What is the LDA’s approach to education and formation?
The LDA offers an education/formation process that is flexible, allowing students to complete the process at their own pace. Students work with the LDA staff to develop an individualized formation covenant (IFC) to determine their particular growth needs. The distance-learning option is available to all students, which means that students may complete their academic work near their own homes.

What is involved in the formation process?
The formation process involves week-long seminars at the Center for Diaconal Ministry in Valparaiso, IN, each year during formation. Students are assigned to a deaconess mentor throughout formation for support and guidance. They are also required to attend the annual meeting of this community, held in various locations around the country. Formation includes self-reflection and experiences that help students grow in their deaconess identity and service.

What is involved in the education process?
Students complete several college/university or seminary courses in theology and diaconal ministry. We require that students have a good understanding of Biblical studies such as Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), New Testament, Church History, World Religions, Lutheran Doctrine/Lutheran Confessions, and Theology of Diaconal Ministry. Other courses might be added to increase skill in broader ministry areas.

Some students work toward a degree in a service-oriented profession, adding theology to their coursework, while others major in theology at the BA or MA level. Others come to the education/formation process with a completed academic degree, adding only those additional courses required by their individualized plan.

The education process does not require a particular “major,” although we encourage most students to complete at least a BA degree.

Where do students take courses?
Many students choose to attend Valparaiso University for a BA or MA degree. However, students may complete the theological requirements at a college, university or seminary near their homes. Some courses must be offered by Lutheran providers. A few courses might be completed through on-line learning, but we encourage study that offers dialog and feedback in a face-to-face setting.

How long does the education/formation process take?
The education and formation process takes a minimum of two years, and many students take three years or longer. The length of this process depends on the experience the student brings and her particular program as she prepares for service.

What kinds of jobs do deaconesses do?
Deaconess ministry has taken various forms, and those forms have changed as the church and society changes. The education and formation process sometimes changes students' perspective about the kinds of ministry available, and they may discover new paths for themselves as the process unfolds. Deaconesses provide leadership within the church to help the whole church become more diaconal.

Take a look at “Faces and Place of Ministry” to discover some of the ministries deaconesses do.

Do I have to be Lutheran?
Yes. The ministry of this diaconate is rooted, formed, and lived out in the context of the Lutheran faith. Applicants must be members of a Lutheran church, participating regularly in worship, study of the Holy Scripture, prayer and faithful use of the means of grace. We accept applicants who belong to many Lutheran denominations, including LCMS, ELCA, and Lutheran church bodies in Canada.

Are LDA deaconesses automatically rostered?
The Lutheran Deaconess Association consecrates and approves deaconesses for service. Some LDA deaconesses complete additional requirements to become rostered in the ELCA, LCMS, and Lutheran church bodies in Canada.

Applicants who are considering candidacy in a Lutheran church body may wish to talk to the LDA to coordinate the education/ formation process with other requirements.

Visit your church body’s website to find out about other programs.
(Link to ELCA --
(Link to LCMS --
(Link to ELCIC --
(Link to Lutheran Church in Canada -- )

How much does the education/formation process cost?
The LDA’s education/formation process offers access to LDA staff, deaconess mentors, and resource people. It will open many doors for you and introduce you to new ideas. Our fees reflect these costs.

The basic fee is $5,000. In addition, there is an annual fee of $2,500 during each year you are in the education/formation process. Other costs include application and interview expenses, travel and registration for each annual formation event and annual deaconess conference, and tuition for your coursework. Click here for more details.

The LDA has been able to offer scholarships to cover ½ of the basic fee and ½ of the annual fee to students with financial need.

The LDA wants to encourage students to complete the education and formation process. Don’t let money be a barrier! Ask the LDA for ideas about financial resources.

What financial resources are available?
In addition to LDA scholarships, students who attend Valparaiso University receive an automatic grant-in-aid of $500 per semester and most deaconess students receive additional financial aid from VU. The LDA can help you to explore other resources including:

  • Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (supplemental funds)
  • Congregations
  • LWML
  • Synods
  • Districts
  • Church-wide organizations.

When can I start?
We are now receiving applications for orientation/annual seminars.

Applicants must be at least 20 years old OR entering their junior year in college. Students must have completed at least two years of higher education.

The LDA offers orientation seminars twice each year, generally held in mid-August and early March. 

You may begin your application portfolio at any time. Ask the LDA to begin a folder for your materials 6 months before the deadline.

How do I apply? Click here