Through the long-standing Deaconess Studies program, you will be equipped to serve people in need through congregations, agencies, institutions or missionary work.

Degree Overview

CUC offers the only undergraduate program leading to deaconess certification in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). 

Students can become certified and practice in their field in just five years, including a one-year paid internship. students can also combine their studies with programs in education, social work or not-for-profit business management. 

Community is an important part of deaconess student life. Students meet regularly to study God’s word, pray and worship. They also gather for retreats, fellowship and fun. Community life extends to the professional deaconess who prays regularly for students and visits campus for Bible studies and classes.

To date, more than 180 women have completed the Deaconess Program since its beginning at Concordia University Chicago in 1980.

At the end of successful program completion, students will earn a bachelor of arts degree and are eligible to receive the LCMS deaconess certification and/or placement as an LCMS deaconess, although this is not a guaranteed certification or placement.

You will take courses in deaconess ministry, Lutheran doctrine and ministry skills. You will also have guided practical experience in field work and a year-long internship to serve those in need. Your courses and our faculty will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

Deaconess students may double major in areas such as education or minor in social work, sociology, psychology, biblical languages or Spanish. Many students also choose to combine their undergraduate training with a master’s degree in gerontology, social work, counseling or business administration.

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for the bachelor's-level program are as follows:

The Undergraduate Deaconess Program is a 5-year program that includes a 1-year paid internship.

Theology Major:
Courses in Old and New Testament, Christian faith, Christian history, world religions, and biblical studies.

Choose a minor from the following options: Biblical Languages, Psychology, Social Work, or Sociology.
Other minors will be considered by special petition to the Deaconess Program Director and the Theology Department Chairperson.

Deaconess Specialization:
Deaconess classes in skills, foundations, field experience, grief, counseling, leadership, youth work, and teaching.

Paid Internship:
Internship classes and seminar

Supplemental Coursework or Requirements:

  • Attendance at annual Deaconess Conference
  • Deaconess community participation
  • Supplemental requirements may be assigned to address unique student needs

For details about required courses and course descriptions, please visit our online catalog.

Applying for Admission

Application to the Deaconess Program is separate from Concordia University Chicago's application.

Undergraduate students may apply for official acceptance into the Deaconess program in the spring of their sophomore year.

Application Forms

Download Deaconess Program Application

Download Letter of Recommendation Form


A year-long, paid deaconess internship is an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to put into practice the concepts they’ve learned in the classroom, and to grow from new experiences.

CUC’s interns have served in institutions and congregations throughout the U.S. and in the mission field in countries such as Guatemala, China, Thailand, Germany and England. Assignments for internships are made by the program director after consultation with each student.

Service Opportunities

In an agency, the role of the deaconess intern will be determined by the specific needs of the residents and the agency.  Ordinarily, there should be some opportunity to:

  • Care spiritually for the residents (under the chaplain's guidance)
  • Lead Bible study groups
  • Coordinate volunteers
  • Develop new resident participation groups
  • Learn the structure of the agency
  • Develop social service skills
  • Use music or other special talents, according to ability
  • Become aware of community resources for the residents
  • Learn to work with families of residents

In the parish, the deaconess intern ordinarily should have some experience or acquaintance with the following areas:

  • Caring spiritually for the hospitalized, home-bound, grieving and needy
  • Leading women's Bible study group(s)
  • Teaching religion classes, weekday school, Sunday School
  • Caring for women and youth
  • Developing new Bible study groups
  • Participating in evangelism (either through an existing training program or by leading a program according to her particular competency)
  • Understanding congregational structure through observation and participation
  • Coordinating volunteers (altar guild, greeters, VBS workers, youth leaders, etc.)
  • Participating in specialized ministries (widowed, single, divorced, handicapped, etc.)
  • Working with ladies' societies and LWML groups
  • Using her own special talents (drama, music, art, etc.)

In the mission field, the role of the deaconess intern will be determined by the specific needs of the mission site.

Role of the Intern and Supervisor

The intern serves as both a student and a professional.  As a student, she does not assume all the responsibilities of a deaconess. However, she should be permitted and challenged to examine various opportunities to use her knowledge, test her skills and explore new areas within the scope of deaconess work.

The site supervisor (normally a pastor, deaconess, or any person rostered by the Synod) is responsible to advise, oversee, direct and evaluate the work of the intern. He/she is responsible to report observations and conclusions to the Internship Coordinator of the University at regular predetermined intervals.

We are deeply grateful to the pastors, supervisors, congregations and agencies for giving unselfishly of their time and talents to help prepare young women to be deaconesses.

Requesting an Intern

Organizations and congregations looking to hire a deaconess intern should complete the Congregation/Agency Application.

Field Experience and Colloquy

The Deaconess Colloquy Program is designed for graduates of non-LCMS deaconess programs who desire synodical certification.

Time required to complete the program varies according to the previous experience and educational background of the student.

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