MALS in Theology & Ministry-Deaconess Track
Communion at the VU ChapelProgram Description
A partnership between Valparaiso University and the Lutheran Deaconess Association combines the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Theology and Ministry and the Deaconess formation program. Courses include Biblical studies, church history, Lutheran confessional theology, and diaconal ministry, while students develop professional ministry skills through field education, clinical practice, and internships.

The academic program is designed for completion in a two-year period. Students participate in deaconess formation activities, including weekly worship, special programs, and spiritual retreats. These events, along with journaling and other experiences, encourage and enhance personal, spiritual and professional growth.


  • Meets LDA requirements;
  • Leads to master's degree;
  • 40 credit hours in 2 year;
  • Strong theological preparation;
  • Significant liberal arts component;
  • Practical and internship experiences;
  • Strong professional and academic guidance.


Deaconess Program Requirements
40 credits
Core Requirements
9 credits
LS 650 Religion, Culture, & Value
3 cr
Select two from the following:
6 cr
LS 610 Seminar in Humanities 3 cr
LS 620 Seminar in Social Sciences 3 cr
LS 630 Seminar in Natural Sciences 3 cr
Theology & Ministry Concentration
19 credits
THEO 510/610 Biblical Studies
6 cr
THEO 532 Luther & Lutheran Confessional Theology
3 cr
THEO 551 Theology of Diaconal Ministry
3 cr
THEO 630/690 Advanced Topics in Theology
3 cr
THEO 680 Practicum in Theology & Ministry
2 cr
THEO 681 Basic Homily Preparation
2 cr
12 credits
THEO 520 Topics in Christian History
3 cr
Clinical Education for Ministry
3 cr
THEO 555 Principles and Forms of Worship
3 cr
Topics in Human Justice & Resources for Healing
3 cr
Topics in World Religions
3 cr
Advanced Topics in Biblical Studies
3 cr
THEO 590 Topics in Theology
1-3 cr
THEO 590 Independent Study
1-3 cr

Planning and Leading Worship
Students plan, participate in and/or lead worship regularly at the Center for Diaconal Ministry and may be involved with worship in field education and internship settings.

Field Work
The Practicum in Theology and Ministry requirement includes at least one semester of supervised field education and two semesters of homily preparation.

Clinical Education for Ministry
This one-semester experience is a supervised in-depth pastoral ministry practicum with persons who are hospitalized or in nursing homes.

Students complete a 12 month, full-time internship with stipend after at least one year of study. Internships may take place in various settings including congregations, hospitals, social service agencies, institutions for the developmentally disabled, camps and others. The internship is a time for the deaconess student to integrate her academic learning with practical skills for ministry, and to begin developing an identity as a deaconess.

Deaconess Ministry Opportunities

  • Christian Education
  • Youth Ministries
  • Visitation Ministries
  • Institutional Chaplaincy
  • Institutional Service
  • Evangelism and Outreach Ministries
  • General Parish Ministries
  • Nursing, Social Work, Education and Church Music
    (with appropriate companion degree)

Valparaiso University is a private, accredited University committed to academic excellence within the context of the Christian faith. Its modern history dates from 1925 when the Lutheran University Association purchased the institution and began the task of building a center of learning and faith.

The University offers programs of liberal and professional studies. A faculty of over 230 teaches VU's 4000 students who come from all over the United States and 50 other countries. The campus of 420 acres, located in Valparaiso, Indiana, contains over 60 academic and residential buildings. Valparaiso is 50 miles southeast of Chicago.

Criteria For Admission
Applicants must apply to both the Graduate Division and the Lutheran Deaconess Association. For a graduate application, click here.  For a Lutheran Deaconess Association application, click here.  Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School, which include:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university;
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.

As part of the application process, students must provide:

  • Valparaiso University Graduate Application;
  • Lutheran Deaconess Association Application;
  • Official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework.  If you have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from Valparaiso University, you are not required to submit an official transcript from Valparaiso University;
  • Two letters of reference;
  • Essay detailing personal and professional goals;
  • Application Fee: $30.

For more information about the Deaconess Studies program
Interested students should request an information packet from the Office of Graduate Studies through our website or by e-mailing

LDA LogoTo learn more about the Deaconess program, visit the Lutheran Deaconess Association website or contact them at: