Waterloo Lutheran Seminary
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary provides for the scholarly study of the Christian faith and ministry in an interdenominational setting, especially in its Lutheran expression and within the Canadian context. Such education includes dialogue between theology and ministry and other academic and professional disciplines, and seeks to help students develop an integrated theology that activates a meaningful engagement with the world.
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary is an institution of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The primary task of the Seminary is to serve as a resource for the Eastern Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the church at large. In pursuit of this task, the Seminary educates men and women in and for ordained and lay Christian ministry, and helps them effectively exercise their ministry in the church and the world. Programs include basic and advanced theological study, interdisciplinary studies, supervised contextual experiences and continuing education opportunities for both academic and non-academic credit. To carry out these objectives and as appropriate, the faculty and staff of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary teach and support students, conduct research, engage in ministerial activity and attend to administrative duties.
For more information: www.seminary.wlu.ca
Department Information on this page
As a federated college of Wilfrid Laurier University and a member of the university Graduate Faculty Council, the Seminary maintains close ties, especially with the Department of Religion and Culture and the Faculty of Social Work. These ties are maintained through co-operation between the seminary and religion and culture faculty members, and through the sharing of a common pool of graduate courses with the Department of Religion and Culture. This means that seminarians and university graduate students take courses with faculty based in both the Seminary and the Department of Religion and Culture. The ties with the Faculty of Social Work are maintained through the offering of a joint MDiv-MSW degree program.
The close relationship between the Seminary and the university also offers other advantages. All the facilities and academic, social, athletic and cultural programs of the university are available to seminary students. Moreover, seminary students may take additional courses in the university to make up possible deficiencies in pre-theological training or to enrich their program of theological studies.
The Seminary is a fully accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools.
Eligible candidates for programs offered by the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (WLS) are admitted upon the approval of the WLS Principal-Dean. The requirements for admission to any program in the WLS normally include a bachelor's degree from a recognized accredited university or university college. Normally, endorsement by their church is required of students preparing for the ordained ministry. Students who do not meet requirements for admission should contact the WLS Admissions Coordinator to pursue special admission options.
Students applying to the MDiv or MA programs who lack no more than two courses towards the bachelor's degree may be admitted by special action of the Seminary Faculty if their past performance allows the conclusion that they will be able to complete the bachelor's requirements by the end of the first year in seminary.
Students with considerable life experience who wish to prepare for the parish ministry and who have been recommended by their church, may be admitted without a completed pre-seminary education by special action of the Seminary Faculty. The total number of such students admitted without a bachelor's degree normally may not exceed 10 percent of the student body. With reference to pre-seminary education, the student should have studied in various disciplines such as science, the humanities and religion.
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary adheres to principles enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Applications to the master's and doctoral degree programs are submitted online. An application fee of $100 for master's programs, $125 for the doctoral program, and $225 for the joint MSW programs, is required.
Applications to the diploma and general graduate studies program are available on the Seminary website. Application instructions and supporting documentation required for each area of studies available here. Upon receipt of these documents the applicant will be informed by the Seminary concerning admissibility.
Applicants whose language of instruction for an undergraduate degree was other than English must furnish evidence of proficiency in English usage prior to admission. Consult the Graduate studies website for details on English language proficiency.
Admission to the General graduate student program (GGS) requires a bachelor's degree or equivalent. General graduate students take up to five graduate courses for credit but are not enrolled in a degree at WLS. Students who obtain credits in this category and subsequently decide to apply to a degree program must meet both the admission requirements and pay fees according to their category at that time. Course credit from GGS courses may be approved by the Academic Administrative Committee as credit toward the subsequent degree.
Students are encouraged to consult the program/department to inquire about course offerings each year.
Doctoral students must register for three terms each year commencing September 1, January 1 and May 1 to the end of the term in which all degree requirements are completed. Full-time master's students must maintain continuous yearly registration of at least two terms each year to the end of the term in which all degree requirements are completed. Part-time students must maintain registration of at least one term each year.
Advanced Standing and Credit Transfer
Permission to receive advanced credit toward a diploma, masters or doctoral degree in the Seminary for courses taken previously at another institution on the same academic level as corresponding seminary courses will be granted to transfer students at the discretion of the Academic Administrative Committee in consultation with the seminary faculty. However, students wishing to graduate from Waterloo Lutheran Seminary must register as full-time students for at least one academic year or the equivalent thereof. Courses that have been credited toward a degree at WLU or any other institution cannot normally be counted again toward a diploma or degree in Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Students who hold the Master of Divinity degree from a theological college accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada may petition the Academic Administrative Committee to receive advanced standing for up to eight introductory courses in biblical studies, church history and systematic theology toward the Master of Arts in theology degree. Courses taken at the undergraduate level or as "audit" will not be considered for advanced standing or transfer credit.
Students who are already enrolled in a seminary program may take courses at another institution for credit towards their degree or diploma providing that permission is obtained from the Seminary and the host institution prior to course registration. In such cases the appropriate forms are available from the Seminary Office. Courses taken by seminary students in another institution or program are the financial responsibility of the student.
