LPTS goes tuition-free for master’s degree students

$17 million campaign launched to fund program beginning in 2015

November 4, 2011

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS) will not charge tuition for students in its master’s degree programs in divinity, marriage and family therapy and religion beginning in 2015. Tuition is currently a little over $10,200.

“As a result of this bold decision, Louisville Seminary is poised to make not only a difference in the future of this school and in theological education, but also a difference for the future of the church,” said Pamela G. Kidd, chair of the Board of Trustees, following the trustees’ unanimous and enthusiastic vote.

The trustees also committed to raising about $17 million toward the program. The seminary’s current endowment is about $70 million. By 2021 the seminary intends to offer an additional stipend to every student to cover living expenses.

Total master’s degree enrollment will be capped at 130 ― down from about 150 currently ― to make the tuition-free program affordable and more selective. “Capping the size of entering classes will make full funding of each student an achievable goal within a relatively short time frame,” said Patrick Cecil, LPTS’s vice-president and CFO in a statement released by the seminary announcing the historic program.

Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that while some seminaries offer considerable financial aid to students, “I do not know of a school that has decided to downsize the student body to the number that it can fully scholarship.”

The tuition-free program is an element of the seminary’s new strategic plan, called “Covenant for the Future.”

“The ends of theological education are not on the Seminary campus,” said LPTS President Michael Jinkins in the seminary’s announcement. “The ends, the ultimate purpose and meaning of everything we teach, are out there in the world. That is where Louisville Seminary’s vision is cast. Our strategic plan seeks to address the needs of the church today and the unknown needs of tomorrow, and to respond to those needs with adventurous leadership.”

Susan R. Garrett, LPTS’s dean-elect said the new program will enable the seminary to tailor its student body to the emerging needs of the church. “The ‘Covenant Scholarship Plan’ will enable us to maintain high academic standards, while also favoring candidates with demonstrated gifts and graces for ministerial service,” she said. “Emphasis will be on achieving the highest quality, rather than quantity, of entering students and of classes as a whole. At the same time, we will seek to admit classes that reflect the racial, ethnic, national, and theological diversity in which our graduates will serve.”

In exchange for their financial aid, students will be required to engage in service throughout their time at the seminary. Service will take various forms, such as field education or practicum placement in a church, community service agency, or non-profit organization in Louisville, or on campus in various roles.  

“Eliminating the need for field site stipends will expand the variety of settings in which students can receive practical formation. This will be a blessing not only to the students but also to congregations, agencies, and other areas of service that, to date, have not been able to engage a seminarian in their work,” added Garrett in the seminary’s announcement.

  1. It is amazing to hear that LPTS is taking a bold decision for tuition- free for students of masters degree beginning from 2015. I belief that everyone who sees this decision will really appreciate because it will help people who are interested in theological studies especially from other countries. But, the question is that the facility is only for American students or also for abroad students. Min Guite

    by Min Guite

    September 18, 2014

  2. I'm writing from Rwanda. Does this include online study? International students allowed in?

    by Hitimana Jean Paul

    July 11, 2014

  3. I want to do masters in New Testament Studies. How can I access this scholarship?

    by Arnold M Nthara

    June 27, 2014

  4. I wish to know if international students can be a beneficiary of this

    by Adeniyi

    April 29, 2014

  5. Believe me, this will win lots of soul(s) into Gods kingdom.. Am a presbyterian, a potential master degree applicant and will be glad if given the opportunity..may the peace of the almighty God be with you all. Amen.

    by Igwe Emmanuel Abraham

    November 22, 2013

  6. Is it to d benefit of Nigerian clergy too?

    by Tope

    January 25, 2013

  7. I am currently a student of ECWA Theological Seminary Kagoro, Nigeria. My graduation is 2014. I want join you to do M.A. and PhD. Can I enjoy free studies too?

    by Rev Yawa Aho Tsiga

    January 18, 2013

  8. Is there any chance for foreign student to participate; am a priest and looking for persuading a masters program.

    by stanley stephen

    July 24, 2012

  9. Hello Sir. Will you include international students to benefit in tuition free that will commence in year 2015 for master degree program. Pls reply me as soon as possible, sir. Pastor Kunle From Nigeria

    by pastor Ayeleke Kunle { from nigeria }

    June 4, 2012

  10. How will international students access this programme. Does study options include online.

    by Reid

    March 30, 2012

  11. Seeing things like this Free/ Tuition Presbyterian Teological Seminary attracted my eye. This is very good for the Presbyterian church and the People helping to put this together. If you can get me to take a second look> Think of all the other people you are attracting. Thank you Presbyterian Church (USA)

    by Dwayne Batcho

    November 8, 2011

  12. As the CPM Moderator for the Presbytery of St. Andrew, I heartily applaud LPTS for this wonderful move! I rejoice with our Inquirers and Candidates as they pursue God's calling, yet with a sense of concern because of the high debt our PCUSA students incur in their necessary education and training. Some of our sister Christian denominations financially support their theological seminaries better, and their students graduate with vastly less debt. This is one issue that ALL of us in the PCUSA can get behind! My prayer is that this will become a major push by the GAMC in the future.

    by Hershel Don Yancey

    November 4, 2011

  13. When you are sure God is calling you into His service money should not be what holds you back. As a person being called into the ministry, the amount of what my student loan would be is holding me back from fulling God's calling. This is a wonderful thing the LPTS is doing. I pray that more seminaries follow suit, the future of our church could depend on it.

    by Deborah Lesenger

    November 4, 2011

  14. This is a bold statement and so very necessary!!! As one who is still paying my student loan debts, I know that I cannot accept a call to any church that is challenged to pay below a certain amount! What a great way to raise a generation of pastors who are not worried about paying back loans, but rather about the call God offers to them! And what a great way for churches who are struggling to receive pastors with fresh ideas while they are still in seminary! Wonderful!

    by Katie Treadway

    November 4, 2011

  15. As one who is a seminary graduate, married to another seminary graduate, I can't imagine what a blessing and a gift it would be to be able to finish seminary debt-free! This is an amazingly bold move, and it'd be interesting to see if other PC(USA) seminaries could be as bold to help the future church like this as well!

    by Adam Walker Cleaveland

    November 4, 2011

Leave a comment