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Policies Applicable to All Students

Attendance and Absences
Students enrolled in courses are expected to attend class. When absences occur, as in the case of illness or other legitimate extenuating circumstances, students should share the reasons for these absences with their instructors. When possible, these reasons should be shared in advance.

In courses for credit, absences from class will be taken into account in the determination of course grades, and chronic absence from class will constitute a sufficient basis for failure in a course. Instructors shall clarify expectations concerning class attendance at the beginning of each academic term.

It is also important that expectations regarding class attendance and participation be established at the beginning of the academic term for students taking the course on an audit basis. This is particularly important in instances when the student seeks Continuing Education Units (for which instructors must certify satisfactory participation).

Extensions (Incompletes)
Whether or not to permit an extension of time to complete coursework is at the discretion of the instructor up to three weeks beyond the end of the course. Requests for longer extensions must be submitted no later than two weeks after the end of the course, using the Extension Request Form, under Forms related to courses.

Late Submission of Coursework
Except where the student has received permission in advance to submit coursework after the announced deadline, coursework that an instructor agrees to receive late will ordinarily be penalized with grade reductions at the rate of one-third letter grade for each two days of lateness. That is, work that would receive a grade of “A” will be reduced to an A- after the initial deadline, to a B+ after two days, to a B after four days, etc., being reduced to an F after 18 days. It is up to each instructor whether or not to accept late submissions of coursework.

Withdrawal from Courses
After the late registration/registration change deadline (see above), there is no withdrawal from class (and no refund of tuition) for continuing education and auditing students.

If you are taking a course for credit, you may request to withdraw from a course without prejudice up to the midpoint of any semester or term (consult the Academic Calendar). A withdrawal by the midpoint is recorded on the transcript as a “W” and is not included in calculation of the grade point average. You must notify the registrar in writing of your wish to withdraw from the course; the effective date will be that when your written withdrawal notice is received in the Registrar’s Office.

Withdrawal from a course for credit after the midpoint of a semester or term—regardless of the reason—is recorded as an “F” (failure) unless you have a “passing” record in that course and the Dean permits the course to be recorded as an “audit” or as a “late withdrawal.” It is your responsibility to petition the Dean for such action.

Refunds for Withdrawals
Courses for credit: In cases of withdrawal (see above), dismissal, suspension, or leave of absence, tuition will be refunded on a prorated basis up to the midpoint of the term, but there will be no refunds after the midpoint of the term (including for “late withdrawals”, per above). The refund policy applies only to courses taken for credit.

Continuing education courses: There are no refunds for withdrawal from continuing education registrations after the drop/add deadline.

Audited courses: There are no refunds for withdrawal from audit registrations after the drop/add deadline.

Withdrawal from Seminary
A student in good standing may voluntarily withdraw from the seminary at any time upon written notification to the Faculty through the Dean and the Registrar (see the Notification of Withdrawal from Seminary form, found under Forms on the Registrar home page).

The effective date of withdrawal for refund and loan deferment purposes is that of receipt of the request by the Dean and Registrar. Before taking such action, the student is encouraged to confer with the Dean, his/her faculty advisor, and appropriate ecclesiastical officials. If a withdrawn student is later readmitted, he/she will be subject to the graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Leave of Absence from Study
A student in good standing whose student account balance is clear may request the Faculty through the Dean (or Director of Graduate Education) to grant a leave of absence (find the Request for Leave of Absence form under Forms on the Registrar home page. When approved, a leave is normally for the balance of the then-current academic year with the option to request renewal for not more than one additional year. If the student decides not to resume the program upon the expiration of the leave, he/she has the option to withdraw voluntarily; otherwise, he/she is removed from the roll.

If a student who has been removed from the roll is later readmitted, he/she will be subject to the graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Students should be aware that the limit for deferral of federal loans is 180 days, assuming the one-time grace period has not already been used.

Inactive Status, Removal from the Roll
A student at the first theological degree level who has completed no courses for credit in three consecutive semesters or the intervening short terms is presumed inactive and removed from the roll.

