Types of Seminaries

In case you didn't know, there are are actually numerous types of seminaries available. I will have pages devoted to each kind in case you want to explore these in more detail, but hopefully this brief introduction will prove useful.

Independent Seminary

Perhaps the most common type of seminary is the independent institution, one that has its own governing body, endowment, and mission. These schools range in size and diversity of students and beliefs. Schools from Andover Newton Theological Seminary to Reformed Theological Seminary fit this description.

Dependent Seminary

There are a number of seminaries that are dependent upon a college or university. They may have their own faculty and seminary-specific policies; however, these schools are governed by the university or college to which they belong. Examples of these types of seminaries are Truett Theological Seminary (Baylor University) and Grace College and Seminary. In case you were curious, these schools generally use the term "seminary" rather than divinity schools because they have a denominational or doctrinal focus.

Divinity School

The difference between a seminary and a divinity school is confusing to many. While there are more similarities than differences, some distinctions exist. Seminaries are usually independent entities with their own governing board, policies, endowment, and so forth. Divinity schools are part of universities and in that sense are like a school's other professional programs such as law, medicine, business, and so forth.

Though not always the case, seminaries often have either a denominational focus or specific doctrinal emphases. Divinity schools are generally more diverse and don't necessarily favor one particular type of religious training over another. Some see divinity schools as emphasizing academics whereas seminaries emphasize practical ministry, but this distinction doesn't necessarily hold.

However, students in divinity schools often have access to a wider range of courses since they can draw from the entire university curriculum. And based on my own experience, it is true that divinity schools also are more likely to attract students who are interested in theology primarily as an academic discipline. Examples of popular divinity schools include Harvard, Yale, and Duke.

Bible College Seminary

Finally, there are several seminaries that are associated with Bible colleges, which generally have a more precise focus than divinity schools or even most seminaries. Because Bible Colleges tend to have a more conservative focus, the associated seminaries are equally conservative. That's not a criticism or praise - just general observation. Examples of Bible College seminaries include Moody Bible Institute and Multnomah University.

As you can see, there are many different types of seminaries (including divinity schools) you can explore; even online seminary degrees are available. As always, I'm glad to help you answer any questions you might have. Shoot me a line if you're interested!


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