Persons who wish to continue their education but do not care to earn academic credit may be eligible to audit courses. Courses taken as an audit will not count towards a degree. Audit students are not eligible to enrol in doctoral-level courses.
Persons not currently registered who wish to audit seminary courses may apply for admission by applying as a General Graduate Student to Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, which includes providing undergraduate transcripts. In all cases, an application fee of $50 will apply, except for students registered in a graduate program at Wilfrid Laurier University. Admission normally is limited to those persons with evidence of undergraduate courses completed to the equivalent of one year's work. Exceptions may be presented to the Academic Administrative Committee for consideration.
Audit students must have the permission of the instructor, and registration will normally be limited to 25 percent of the total enrolment for each particular course. Regular attendance, full preparation and participation in class are expected.
Audit courses will be included in the course weight limits for degree program students.
Leave of Absence
Students may petition for a leave of absence (to a maximum of three consecutive terms) at a time when circumstances prevent them from working on either their course work or their thesis. Students are normally permitted only one leave of absence. Students receiving a leave of absence must re-register for the term immediately following the end of their leave of absence. Failure to re-register for that term will be considered an act of withdrawal from the Seminary.
Terms spent on leave of absence are not included in the calculation of the time to completion.
Termination of Registration
A student whose work or attendance is considered to be unsatisfactory as determined by the seminary faculty may be required by the principal-dean of the Seminary to withdraw at any time from particular courses, from a particular program, or from the Seminary.
Failure by a full-time diploma or master's seminary student to maintain continuous yearly registration of at least two terms each calendar year, or by a part-time diploma or master's seminary student to maintain continuous yearly registration of at least one term each calendar year, or for any doctoral student to maintain continuous yearly registration of three terms each year, will be considered an act of withdrawal from the Seminary.
Withdrawal from the Seminary
For a variety of reasons, such as personal, financial, academic or vocational, a student may choose to withdraw from studies at the Seminary. The student is requested to contact the principal-dean of the Seminary to discuss formal withdrawal. The failure of a student to remain registered as a full-time, part-time, leave of absence or research fee student will be considered an act of withdrawal. Should students desire later to resume studies after having withdrawn, they must reapply for admission to the Seminary.
Students who withdraw from the Seminary at any time retain the final grades in courses completed prior to the date of their withdrawal.
Students who withdraw after the final date for withdrawing without failure will have the courses in their program recorded as a failure.
Students holding scholarships, loans or other indebtedness related to their tenure as seminary students, must bear responsibility for meeting obligations in returning or repaying funds.
Contextual education is an integral component of the Seminary's programs which prepares students for the ordained ministry. The objective of contextual education is to provide both the context and the process wherein personal and professional growth in ministry is fostered through the student's active involvement in a local parish setting, or, as is sometimes possible and desirable, in a social service setting. This involvement is drawn into the classroom dimension of the seminary's programs through the four courses in contextual ministry. Each of these courses focuses on a different aspect of student involvement and growth in the ministry setting to which they are assigned by the supervisor of contextual education.
To facilitate the student's growth in contextual education, it is expected that a learning covenant will be formulated at the commencement of the school year and in conjunction with courses in contextual ministry. This learning covenant explicitly delineates expectations, paths towards expectation fulfilment and means for evaluation.
To provide a maximum of experience, normally students will not be placed in their home congregation or in the same setting for a second year, except where such placement may be deemed absolutely essential to the growth and development of the student.
The supervisor of contextual education supervises the processes of contextual education in accord with the seminary faculty's educational policies and in co-operation with churches and agencies in the field.
Contextual education does not involve financial remuneration. It is, however, possible for a congregation and/or agency to offer a student an honorarium; when such is the case, the honorarium is not to exceed $400 for the school year.
By action of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the successful completion of a 9-12 month internship (or its equivalent) is required of all ELCIC candidates studying for the ministry. This 12-month period may include the basic quarter of SPE required by Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Internship is normally a graduation requirement for the contextual stream of the MDiv degree.
Internship is in a parish setting, although, subject to seminary faculty approval, specialized internships in non-parish settings may be permitted. In such instances, a parish component is a normal feature. Usually internship follows the third year of seminary courses.
The Seminary is normally responsible for the placement and supervision of all interns through the supervisor of contextual education. The Seminary, however, recognizes and respects the authority of the pastor supervisor in the congregation.
Placements of interns are made by the Seminary after consultation with the students, pastor supervisors and church officials. Student placement takes into consideration the student's abilities, need for experience, needs of the congregation and the particular skills and personality of the pastor supervisor.
Supervision of interns by the pastor supervisor includes establishing with the student a learning covenant and setting aside regular weekly conferences for reflection-interaction. Emphasis in these sessions should focus upon ministry, relationships and evaluation of performance objectives. An internship committee comprised of representative lay people from the congregation is required.
In the process of intern placements, the supervisor of contextual education will have received from each potential intern a written application by November 30th and from each potential congregation a written application by November 30th. (These application forms are available from the supervisor. The submission of a written application guarantees neither a placement nor obtaining an intern.) The finalization of internships is usually accomplished towards the latter part of March.
In the placement of interns, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary co-operates actively with the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon and with Lutheran seminaries in the USA.