An advanced-level student on financial hold who has not taken courses or otherwise been active for two academic years shall be removed from the roll. Student removed from the roll may subsequently apply for readmission. If readmitted, they will be subject to the degree requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Maximum Length of Degree Programs
Degree requirements for all degrees shall be completed within ten years from the onset of the first course at LTSP that is applied to the degree program, except that no extensions will be granted for PhD students beyond the eight-year limit for that degree program. Upon receipt of a written request from the student, the Faculty at its discretion may grant program extensions on an annual basis to STM and DMin students in the seventh year of study and following; to MDiv, MAR, and MAPL students in the eleventh year of study and following. Program extensions are approved only with the understanding that all courses completed more than ten years previously will not count toward the student’s degree program.

Any student granted a program extension shall pay an extension fee in each year of extension in order to remain in the program, and the student will have to take additional courses to make up any credits lost to expiration.

A student who transfers from one degree program to another is nonetheless bound to a limit of ten years from inception of the first course taken in the original program that contributes to the final degree program, owing to the expiration of courses after ten years.

Computer Literacy and Ownership
In order to ensure that all students are capable of utilizing the enhanced technologies that are incorporated into many of the Seminary’s courses, as well as to facilitate communications with students through email communications and course websites, it is a requirement of students matriculating at LTSP that they have regular access to appropriately equipped computers.

Therefore, a student who is admitted to a program at LTSP who does not own such equipment is strongly advised to purchase an appropriate computer system (laptop preferred) and appropriate software, according to guidelines suggested by the Technology Staff (contact The student is invited to include computer hardware and software expenses in his/her cost of attendance for purposes of seeking financial aid and/or federal student loans.

Students lacking basic computer skills (especially in word processing, email, and internet use) will find some supportive documents in materials shared in classes. Further assistance may need to be found by remedial help in these areas at their own expense. Seminary Help Desk support is limited to providing software and hardware specifications.

All coursework, whether written in class or outside of class, is to be in the student’s own words. Words and ideas borrowed from anyone else, including a fellow student, are to be properly cited.

The consequences of plagiarism by a student are as follows:

Neither ignorance of the regulations concerning academic violations nor personal extenuating circumstances are an adequate defense against charges of plagiarism. Should an instructor ascertain that plagiarism has been committed, the instructor will first consult with the student and the Dean before making a determination of the penalty. The first offense of plagiarism will be penalized either by the failure of the assignment (in the case of a minor assignment) or by the failure of the course (in the case of a major assignment). In addition, in the case of plagiarism on a major assignment, the failure of the course will also lead to the student being placed on academic probation for the next semester of study. A second offense will normally be penalized by dismissal from the seminary second offense will normally be penalized by dismissal from the seminary.

The entire text of the policy on plagiarism may be found in the Student Handbook.

Policies Applicable to Students at the First Theological Degree Level

Introduction to Public Theology
All students seeking the MDiv, MAR, or MAPL degrees are required to complete Introduction to Public Theology within the first year of full-time study or the equivalent. A student who has not completed Introduction to Public Theology after having completed 10 units of study is ineligible to continue studies until the course has been completed.

Biblical Language Study
Introductory Hebrew and Greek must be studied for credit or continuing education. Auditors are not accepted. Biblical languages may be taken either for a letter grade or pass/fail (pass/fail being the historically “normal” selection).

Biblical Software and Scriptures Courses (initial prefix B)
All Bible students will be required to use Biblical software programs. BibleWorks for Windows (9 is current version) and Accordance for Macintosh (10, Original Languages Collection, which also works with Windows via a free emulator) are the required packages and the only ones supported by LTSP. Older versions of these programs are acceptable, but the most recent versions are recommended. These applications will be made available to students through the seminary at a discount. More information on this will be distributed this summer.

