Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

The Master of Divinity (M.Div) is a professional degree designed to develop biblical, theological, historical, practical and contextual competencies, and to integrate these competencies in practice. The M.Div. prepares students for ordained or other rostered ministry in the ELCA, ordained ministry in other Christian traditions, and lay ministries.

Placement for students in the M.Div. can include congregational ministry; social service agencies; advocacy agencies; prison, military, police, and hospital chaplaincy; and teaching professions.


The M.Div degree program consists of 84 credit hours of coursework as well as contextual and co-curricular completion requirements usually completed in four years. Students not seeking ordination within the ELCA may choose to fulfill contextual education requirements in ways related to their vocational goals and petition for waiver of internship. If an internship is not required, the program may be completed in three years.

A full-time M.Div program is defined as 12 credit hours per semester. A normal course load is considered to be 12-15 credits per semester. See our Flexible Life Option for additional ways to begin the M.Div. program.

Contextual Education

Contextual education requirements include Teaching Parish, Clinical Pastoral Education, and Internship.

  • Teaching Parish: Students spend three semesters observing and engaging in a local congregation for six to eight hours a week.
  • Clinical Pastoral Education: Students spend a summer in a hospital or other chaplaincy site with a peer group under the direction of a supervisor exploring dimensions of pastoral care.
  • Internship: Students ordinarily have a full-time pastoral internship during their final year in a congregation under the supervision of a pastor. Internship sites are wide-ranging in terms of geographical location, size, ministry site, and culture of the congregation.
More About Internships

An internship is or exceeds the equivalent of enrollment in full-time coursework at PLTS. The designation of full-time academic enrollment is maintained each semester while a normal course load is considered to be 0.00 credits per semester. Internships include:

  • Weekly pastoral visits
  • Worship leadership
  • Administrative duties
  • Other responsibilities as agreed upon

Note that permission is needed from a student’s synodical candidacy for any change in the length, duration, and sequencing of internship; for placement in a specialized internship site; or for taking other coursework while on internship.


Co-curricular completion requirements include four semesters of participation in a Formation for Ministry in Community Group, a professional boundaries workshop, and an annual anti-racism training.

For a student who is a member of a denomination that does not require internship, this requirement may be waived by petition to and vote by the faculty.


You will work with the Office of Contextual Education to prepare a plan for how to meet the internship requirement.

If you are preparing for: Then your internship will need to fulfill:
Specialized lay ministry Your vocational requirements
Other rostered ministry in the ELCA The requirements of ELCA candidacy for other rostered ministry
Ordained ministry in another Christian tradition The candidacy requirements of your Church body or denomination

For a student who is a member of a denomination that does not require internship, this requirement may be waived by petition to and vote by the faculty.

Candidacy (ELCA)

Prospective students are encouraged to be in conversation with their synod if they are exploring call as a rostered leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. PLTS works with students to navigate the process of incorporating their academic study with their ongoing discernment of call with their candidacy committee.

View the General Candidacy Requirements

Language Options

Students have two language options: Spanish for Worship and Biblical Greek. Students can also benefit from other biblical and modern language opportunities through the GTU and the University of California Berkeley.

More about the Two Language Options

M.Div. Flexible Life

With the Flexible Life option, the equivalent to the first year of coursework may be completed entirely online.  The full-time internship occurs during the fourth year of seminary (after three years of coursework).  Theological reflection on internship occurs concurrently with the internship itself, following an action-reflection model of learning.  This reflection occurs online and is facilitated by the Director of Contextual Education.

Apart from the delivery change in the first year of coursework, the requirements for the M.Div Flexible Life option are the same as the Full Residence option.

More about Flexible Life Option

Evangelism and Justice Concentration

This concentration is meant for students who have an interest in focusing more deeply on how to share faith stories effectively in the changing dynamics of the new century as well as exploring new ways of doing and being church that are welcoming of and in service to those who traditionally have been marginalized by the mainstream. This will happen through a combination of classroom work, salon discussions, training sessions with ELCA staff, and networking with those engaged in such ministries within the larger church.

More about the Concentration

 Standards for Admission

 A well prepared student would have a broad background in liberal arts education, strong leadership potential, knowledge of their faith tradition and an ability to articulate their call to ministry. 

  • A Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent. Normally this degree will be from a member institution of the Association of Universities and Colleges or an institution accredited by a United States agency recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation.

  • A Cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, documented by official transcripts.

  • The ability to write and speak English clearly and correctly (for persons whose primary language is other than English, a score of 500 or above on the TOEFL paper test, or its equivalent, is required).