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Foundations of Christian Service, Certificate

Saint Louis University's certificate in foundations of Christian service is designed to provide students with basic philosophical, theological, and interdisciplinary tools for intelligent reflection on contexts of Christian ministry.

The certificate is open to consecrated religious and laypersons engaged in ministry or who envision a future in ministry. Students pursuing this certificate are not eligible to receive Title IV financial aid.

Curriculum Overview
Course requirements (15-18 credits) are designed for flexibility, with a view to matching the student’s background needs and ministerial interests. All course requirements may be satisfied with undergraduate courses.

Admission Requirements

The certificate presupposes a bachelor’s degree or concurrent work toward a bachelor’s degree. Specific certificate pre-requisites depend on the particular student’s needs, background, and specific program focus, but in general, at least one introductory course in theology or sacred scriptures is helpful.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for graduate assistantship, apply by Feb. 1. 

For more information, visit the student financial services office online at  

Students with little or no previous philosophy or theology begin with some basic courses in those areas, followed by electives from any discipline that can inform the student’s capstone project.

Students may tailor their capstone projects to fit their ministerial interests and challenges. Specific course selections are made in consultation with the dean. A typical program would include courses in the following areas:

Ethics and/or Moral Theology3-6
Philosophy/Theology elective3
Other Electives6
Capstone Project3
Total Credits15-18

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a minimum 2.00 grade point average (GPA).

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Foundations: Ethics and/or Theological Ethics 3-6
Philosophy or Theology Elective 3
Elective 3
Year Two
Social Analysis/Special Ethics, or Capstone Elective 3
PLJ 4960 Capstone Project 3
 Total Credits15-18

Program Notes

General Program Note

This certificate is designed for maximum flexibility, so it may be tailored to each student’s background and ministerial interests. Students with sufficient background may complete the program in one year, but normally two years is recommended.

Foundations Courses

Foundational courses may vary depending on the student’s background and ministerial situation. For students involved in social ministries, courses in philosophical and theological ethics provide the normal starting point, but other ministerial situations might for example call for courses in philosophy of human nature, philosophy of religion, theological doctrine, and/or Biblical interpretation. Course level depends on the student’s previous educational background, and in some cases pre-requisites might be necessary. Selection of appropriate foundational courses is made with the approval of the dean, in view of the student’s ministerial situation.


Electives are chosen to provide important background for the student’s envisioned capstone project. Capstone electives may be selected from any discipline that promises to aid the student’s reflection on his or her capstone topic.

Social Analysis/Special Ethics courses

For students who envision a capstone on a social context of ministry, the Social Analysis/Special Ethics elective is recommended. Social analysis courses include courses in social-political philosophy or courses in other disciplines, so long as course content is largely dedicated to understanding aspects of contemporary life, society or culture, relevant to the context of ministry for the student’s capstone. Special ethics courses are satisfied by:

PHIL 3360Medical Ethics3
PHIL 3380Business Ethics3
PHIL 3400Ethics & Engineering3
PHIL 3410Computer Ethics3
PHIL 3420Environmental and Ecological Ethics3
PHIL 3430Philosophy of Law3