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Frequently Asked Questions

When and where will the in-person classes meet?

Classes will be held every Tuesday night with a few exceptions. The class location(s) change each semester but will likely be at a church or two in Madison. A light dinner with a suggested $5 donation will be served at 5:30pm. There will also be an in-person 1/2 day retreat (9am-1pm) on the Saturday after the first Tuesday class.

Who is going to be participating in this class? 

Madison Learning Community seeks to serve the broad diversity of the Christian Church in Dane County. As such, there will be a wide variety of Christian traditions, denominations, and theological commitments represented in this class. Our first two classes have included students with links to 9 different denominations including: African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Free Church in America (EFCA), United Church of Christ (UCC), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Wesleyan Church, Independent Christian Church, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and several non-denominational churches, among others. This is a great opportunity to connect, collaborate, and learn alongside fellow Christians in our area. The class will be taught with this rich diversity of of Christ's Body in mind, creating a supportive learning community with Christ at the center, without expecting students to agree theologically on everything.

What courses will you be offering in the future?

In spring 2024 we are offering Introduction to the New Testament. In spring 2023 we are also offering Embracing God, an online course with two retreats and the option to join Tuesday dinners. Other upcoming courses include: New Testament Exegesis (of one biblical book), Old Testament Exegesis (of one biblical book) and Leadership.

Can I earn a certificate by taking the courses offered in Madison?

Those who complete all six courses that we will offer over a three-year cycle (either for credit or not) will earn a Certificate in Bible and Ministry.

I want to earn a seminary degree. How do I do that?

Courses taken for credit through Madison Learning Community can contribute toward one of the degrees offered by the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) and University of Dubuque: the Master of Divinity (75 credits), Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship (40 credits), or Master of Arts in Ministry (30 credits). To do this, you would take UDTS courses online, in addition to in-person classes in Madison.  Click here to see sample degree plans:      If you're interested in a degree please reach out to our Seminary Admissions Director, Samuel Felderman:

I'm working on a degree at another seminary. Can these courses count toward that?

Yes! Courses taken for credit should be transferable into degree programs at other accredited seminaries--either as meeting requirements or as elective credits. Please consult with your academic advisor at your school.

When will the current class be offered again?

Because MLC will be offering 6 courses (one at a time during fall & spring semesters), we intend to offer each course every 3 years.


I’m more interested in the other courses MLC will offer. Can I enroll in those without taking this one?

Absolutely! We look forward to connecting with you in future semesters. You are free to pick and choose which classes are most beneficial to you and enroll in those you are most interested in. Let Lief know to keep you in the loop about what courses are coming up (

What is the difference between taking the class for credit vs. for enrichment/not-for-credit?

Taking the class for credit allows you to use this class towards a graduate seminary degree at University of Dubuque Theological seminary or to transfer the credit to another school. Taking the class for enrichment (not-for-credit) is a great option for those who already have a degree, are earning continuing education credits, are working toward becoming a Certified Ruling Elder, and/or are not looking to pursue a seminary degree. There is a difference in cost for the graduate credit course and the not-for-credit course.  There is also a difference in the amount of work required. Whether you are taking the course for credit or not, you will attend all class sessions, the opening retreat, and complete all specified reading and assignments in the syllabus.

Are scholarships available?

We are currently inviting churches and individuals to contribute toward scholarships for students of color. The first course for credit is 50% off the normal cost for 3 graduate credits for everyone. Please talk to Lief Erickson ( if you are requesting a MLC/POC scholarship for a weekly, face-to-face class in Madison.

Those eligible:

  • Identify as a person of color and/or a member of a historically marginalized racial or ethnic minority. 

  • Live within driving distance of Madison

  • Have made good faith efforts to request or apply for any relevant denominational or congregational scholarship funds

  • Sign up for a MLC class and request a scholarship by the set deadline

  • If applicable, have earned a minimum of a 2.7 GPA (C+) in their most recent MLC class.


Awarding of Scholarship funds require matching contributions. Scholarship applicants will contribute at least 50%, 25% or 10% of the course fees, personally and/or through a designated donation from their church or a sponsor.


If you or your church would like to provide scholarship funds for local students of color to take Madison Learning Community courses, please contact Rev. Dr. Christopher James (

Does accreditation really matter?

As an initiative of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, the for-credit classes are part of our programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (the gold-standard in seminary accreditation) and Higher Learning Commission. Accreditation matters for a few reasons. If you're a part of many denominations, a degree from an ATS accredited school is required for ordination. While many non-accredited schools are providing valuable learning opportunities, accreditation ensures that courses, faculty and schools are providing quality learning environments, and makes it possible to transfer credits into programs at other accredited institutions.

I've heard that I can take the class "for credit" at 50% off. What does that mean?

If this is your first for-credit class through UDTS, the tuition is charged at 50% off the standard UDTS per-credit tuition rate.

What does hybrid-class format mean?

Hybrid refers to a mix of in-person and online instruction time. Each week, students will access video lectures online asynchronously (whenever and wherever works best for them) as well as attend an in-person class gathering on Tuesday night. The in-person gathering will offer students time to engage with faculty and each other.


How will I access the course website and video lectures?

Video lectures will be available online asynchronously (on-demand). Once you have signed up for the course, you will be provided log-in credentials for the seminary's Moodle page (


Are these classes only for pastors and seminarians?

Not at all. While we anticipate pastors will make up some of student mix, we expect that there will be many others as well: those simply seeking to grow deeper in their faith and knowledge, those considering vocational ministry, and lay leaders who are seeking opportunities to develop ministry skills.

What if I have to miss a class session?

We expect regular attendance both for in-person meetings and in the form of watching online lectures. With that said, we understand that life happens and you may have to miss 1-2 meetings due to unforeseen or otherwise planned commitments. Please communicate any foreseen absences with Lief Erickson and the course faculty as soon as you know of them.

What kind of school is University of Dubuque Theological Seminary?

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary was founded in 1852 to equip evangelists and pastors to reach the German immigrants flooding into the Midwest at that time. To this day, UDTS is committed to forming faithful Christian leaders for ministry and mission. As a theological seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) it serves students of various Christian traditions and denominations regionally and across the country through its online degree programs, started in 2007. Its faculty members have links to several denominations but share a commitment to the historic Christian faith expressed in the early ecumenical creeds and a love for Christ's church.

How did Madison Learning Community get started?

In 2018, Rev. Dr. Christopher James began bringing students from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary to Madison as part of a class, and also began doing research on the churches of Dane County. In the following years, UDTS and local partners received grants from the Lilly Endowment that made possible two initiatives supporting thriving among Madison leaders and churches, Missio Madison and Awaken Dane, respectively. In 2021, after reflecting on how to better serve the Greater Madison area Body of Christ, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary received a Lilly Endowment grant to support the formation of Madison Learning Community as a way of making theological education more accessible and effective.

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