Christian Leadership Program / Commissioned Ruling Elder Education

UDTS: Lay Pastor Training (CLP) Online

"I want to take this opportunity to tell you how beneficial the CLP courses have been to me. It is amazing how much I learned and how much I use on a daily basis. It is a good program."

~ Nanette Cagney

To register for classes: Click Here

To Apply: Click Here

To Apply for your CLP Certificate in Congregational Leadership (Completion of all 8 core courses required and can participate in Graduation): Click Here

The overall goal of the "Education for the Laity" program of UDTS is to strengthen the church through quality theological education for lay persons. While the courses offered are particularly designed for lay pastor candidates, they will serve the needs of all lay persons who are contributing their gifts to the ministry of their local church. Church officers, Christian education leaders and teachers, and persons who wish to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith will discover a rich opportunity through this program.

Classes are offered online (no residency component) through Participants benefit from a theological education, including interaction with faculty and other students, via the Internet.

An Online Learning Certification course is required for all students who wish to take online courses in this program.

A letter of completion will be provided for each course successfully completed. Students may also apply for CEU's (Continuing Education Units). These courses do not carry degree credit.

The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary is not a certification agency for ministry. As with ordained ministry, lay ministry is certified through the individual's denominational judicatory (Presbytery, Church and Ministry Committee, or Local Church, depending on denominational background). UDTS does, however, certify the completion of courses.

To enroll in an online course or receive additional information, contact:

Carla Gibbons, Seminary Distance Ed Coordinator
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
2000 University Avenue
Dubuque, Iowa 52001-5099
Phone: 563-589-3630 OR 1-888-207-8218

Getting started with our program

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Upon receiving your application, you will receive an email from Carla Gibbons with your log-in and registration information.
  3. You can then log in.
  4. Register for the *OLC and other core classes.

We require all of our students to take Online Learning Certification (*OLC) as a prerequisite to our other courses. This course is designed to give students an introduction to online learning. During this experience you will master the tools and techniques that make online learning a rewarding experience. The OLC course consists of eight lessons that will be completed in four weeks. When you have completed the course, you will be equipped to use our learning platform for online courses.
*Please note: It is recommended for students to enroll at least two week before the beginning of a semester.

Course Information
This program offers eight core courses required of Presbyterian Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs) in the Presbyterian Church (USA) "Book of Order." The content for the most part, however, is basic to many mainline denominations. Persons from the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church have participated in these classes. This curriculum is intended to be used for elder and lay leadership training. Some congregations may use this program for teacher education.

Advanced Courses / Continuing Education
Courses for advanced studies and continuing education opportunities are offered periodically in addition to the basic curriculum. We have offered courses on The Life and Theology of Paul, Connecting with the Congregation, Discerning a Call to Ministry, Church Administration and Finance, and Christian Leadership Ethics. We will continue to add courses as the demand for them grows. Please check our website regularly for a list of currently offered courses.

Course Load
Classes run for 12 weeks. The work required in a CLP/CRE course is equivalent to a one-credit college course. The standard for this would translate to:

  • 300 - 500 pages of reading
  • 7 - 10 pages of writing assignments
  • 3 - 4 hours per week of class participation and preparation time

We suggest participation in no more than two courses at any one time if you are working full time outside of the home. If you are planning to study full time, you may enroll in as many classes as you wish. Each core course is offered twice per year.  Summer offerings are based upon demand and instructor availability.

Core Courses

All eight courses are offered in both the Fall and Spring of the academic year.  Summer offerings are based on demand and instructor availability.

  • Introduction to Old Testament
  • Introduction to New Testament
  • Pastoral Care
  • Presbyterian Polity
  • Reformed Theology
  • Introduction to Preaching
  • Foundations of Christian Education
  • Reformed Worship and Sacraments

If you would like to register for any of the listed courses or have any questions or concerns, please contact Carla Gibbons at (563)589-3630 or email her at (

Cost of the Program
(Subject to change)

  1. Online Learning Certification $75.00
  2. Core Courses and Electives $390.00 (each)
  3. Books are in addition to tuition. We provide links to the required and suggested texts, listed on our online bookstore, which can be located on our website. Many students comparison shop online and get their books through such online sites as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, AbeBooks, etc.
  4. Withdrawal/Refunds - If a student withdraws one week following the start of the term, a refund of one-half of the class charge will be issued.

Credit for Coursework: Certification for Comissioned Lay Pastor/Commissioned Ruling Elder

We do not offer certification for lay ministry. As with ordination, lay ministry is certified through the individual's denominational judicatory. We provide the courses and evaluations, which may be used by your Presbytery, Association or other judicatory in your process of becoming a lay pastor.

The courses do not carry seminary or university credit; however we can offer CEUs (continuing education units) for those who may desire them. (Teachers, for instance, may qualify for school district requirements in the use of educational technology.)

A letter of completion is provided for each course completed.

CLP Certificate in Congregational Leadership and Commencement Participation

Once you have completed all eight of Dubuque Seminary's core CLP/CRE courses, you can apply for a Certificate in Congregational Leadership, and you are eligible to participate in our May Commencement Ceremony! Click Here to fill out the form!

Is Online Learning Right for Me?
Online education is exciting and convenient! It requires active participation in the course work, a high level of motivation, a strong sense of discipline, and a willingness to work in a group as well as independently. A basic level of computer proficiency is required for successful completion of an online course. Students should be comfortable working with the Internet, email, and a word processor. The Online Learning Certification course will help you become familiar with working in the online environment.

Technical Requirements | Basic Hardware / Software Requirements | Email & Internet
Students must have a working email account and be comfortable with their email program: sending email, receiving email, and opening and sending attachments to email are all things necessary for our program.

Students must have a working Internet connection and an Internet browser installed on their computer. Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape versions 4.0 or higher are both acceptable. We do not teach basic internet navigation. You should have this skill before enrolling in our program. Some helpful basic Internet courses can be found at:

Windows (PC)

  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista or newer
  • Display resolution of 800x600 pixels or greater
  • Windows-compatible sound card
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1or later, or Firefox 2.0 or later
  • Windows Media Player 9.0 or later
  • Broadband Internet connection (256 Kbps & above) for live and on-demand presentations


  • MAC OS X or greater
  • Install one of the following browsers to play Video presentations that are required in some online classes:
    • Safari 1.0.3 or later (Safari 1.2.4 & above recommended)
    • Firefox 1.0 or later
    • Netscape 7.2 for Mac OS X
  • You must also install Windows Media Player 9 for the Mac.

For MAC users

Last modified: Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 5:41 PM