaborative faculty who have a passion for teaching and are committed to a quality learning experience for students. We will be sharing more details about the curriculum they are developing as it unfolds. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.

Raymond Pickett, PhD