Advanced study in the Lutheran faith is often broken into four categories.
Exegetical theology - A focus on a study of the Holy Scriptures in their original languages. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod uses what is called the "historical - grammatical" method. Scripture is interpreted using the original languages with an understanding formed by the best possible comprehension of their original settings and purposes. Scripture is treated and respected as the Divine Word of revelation from God Himself. This method is in contrast to the various methods of "higher criticism" which operate with the presupposition that the Bible is a human book about God and therefore prone to human error. The area of hermeneutics, or the science of interpretation, falls into this area.
Systematic theology -this is a study of theology based on a topical approach where the various components found in Scripture are related to one another into a system. Studies and statements can then be made about the implications of various dimensions of Scriptural teaching for a better understanding. Systematic theology seeks to bring the various pieces of Scriptural teaching together and to state the meaning of Scripture in a plain and easy to understand way on various issues.
Historical theology - seeks to gain a true understanding of how various Scriptural teachings were understood at particular times and why. Such provides necessary insight into the sources of human biases and mistaken interpretations so that the contemporary interpreter can avoid the same mistakes but rather remain faithful to God's intended meaning for the Scriptures.
Practical theology - deals with the application of Scriptural truth to the lives of individuals. Pastoral care, counseling, worship practice, various approaches to different ministries are only some of the many examples of topics that can fall under this category.