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"Theological College" redirects here. For the institution in Washington, D.C., see Theological College (Catholic University of America).
For the community in the United States, see Seminary, Virginia.

A seminary, theological college, divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry.[1] 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.[2] In the West the term now refers to Roman Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.[3][4]


The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent.[5] The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology.[6]

Accreditation and recognition[edit]

Some seminaries elect to acquire higher education accreditation.[citation needed] 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.[7]

Other uses of the term[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors religious education programs for secondary school students which are referred to as seminaries.

In general use, a seminary can be a secular institution, or part of an institution, designated for specialized training, e.g. a graduate course.[3] It has occasionally been used for military academies, though this use is not well attested after the nineteenth century.[3]

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.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Seminary". Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  2. ^ XXIII Session, Council of Trent, ch. XVIII. Retrieved from J. Waterworth, ed. (1848). The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Oecumenical Council of Trent. London: Dolman. pp. 170–92. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "Seminary, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ "History". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ Glazier, Michael; Hellwig, Monika, eds. (2004). "Ecumenical Councils to Trent". The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press. p. 263. ISBN 978-0-8146-5962-5. 
  6. ^ Rose, Michael S. (2002). Goodbye, Good Men. Regnery Publishing. pp. 217–25. ISBN 0-89526-144-8. 
  7. ^ "Accreditation in the United States: Specialized Accreditation Agencies". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  8. ^ "The Rise of Women's Colleges, Coeducation". The Women's College Coalition. Retrieved June 24, 2011. 

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