Senior Seminars in Public Theology
All students seeking the MDiv, MAR, or MAPL degree are required to complete a senior seminar in public theology in the final year prior to graduation. Senior seminars are designed to be interdisciplinary, focusing on the interface of theology and public life. Seminars should facilitate student work with both texts (especially Biblical and liturgical texts) and contexts, both discourse and practice. Courses designated as senior seminars will be 500-level courses and will be separately listed as such in the print course schedule and in their course descriptions. Enrollment in senior seminars is generally limited to about 12 graduating students; STM students may also register if space is available.

Independent Study
Students in first theological programs who have completed a minimum of ten units may seek to engage in independent reading and research on topics of particular interest to them, which may include an elective course that is not being offered in a term when the student is in residence. Independent studies may be for either a full unit of credit or a half unit and are normally limited to one per student per term (subject to instructor availability). Independent study proposals require the approval of the LTSP Faculty or of the Dean acting on behalf of the Faculty.

An independent study may normally not be used to satisfy a degree requirement or option requirement without the prior written approval of the Dean. If a study is to satisfy a degree requirement and the proposed study supervisor does not regularly offer an LTSP course meeting that requirement, the prospectus must also have the approval of the instructor or area responsible for the requirement.

All work for an independent study is to be completed by the last day of the term, or the normal rules concerning extensions and lateness apply.
Students considering an independent study should obtain the Independent Study [First Theological Degree Level] Guidelines and Registration form from Forms related to registration. Submit your preliminary registration using the Special Course Registration Form, also available under Forms related to registration. The separate independent study registration form may be submitted later, along with your study proposal.

Advanced Standing (Waivers and Course Transfers)
A student who has attended another fully ATS-accredited seminary within the preceding seven years may request the transfer of credits to his/her LTSP degree program. Courses taken at the baccalaureate level or at an unaccredited institution are not transferable but may provide sufficient evidence to warrant a requirement’s being waived (without award of academic credit). To be eligible for transfer toward the MDiv or MAR degree, a course completed at another school shall meet the following requirements:

  • The course was taken at a fully ATS-accredited seminary or other graduate institution.
  • The course was taken at the graduate or first theological degree level.
  • The student had completed a baccalaureate degree before taking the course. Courses shown on an undergraduate transcript, even if taken at a post-baccalaureate level, are not eligible for transfer.
  • The course is clearly relevant to the student’s Seminary degree program.
  • The course was taken within seven years prior to the student’s admission to the Seminary degree program.
  • The course was not previously credited toward another master’s degree, either received or anticipated.
  • The student received a grade equivalent to a C or better (“pass” in the case of a pass/fail

Requests that LTSP degree requirements (including option requirements, as opposed to free electives) be satisfied by either waiver or transfer of prior credits must be made via the “Application for Program Credit by Course Transfer or Waiver” form (see Forms on the registrar home page). The student should be prepared to submit a course description, syllabus, bibliography, and/or sample coursework upon request. The instructor and/or area may grant credit toward a core or option requirement while requiring that the student take additional work in that field.

Credit by Examination (Test-out)
A student who believes he/she has mastered the equivalent of a core or required course (e.g., through undergraduate or noncredit study) may consider seeking credit by examination. Submit a request with the appropriate instructor using the Registration and Application for Credit-by- Examination, found under Forms on the Registrar home page. Whether or not to provide the opportunity for test-out is at the discretion of the LTSP instructor. Guidelines for testing out are included with the request form.

Taking Courses at Other Institutions
Students may seek the permission of the Dean to take courses offered by other fully ATS accredited seminaries, divinity schools, and graduate schools of religion. Such external courses should normally be free electives or denominational polity courses not available at LTSP. Degree requirements of the LTSP curriculum may be fulfilled by courses from other institution only with the prior permission of both the Dean and the regular LTSP faculty member who normally offers a course fulfilling the particular requirement. All courses to be offered via distance education require the prior written approval of the dean. Not more than 17 units in the MDiv program or 10 units in the MAR program may be fulfilled through transfer credits.

