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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Saturday, September 17, 2011

LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal:
Fabulous Costs To Support Posh Professor Salaries

Tuition and Fees Notes
General Note on Fees: In the table above, various fees are not included in the fees column in order to make comparisons between seminaries possible. For instance, tuition for pre-sem courses such as summer Greek, refresher courses, extra summer courses. Also, fees not charged every student each year at the seminary, e.g., application, transcript, graduation/diploma, late registration, health insurance, and vehicle parking stickers.

Order of Notes: The order of the seminaries below follows the order of the chart—by most to least expensive over four years with room & board included:
#1: Concordia St. Louis Missouri (LCMS)
P. 17-20: A person must take on average 13.22 credit hours per quarter, and there are three quarters in a year. With 18 credit hours for vicarage, it comes up to 137 credit hours.
p. 70 There now is a tuition cost of $11,070 for vicarage, plus a vicarage fee of $579. Perhaps the vicarage and the person's home congregation helps pay this vicarage cost?
p. 71 $25 and $35 fees are Student Technology Fees.
p. 72 Room & Board charge listed is the cheapest rate available (e.g., double-occupancy dorm room).
This is probably unrelated to the new vicarage tuition charge, but see:
Convention Proceedings 2010, 64th Regular Convention, LCMS, Houston, TX, July 10-17, 2010, Resolution: To Increase Impact of Vicarage Program, p. 133.
Despite the high price, Concordia St. Louis' enrollment is up this year (2011-12), probably due to many students going to pre-seminary and seminary starting in 2007, simply because the economy is bad. The thinking goes that now's the time to go to school when not so much money can be made.  From email:
"The incoming class (2011-2012) is comprised of 133 students, including all those newly enrolled in residential and distance programs: 70 residential M.Div. students; four certificate students; one deaconess student; 10 EIIT (Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology) students; 19 SMP (Specific Ministry Pastor Program) students; one DIT (Deaf Institute of Theology) deaconess student; and five CHS (Center for Hispanic Studies) students and one CHS deaconess student. In addition, Concordia Seminary’s Graduate School has 22 new students: five M.A. (Master of Arts) students; eight Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) students, and nine S.T.M. (Master of Sacred Theology) students. The nineteen new SMP students received vicarage assignments during the Opening Service as well."
President Harrison encourages people to identify young adults to enter the ministry (video).
#2: Concordia Ft. Wayne Indiana (LCMS)
Apparently no tuition is charged for vicarage, but the Vicarage Fee/Internship Fee is $579.
#3: Luth. Theo. Sem. at Philadelphia (ELCA)
p. 32: "The expected course load for a full-time first professional student is generally ten course units per year, taken at the rate of four to five units per full semester and between one and two units during the January or Summer Terms."
p. 35: “Affiliation Fee is for attending non-ELCA seminary and only affiliating with an ELCA seminary.”
#4: Trinity Luth. Sem., Columbus, Ohio (ELCA)
“Trinity is the only ELCA seminary that has no debt and deferred maintenance. This places our school in a strong position for the future. As synod and church-wide support continue to decrease...”
#5: Luther Seminary, Minneapolis, MN (ELCA)
“Mandatory Annual Fee
Mandatory for all Luther Seminary students registered for three or more semester courses, including interns. Insurance premiums billed annually.
Health Insurance Cost-sharing Plan:
Not available for family coverage: $1,420”
Note:  Luther Seminary in Minneapolis is the only seminary where I saw a cost-sharing plan, though I might have easily missed it looking at the fees of other seminaries. Health insurance through the seminary is a mandatory fee at all ELCA seminaries for full-time students.  Health insurance is commonly available through most seminaries and can be added to the student bill.
P. 80: "A normal course load for the master of divinity degree is 10 courses per year"
P. 158: “Board & Housing”
#6: Pacific Luth. Theo. Sem., Berkeley, California (ELCA)
No meal plan is mentioned.
“Each Wednesday, a community lunch in the PLTS refectory offers the opportunity for our community to share a meal together.”
“There is a common kitchen and dining area on the basement level of Beasom equipped with a gas range and oven, pots, pans, baking equipment, dishes and utensils, and assigned refrigerator, freezer, and shelf space for each resident. “
#7: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C. (ELCA)
 “Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary will become the university’s  [Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C.] school of theology.”
Note: The merger allows Lenoir-Rhyne U to offer first-year seminary courses before students move on to seminary, which is similar to what the LCMS's Concordia U's want to do:
“The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., entered into a collaborative partnership with Lenoir-Rhyne University, making this the first combination of a Lutheran seminary with a university....“My goal is that we would be the primary seminary in the United States,” Miller said.”I hope we can continue to offer excellent education"....The two institutions plan to combine administrative and financial operations. L-R currently manages the financial component of the seminary, but wants to merge its recruiting, registration, fundraising, advancement and academic programs with LTSS....Powell said he hopes to offer first-year seminary courses at L-R that will provide students with the fundamentals to continue their education at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He also hopes with the completion of the merger that L-R can offer graduate programs at LTSS.”
Note: 7 weeks of lunch for summer Greek is $112, so 36 weeks for the 9 months of the regular school year work out to $576 (my guesstimate):
p. 10: My Note: Assuming ELCA member tuition rate
p. 11: Single Room (single occupancy) $2,970
p. 12: My Note: Only lunch is offered in the refectory.
#8: Luth. Theo. Sem. at Gettysburg, PA (ELCA)
“Tuition $13,050 (Fees included in tuition).
*Based on 30 credits per academic year.
Internship Tuition: 1,000 (est)”
“Food & Household Supplies - $3,500”
No meal plan cost is listed:
p. 121: "All dormitory students must buy the lunch meal plan at the dining hall."
“In the last decade, LTSG has been a model among the ELCA in preparing and living within a balanced budget. As a result of this care, Gettysburg Seminary comes to 2010 with a decade of balanced budgets. By many measures, Gettysburg is first or second among ELCA seminaries in terms of its financial strength....Today, the higher cost of delivering quality degree programs with fewer residential students necessitating more individualized courses of study, and the fact that this school can no longer increase tuition, room and board at the level of the past decade is bothersome. As ATS and MSCHE are well aware, there is a severe crisis in seminary education in this country and Canada, and even a crisis with the M.Div. degree itself, which remains by far the degree most often sought at our school.”
“Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa., adopted a budget for 2009-2010...Tuition increased by 5 percent.”
p. 54 “Beginning with the 2011-12 academic year, fees are included in tuition.
Internship Tuition: $ 1,000 per year
p. 55 Room & Board: Dormitory rooms are furnished and dormitory students must purchase the meal plan.”
#9: Wartburg Theo. Sem., Dubuque, IA (ELCA)
I couldn't find any estimate of meal plan, even for lunches.
“Tuition for a Master of Divinity degree is payable at the current rate each year for three years. Shortening the time spent earning the degree does not reduce the cost.”
Residence Hall Units: ranges from 165-235 Sq Ft: $275
“You may purchase meals in the kitchen, or you may purchase food and cook for yourself. If you take your meals in the school refectory, you must plan ahead for weekends and vacation periods when the food service is closed. Be sure to save some money to cover food during weekend and holiday times.”
#10 Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (ELCA)
Like most ELCA seminaries, their website mentions a refectory, but there's no information about meal plans. Everyone is on their own, apparently:
“During the internship year, a student does not pay tuition, therefore, no financial aid is awarded”
#11: Bethany Lutheran Seminary, Mankato, MN (ELS)
P. 18 Tuition and Fees.
Note: Not ATS accredited.
#12: Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (ELCA)
“Small Room $7,490 per academic year (all meals included)”
“BTh/MDiv/MTS/Certificate Programs Credit: $650 per course
Upgraded MDiv course: $750”
Note: Most Canadian seminaries are associated with universities. Also, one runs into "upgrading" of courses and even of degrees, for example, from B.Th to M.Div. The B. Th. Is the equivalent of MDiv in the Anglosphere (Australia, New Zealand, etc). Sometimes additional coursework or reading is necessary for the upgrade:
“...holders of the B.Th. degree from St. Andrew’s College may apply to the Academic Committee to have their B.Th. upgraded to an M.Div. A new diploma will be issued upon surrender of the B.Th. diploma and payment of a processing fee.”
“Any Continuing Education course which is to be used for academic credit will need to be upgraded by further work to meet the standards of full academic courses.”
2. an accumulated average of not less than 65% over the three or four years of study in residency.
So that works out to 10 courses per year for three years (for our tuition and fees calculation purposes).
#13: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI (WELS)
Note: Not ATS accredited.
#14: Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada (LCC)
“p. 52: $735 per three credit hours (graduate),
p. 52: Inasmuch as Concordia is subsidized by Lutheran Church–Canada for the primary purpose of training pastors for LCC, an educational fee surcharge of 10% will be applied to students from partner churches, and 25% to all others.
p. 52: The seminary administration’s need-based disbursal of Concordia’s financial aid funds will endeavour, as appropriate and where possible, to supply 80% of tuition expenses.
p. 53: Student Activity Fee: $1.75 per registered semester hour ($63 for 36 credits)
p. 18: Transfer Students
To qualify for the M.Div. or M.T.S. degree, students who transfer from an accredited seminary or theological school recognized by Brock must complete at least their final 36 credit hours at Concordia.