The internship support package includes a basic stipend, housing, travel and other incidentals.
The Supervisor of Contextual Education meets with each lay internship committee once per year. Final placements are made by the Internship Placement Committee and reported to the faculty.
Students doing internships are required to have successfully completed their Supervised Pastoral Education (SPE).
Seminary students enrolled in the MDiv program are required to complete successfully a minimum of 12 weeks of supervised (clinical) pastoral education at an agency or institution approved by CAPPE or ACPE, under a supervising chaplain holding the status of supervisor or acting supervisor within CAPPE or ACPE. The seminary faculty reserves the right to approve a student's placement. The majority of seminary students complete this requirement in "clinical centres" in southwestern Ontario. However, other centres in Canada and the United States may be selected if approved by the seminary faculty. SPE should be taken by students normally after the completion of their first or second year at the seminary.
The responsibility of financing this course rests with each student. Bursaries may be available.
The seminary programs are not limited to those who wish to prepare for full-time service in the Lutheran church. The programs of study are sufficiently broad to be of interest and value for students from many denominations, whether or not they plan to enter full-time service in the church.
A seminary student is a person who has been admitted by the Seminary to one of the following: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts in theology Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work; Doctor of Ministry; Diploma in Multifaith Spiritual Care and Counselling; General Graduate Student in Theology.
Graduation from the Seminary does not automatically imply ordination.
The academic year is divided into fall, winter and spring terms, with a reduced set of course offerings available in the spring term. All courses involve 36 hours of instructional class time. The average workload for students is 2-3 hours of work outside of class per hour of class time.
All courses are subject to marks within the following grade and point range as specified in each program.
Normally, students can take no more than one directed study course per semester to a maximum of three in any degree program, of which no more than two are in any curricular area. Students may take no more than one directed study course in any one term. All directed study courses require approval of the Academic Administrative Committee Students who desire to take directed studies should complete the appropriate forms from the Seminary Website.
In those instances where a student is proposing to enrol in courses offered at other institutions, The Academic Administrative Committee must approve the course of study.
Normally a student registers for no more than 5 courses per term. Seminary students in a degree program who obtain a grade lower than B- in a course will be required to withdraw from their program unless they receive permission from the Academic Administrative Committee to repeat the course in question or its equivalent.
Course Completion and Extension
Course requirements must be completed and submitted as scheduled by the course instructor. If warranted by an emergency, students may petition in writing to the Academic Administrative Committee for an extension not to exceed the following (one) term. Such petitions for extension must be received no later than one week after the last week of course lectures in which the course was given. Permission for a course extension requires the approval of the Academic Administrative Committee. Incomplete courses (without extension approval) automatically receive the grade of F.
Grades submitted for work done in courses completed under an extension will be lowered one grade point by the seminary registrar (e.g., B+ becomes B).
An MTS student can be enrolled in TH680B (Comprehensive Seminar II), an MDiv student can be enrolled in TH680D (Theological Reflections II: Seminar Paper) and an MTh student can be enrolled in TH 680E (MTh Thesis/Research Paper) for up to but no longer than 9 terms during which time they need not apply for a course extension. After 9 terms, no course extension is available and a student's registration in these courses will be terminated and a grade of F will automatically be assigned. It is necessary to maintain continuous registration unless a leave of absence has been granted per seminary policy. Continuation fees as stipulated in the schedule of fees will be charged.
Following admission to candidacy, doctoral students have a maximum of six terms (two calendar years) for the completion of the dissertation during which time they need not apply for a course extension. After two calendar years, a student's registration in the dissertation will be terminated and a grade of F will automatically be assigned. It is necessary to maintain continuous registration unless a leave of absence has been granted per seminary policy.
Repeating a Course
Seminary students in a seminary master's program who obtain a grade lower than B in a course, seminary students in a seminary doctoral program who obtain a grade lower than B in a course, will be required to withdraw from their program unless they receive permission from the Admissions Administrative Committee to repeat the course in question or its equivalent. Where such permission is granted, the student will be on probationary status until a satisfactory course credit is obtained. Students will not be allowed to repeat any course more than once or repeat more than three courses during their program of studies.
The Academic Administrative Committee of the seminary faculty functions as the first level of appeal for students enrolled in seminary programs. The second level of appeal is the Graduate Student Appeals Committee (GSAC) of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Upon submission of an appeal to the GSAC, the procedures governing the appeal will be as outlined in the Graduate Calendar.
Seminary students may petition for exceptions from academic policies and/or decisions by submitting a written request to the appropriate petitions committee through the principal-dean of the Seminary.
Since ancient times, serving others has been an important diaconal ministry of the church. WLS is committed to the preparation of non-ordained people to serve as diaconal ministers to address the new challenges in our world whether it is addressing the justice needs for development internationally, the spiritual care and counselling needs of local communities, or the needs of agencies that provide for the essential needs of people. Normally those wishing to serve as diaconal ministers in their churches are encouraged at WLS to complete an MTS program. WLS works closely with the ELCIC and other church certification bodies in providing the requirements to diaconal endorsement. For further information contact the Principal-Dean of the Seminary.