Cross-registration: Courses at Lutheran Theological Seminary – Gettysburg, Temple Department of Religion, LaSalle Graduate Religion, and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College are often eligible for cross-registration through LTSP. Additionally, selected J-Term courses of other ELCA seminaries are made available for cross-registration by LTSP students each year. To register for a course elsewhere that is eligible for cross-registration at LTSP (including all MAPL-applicable courses at Temple School of Social Work or Fox Business School), use the Special Course Registration Form, found under Forms on the Registrar home page. Temple and LaSalle courses must FIRST be registered at the offering institution; Gettysburg and RRC courses need be registered only at LTSP, once you have determined from the offering institution that the course is still open for cross-registration.

Exchange programs: Exchange programs are available with the other Eastern Lutheran Cluster schools (LTSG and LTSS), as well as with Yale Divinity School. Contact the Dean for information.

Courses for transfer to LTSP: Students may also take courses as special or guest students at other institutions for transfer to LTSP. Interested students should contact the Registrar’s Office at the particular institution for information on courses they may be eligible to take. Permission to take the course must then be sought from the Dean via the Request for External Course of Study form, found under Forms on the Registrar home page.

Taking Advanced-Level (STM/DMin) Courses
First theological degree-level students may not register for courses that are level 700 or higher. Access to 600-level courses is limited to students in the following categories: 1) final-year MDiv students having a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or better, having some special need for the course, and having permission of the instructor; 2) MDiv or MAR students who have previously completed at least two courses in the particular area (e.g., New Testament, Old Testament, Practical Theology) with grades of B or better. No MDiv or MAR students will be admitted to 600-level preaching courses unless they have been in called ministry for at least three years. MDiv students may not displace Advanced- Degree students in advanced-level courses, and total first-theological enrollment may not exceed 20 percent of the total class roster.

Duration of Study
The normal duration of study for full-time MDiv students is three years (often four years for ELCA students doing internship). The normal length of study for full-time MAR and MAPL students is two years.

MDiv and MAR students are required to complete a minimum residence of at least one year (9 units of the MDiv program or 10 units of the MAR program). Residence is defined as satisfactory completion of required and elective courses offered by LTSP and taken on the LTSP campus. MAPL students are generally required to complete the entire degree program through courses taken at LTSP or the designated partner school (Fox School of Business or Temple School of Social Work).

A course taken solely through distance education does not count toward residency. A hybrid or blended distance education course will count toward residency only if the majority of instructor-directed learning occurs when both faculty and students are in person on the school’s main campus. Courses for which credit is earned through test-out do not count toward the residency requirement.

Full-Time Course Loads
The expected course load for a full-time MDiv student wishing to graduate within the normal duration of his/her program (3 years for MDiv without internship, 4 years for MDiv with internship) is a minimum of 9 units per academic year. Students whose cumulative GPA is 2.75 or lower are strongly advised, and may be required by their advisors and/or the Faculty, to carry lighter course loads.
The expected course load for a full-time MAR student wishing to graduate within the normal duration of his/her program (2 years) is a minimum of 10 units per academic year. The expected course load for a full-time MAPL student wishing to graduate in 2 years is 8 units per academic year.

A student who does not necessarily seek to graduate within the “normal” time frame but who wishes nonetheless to carry full-time status for financial aid or housing eligibility is required to take at least 4 units during both the conflated Fall-January terms and the conflated Spring-Summer terms. Students seeking to be full-time for these purposes must understand, however, that eligibility for seminary grant aid expires after 6 semesters of study for MDiv students (8 semesters on a prorated basis for MDiv students doing concurrent internships) and 4 semesters of study for MAR and MAPL students. Such students can remain eligible for campus housing and federal student loans.

Students seeking to take more than five course units in a semester, or two units in a short term, would generally be construed to be carrying an overload, and both students and advisors should be aware of that fact. However, the current database is unable to accommodate such fine definitions. Consequently, the system will generally block a student from registering for more than six total units in a conflated (Fall-plus-January or Spring-plus-Summer) term. Ordinarily, registrations for more than six total units in a semester (including any related short terms) will require that the student have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 along with permission of the advisor and Faculty (or the Dean on behalf of the Faculty). Any student carrying an extension (“incomplete”) from a prior term is ineligible to register for such an overload and may be required by his/her advisor or by the Faculty to take a reduced load in the subsequent term.

