Accreditation and Educational Effectiveness

Accreditation of Degrees

United Lutheran Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and the following degree programs are approved: MDiv, MA in Ministerial Leadership, MA, MA in Public Leadership, STM, DMin and PhD. ATS is located at 10 Summit Park Drive, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Telephone: 412-788-6505, Fax: 412-788-6510.

United Lutheran Seminary is also accredited by The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCHE) for Pennsylvania. The following degree programs are approved: MDiv, MA in Ministerial Leadership, MA, MA in Public Leadership, STM, DMin and PhD.

Detail of Accredited Status

United Lutheran Seminary continues under the charter of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Gettysburg Seminary). In 2011 Gettysburg Seminary (as of July 1, 2017, United Lutheran Seminary) received re-accreditation for the maximum ten-year period.

In their report, independent outside evaluators from the two accrediting agencies commended our school for the “deep commitment to the vision of the institution” on the part of students, faculty, staff, the board of directors, alumni and other constituents. Specifically noted was “ample evidence that the institution uses its curricular offerings in ways that order learning, teaching and research to both educational goals and professional qualifications for ministry.”

Statement of Educational Effectiveness/Student Achievement

United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) seeks to educate and train faithful, capable and creative persons for public leadership in Christ’s church to enable the church to fulfill its mission. Our various degree programs combine high academic standards with practical experience to prepare graduates for both lay and ordained ministries. Although the seminary is a Lutheran seminary, it strives to be ecumenical, multicultural, and hospitable in all aspects of campus life.Our faculty is comprised of professors from various faith traditions, and ULS welcomes students from a wide range of denominational backgrounds.

On February 7, 2020 the ATS Board of Commissioners voted to impose Notation N5.b (the new ATS Standards approved in June 2020 reclassified what was formerly Notation N5.b now as “Warning, Faculty”).* The warning expressed the Board of Commissioners’ judgment that ULS was not adequately engaging the faculty in planning and shared governance.Since receiving the warning, the ULS Board of Trustees has worked collaboratively with the Faculty to develop a Faculty Handbook that has now been approved by both the Faculty and the Board of Trustees. Already this progress, as well as the Board inviting Faculty review of proposed changes to the ULS Bylaws, bodes well for ULS presenting a markedly better picture of shared governance by the time of our required report to ATS in November 2021 concerning the warning.” 

(*A warning is the lowest level of three public sanctions that the Association of Theological Schools Board of Commissioners can issue. A warning communicates that, while the school substantially meets accreditation standards, it is at risk of not meeting at least one of those standards.)

Master of Divinity

This program prepares persons for service in a variety of pastoral settings as ordained pastors or for service in similar leadership positions.The program provides the necessary tools and resources for the spiritual,vocational, professional, and theological requirements of pastoral leadership.The degree normally requires the equivalent of three years of full-time classroom study plus the equivalent of a year of full-time field placement.

Of the 245 students admitted to the MDiv program from Fall 2012 through Spring 2017 at one of the predecessor institutions, 166 have since graduated and 15 others continue to be engaged in MDiv studies, a retention rate of 74 percent. From 2015 through 2019 ULS and its two predecessor institutions awarded MDivs to 205 students, at least 178 of whom found pastoral placements within one year of graduation. While many of these students engaged studies on a part-time basis, those graduating nonetheless completed the degree in an average of 4.26 years.

 Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership

This degree program prepares persons for leadership service in the church and requires two years of full-time study. In the predecessor institutions, the equivalent degree was the Master of Ministerial Studies. Of the 17 students admitted from Fall 2012 through Spring 2017, 11 went on to earn their degrees, while 2 are still in their programs, a retention rate of over 76%. From 2015 to 2019 the degree was awarded to 13 students, at least 10 of whom are known to have found placements in keeping with their vocational goals. The degree was completed in an average of 3.5 years.

Master of Arts

This degree program provides students the opportunity to pursue a concentration in an area of theological interest while also providing a broad foundation for further graduate study, general educational background, or to pursue personal vocational goals. It requires the equivalent of two years of full-time study.The predecessor institutions offered the Master of Arts in Religion. Of the 38 students admitted from Fall 2012 through Spring 2017, 23 went on to earn degrees, while 2 are still in their programs, a retention rate of over 65%. The MA or MAR degrees were awarded to 27 students between 2015 and 2019. Students completed the program in an average of 3.5 years.

Master of Arts in Public Leadership

This program enables students to enhance their competencies to serve in faith-based public service agencies through a two-year program of coursework and field work at a faith-based institution. Sixteen students were admitted to the MAPL program from Fall 2012 through Spring 2017, with 12 completing their degrees, a retention rate of 75%.  From 2015 to 2019 the degree was awarded to 11 students, at least 7 of whom are known to have found positions in keeping with their goals. These students completed their programs in an average of 2.7 years.

Master of Sacred Theology

This degree program offers an opportunity for concentrated study in a given area of theological inquiry for those who have completed a first theological degree.The program promotes advanced understanding in a particular theological discipline, increases knowledge and competency for ministry in all of its variety, and provides a foundation for further advanced study. Normally undertaken part-time, the degree may be completed within one year if taken full-time. From Fall 2012 through Spring 2017 37 students were admitted to the STM program,with 13 earning the degree and 8 others remaining in the program, a retention rate of over 56%. From 2015 through 2019 the degree was awarded to 27 students,many in full-time ministry, who completed the program in an average of lessthan 5.5 years.

Doctor of Ministry

This degree program is designed to enhance the practice of ministry for those who have been serving in ordained ministry for at least three years. Students establish individualized learning goals and devote intensive study to some task or issue in the practice of ministry. Forty students were admitted to the DMin program from Fall 2012 through Spring 2017, 17 of whom went on to earn their degrees,while 11 more remain in the program, a retention rate of 70%. From 2015 through 2019 the degree was awarded to 35 students, most of them full-time pastors, who completed the program in an average of 5 years.

Doctor of Philosophy

This degree program equips persons for vocations of teaching and research and for the scholarly enhancement of ministerial practice. Students select major and minor fields of study as the focus of course work and the dissertation. The program is not currently accepting new students. However, from the inception of the program in 2005 through 2017, 34 students were admitted into the program.Degrees were awarded to 21 students, who completed the program in an average of 5.67 years. At least 11 of our graduates have found faculty appointments or regular teaching positions, while most others are actively engaged as adjuncts or doing enhanced parish ministry. Eight students remain in the program at various stages; they have spent an average of 7.6 years in their studies to date.