Deaconess Program

"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ," wrote St. Paul to the saints in Galatia (Gal 6:2). He was calling them to bear witness to the Christ who was in them by showing mercy and compassion to those in need. Jesus taught his disciples that a lively confession of the faith must always be accompanied by a life of charity and forgiveness.

Concordia Theological Seminary was founded in 1846 by pastors in order to share the precious Gospel of Christ as biblically and historically confessed by the Lutheran Church. One of those pastors, Pastor Wilhelm Loehe of Neuendettalsau, Bavaria, Germany, was committed to the training of deaconesses for service in the church as a part of the seminary’s mission. In Germany, Loehe supported a thriving group of deaconesses devoted to providing acts of mercy and charity to those broken by sickness and sin. When the seminary began its deaconess program in the fall of 2003, it was simply continuing a tradition begun by Pastor Loehe over 150 years ago.

A deaconess is a woman who is theologically trained and dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Christ through acts of mercy and human care. The role of deaconess finds expression in diverse settings and specializations, whether in a congregation, in an institution, or on the mission field. Serving alongside the pastor, she embodies Christ’s incarnational care in the midst of suffering.

The Deaconess program at Concordia Theological Seminary provides competent women with a rigorous theological education at the master’s level. This training equips women for professional service in the church in such areas as counseling, social ministry, visitation of the sick and dying, and teaching the faith under the direction of the pastoral office.

Upon fulfillment of program requirements, students receive a Master of Arts degree with deaconess certification. Deaconess certification is endorsed by the faculty for students who display dedication and readiness for service as a deaconess.

Concordia Theological Seminary offers two M.A. programs for Deaconess students, the M.A. (leading to deaconess certification) which is a residential program, and the M.A. in Deaconess Studies which is a distance program.

For more information on each program, please choose below:




There is an urgent need for deaconesses, theologically trained women with graduate or undergraduate degrees, to serve in congregations, institutions, or the mission field. Are you a congregation, institution, or an individual who would like to learn more about the role of a deaconess? Follow this link to find some LCMS World Relief and Human Care resources that provide detailed descriptions of what a deaconess is and opportunities for deaconess service.

Academic Programs