Professional Programs

The Department provides programs of study and advising for students who want to prepare for careers in church work.

Deaconess Ministry

The Theology Department and the Lutheran Deaconess Association cooperate in the education and formation of women for service in deaconess ministry. In response to a changing world, the LDA offers a process that allows students to express their Christian vocation through church, civic, or human service professions.

The LDA’s education and formation process is under the counsel and guidance of the staff of the Lutheran Deaconess Association. Inquiries should be directed to the Director of Education and Formation, Center for Diaconal Ministry, 1304 LaPorte Avenue, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383-9978. Phone 219-464-6925. E-mail: Application forms and fee schedule are outlined on the website:


Pre-Seminary Study

The Department of Theology provides academic advising and program supervision for students preparing to enter a theological seminary or divinity school. Study programs in preparation for seminary studies are tailored to the entrance requirements of seminaries, as well as the interests of the students.

Valparaiso University's pre-seminary program meets all the standards of the Association of Theological Schools for undergraduate education, as well as the entrance requirements of all Lutheran and most Protestant seminaries. Seminaries generally require a strongback ground in the humanities and the arts, including English, literature, history, philosophy, theology, and foreign languages. In addition to courses in the Theology Department, students will choose appropriate courses from other departments, including Greek and Hebrew offered through the Department of Foreign Languages.

Typically, a student chooses a major in one of the disciplines in the humanities or the arts, and elects the Complementary Major in Pre-Seminary Studies. The latter program assures a core of courses in bible, theology, and biblical languages, and it offers area options in literature, history and philosophy. Coordinated with the student's first major, the Complementary Major in Pre-Seminary Studies is also the anchor for the Allen Program in Pre-Ministerial Education.

Students planning to go on to seminary study are encouraged to consult with the Theology Department's pre-seminary advisor to plan the appropriate program of study. Representatives from some of the seminaries regularly visit Valparaiso University to be available for consultation.

Youth Ministry and Christian Education

Students interested in parish work in roles such as Youth Minister and Director of Christian Education can follow a plan of study in Theology and related disciplines to prepare them for this service. This program is tailored to individual interests; it may include a major or minor in theology, or it may be an individualized major with a strong theology component. As part of the program, students are encouraged to plan on internship or field experience in one of the local churches or in a program like Lutheran Youth Encounter or Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Through the independent study option, such field experience can be integrated into the academic program.

The study program should be worked out with the Theology Department's parish work advisor, who will help tailor it to the student's needs and goals. A typical study program with a theology major might include theology courses like the following:

  • 200 The Christian Tradition
  • 311 Understanding the Old Testament
  • 312 Understanding the New Testament
  • 332 Luther and Lutheran Confessional Theology
  • 343 Theology of Marriage and Sexuality
  • 353 Studies in Theology and Practice: Theology of Christian Education
  • 353 Studies in Theology and Practice: Christian Response to Social Victims
  • 355 Liturgical Theology and Practice
  • 480 Practicum in Ministry
  • 493 Theology Seminar

This major would be complemented with a major or minor and courses from other departments such as psychology, counseling, communications, education, social work, music, art, and more, depending on the student's goals. Some students choose to construct an individualized major focusing, for example, on youth ministry. Here is one sample:

  • 240 Christian Theology and the Moral Life
  • 316 The Prophets of Israel
  • 318 Jesus and the Gospels
  • 322 Medieval Christianity: East and West
  • 353 Studies in Theology and Practice: Theology of Christian Education
  • 353 Studies in Theology and Practice: Christian Response to Social Victims
  • 495 Supervised Reading and Research (internship experience)
  • SOC 220 The Family
  • SOCW 220 Human Behavior and Social Environment
  • SOCW 340 Professional Intervention and Human Services
  • SOCW 390 Colloquium: Substance Abuse
  • PSY 130 Human Growth and Development
  • PSY 230 Psychology of Childhood and Adolescence
  • PSY 461 Introduction to Counseling