p. 21: M.Div. Degree Requirements: Successful completion of 111 semester hours (93 required)
p. 23: 36 credit hours per year for years 1, 2 and 4, and vicarage counts as 6 credit hours during the 3rd year.”
#15: Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (ELCC)
MDiv Program at a Glance:
• Number of courses: 30 courses plus placements for Contextual Stream students
• Format: full-time or part-time studies
• Tuition: approximately $18,000 for program
“Completion of the program includes three years of course work, as well as a one year internship normally in the fourth year of study.
MDiv contextual option requires 31 half-credit courses“
Note: Tuition is $2,386 per term, but every Canadian student receives a scholarship (bursary) of $518, so the real tuition rate is $1,868 per term. I think the vicarage is 3 terms because they want the student interning a full year. Otherwise, the school year is 9 months or two terms (Fall and Winter). There is a vicarage fee of $501, but the placement church usually picks that up.
“Full-Time Tuition $2,386.00 per term
MDiv Internship: $167.00 per term for 3 terms
Bursary* $518.00 per term
International Students: $5,175.00 per term
Normally the placement covers the cost of the Internship tuition. Bursaries are not available to students on MDiv Internships.
Internship tuition: $167.00 per term for 3 terms”
My note: Room and Board for two terms: single dormitory: $4,263.00
#16: Concordia Luth. Sem., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (LCC)
Note: I added the field education fee in as a vicarage fee (though field education isn't vicarage) since I don't think other seminaries charge for field education. Also, I suppose the field education fee is a one-time fee, and I want to keep the cost comparison chart meaningful:
Tuition per credit hour: $220.00
Library fee (full-time students): $30.00/semester
Student activity fee (full-time students): $30.00/semester
Vicarage fee (6 hours x tuition rate per hour): $1320.00
Parish Ministry Immersion lab fee: $150.00
Note: A person would have to take 31.33 credit hours per year to come up with 94 credit hours in three academic years. Vicarage year is credited as 6 credit hours:
“The Master of Divinity program is a four-year full-time course of study
The Master of Divinity degree requires satisfactory mastery* of 100 credit hours”
I only came up with $21,999 for tuition for 4 yrs including vicarage tuition. Even with fees it only came up to $22,508. Perhaps they lowered the price from 24,000?:
“Tuition alone for the four years (including vicarage) exceeds $24,000.”
“But the seminaries’ pursuits are more necessary now than ever: now more than 60 of the 320-or-so LCC churches have pastoral vacancies — that’s one in six; what’s more, 50 LCC pastors were eligible to retire during one recent three-year period, and some of them have retired; the situation is not getting better.”
Other information of Interest:
ELCA NEWS SERVICE: Lilly Endowment Awards ELCA $1 Million to Address Seminarian Debt Concerns, January 5, 2010
“The ELCA has about 2,500 seminarians in its eight seminaries, and supervises the work of another 115 seminarians in other seminaries who are preparing for ordained ELCA ministry....The ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission is a seminary scholarship program created by the ELCA. Since 2000 it has distributed more than $4.6 million in scholarship support for 516 students enrolled at ELCA seminaries....In general "more seminarians have debt, and their debts are larger," said Donald L. Huber, project coordinator.  Such debts have negative implications for seminaries and for the church as seminary graduates seek to pay loans or default on them, which is already happening, he said....Debts carried by new pastors and professional lay leaders are a significant concern, said the Rev. Paul N. Hanson, director, Fund for Leaders, ELCA Development Services.  "I believe that the research will show that this debt is having an adverse effect on ministry in congregations....The project goal is to reduce the number of students who graduate with debt and to lower the size of that debt, Huber said.  Project leaders plan to develop an overall strategy for fundraising for students, he added.”
End of Notes
This and associated documents can be found here:


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Supp...":

A couple interesting seminary cost comparison links:

Dallas Theological Seminary has an interactive database that allows one to compare various seminaries by cost and other factors:

Luther Seminary in Minneapolis compares the cost of living on campus vs. off campus here:

Salaries and Tuition - ELCA and LCMS Compared


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Supp...":

related posts:

Graduate of Bethany Lutheran College taking on growing student loan debt load:
Report on college loan delinquency rate raises alarms -  


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Supp...":

Comic with SP Harrison visiting student loan debtors in debtors jail, a metaphor for perpetual debt that entraps many M Div students if they don't work at least 10 years in church work or an NPO and have the debt forgiven:

Someone Has Sent an Insider's Report from the LCMS, Jun 17, 2012:


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Supp...":

related post:

CUS-Concordia University System--compensation rates: