The Accelerated BA/MDiv program is designed to reduce the time and cost to become a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor. Normally, this process takes eight years total, but this program allows the student to finish in six. The program looks like this:

  • Three years at Wartburg College in Waverly (One term using Wartburg Seminary’s digital learning platform)
  • Three years at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque (Using Wartburg Seminary’s digital learning platform while working with a congregation.)

The Collaborative Learning Model of Wartburg Seminary is an innovative approach to delivering theological education. Students are taught by seminary faculty, trained supervisors, and mentors in a local congregation.

Wartburg College helps students discover and claim their callings—connecting their learning with faith and values, their understanding of themselves and their gifts, their perspective on life and the future, and the opportunities for participating in church, community, and the larger society in purposeful and meaningful ways.

Receive a Well-Rounded Education

There is no one path to becoming a Lutheran minister. In your undergraduate studies you can choose from any of the following majors and still be on track:

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the motivation for this program?

  • We believe God is calling us to encourage young men and women to pursue a call to ordained ministry. This program will significantly reduce the cost and time to become a Pastor without compromising the quality of the preparation.
  • The ELCA (and other denominations) have a significant clergy shortage due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation of Pastors.
  • Wartburg College and Wartburg Seminary were founded when Wilhelm Loehe sent Georg Grossmann to the United States.

How is it possible to finish a bachelor’s degree and Master of Divinity degree in six years rather than eight?

  • We’ve streamlined the curriculum to reduce redundancies and have some classes count for both seminary and college credit.

Do you have to major in religion?

  • No. There are 12 different majors students can choose from, including religion, philosophy, peace and justice, political science, psychology, sociology, history, economics, art, English, business administration, and international relations.

Who is eligible for the program?

  • Students age 18 to 25 who are considering a call to ordained ministry and are admitted to Wartburg College.
  • Students will also need to be approved for entrance through the ELCA candidacy process or its equivalent in other denominations by the time they complete their bachelor’s degree. We will help guide them through this process.

What if a student enters the program but decides not to go on to seminary?

  • Students who decide they are not called to continue on to Seminary and/or are denied candidacy will still retain all their credits towards a BA at the college. They will not have to pay back any scholarship money.

How will students be able to discern whether they are called to ministry at such a young age?

  • There will be an intensive discernment and faith formation component while the students are at the college.
  • Students will also participate in ministry leadership opportunities through Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry and/or congregations.

Will students save money through this program?

  • Yes! There are scholarships available to program participants in addition to the financial aid they will be receiving.
  • Getting a bachelor’s degree in three years instead four also will be a major cost savings.
  • The final three years of the program will be in a congregation with a pastor/mentor. Students will be part-time interns and finish their seminary classes. Because they’ll be getting paid during those three years there will be minimal debt incurred in this period.

Is this program just for Lutherans?

  • No! Students from other traditions are welcome as long as they are willing to attend an ELCA seminary and meet the entrance requirements for their denomination’s candidacy process.

For more information about the Accelerated BA/MDiv, please contact:

Brian Beckstrom

Dean of Spiritual Life
Wartburg College


This program was made possible through a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, a Wisconsin-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1998 by Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern through the partial sale of their business, Generac Power Systems. More information can be found on their website.