Visit the United Lutheran Seminary Website!
LTSP is now the Philadelphia location of United Lutheran Seminary, the combination of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Visit to learn more.

Glossary of Terms

Advanced-level student (also, “Grad Student”)—a student enrolled in the DMin, STM, or PhD program or studying at the post-MDiv level.

Affiliated Student—Denotes a first theological degree-level student whose MDiv studies have been undertaken at a non-ELCA seminary. Such students, if seeking ordination in the ELCA, are required to “affiliate” with an ELCA seminary, which assists the student’s ordination process, oversees the student’s internship, and, ordinarily, hosts the student for “Lutheran Year” studies.

Candidacy—The term used for the process by which ELCA students seek to be rostered for ministry. The student engages in such a process only with the approval and guidance of the Candidacy Committee of his/her home synod.

ELCA—The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, one of a number of Lutheran denominations. LTSP is one of eight seminaries of the ELCA.

Faculty advisor—Each matriculated student is assigned a faculty advisor. Except for MAR students who declare or change specializations (see below), advisor assignments for first theological degree and equivalent students will generally remain the same throughout the student’s matriculation in the program, other than when an advisor is on sabbatical or leave. Students are expected to consult regularly with the faculty advisor regarding program of study, course selections and sequence, and progress toward program completion. The faculty advisor must approve the course selections of all first theological degree students each semester by issuing a PIN that enables the student to register.

First professional degree—A degree signifying the student’s preparation for a particular profession. As the basic degree for ordination in many denominations, the MDiv is considered a first professional degree. In some cases, especially for students seeking to be rostered as deaconesses, Associates in Ministry, or diaconal ministers, the MAR and MAPL degrees can be considered first professional degrees. Consequently, it is not uncommon to hear all students studying at the first theological degree level to be labeled “first professionals.” The DMin is a second professional degree.

First theological student—a student enrolled at the MDiv, MAR, or MAPL level (includes Special/Certificate students and non-STM Lutheran Year students). As a general category, this includes non-degree, continuing education, and auditing students in classes offered toward these first theological degrees, as well as non-STM Affiliated and Lutheran Year students and most fourth-year interns.

Graduate School—The umbrella term for advanced-level programming, including the DMin, STM, and PhD degrees. While virtually all LTSP students are indeed graduate students, studying at the master’s level or higher, only those who have previously earned a postbaccalaureate theological degree (e.g., MAR, MTS, MDiv) are considered Grad Students at LTSP.

Intern—A student completing a full-time practicum in a parish or church-related agency for purposes of meeting ordination requirements. At LTSP such students are normally in candidacy processes of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). The “normal” internship is nine to twelve months in duration and is completed in the student’s third year of full-time MDiv study or at the conclusion of MDiv study. In special cases a student may complete a concurrent internship, combining internship and studies over a two-year period.

Junior—An archaic but still-used term denoting an MDiv student in the first year of full-time academic study. When used in relation to “classes” of the Student Body, it includes all MDiv and MAR students who have completed 10 units or fewer and all MAPL students who have completed 8 units or fewer.

Lutheran Year—Residency by an Affiliated Student at an ELCA seminary for purposes of denominational studies and bonding with future ELCA colleagues. Lutheran Years may be undertaken as part of the Affiliated Student’s MDiv program at a non-ELCA seminary or after the completion of MDiv studies. Students may be eligible, upon completion, to receive a Certificate of Theological Study. Alternatively, Lutheran Years undertaken after the student has earned the MDiv may be completed as part of an STM program.

MAR track—one of two possible ways to pursue the MAR degree: Professional Ministry or Theological Studies. Each track has its own set of core requirements. Each requires that the student additionally declare an area of specialization (see Forms).

MAR specialization—the student’s area of study within the MAR degree program, chosen on the basis of the student’s interests and career goals and/or denominational affiliation. For more information, see Master of Arts in Religion. MAR students are required to declare an area of specialization within the first semester of full-time study or prior to the completion of five courses for credit (see Applications to MDiv Concentrations and MAR Specializations).

Matriculated student—a student formally admitted to the Seminary in a degree or for-credit certificate program (including Affiliated and Lutheran Year students).

MDiv concentration—an optional course of study within the MDiv curriculum with specific emphasis in a designated area and leading to a certificate upon graduation (for more information, see Master of Divinity). Application and completion forms specific to each concentration are available under Applications to MDiv Concentrations and MAR Specializations. The areas of concentration available are:

  • Black Church concentration, Urban Theological Institute (UTI)
  • The Interfaith Concentration
  • The Latino/a Concentration
  • The Multicultural Ministry Concentration, Multicultural Mission Resource Center
  • The Metropolitan/Urban Ministry Concentration
  • The Public Leadership Concentration

For details on each concentration, click here.

MDiv students are not required to pursue a concentration. Students electing to do so who successfully complete concentration requirements receive a certificate attesting to that fact along with their diplomas at Commencement. However, any student who fails to complete his/her declared concentration but otherwise satisfies degree requirements will not be prevented from graduating. Such a student may elect to take the necessary additional coursework at a later date to earn the certificate.

Middler—An archaic but still-used term denoting an MDiv student in the second year of full-time academic study. When used in relation to “classes” of the Student Body, it includes all MDiv students who have completed at least 10 units but fewer than 18. It may sometimes also include those part-time MAR and MAPL students who are presumed to be in the next-to-last year of study.

Open Class—Denotes those students, primarily in first theological degree programs, whose years of graduation cannot yet be predicted, either because of their part-time status or because of advanced standing or course transfers.

Senior—Denotes a first theological degree student in the final year of study prior to graduation. When used in relation to “classes” of the Student Body, it normally includes all MDiv students who have completed at least 18 units, full-time MAR students who have completed at least 10 units, and full-time MAPL students who have completed at least 8 units.

Special Student—Denotes a first theological degree student who has been formally admitted to LTSP but has not been admitted to a degree program. Courses and length of study varies widely, but most will be eligible to receive a Certificate of Theological Study upon completion. Some such students may actually take courses as if in a degree track, while others may simply be completing a short track of study for personal or professional enrichment, ordination or other purposes.

Follow Us

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

7301 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19119-1974
Fax: 215.248.4577

Sign Up for LTSP News

The Brossman Center at LTSP

Brossman Center Website




Our Mission

"Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia seeks to educate and form public leaders who are committed to developing and nurturing individual believers and communities of faith for engagement in the world."