Course Extensions (Incompletes)
A Request for Extension form may be found under Forms related to registration. Please note the following:

  • A. An instructor may grant extensions (or not) at his/her own discretion but not to extend beyond three weeks after the end of the term. A student is to submit an extension request in writing to the instructor prior to the end of the term, and the instructor must approve it in writing, specifying the exact date by which the work is to be submitted. Failure of the instructor to respond in writing to a request for extension is to be interpreted by the student as a denial of the request.
  • B. A student who anticipates needing an extension of more than three weeks must submit a Request for Extension Form to the instructor no later than three days prior to the end of the term, specifying the date by which he/she intends to submit the coursework. Such date may not be more than three months after the end of the term, except in cases of prolonged medical leave. Late requests for extensions will not be accepted. The request, if approved by the instructor, requires the review and approval of the Dean. Normally, a grade reduction will be imposed, per (C) below.
  • C. Except in cases such as the birth or death of an immediate family member or if the student suffers a serious illness confirmed by a professional, a student seeking an extension beyond two weeks after the end of term is to accept a grade reduction penalty of one-third letter grade (A to A-, A- to B+, etc.) or more per month of extension.
  • D. A student with approved extensions per A) or B) above who fails to complete the work within the time allowed will receive a grade based upon work already completed and turned in during the term, factoring in missing coursework as an “F” (or zero).
  • E. A student who fails to seek an extension per A) or B) above or whose request for extension is denied is obligated to submit all coursework by the originally prescribed dates. If the student fails to do so, and if the instructor is willing to accept late submission of assignments, grade reductions will be imposed at the rate of one-third letter grade (A to A-, A- to B+, etc.) per two days of lateness or fraction thereof. Work that would have earned a grade of “A” will be reduced to “F” after 18 days.
  • F. A student with more than one outstanding extension may not register for a subsequent term. A student with any outstanding extensions may not begin an internship. A student may not graduate with an extension in any course required to complete that particular degree program.
  • G. A student on Academic Probation may not seek an extension.
  • H. During January and Summer Terms the end of the term for a particular course is defined as the date by which the instructor expects all coursework to be completed. In no case may that date be beyond the end of the following semester (Fall or Spring).

Academic Probation and Dismissal
A student in a first theological program whose cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0 prior to his/her having completed 12 units for credit toward the degree/certificate shall be placed on academic probation. The student is expected to consult regularly with his/her academic advisor, who may counsel with the student concerning the limitation of his/her extracurricular activities, the limitation of t his/her academic workload, and the possible extension of his/her program beyond the normal term of studies. Probation shall continue until the cumulative average rises to 2.0 or the student is dismissed (see below).

No student in a first theological program shall remain in good standing if his/her cumulative grade-point average falls below 1.60 at a point when 4.0 or more graded units have been attempted, below 1.80 when 8.0 graded units or more have been attempted, or below 2.00 when 12.0 or more graded units have been attempted. Whenever a student ceases to be in good standing, the student shall promptly be interviewed by the Dean, and his/her records shall be reviewed by the Faculty. Such a student shall normally be dismissed from the Seminary. After consideration of all extenuating circumstances, the Faculty may either encourage the dismissed student to apply for readmission after at least one year has passed or to engage in other pursuits.

Any student on the roll of the Seminary who accrues a critical sum of failing grades (“F,” “fail”) and/or withdrawals (“W”), regardless of grade point average, shall be dismissed by reason of academic deficiency. The critical sum is defined as a cumulative index of three (3.0) as determined by the following point values:
• Failing grade = 1.0 point per course unit with grade of “F” or “fail”
• Withdrawal = 0.5 point per course unit with grade of “W”
Additional provision is made that a total of 3.0 course units graded “W” in any one semester shall result in mandatory review by the Dean for recommendation to the Faculty concerning retention or dismissal.

