Associate in Ministry Program

Associates in ministry are persons who are called to serve in specific programmatic ministries of leadership and support within congregations, schools, and other agencies or institutions related to the ELCA. Associates in ministry may serve in the general areas of education (including youth and family ministry), music and the arts, administration, or service and general ministries (including camping ministry, counseling, parish nursing, social work, etc.).

Hands-on Ministry Experience
Wartburg College offers several opportunities for hands-on ministry. These include field experiences for beginning students and internships in which students assume greater responsibility for effective ministry. A standard full-credit Wartburg College religion internship involves approximately 140 hours of supervised ministry. An individualized learning contract specifies objectives and responsibilities for both the intern and the supervisor. With the approval of their synodical candidacy committee, students may apply Wartburg College internships toward the ELCA requirement of 600 hours of supervised field experience. AIM candidates who are not full-time students may also be able to work through Wartburg College to arrange supervised field experiences appropriate for their area of service.

The ELCA candidacy process is a partnership between synods, candidates for rostered ministry, colleges, and seminaries. While it is the synodical candidacy committee that admits, endorses, and approves candidates for certification as Associates in Ministry, colleges and seminaries provide the necessary theological education. All of the required courses for AIM certification are offered at Wartburg College. Wartburg's religion faculty and campus ministry office can offer guidance to AIM candidates in starting the candidacy process with their home synod.


  • Successful progress through the ELCA candidacy process and approval by the candidacy committee of the synod where your congregation is located.
  • Completion of a bachelor's degree, including 20 semester hours in required theological course work plus any additional course work related to the desired area of specialization.
  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 600 hours of supervised field experience.
  • Professional certification, when appropriate (e.g., day school teachers, parish nurses, social workers, etc.).

The ELCA requires all AIM candidates to complete academic course work in several specific areas of theological study. Wartburg College offers religion courses that meet each of these ELCA requirements.

 ELCA Requirement 
 Wartburg Course
 - Introduction to Systematic Theology
 - RE 200
 - Lutheran Church History
 - RE 304
 - Lutheran Theology and Confessions
 - RE 415
 - Old Testament
 - Choice of RE 101, New Testament 301, 302, or other biblical courses

In addition to these standard requirements, Wartburg College offers many other valuable courses for AIM candidates, including:

  • RE 370, Introduction to the Parish
  • RE 310, Living with Death
  • MU 416, Music in Christian Worship

Wartburg courses in psychology, education, music, art, social work, sociology, and other disciplines are also useful for specific areas of service.

The ELCA also educates and calls individuals to serve in various forms of public ministry on behalf of the institutional church. Ordained ministers, deaconesses, diaconal ministers, and associates in ministry are all recognized and included as rostered ministers of the ELCA. Candidates for rostered ministry in the ELCA must be approved by an ELCA candidacy committee after completing the appropriate requirements.