New York Theological Seminary

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New York Theological Seminary
New York Theological Seminary Logo
Former names
Bible Teachers’ College, Bible Teachers’ Training School, The Biblical Seminary in New York
Type Seminary
Established 1902
Founder Wilbert Webster White
Religious affiliation
Non-Demoninational Christian
President Dale T. Irvin
Location New York City, New York, USA

The New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) was established as a non-denominational institution in 1900 with the founding of the Bible Teachers’ College in Montclair, New Jersey by Wilbert Webster White. President White moved the school to New York City in 1902, when it was renamed the Bible Teachers’ Training School. In 1921 the corporate name was changed to The Biblical Seminary in New York, and then in 1966 to New York Theological Seminary. In 2002 the seminary moved to the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, with offices in the Interchurch Center and classrooms in the Riverside Church and the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The Rev. Dr. Dale T. Irvin, an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, was appointed President of the seminary in 2005. He also serves as Professor of World Christianity.

As President of the seminary from 1969 to 1983, George W. Webber doubled enrollment, expanding attendance by African American, Hispanic and female students.[1]


New York Theological Seminary began its life in 1900 as the Bible Teacher’s College in Montclair, NJ.[2] Under the direction of its founder, Wilbert Webster White, the school sought intentionally to bridge the divide that had then begun to open between university-based and Bible school forms of theological education. A gifted scholar and teacher, President White was a leading proponent of what was known as “the inductive Bible study method.” He believed that the Bible ought to be taught in English and allowed to occupy the central position in the theological curriculum. The method lent itself easily to an emphasis on practical training for ministry, which characterized the institution from its inception.

President White moved the school to New York City in 1902 in order to provide what he called a more “cosmopolitan” setting for the ministerial training of students, renaming it the Bible Teachers’ Training School.[3] In 1921 the corporate name was changed to The Biblical Seminary in New York, and then in 1967 to New York Theological Seminary. From 1900 through the 1960s the Seminary trained numerous men and women who went on into pastoral ministry, missions work, Christian education and teaching around the world. From its founding the school demonstrated a strong commitment to the education of women as well as men, and to members of all races and denominations.

In the early 1970s New York Theological Seminary under the leadership of another gifted theological educator, George W. Webber, took on a new mission, of providing accessible and affordable theological education to men and women in the greater New York metropolitan area who were already in ministry, were bi-vocational, or were contemplating a shift from a secular to a religious vocation. The Seminary sold its campus and relocated to more affordable space, and began offering its programs at nights or on week-ends when urban church leaders who worked full-time could attend. For several years it suspended granting the MDiv degree and focused on offering the STM degree, a newly formed Certificate in Christian Ministry, and continuing education opportunities for urban church leaders. In the mid-1970s the Seminary added the MPS and DMin degree programs. In the early 1980s it began to offer the MDiv degree again, and began what has become a highly acclaimed Master’s degree program inside Sing Sing Correctional Facility that trains inmates from throughout the New York State prison system for ministry within the system. In the 1990s the curriculum was modified to reflect the Seminary’s commitment to social and community analysis and the increasingly multicultural urban context. In 2002 the Seminary moved to the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan. Located with offices in The Interchurch Center, with classrooms in The Riverside Church, and making use of the Columbia University Library System which includes the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.


NYTS is fully accredited by New York State and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[4] The Seminary currently offers six accredited degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Pastoral Care & Counseling, Master of Arts in Religious Education, Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration, Master of Arts in Youth Ministry and Doctor of Ministry. Two non-accredited programs are also currently offered: a Certificate in Christian Ministry and a Clinical Pastoral Education program that is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education through a satellite contract with Norwalk Hospital. It also offers an ATS accredited Master of Professional Studies to selected inmates in Sing Sing Correctional Facility.[citation needed]

Approximately 600 students attend classes that are held evenings and weekends to accommodate those who work in secular employment. Instruction is offered in four languages - English, Spanish, Korean and French.[citation needed]

Master of Divinity Program[edit]

The NYTS Master of Divinity (MDiv) is a 90-credit graduate degree designed for men and women who are already serving full-time in ministry, who are bi-vocational, or who are contemplating a shift from a secular to a religious vocation. The MDiv is the standard graduate degree for professional ministry in the United States and Canada.

Master of Arts in Pastoral Care & Counseling[edit]

The NYTS Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (MAPCC) is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to prepare women and men to provide professional pastoral care and counseling and to address the pastoral care and counseling needs of congregations and other communities within a contemporary global urban context. The degree is designed both for those who are considering and those who are already engaged in some form of pastoral care and counseling ministry. The curriculum integrates theological learning with psychological training in order to enhance both skill and understanding.

Master of Arts in Religious Education[edit]

The NYTS Master of Arts in Religious Education (MARE) is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to prepare men and women to administer and lead educational programs in churches, religious institutions, and other academic settings.

Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration[edit]

The NYTS Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration (MARLA) is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to prepare individuals for leadership and administrative positions and responsibilities in churches, religious institutions and faith-based organizations.

Master of Arts in Youth Ministry[edit]

The NYTS Master of Arts in Youth Ministry (MAYM) is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to prepare individuals to serve in the area of youth ministry within congregations and other faith-based organizations.

Doctor of Ministry Program[edit]

Certificate in Christian Ministry[edit]

The Certificate Program in Christian Ministry (CP) is a non-degree course of study that provides a basic theological education suitable for both lay and ordained church leaders. Designed to be completed in two years, the program is offered in English, Spanish, and French at various sites throughout the New York metropolitan area and online. Candidates for admission need only to hold a high school degree or its equivalent, although many in the program have already completed college or even graduate programs. Classes are held mostly on Saturdays, with some sites offering classes on week-nights as well. The curriculum covers the basic theological disciplines of Biblical, historical, theological and practical studies.

Clinical Pastoral Education[edit]

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is theological and professional education for ministry. It brings theological students, ordained clergy, members of religious orders and qualified laypeople into supervised encounter with persons in various clinical settings.

Programs Centers[edit]

Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion[edit]

The Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR), formerly the Ecologies of Learning Project (EOL), is a research and action Center based at New York Theological Seminary.

Founded by the late Lowell Livezey, former Professor of Urban Studies and Religion, NYTS received a grant in 2004 for the Ecologies of Learning project which developed into the Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion (CSPUR) in 2009.

Center for World Christianity[edit]

Established in 2004 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Martin, Douglas. "George W. Webber, Social Activist Minister, Dies at 90", The New York Times, July 12, 2010. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "Bible Teacher’s College: More Than 300 Studies and Lectures to Constitute the Course", The New York Times, November 8, 1900. Accessed March 30, 2011.
  3. ^ "BIBLE TEACHERS' COLLEGE TO REMOVE TO THIS CITY.; Will Leave Montclair, N.J., at the Beginning of the New Year -- Institution's Future Plans.", The New York Times, December 21, 1901. Accessed March 30, 2011.

Coordinates: 40°48′40″N 73°57′50″W / 40.811178°N 73.963903°W / 40.811178; -73.963903