Any student dismissed for academic or disciplinary reasons shall not be considered for readmission until a full academic year has passed since the conclusion of the term in which dismissal occurred. The Director of Admissions will determine which elements of the admission application are required to be submitted. Readmission requires the approval of the Faculty. If a previously dismissed student is readmitted, he/she will be subject to the graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

No student shall begin an internship if she or he has a cumulative grade point average below 2.00. Also, no student shall begin an internship if he/she has failed to complete satisfactorily all required courses included in the first and second years of the curriculum. When an “F” or “W” occurs in a required course in the semester or term immediately preceding the internship, then the Dean in consultation with the Director of Internships shall determine whether the internship shall be terminated, continued, or revised in its nature (e.g., changed to a part-time internship). When an “I” occurs in a semester immediately preceding the internship, the deficiency shall be removed within six weeks of the conclusion of the semester or the internship shall be terminated, continued, or revised as in the case of an “F” or “W.”

When in any semester/term a student receives grades of “I”, indicating extensions beyond the limits of that semester/term, in more than two courses, except for valid medical reasons made previously known to the Dean, the student shall not be allowed to register for courses in the following semester/term except with the express permission of the Dean.

Policies Applicable to Students at the Advanced Degree Level

Good Standing
A student in the STM program is in good standing whose overall cumulative grade point average for the degree program is 2.75 or above and whose grade point average is at least 3.00 in the major field. A student in the DMin program is in good standing whose overall cumulative grade point average for the degree program is 3.00 or above. A DMin student who has not achieved candidacy after completing nine courses for credit shall be dismissed from the program. The student may be awarded an advanced graduate certificate if he/she has satisfied the requirements for such a certificate. An advanced-level student on financial hold who has not taken courses or otherwise been active for two academic years shall be removed from the roll. Such a student may apply for readmission once his/her student account is clear.

Course Extensions (Incompletes)
Whether or not to permit an extension of time to complete coursework is at the discretion of the instructor up to three weeks beyond the end of the course. Requests for longer extensions must be submitted no later than two weeks after the end of the course, using the Extension Request Form, under Forms related to courses.

Upgrading First-Theological Degree-Level Courses
PhD students will not receive credit for any first theological degree-level course work. STM and DMin students, with approval of the instructor and with additional work beyond the requirements for first theological degree students, may enroll in a first theological degree-level course for graduate credit (limit of two except for Lutheran Studies majors). Normally, this provision for “upgrade” applies to elective courses in the first theological program (generally at the 400 level or higher), but it may be applied when a core course does not represent work already addressed in the student’s first theological degree program.

The Faculty has established the following additional expectations for upgrading courses at the first theological degree level:

  • Upgraded courses may not have been used for credit toward another degree.
  • The faculty of the curricular area and the Director of Graduate Studies must
    approve such upgrades before the course is taught.
  • Upgrades are appropriate only in courses taught by Faculty with a PhD degree or nearing
    the completion thereof.
  • The faculty member must send notification of additional requirements to the
    Director of Graduate Studies: at least 10 books in the bibliography and the
    equivalent of a 30–35-page paper.

STM and DMin Program Continuation
Students will be charged a Continuation Fee following any academic year in which the student does not complete a course, a Student Candidacy Review, submit a DMin Project in Ministry or STM thesis proposal, submit project or thesis review copies, or hold a thesis/project review. The seminary will assume that students wish to continue in the DMin or STM program and will automatically charge the Continuation Fee for any year in which there has been no program activity until the six-year program time limit has passed.

STM and DMin Program Extension
The maximum period in which the STM or DMin degree may be earned is six years from inception of study. Under some circumstances, requests for extension of the six-year limit may be addressed to the faculty through the Coordinator of DMin Studies or the Dean, as appropriate. Program extensions must be requested annually and, if granted, require payment of the annual Program Extension Fee. The seminary will assume that an inactive student wishes to remain in his/her degree program through the sixth year for Program Continuation purposes (see above) unless otherwise notified in writing.

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"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."