Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.
In the US, the term is currently used for graduate-level institutions, but historically it was used for high schools.
The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent. The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology.
Seminaries in the Catholic Church are divided into minor seminaries for teenagers and major seminaries for young adults, including both college seminaries (though in the U.S. these are often called minor seminaries) for undergraduate students and post-graduate seminaries for those who already have a bachelor's degree. There are also seminaries for older adults who are well out of school, such as the Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts, and for other more specialized purposes.
All seminaries are run either by religious orders or by dioceses or other similar structures. Often a seminary will train both that particular order's or diocese's priests and the priests of other orders or dioceses that select that particular seminary for its priests. For instance, Saint John's Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts trains priests for many of the other dioceses in New England who are suffragan dioceses of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. Either way, a man who seeks to enter a seminary to become a priest must be sponsored by either a diocese or by a religious order.
Often a diocese might be attached to or affiliated with a larger Catholic college or university so that the larger college and its faculty provides more general education in history or theology while the seminary focuses on topics specific to the needs of future priests, such as training in canon law, the sacraments, and preaching, or specific to the particular order or diocese. For instance the Theological College in Washington, D.C. is part of The Catholic University of America.
Further, in Rome there are several seminaries who educate seminarians or already ordained priests and bishops and which are maintained by orders or dioceses from outside of Italy. For instance, the Pontifical North American College, which trains priests from the United States and elsewhere, is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In North America, four entities that accredit religious schools in particular are recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation: Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Association for Biblical Higher Education, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
In general use, a seminary can be a secular institution, or part of an institution, designated for specialized training, e.g. a graduate course. It has occasionally been used for military academies, though this use is not well attested after the nineteenth century.
In some countries, the term seminary is also used for secular schools of higher education that train teachers; in the nineteenth century, many female seminaries were established in the United States.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or the Mormons) hosts seminary classes for high school students ages 14 to 18, as part of the Church Educational System. Unlike use in other religious contexts, the word "seminary", in an LDS Church context, does not refer to a higher education program designed to train students that they may obtain a church-based career. LDS seminary students do not get high school credit for their seminary studies.
Albright College is a private liberal arts college in Reading, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1856.Bethel University (Minnesota)
Bethel University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located primarily in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Founded in 1871 as a Baptist seminary, Bethel is currently a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and affiliated with Converge, formerly known as the Baptist General Conference. Bethel University enrolls 5,600 students in undergraduate, graduate, and seminary programs. These programs are composed of 90 majors in over 100 different areas of study, and are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.Bethel University has a campus of about 289 acres that includes several dorms, a performing arts center, and a student center. Students of Bethel University sign a community covenant promising to live in accordance with guidelines set by the University in an effort to foster a life of faith and personal morality. Students of Bethel participate in sports such as basketball, football, and soccer.Church Educational System
The Church Educational System (CES) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) consists of several institutions that provide religious and secular education for both Latter-day Saint and non–Latter-day Saint elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students and adult learners. Approximately 700,000 individuals were enrolled in CES programs in 143 countries in 2011. CES courses of study are separate and distinct from religious instruction provided through wards (local congregations). Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, has been the CES Commissioner since August 1, 2019.Church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris
The Church of Saint-Sulpice (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃sylpis]) is a Roman Catholic church in Paris, France, on the east side of Place Saint-Sulpice, in the Latin Quarter of the 6th arrondissement. It is only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame and thus the second largest church in the city. It is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious. Construction of the present building, the second church on the site, began in 1646. During the 18th century, an elaborate gnomon, the Gnomon of Saint-Sulpice, was constructed in the church.Fuller Theological Seminary
Fuller Theological Seminary is a multidenominational Christian evangelical seminary in Pasadena, California, with regional campuses in the western United States. The seminary has 2,897 students from 90 countries and 110 denominations.General Theological Seminary
The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church (GTS) is a seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York. Founded in 1817, GTS is the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church and a leading center of theological education in the Anglican Communion. The seminary was chartered by an act of the Episcopal Church's General Convention and its name was chosen to reflect its founders vision that it be a seminary to serve the whole Church. Throughout its history, GTS has occupied a mediating position between the broad church tradition and Anglo-Catholicism and its faculty generally reflect the moderate-to-liberal consensus on moral and theological issues espoused by the Episcopal Church.Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is a Conservative Jewish education organization in New York City, New York. It is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.
