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Ministry Leadership Major

Center for Church Leadership

Concordia's accelerated ministry degree program is designed for students who are thinking long-term in their ministry education. In other words, if you desire to go on to receive a seminary-level graduate education, you can do that here at the Center for Church Leadership.

Reduce the amount of time and costs to receive a graduate-level degree. How is this possible? With the help of a generous grant from the Kern Family Foundation, Concordia University has developed a 4+1 program. You will receive in a total of five years of education, a Bachelor of Science in Theological Studies: Ministry Leadership and a Master of Arts in Church Leadership. 

The 4+1 program will not only prepare you to enter the church to serve in the areas of children, youth, young adults, it will also give you the knowledge and skills to one day, if you desire, to step into a senior-level leadership position within the church.

What Students Are Saying

I absolutely love being a part of a program that bridges the gap between non-profit business administration and building a solid theological foundation.
Victoria Wood

Victoria ‘23

Program Highlights

Accelerated Ministry Education

As noted the 4+1 program allows for a student to accelerate their pastoral education to be completed in five years’ time instead of the traditional six to eight years of education. Here is why the undergraduate degree is a Bachelor’s of Science because of the robust education required to finish in five years of education. Part of the robust nature of the BS degree means completing at the minimum 17 units of graduate-level classes (the maximum would be 23 units). What this means is that as an undergraduate student in the accelerated route you will begin to take Master-level courses your junior year in school. Successful completion of those MA-level courses (a B or better) means that once you graduate with your BS degree those 17 or more units of graduate-level courses count toward the completion of your MA degree, which then allows you to finish that MA degree in one year’s time.

Significant Cost Savings and Institutional Aid Availability

As noted above the accelerated format allows students to save on money. Since students will take a minimum of 17 units of undergraduate course work this means that they will pay undergraduate rate for graduate-level classes, which is about an $11,000 savings in graduate-level costs (up to $15,000 if they are eligible to take the full 23 units).

In addition, students who enter into the accelerated program are eligible to receive at least 50% of tuition in institutional aid. Institutional aid will be comprised of a variety of sources such as academic scholarships, talent awards, and need-based grants.

Focus in Administrative Leadership

Many pastors and ministers who have gone through traditional routes of seminary and ministry education come to realize that their schooling did not prepare them for leadership roles in their church. They’ve taken classes on how to exegete the Bible, how to write and deliver a message, and how to counsel with those who are in distress, but they are at a loss when it comes to managing a budget, supervising staff, and fundraising for new projects and endeavors. The Center bridges this gap by offering courses in finance and non-profit leadership. The addition of this important coursework will better prepare students for high levels of leadership in local churches and other ministry organizations.

Formative Fieldwork Experiences

Working in the local church, and being coached by those ministry leaders, plays an important part in being shaped as a leader for the church. Here is why 18 units of coursework (both part of the BS and MA degrees) is dedicated for you to receive this important experiential education outside of the classroom. In addition, Concordia University’s location, within Orange County, means that students have access to churches of varying sizes, denominations, and ethnicities. The CCL has also developed strategic partnerships with many local churches to allow the discerning student to experience a wide variety of ministry contexts.

Personalized Mentorship

Each student who comes into the program will receive personalized mentorship. The mentoring is holistic in nature focusing on the entire person in the areas of academics, spirituality, personal growth, and ministry. Through personalized mentorship, the Center seeks to create healthy life-long leaders for the church.

Communal Atmosphere

When you come to study in the Center for Church Leadership (CCL), you come to be a part of a community of fellow students who also desire to be shaped and formed as workers for God’s kingdom. Our ongoing mantra is Proverbs 27:17 – “iron sharpens iron”. As part of the CCL community, you will be challenged, and you will challenge one another in a safe and caring environment designed for academic reflection and friendly engagement. Outside of the classroom, you will have the opportunity to participate in CCL social and spiritual events, which include dinners at the director’s home, cohort lunches on campus, retreats, and mission opportunities.

Master of Arts in Church Leadership Residency

The MA degree, within the 4+1 program, is designed to further your ministry education by providing classes to shape you as an exegete, a preacher-teacher, a spiritual caregiver, and as a missional leader. Students in the MA program take nine units of ministry residency coursework, as the last stage of their 4+1 fieldwork experience, to prepare them for a career in full-time ministry.

We’ve really enjoyed the Concordia talent that God has brought to our internship program. My intern was an exceptional student who was eager to learn and lead, had a 'whatever it takes' servant attitude, and contributed to our ministry in significant ways. Her diverse skill set, heart for the Church, and fresh perspective made our church stronger, and the questions she asked and ways she pushed herself to grow inspired me to be a better leader.

Lisa Birle
Intern Program Manager
Saddleback Church

Get in Touch

For more information about the Ministry Leadership major at Concordia University Irvine, we invite you to contact us directly.

Professor Jonathan Ruehs

Prof. Jonathan Ruehs
Director, Center for Church Leadership
949-214-3114
[email protected]


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Get started on submitting your application for admission today. Applications received after February 15 are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Fall 2021 Deadlines to Apply
Early Action Nov. 15
Early Action II Feb. 15
Rolling July 27
Spring 2021 Deadlines to Apply
Regular Decision Jan. 3

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