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Master of Arts in Servant Leadership

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Admission and Program Information


The Master of Arts in Servant Leadership (MASL) degree at Viterbo University, a Catholic Franciscan university, provides an opportunity for individuals to develop and deepen their vocation to engage in competent, creative, faithful leadership that works for the common good.


Application Requirements and Procedures

Applicants should complete the application form and submit it along with:

  • a letter of reference from a person familiar with the applicant's ability to serve as a leader in ministry, non-profit organizations, or business;
  • a statement of goals in which the applicant reflects on why she or he wishes to pursue the degree in servant leadership and how she or he hopes to use the knowledge and skills gained through the program in the future;
  • an official transcript documenting a baccalaureate degree earned from a regionally accredited institution. Transcripts must be requested and sent directly from the institution to Viterbo University. The transcript must be sent directly, not submitted with the above or hand carried to Viterbo University.

Upon review of all above materials, program director or coordinator will contact the applicant to arrange an on-campus interview. Phone interviews may be done when circumstances prohibit face-to-face interviews.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the program is determined after review of the above materials. The following will be used to guide admission decisions:

  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 in undergraduate studies.
  • Demonstration of leadership and service experience in addition to their undergraduate studies.
  • Strong recommendations highlighting the candidate's actual or potential gifts for servant leadership.

Probationary admission may be granted to applicants. Removal from probationary status will be granted if the participant successfully completes 12 credits of graduate work at Viterbo.

Transfer Credit

Participants may transfer up to nine credits of prior graduate coursework into the MASL. program. Credit will only be granted for coursework completed within the last 10 years at a regionally accredited university. Requests to transfer credits should be made in writing to the program director by the end of the student's first semester of coursework. Requests must be accompanied by an official transcript from the institution at which prior credits were earned. To be considered for credit, students must: 1) demonstrate the relevance of the prior coursework to existing MASL. program learning outcomes and 2) have earned a B or better in the prior coursework.



MASL students often bring a level of experience and knowledge to academic programs that has been acquired through work, training, or life experiences. The portfolio is a paricipant's self-prepared record of prior learning in the areas of professional training or personal and professional experiences. Viterbo University recognizes the value of that learning, and awards academic credit for it through the credit for prior learning program.

A maximum of nine elective credits may be awarded for significant, relevant, previous experiences that bear directly on being a servant leader in the workplace or ministry. To pursue graduate portfolio credit for prior learning students must:

  • be a currently enrolled student in good academic standing
  • meet with the program coordinator to (1) discuss the relevance and significance of the prior learning and (2) determine the specific course learning outcomes met by the proposed portfolio
  • submit the Application for Tutorial for Prior Learning
  • complete the online Portfolio Tutorial module
  • submit to the program coordinator at least one semester prior to graduation the following:
    • Application for Credit for Prior Learning
    • Completed portfolio

Upon receipt of the completed portfolio, the program coordinator will secure a faculty member who will evaluate the portfolio and recommend the number of credits to be awarded. The university grants one graduate credit for work equivalent to 15 classroom hours + 30 non-classroom hours (reading, research, writing, etc.). So, for example, a 1-credit portfolio must demonstrate learning equivalent to 45 hours of coursework (15 classroom + 30 non-classroom). All petitions for portfolio credit are subject to final approval by the vice president for academic affairs.

Fees for portfolio credit are non-refundable and due to the Business Office after completing the Credit for Prior Learning Tutorial but before submitting the completed portfolio. The current fee schedule for portfolio credits can be found on the Business Office website.

Additional details about the portfolio process, including the necessary forms, can be found on Viterbo's Center for Adult Learning webpage

Portfolio Examples

Example 1: In the past year before entering the servant leadership program, a participant designed and implemented a program of service learning among youth in a congregation. If she wished portfolio credit, her portfolio might include most if not all of these parts:

  • a thorough outline and description of the youth program's goals, implementation, and evaluation;
  • a position paper describing why the program was significantly new and different from other programs;
  • an explanation of how the work on this youth program fulfills the stated mission and objectives of the Master of Arts in Servant Leadership program;
  • the scope of the program vis-à-vis time requirements, numbers of people involved, and so on;
  • commentary by an observer or evaluator of the program;
  • a summary integration paper reflecting on the experience;
  • an article about the program that may be submitted to a newspaper.

Example 2: A participant in the spiritual direction preparation program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse who wanted credit by portfolio for completion of the three-year training might include these parts to his portfolio:

  • a thorough description of the three-year program, including brochures from the center;
  • a summary of the qualifications of all members of the staff and presenters;
  • all the book reports, evaluations of supervisors, annual evaluations;
  • documentation of having completed the verbatims, and the final certificate awarded by the center;
  • an evaluation by the staff supervisor;
  • documentation of attendance at monthly spiritual direction;
  • a summary integration paper reflecting on the experience;
  • some creative article, presentation, or brochure explaining spiritual direction.

Course Cancellation Policy

In the event that a weekend class must be cancelled due to an event beyond the control of Viterbo University and/or the Master of Arts in Servant Leadership program (e.g., weather, faculty illness, etc.), every effort will be made to reschedule the class. The professor will issue a revised syllabus and make-up coursework.

MASL New Student Orientation

New student orientation is scheduled during the MASL Summer Institute. All new students are strongly encouraged to participate. In the event that a new student is unable to take part an online version is available.