In addition to a number of research and training institutes, JTS operates five schools:
Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies (which is affiliated with Columbia University and offers joint/double bachelor's degree programs with both Columbia and Barnard College)
Gershon Kekst Graduate School
William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education
H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music
The Rabbinical SchoolLasell University
Lasell University (LU) is a private university in Auburndale, Massachusetts. Lasell offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional fields of study.Liberty University
Liberty University (LU) is a private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia.It is one of the largest Christian universities in the world and one of the largest private non-profit universities in the United States, measured by student enrollment. As of 2017, the university enrolls more than 15,000 students at its Lynchburg campus and more than 94,000 students in online courses for a total of about 110,000.The school consists of 17 colleges, including a school of medicine and a school of law. Liberty's athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Liberty Flames. Their college football team is an NCAA Division I FBS Independent, while most of their other sports teams compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Studies at the university have a conservative Christian orientation, with three required Bible-studies classes for undergraduate students. The university's honor code, called the "Liberty Way", prohibits premarital sex and private interactions between members of the opposite sex. Described as a "bastion of the Christian right" in American politics, the university plays a prominent role in Republican politics.Moody Bible Institute
Moody Bible Institute (MBI) is a Christian institution of higher education with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded by evangelist and businessman Dwight Lyman Moody in 1886. Since its founding, MBI's main campus has been located in the Near North Side of Chicago. Moody also operates a graduate campus in Plymouth, Michigan.Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is a private liberal arts college for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Founded in 1837, it is the oldest institution within the Seven Sisters schools, an alliance of East Coast liberal arts colleges that was originally created to provide women with education equivalent to that provided in the then men-only Ivy League. Mount Holyoke is part of the region's Five College Consortium, along with Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is a private Presbyterian school of theology in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1812 under the auspices of Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), it is the second-oldest seminary in the United States. It is also the largest of ten seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church.
Princeton Seminary has long been influential in theological studies, with many leading biblical scholars, theologians, and clergy among its faculty and alumni. In addition, it operates one of the largest theological libraries in the world and maintains a number of special collections, including the Karl Barth Research Collection in the Center for Barth Studies. The seminary also manages an endowment of $986 million, making it the third-wealthiest institution of higher learning in the state of New Jersey—after Princeton University and Rutgers University.
Today, Princeton Seminary enrolls approximately 500 students. While around 40 percent of them are candidates for ministry specifically in the Presbyterian Church, the majority are completing such candidature in other denominations, pursuing careers in academia across a number of different disciplines, or receiving training for other, non-theological fields altogether.Seminarians hold academic reciprocity with Princeton University as well as the Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, and the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. The institution also has an ongoing relationship with the Center of Theological Inquiry.Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, founded in 1896, is the rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University. It is located along Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
The school's Hebrew name is Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon (Hebrew: ישיבת רבינו יצחק אלחנן), after Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, who had died that year. The Hebrew name of the Rabbinic school appears on the seals of all affiliates of Yeshiva University, in Hebrew letters. The seminary is often referred to by its English acronym of RIETS.Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is a Southern Baptist seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. It is the oldest of the six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The seminary was founded in 1859 at Greenville, South Carolina, where it was at first lodged on the campus of Furman University. After being closed during the Civil War, it moved in 1877 to a newly built campus in downtown Louisville and later moved to its current location in the Crescent Hill neighborhood. For more than fifty years Southern has been one of the world's largest theological seminaries, with an FTE (full-time equivalent) enrollment of over 3,300 students in 2015.Spelman College
Spelman College is a private, liberal arts, women's college in Atlanta, Georgia. The college is part of the Atlanta University Center academic consortium in Atlanta. Founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, Spelman received its collegiate charter in 1924, making it America's oldest private historically black liberal arts college for women.Thrikkunnathu Seminary
Thrikkunathu Seminary is a historic former seminary under the ownership of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in the Thrikkunnathu neighborhood of Aluva, Ernakulam. Owing to an ownership dispute between the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox and Jacobite Syrian Christian churches both the seminary and its St. Mary's Church Thrikkunnathu building were closed in December 1977. The church is a pilgrimage site for Christians in India.The ownership of the church was given to the Malankara Orthodox Church after the high court verdict as of 22 January 2018.Union Theological Seminary (New York City)
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (UTS) is a non-denominational Christian seminary in New York City. It is affiliated with neighboring Columbia University. Since 1928, the seminary has served as Columbia's constituent faculty of theology. In 1964, UTS also established an affiliation with the neighboring Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
UTS is the oldest independent seminary in the United States and has long been known as a bastion of progressive Christian scholarship, with a number of prominent thinkers among its faculty or alumni. It was founded in 1836 by members of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., but was open to students of all denominations. In 1893, UTS rescinded the right of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to veto faculty appointments, thus becoming fully independent. In the 20th century, Union became a center of liberal Christianity. It served as the birthplace of the Black theology, womanist theology, and other theological movements. It houses the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, one of the largest theological libraries in the Western Hemisphere.University of Saint Mary of the Lake
The University of Saint Mary of the Lake, also called Mundelein Seminary, is the principal seminary and school of theology for the formation of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, governed from Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Chartered by the Illinois General Assembly in 1844, it has the longest continuous academic charter in the state of Illinois.The largest major Catholic seminary (a seminary containing a graduate school of theology) in the United States, Mundelein Seminary serves 45 dioceses in eight different countries and was the first ecclesiastical faculty in the U.S.In addition to the seminary, the University of St. Mary of the Lake offers the Lay Formation Program, Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral, Diaconate Formation Program, and the Liturgical Institute.
Chicago Studies is an academic journal for priests and others in parish ministry. It is edited by the university and seminary faculty along with priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago.Westminster Theological Seminary
Westminster Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian graduate educational institution located in Glenside, Pennsylvania. According to Roger E. Olson, it has had an influence on evangelicalism far beyond its size.