Graduate Theological Foundation
|Graduate Theological Foundation|
|Mission||Theological continuing education|
|President||Kendra Elizabeth Clayton, Ed.D.|
The Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) is a nonprofit, interreligious institution of higher learning centered in Mishawaka, Indiana. Unlike traditional residential theological schools, the foundation focuses on continuing educational opportunities for practicing ministry professionals, administrators and academics who want to pursue advanced degrees while retaining their current position. Students and faculty reside around the world, and scholarly work takes place through onsite, online and distance learning engagement. Students are eligible to earn bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in a variety of theological disciplines. Faculty members come from a broad spectrum of faith backgrounds, and many also serve on the faculty of established colleges and universities, including the University of Oxford, with which the Foundation has a continuing education affiliation through the Oxford Theology Summer School.
The Graduate Theological Foundation was founded in 1962 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The Conference on Religious Development was commissioned to foster growing ecumenical relationships between Catholic and Protestant communions. The Foundation emerged from a variety of residential programs held by the Conference in Madison, Connecticut.
At first the Foundation was formed as a traditional continuing education center for practicing clergy, with a retreat model incorporating individuals or small groups working with creative curriculum, full on-site student residency and a dedicated faculty. At the urging of students and faculty for more flexible educational opportunities, the Foundation created a new program requiring only part-time residency.
Over the years the Foundation has evolved into a self-directed education model designed to be responsive to the 21st century needs of ministry professionals across the globe. Students and faculty engage through online, distance and onsite learning methods. The Foundation has scholarly partnerships with academic institutions around the world where graduate degree students may complete their course work.
The Foundation is an independent non-profit body with tax-exempt status on both the state (Indiana) and federal levels. The Foundation is incorporated in the state of Indiana and is authorized to award advanced degrees in various fields of theological study, and is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
The Graduate Theological Foundation continuing education model is designed for working clergy, academics and administrators to earn advanced degrees while retaining their current position. Faculty and students engage through online, on-site and distance learning engagements. The Foundation also enters in partnerships with traditional universities both in the U.S. and internationally where students may complete academic requirements toward their degree. Students have a large degree of flexibility in helping to design their curriculum in conjunction with faculty, and in determining their own time frame for earning degrees.
Graduate degrees are divided into Professional and Academic degrees. Professional degrees are practice-oriented in the relevant field of study with an emphasis on topical issues and solutions to identifiable challenges. Final projects are evaluated by faculty before a degree is awarded, with no oral defense required. Academic degrees are geared toward research and require a master’s or doctoral thesis before a degree is awarded. An oral defense of the thesis is required for doctoral degrees.
Bachelor’s degrees can also be earned through a degree completion program for students in pastoral positions, and are available in three areas: theological studies, religious education and sacred music.
Faculty members number approximately 70, and come from a wide array of faith backgrounds and areas of specialization. A majority of faculty also hold positions at other universities or institutions.
Foundation professorships fall into two categories: visiting faculty, which indicates temporary association through special arrangement, and named professorships, reflecting permanent members of the faculty who make up the bulk of the teaching staff.
Since most faculty members reside offsite, professors and students engage through a variety of distance, online and onsite learning. Faculty are required to evaluate the written coursework of students, evaluate their degree projects and research theses, act as doctoral thesis supervisors and offer tutorials.
Notable faculty members include:
- Senad Agic, Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani Professor of Islamic Studies and head imam of the Islamic Association of Bosniaks in North America.
- The Rev. Msgr. Charles Chaffman, Professor of Theological and Tribunal Studies; also serves as a Judicial Vicar and Director of the International Institute of Theological and Tribunal Studies in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
- The Rev. Fr. Jorge R. Colón León, Fellow and François-Xavier Durrwell, C.Ss.R., Professor of Religious Studies.
- The Revd Canon Robin Gibbons, Fellow and Alexander Schemann Professor of Eastern Christianity; also a Faculty of Theology member at the University of Oxford and Director of Studies for Theology and Religion, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.
- Ann V. Graber, Fellow, Professor of Pastoral Logotherapy and Diplomate of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy.
- The Rev’d Andrew Linzey, Bergh Professor of Animal Ethics; also a Faculty of Theology member at the University of Oxford and director, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
- John Henry Morgan, Karl Mannheim Professor of the History and Philosophy of Social Sciences and former President of Graduate Theological Foundation.
- The Rev. Hugh R. Page, Jr., Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Scripture and Applied Ministries; also Associate Professor of Theology and Dean of First Year of Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
- The Rev. James F. Puglisi, S.A., Fellow and Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman Professor of Catholic Theology; also director of ecumenical research and Minister General of the Franciscan Friars of Atonement at the Centro Pro Unione.
- Omar Ahmed Shahin, professor of Islamic Law and Director Islamic Studies.
- The Revd Canon Jane Shaw, Fellow and The Evelyn Underhill Professor of Historical Theology; also Dean of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
- Rabbi Norman Solomon, Professor of Judaica; also faculty member of Wolfson College, Oxford University and former Director of the Centre for the Study of Judaism and Jewish Christian Relations at Selly Oak College.
- The Revd Canon Vincent Strudwick, Fellow and Bishop John Tinsley Professor of Anglican Theology; recipient of the Lambeth Degree of Doctor of Divinity conferred by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
- The Rev. Robley Edward Whitson, Fellow and Distinguished Professor of Theological Anthropology.
Graduate Theological Foundation students come from a large geographical spectrum, including all 50 U.S. states and 64 countries. Statistics compiled by the Foundation state that approximately 30% of alumni were employed in parish ministry at the time of graduation, with 22% working in education, 15% in counseling and 8% in administration. The average student body age is 51 years old, and 66% are male while 34% are female. Approximately 78% of Foundation students are ordained clergy.
Students also come from a wide range of faith backgrounds, with Protestant the majority at 56%. Catholics make up 36% of students, Muslims 7%, 1% are Jewish and 1% Buddhist. (Percentages are rounded.)
Direct publications of the Graduate Theological Foundation reflect its student body of working ministry professionals engaged in pastoral, educational, health-related or counseling vocation.
The Oxford Theology Monograph is a gathering of essays written by faculty members related to course work at the University of Oxford Theology Summer School, a partnership between the Foundation and the University Oxford that has existed since 1994.
Foundation Theology is an annual collection of essays written by students and faculty of the Foundation deemed worthy of special consideration and publication.
The Graduate Theological Foundation does not hold accreditation through either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Graduate Theological Foundation is not categorized as a traditional college, seminary or university and its educational model does not qualify as either strictly residential or distance learning. As an educational foundation, GTF is incorporated by the state of Indiana and is chartered by the state to award advanced degrees in various fields of theological study. The Foundation is a listed member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Affiliations and Summer Programs
The Graduate Theological Foundation maintains affiliations with other institutions of higher learning around the world, where students may complete academic coursework toward a degree. This includes the University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education. This partnership, established in 1994, allows Foundation students to complete some or all of their graduate studies during the annual Oxford Theology Summer School, hosted at Christ Church College, Oxford.
The Foundation also holds affiliations with members of P.R.I.M.E., Partnering Resources in Ministry Education, a network of 16 institutions of higher learning where students taking courses at P.R.I.M.E. affiliate institutions may earn credit toward their GTF degree.
These academic affiliations are for the benefit of Foundation students wishing to study abroad, and do not imply academic credentialing or the awarding of a degree from the partner institution.