Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.
Message from the Dean
I believe the heart of Theological Education is forming faithful, wise and courageous leaders to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ in word and action. The church is called to be a servant-witness in the world. That requires leaders who are formed in faith, informed by knowledge, and experienced in practical application of their learning. As the world around us changes, church leaders need to be able to speak the Gospel in new ways to new audiences in new contexts.
Whether you are a prospective student discerning a call to ministry or to further theological study, an alumnus or alumna eager to see your alma mater continue preparing strong leaders for the church’s work in the world, or a friend interested in supporting this mission with your financial gifts, we are grateful to be in relationship with you. In the words of hymn writer Richard Leach, ‘Come, join the dance of Trinity!’
The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University
Dean - The Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans
Professors - The Rev. Dr. Brad Binau, The Rev. Dr. Kevin Dudley, The Rev., The Rev.Dr. Paul Numrich, The Rev. Dr. Cheryl Peterson, The Rev. Dr. Mark Allan Powell, May Schwarz, The Rev. Dr. Joy Schroeder, The Rev. Rachel Wrenn.
In 1830, the German Theological Seminary of the Ohio Synod, later known as the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, was founded to meet the need for educating pastors in the Ohio region. During its first decade, it had one theological professor, Wilhelm Schmidt.
In 1840, Ohio Lutheranism suffered schism. The English Synod of Ohio and the Joint Synod of Ohio eventually became part of the Lutheran Church in America and The American Lutheran Church respectively.
In 1845, the English Synod of Ohio founded Wittenberg College at Springfield to provide pastors for the Church as well as members of other professions. Ezra Keller was the first theological professor, and first president, of the fledgling college. In 1906, the theological department was named Hamma Divinity School in recognition of the generosity of Michael and Almira Hamma. In 1964, Hamma received a large measure of autonomy within the Wittenberg structure and was renamed Hamma School of Theology.
In 1850, the Joint Synod of Ohio founded Capital University. At that time, the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary was part of Capital University. In the 1920s the Seminary was moved to the present Trinity campus and given a large measure of autonomy within the University. In 1959, the Seminary separated from Capital, becoming an independent institution of The American Lutheran Church.
By the early twentieth century, Hamma and ELTS were united by a shared allegiance to the Lutheran Confessions, by the Common Service used by several Lutheran bodies in North America, and by much common history. As The American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America came to work closely together in theological education in the 1960s and 1970s, it was decided that there should be only one Lutheran seminary in Ohio. Trinity Lutheran Seminary opened its doors on September 1, 1978, as a joint seminary of the ALC and the LCA.
As a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1988 Trinity stands for what its predecessors, ELTS and Hamma, embodied-commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to educational excellence, and to thorough preparation for Christian service.
On January 1, 2018, Trinity Lutheran Seminary became part of Capital University.
Since its founding, Trinity Lutheran Seminary has provided opportunities for faith training in the classroom and around the globe, equipping students for transformative ministry in a variety of settings. The scope of our master’s degrees will prepare you to change the world, whether you see yourself leading a congregation, teaching in a class room or advocating for social justice in the community.
A Vision for Mission
Disciples of Jesus are called, gathered, and sent. Trinity’s mission statement clearly has that missional thrust. The faculty are determined to make our long-standing commitment to educate leaders for the church’s mission even more explicit by shaping a curriculum that is missional in focus.
With Serious Theology
A healthy and vigorous vision for mission requires a solid theological grounding. A diverse, talented, and charismatic faculty leads students through a rigorous academic curriculum. Courses explore sound principles of biblical interpretation, the history of the church’s witness to the gospel, and the task of theology for the missional church in today’s world. Courses in pastoral care, stewardship, mission, Christian education, and the music, tradition and culture of our liturgy provide further formation for leadership. The faculty has committed itself to infusing their own teaching with a missional consciousness.
Students plan and participate in daily worship; initiate and share in an intentional prayer life; explore the importance of the manifold forms of ritual and music; and continually seek ways to remember their baptismal covenant and its meaning for a life in faith. A deep spirituality is essential to strong leadership in mission and mission redevelopment.
Students gain valuable practical experience in churches, nursing homes, and hospitals; in urban, rural, and suburban neighborhoods; and in travel to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. First- and second-year students explore and participate in ministry through their “Leadership in Context” assignments in churches throughout Columbus, and third- and fourth-year students grow and mature in their development as pastors with mentors in internship placements across the state and across the country.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary is a professional school on the graduate level.
Located in Bexley, Ohio, a suburb on the near east side of Columbus, the Seminary sits just minutes away from the urban vitality of greater Columbus - the country’s 15th largest city. It is easily accessible from Interstate Highway 70 via the Livingston Avenue or Main Street exits. Across College Avenue from the Seminary is the main campus of Capital University.
The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program typically prepares students for ordained ministry. The program typically spans four years for full-time students, which includes the contextual education requirements.
The Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) degree may be earned in two years of full-time study. This degree is intended for those persons seeking personal and/or professional enrichment through the study of theology, bible, history, and related disciplines. In cooperation with Capital University Law School, students may earn dual degrees by making application to both schools.
The Master of Arts in Youth and Family Ministry (M.A.Y.F.M.) may be earned in two years of full-time study or an equivalent amount of part-time work. A combination of broad theological studies, focused studies in youth and family ministries, and supervised fieldwork provide the foundation and experience for service in congregations, outdoor ministries, and other church agencies.
The Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) is a post- graduate degree which may be completed in twelve months of full-time study. It is offered to those candidates who hold the Master of Divinity or the Master of Theological Studies and who engage in a rigorous program of specialized post-graduate study. Because each program has its own integrity, the faculty must approve transfers between the M.Div., the M.T.S., and the M.A. degree programs. If a student transfers from one degree program to another, credit for a course taken in the first program may be applied to the second program only with the approval of the Academic Dean.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary academic calendar can be found at https://www.capital.edu/academic-calendars/#trinity.
May term is designed to provide opportunities for intensive study in many different types of contexts and locations. International courses have been conducted in Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, the Middle East, Kenya, Germany, and Haiti. Other opportunities for study have included courses in urban settings such as Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. as well as rural settings such as Nebraska, South Dakota, and Appalachia. On-campus courses feature elements not possible to include during regular terms.
In-Term Course Scheduling - Courses may be scheduled to meet for the full semester, for only the first half of the semester (Session 1), or for only the second half of the semester (Session 2).
Academic Standing and Academic Probation
In order to be in good academic standing, a student must not be on academic probation. A student in the M.Div., M.T.S., or M.A. degree program. will be placed on academic probation when, over the course of two successive terms, he or she earns grades that meet the following conditions:
- One Fail and one Marginal or D letter grade
- More than one Fail
- More than two Marginals or D letter grades
If a student in the S.T.M. degree program earns two or more grades of B- or lower in any two successive terms, he or she will be placed on academic probation and the faculty will be notified. J-Term and spring semester are considered as one term for this purpose. A student will remain on academic probation until a sequence of courses totaling at least twelve hours or that completes the student’s degree program has been completed with all grades of Pass.
Remaining on Academic Probation may jeopardize a student’s financial aid. A student who remains on academic probation after two terms may be advised to withdraw. In extreme cases the faculty may suspend or dismiss a student. Suspension will be for a specific length of time, usually one year, after which reapplication for admission may be considered by the faculty. Dismissal of a student ordinarily precludes readmission.
Admission to the Seminary is based on more than academic considerations. Acceptance to study for the ministries of the Church involves qualities of the whole person and expectations of the Church concerning the character of seminarians. Specific admissions requirements are listed under each degree programs.
Application for admission must be made through the Office of Admissions. Detailed information regarding admissions can be found here. While late applications will be considered, late applicants put themselves at a disadvantage in regard to requests for Seminary housing, financial aid, and campus employment. For this reason, it is recommended that applicants begin the admission process as early as possible.
Admission - International Students
In recent years, students have come from Kazakhstan, China, Iceland, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. The international community includes both pastors and laypersons, most of whom are completing requirements for the Master of Sacred Theology or Master of Theological Studies degree. These students are a valued part of the Seminary community, contributing a continuing witness to the global nature of the Christian Church.
Lutheran students seeking study in the United States apply on standard application forms that shall be obtained from the national church office in the applicant’s home country. The Seminary works with the Global Mission Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the companion national churches to determine priorities of study. Application forms should be returned to the Director of International Scholarships of the ELCA. Candidates who are not Lutheran apply directly to the Office of Admissions.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary is authorized by Federal Law to admit F-1 non-immigrant students. International students who are admitted to Trinity Lutheran Seminary must obtain a Form I-20 - Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status from Trinity’s International Student Advisor before applying for their student visa.
All seminaries, colleges and universities in the United States must electronically report the following information about F-1 students to the Immigration Customs Enforcement each term: enrollment status, current address, and start date of the next term. This electronic notification system requires that international students take great care to maintain their F-1 status and follow all requirements. All international students are required to be registered full- time (9 credit hours), unless they receive authorization to drop to part-time.
All international students must complete a financial certification form as part of the application for admission with proper documentation attached that reflects an ability to support themselves for the entire academic year. On-campus employment is very limited and cannot be used as the sole means of support. The only off-campus opportunities available to international students are Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training (after completion of studies), and Employment Due to Economic Hardship. For more information regarding off-campus employment, students should contact the Director of International Education.
All international students whose first language is not English are required to submit proof of English-language proficiency documented by a recent TOEFL score. Questions about English language proficiency may be directed to the Director of International Education.
Students seeking to be rostered ministers (pastors and deacons) in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America enter a process called candidacy from the very beginning of their preparation for ministry. The candidacy process includes both review and support carried out by the Church through a candidacy committee of the student’s home synod in partnership with the Seminary and the candidate’s congregation The student’s candidacy committee will provide information to each candidate regarding the various steps of the process.
Applicants for the Master of Divinity degree program who are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America should first contact their synodical office to begin the entrance phase of the ELCA candidacy process. The candidacy process should be initiated at least six months before anticipated enrollment at the Seminary. The Seminary grants full admission to the M.Div. degree program to ELCA applicants only after they have received a positive entrance decision from their candidacy committee. Ideally, the entrance process is completed and the entrance decision made prior to enrollment. The Seminary requires ELCA M.Div. candidates to receive a positive entrance decision by the end of the student’s first semester in the M.Div. program.
Email / ILearn
All faculty, staff, and students are issued. In order to use iLearn in any course, students must use their Capital e-mail address. To obtain an active account, call Information Technology at 614/236-6508 or stop at Information Technology on the first floor of the Blackmore Library to register for an email account. It is free for all students who are enrolled or on leave. Students are strongly encouraged to check their Capital e-mail accounts daily. All e-mails related to course work and university business will be sent only to university e-mail addresses.
Hamma Library houses a collection of more than 140,000 books and periodicals. As a part of Capital University’s Library Services, seminary students also have access to more than 250 databases that include 20,000 journals and periodicals, plus more than 250,000 eBooks. As a member of OhioLINK, students also have access to more than 100 other academic libraries and their collections. Electronic resources are available on and off campus, from most devices, and print materials are deliverable for pick up at Hamma, or any other OhioLINK library that is convenient. As a member of the Atla Reciprocal Borrower program, seminary students and alumni can borrow at over 100 other theological libraries across the country. Ask the librarian for more information about any of these borrowing options.
Library also has five student use computers, and a network printer. Students will find plenty of group workspace, as well as quiet corners for individual study.
The Seminary Choir and the Liturgical Choir are open to students, faculty, staff, and their spouses and children. Although the choirs exist primarily to enhance the worship and musical life of the Seminary, the Seminary Choir also sings for special events. Other vocal and instrumental groups are organized each year in response to student interest.
Part of the experience of seminary is the support of the growth and development of the whole person-body, mind and spirit. Resources are available throughout the community to contribute to that development. Trinity’s daily worship life, the presence of those who have been trained in spiritual direction, interactions with many clergy within the Seminary community, workshops, referrals to area social and interpersonal professionals, and community events contribute to strengthening personal resiliency. Trinity Lutheran Seminary is dedicated to deepening the challenge and hope offered to each person in order to develop disciplines and perspectives that encourage health and wholeness.
Spouses and families are a valuable part of the Trinity community. Families are invited and encouraged to participate in daily worship and special events, to use the library and to become involved in support groups and special events.
Because of the wide range of undergraduate programs and majors offered by colleges and universities, Trinity does not require any one type of undergraduate preparation as a prerequisite for theological study. However, it is recommended that, whenever possible, pre-seminary students include in their course of study a broad background in the liberal arts, including such subjects as English, history, modern languages, philosophy, Greek, and the social sciences. In light of present-day racism, sexism, global poverty amid affluence, and the history of injustice with respect to American minorities, it is of utmost importance that sensitivity to these issues be nurtured prior to entering the Seminary.
Although academic work at the baccalaureate level cannot be counted for credit at the master’s level, students with courses in Bible and theology at the college level may benefit in their seminary program in one or more of the following ways:
- They may test out of a core requirement. A student who tests out is exempted from taking the course but the hours required for graduation are not reduced. The student may be required to substitute a course from that area of study for the exempted core course.
- They may have certain entry-level core requirements waived, in which case the student will take another course in that area of study for each course waived.
- They may be admitted to certain courses for which they do not have the Trinity prerequisites
If a student’s academic background is such that a core course would involve a large amount of repetition, that student may test out of the course by arrangement through the Associate Dean for Academics and the instructor of the course to take an oral or written competency examination. Demonstrated competency will exempt the student from the course but will not reduce the hours required for graduation. At the discretion of the Associate Dean for Academics in consultation with appropriate faculty, the student may be required to substitute an upper-level course from the same academic division as the exempted course.
Credit will be transferred from accredited graduate schools and seminaries if it can appropriately be applied to a Trinity degree program, with certain provisos. No transfer credit will be given for work done with a letter grade under C, or with a grade of Marginal in Pass/Marginal/Fail grading systems.
There is a time limit of 10 years on:
- Transfer credit
- Credit from Trinity for a degree that was not completed
- Credit from Trinity for a completed degree that is to be applied to a different degree program, in the M.Div., M.T.S., and M.A. degree programs.
First and foremost, worship is where God encounters us with love, mercy, and the transforming presence of Jesus Christ in Word and sacrament. Shared daily worship calls the Trinity Lutheran Seminary community together and forms the basis for our common life and the center of our spiritual and educational formation in Christ. We worship together as one academic community of faculty, staff, students and guests. In doing so, we demonstrate our unity as members of the One Body and affirm that the work of praising and serving God is the foundation for our studies and for our corporate life.
The worship of God is a priority as a seedbed of formation. Our worship forms, equips, and inspires us and our guests and prepares our students for excellence in worship leadership, not only on our campus but also in the world.
The particular focus of our community on preparation for ministry brings certain secondary functions of our worship into prominence. These include the following:
- In worship, our busy and fragmented lives can stop for a moment so we may recollect what we are about and find our lives, individually and corporately, re-centered in God.
- In worship, our vocational commitments can deepen as we cultivate the habits and spiritual dispositions necessary for faithful service.
- In worship, we may be enabled by God to bear one another’s burdens and to uphold one another even in our differences as we pray for each other and for the world.
- In worship, opportunities are provided for students to plan, participate in, and grow to appreciate services representing diverse liturgical traditions while deepening an understanding of their own specific traditions.