What is seminary? You might find yourself asking this question if you're new to theological education or just aren't sure what's involved in preparing for ministry.
Simply put, a seminary is an institution of higher learning devoted to theological education. The vast majority of seminaries are Christian, specifically protestant. However, there's no shortage Catholic seminaries as well. Although the term is generally associated with Christian institutions, it can apply to Jewish schools of theological education as well. So, the answer to "What is Seminary" is simple - it refers to graduate theological education.
This site focuses specifically on Christian,
Protestant seminaries in the United States. That's not to say, of
course, that other seminaries aren't worth exploring or considering.
However, I have specifically chosen to limit this site's focus because
of my own experiences and areas of expertise. I'm a graduate of a
mainline protestant seminary and those are the types of schools I
generally researched, with one exception.
this isn't a hard and fast rule, generally "Divinity Schools," which
are also part of this site's focus, have a broader, more ecumenical
representation. A Divinity School, such as Harvard, Yale, or Vanderbilt,
will have a wide range of students from many different theological and
philosophical backgrounds, some who don't even espouse any religious
belief but who are interested in studying theology from an academic
have prepared their students for various types of ministry. One may
attend seminary to prepare for a career in ministry in various
capacities, such as a senior pastor, youth director, or music minister.
Others attend seminary as preparation for teaching in religious-based
high schools or to prepare for further graduate study in theology or a
related fields. Still others attend seminary to explore discovering
their call, whether it be to traditional parish ministry or some other
kind of service.
seminaries offer a Master of Divinity degree (MDiv), a three year
foundational degree in theology where a student takes a variety of
courses, both practical and academic. Some schools offer the more
easily-recognized MA in a variety of fields, with some schools even
offering dual MDiv/MA programs.
Many seminaries and divinity
schools also offer an MTS (Master of Theological Studies) degree, which
is a specialized theology degree as well as a ThM (Master of Theology).
For more advanced students, there is the DMin (Doctor of Ministry), ThD
(Doctor of Theology), and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy).
Although most students who attend a seminary do so to prepare for traditional church ministry, a seminary education is excellent preparation for further graduate work in a variety of fields or preparation for work in the non-profit sector. The education is varied enough that graduates find themselves working in areas they never dreamed of . . . including building websites such as this one. :)