NOTE: If you would like to suggest additional Universities that welcome and support graduate-level research on Lutheran education, please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org . This is far from an exhaustive list and it is my intent to add to the list over time.
We need people who are committed to conducting research in Lutheran education. While not essential, one way to equip yourself to conduct research is by pursuing a graduate degree in education, theology, or a related area of study. Following is a list of graduate degree programs that welcome those who want to learn about and engage in research on Lutheran Education. This does not necessarily mean that all faculty in these programs have a strong background in Lutheran education or research in Lutheran education, but some of them do. All of these programs, however, have demonstrated a willingness to welcome or even encourage research in Lutheran education. This assessment is partially determined by the fact that you can find master’s level theses or doctoral dissertations on subjects related to Lutheran education that were defended at these institutions. With that in mind, if you are looking for a graduate degree that will provide you with a rich environment for learning about and engaging in research that is distinct to Lutheran education, you may want to contact the Universities below and discuss your interests. As a tool to help in your deliberations, you might want to ask some of the following questions:
1) How many of the faculty in this program have expertise or experience conducting research on Lutheran education? Do you have a list of the research interests of the faculty members? Do you have a list of publications and presentations of the faculty in the program?
Faculty members may have a wide variety of backgrounds and research interests. Don’t just look at the program title and the courses. Consider the expertise of those who will be teaching and advising you. Does their background match your research interests?
2) How many of the faculty in this program have expertise and/or experience teaching in a Lutheran school, church, or other Lutheran organization?
There are some who have done great research on Lutheran education, but from the outside. This can be a great strength in some cases, as they may bring a fresh, valuable, even less-biased perspective to issues. At the same time, you may consider it important to have professors who have been “in the trenches” of Lutheran education, as you might find it easier explore some of the distinct elements of life working in a Lutheran education institution. Whatever the case, this can be a helpful question to explore.
3) How many of the faculty in this program have an earned doctorate?
There are a variety of terminal degrees, but the most common in the field of education are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Education (EdD). There are other earned doctorates as well, degrees like the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), the Doctor of Arts (DA), or even newer degrees like Harvard’s Doctor of Educational Leadership (Ed.LD). Or, if they are coming from theology, you may see degrees like a PhD, Doctor of Theology (ThD) or Doctor of Ministry (DMin). The last of these degrees tends to be a bit less research-focused, but individuals with any of these terminal degrees should have some measure of experience with research. Typically, individuals with these degrees took a number of research courses, and they wrote and defended a doctoral dissertation. When it comes to getting guidance on research projects, having professors with this type of formal education can be very valuable. However, you may not want to let this be the deciding factor (the number of faculty with an earned doctorate), as there are many excellent practitioner/scholar/professors who may not have a doctorate, or who are in progress toward completion of a doctoral program. For example, because of the commitment to finding full-time faculty who support the mission of Lutheran education, some of the Universities in the Concordia University System may hire individuals who are willing to pursue a doctorate, or who are in progress. Do keep in mind that a professor who is working full time and working on a doctorate might be more limited in their availability, as writing a doctoral dissertation is no small task.
4) What percent of the faculty are part-time (adjunct) versus full-time?
Adjunct faculty bring really important elements to many graduate programs, especially when it comes to providing specific and practical perspectives on issues in education. This is often because many adjunct faculty member are working full time in P-12 educational environments, and they are teaching with their current context in mind. At the same time, adjunct faculty members have full time jobs elsewhere, and they may not always be as available to work and meet with you on projects and efforts that go beyond the scope of a specific class that you are taking with them. Advising students is very often part of the load for a full time faculty member, so you may find that they are more accessible in an ongoing basis. And, they are more likely to have research as part of their job description, so they can help you as you think about your own research efforts.
5) What percentage of the students in the program are working in Lutheran schools?
Keep in mind that a good graduate education is not always just about you and the instructor. It is about participating in a learning community that is committed to collaborating with and supporting one another. So, the type of students in the program is a valuable consideration.
6) What resources or support does this program offer to help students engage in research that is distinctly Lutheran in nature?
Are the library resources conducive to research on Lutheran education? Are there any research projects or efforts in which you can participate as a graduate student? Does the program host any research groups, institutes or other activities that focus upon research in Lutheran education?
7) Do the courses include opportunities to engage in study of the current research on Lutheran education and/or Christian education?
This will help you determine the extent to which the program is primarily focused upon public versus Lutheran education. While you may decide that a program with more of a public education focus in the curriculum is a good fit for you, this is good information to know in advance. They may still welcome and support your efforts to study topics that are more distinctly Lutheran, but it is good to know whether or not the planned readings and course-level curricula will guide in you that effort.
There are certainly other good questions to consider as well. If you think of one, please let me know and I will be happy to update this page. In addition, the following list of programs is an ongoing work in progress. If you see a program missing, please let me know about that also.
Graduate Programs that Welcome and Support Research in Lutheran Education
Augsburg College – master’s degrees
California Lutheran University – master’s and doctoral degrees – CLU offers a low residency / primarily online option for doctoral studies, if you are interested in an option that does not require you to relocate.
Concordia University Texas – master’s degrees (online options available)
Concordia University Irvine – master’s degrees
Concordia University Portland – master’s degrees and a doctoral degree (online option available)
Concordia University Chicago – master’s degrees and doctoral degrees (online options available)
Concordia University St. Paul – master’s degrees (online options available)
Concordia University Nebraska – master’s degrees (online options available)
George Fox University – master’s and doctoral degrees – George Fox University comes from the Quaker tradition. Faculty in the graduate school have a reputation for embracing, encouraging, and nurturing research/scholarship from a distinctly Christian perspective. (online options available)
Marquette University – master’s and doctoral degrees – If you review the list of of doctoral dissertations on Lutheran education provided on this site, you will see a number that were defended at Marquette University. While faculty may not necessarily have a strong background in the details or distinctive attributes of Lutheran education, they have shown a spirit of hospitality to doctoral students seeking to engaging in research on Lutheran education.
Pacific Lutheran University – master’s degrees
Pepperdine University – master’s degrees and doctoral degrees – While not affiliated with a Lutheran Church body, this is a comprehensive Christian University that is embracing of Lutheran scholarship and supports a distinctly Christian approach to research and scholarship. A review of recently defended doctoral dissertations reveals a number of dissertations defended at Pepperdine University where students examined Christian education context, specifically Lutheran education texts. One can also find dissertations that were written from a distinctly Christian perspective. Pepperdine University offers a low residency / primarily online option for doctoral studies, if you are interested in an option that does not require you to relocate.
Regent University – master’s degrees and doctoral degrees – While not affiliated with a Lutheran Church body, this is a comprehensive Christian University that is embracing of Lutheran scholarship and promotes a distinctly Christian approach to research and scholarship. (online options available)
St. Louis University – master’s and doctoral degrees – If you review the list of of doctoral dissertations on Lutheran education provided on this site, you will see a number that were defended at St. Louis University. While faculty may not necessarily have a strong background in the details or distinctive attributes of Lutheran education, they have shown a spirit of hospitality to doctoral students seeking to engaging in research on Lutheran education.