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Public Church Scholars

Are you called?

  • Do you hope for vibrant churches?
  • Do you believe in leadership development for the common good?
  • Are you called to be a pastor?
  • Let us accompany you on that journey!

5 Years, 2 DEGREES

The Public Church Scholars five-year degree pathway prepares students to be intentional leaders of a multiracial, multiethnic, public church. In this educational pathway, students will take a deep dive together in Christian community to explore theological education, leadership formation, experiential learning in an internship, and preparation to be public leaders in the church. Students in this pathway will complete two (2) degrees in five (5) years; a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Public Leadership from Augsburg University and a Master of Divinity from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Some unique elements of the Public Church Scholars pathway include:

  • Co-curricular formation including a supportive cohort of peers
  • Training in equity and inclusion, cultural competency, and vocational discernment
  • Spiritual direction practice (individual and group)
  • Life coaching and professional mentors
  • Accompaniment through the candidacy process for ordination
  • Completion of Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Paid four-year part-time paid contextual learning and internship in a congregation or faith-based non-profit


As an urban, student-centered university, Augsburg is educating students as stewards of a more inclusive democracy, engaged in their communities and uniquely equipped to navigate the complex issues of our time. Because we are rooted in a robust theological tradition, we are committed to shaping character, inviting vocational discernment, and building biblical literacy. This identity shapes the way in which the Public Church Scholars degree seeks to create a pastoral leadership degree program rooted in theological convictions that compel us to live and lead with an openness to the complexities of our world and our neighbors.

As the educational foundation for Public Church Scholars, the public church framework is committed to placed-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good. Public Church Scholars learn to practice and lead accompaniment, interpretation, discernment, and proclamation and this framework supports their preparation to be pastors and leaders in the church. This work is enhanced and deepened at seminary by LSTC’s commitment to Public Church that cultivates competencies for leadership that focuses on community engagement, public witness, and social transformation. This holistic approach to theological education breaks academic disciplines out of their silos and allows creative collaboration to flourish.


This pathway will address the barriers of overall cost of education and reduce the length of time required to complete a pastoral leadership degree, five (5) years instead of eight (8). This pathway also provides college access to the ministry profession for underrepresented and minoritized students. We are committed to significantly reducing debt for the student when entering candidacy, seminary, and then ministry.

  • Following admission to Augsburg University, students will complete an application and interview for admission into the Public Church Scholars (PCS) 5 year pathway.
  • All students who are accepted into the PCS cohort will receive additional scholarships.
    • Students accepted to the PCS cohort are eligible to receive a minimum $16,500 Regents Scholarship. This award is not stackable with other merit scholarships.
    • Accepted students will also receive an additional PCS scholarship ($1500-$2500) on top of awarded gift aid.
    • Students in the PCS cohort will also receive financial aid for seminary tuition in Years 3, 4, and 5.
  • We prioritize additional aid for students who have a demonstrated need and receive the Federal Pell grant.
    • 98% of Augsburg students receive financial aid that includes both grants and scholarships.
    • Students in the PCS cohort will also experience a paid internship during four (4) years of the pathway.


Our team is committed to identifying, recruiting, and enrolling a diverse and hopeful cohort of emerging ELCA leaders to serve in the public church for the sake of the world.

Apply now to join this exciting pathway! Students requesting general information should fill out the inquiry form below.

Request Information


Do you know a young person called to ministry? If so, nominate them now and we will follow up about the Public Church Scholars pathway. Thank you for identifying leaders for the church.

Nominate a Young Leader


Adrienne Kuchler Eldridge

Adrienne Kuchler Eldridge ’02

Public Church Scholars Program Director

Christensen Center for Vocation

612-330-1412 | office



This pathway has been made possible through a generous grant from the Kern Family Foundation, a Wisconsin-based private philanthropic foundation committed to education for future church leaders through Accelerated Pastoral Degree Programs.