Yale Divinity School

Coordinates: 41°19′24″N 72°55′17″W / 41.32333°N 72.92139°W / 41.32333; -72.92139
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Yale Divinity School
Coat of arms of the school, containing a book device inscribed with Hebrew letters and cross in front of a red background
Coat of arms of the school
with the university's Urim V'Thummim motto under a cross and halo
Established1822; 202 years ago (1822)
Parent institution
Yale University
DeanGregory E. Sterling

41°19′24″N 72°55′17″W / 41.32333°N 72.92139°W / 41.32333; -72.92139

Yale Divinity School (YDS) is one of the twelve graduate and professional schools of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Congregationalist theological education was the motivation at the founding of Yale, and the professional school has its roots in a Theological Department established in 1822. The school had maintained its own campus, faculty, and degree program since 1869, and it has become more ecumenical beginning in the mid-19th century. Since the 1970s, it has been affiliated with the Episcopal Berkeley Divinity School and has housed the Institute of Sacred Music, which offers separate degree programs. In July 2017, a two-year process of formal affiliation was completed, with the addition of Andover Newton Seminary joining the school. Over 40 different denominations are represented at YDS.[2]


The Divinity College dormitory on the Old Campus, completed in 1836

Theological education was the earliest academic purpose of Yale University. When Yale College was founded in 1701, it was as a college of religious training for Congregationalist ministers in Connecticut Colony, designated in its charter as a school "wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State." A professorship of divinity was established in 1746. In 1817, the occupant of the divinity chair, Eleazar Thompson Fitch, supported a student request to endow a theological curriculum, and five years later a separate Yale Theological Seminary[3] was founded by the Yale Corporation.[4] In the same motion, Second Great Awakening theologian Nathaniel William Taylor was appointed to become the first Dwight Professor of Didactic Theology.[5] Taylor was considered the "central figure" in the school's founding, and he was joined in 1826 by Josiah Willard Gibbs, Sr., a scholar of sacred languages and lexicographer Chauncey A. Goodrich in 1839.[5] A dedicated student dormitory, Divinity College, was completed on the college's Old Campus in 1836, but the department had no permanent classrooms or offices until several years after the end of the American Civil War.

Divinity Hall, occupied from 1870 to 1931, viewed from the New Haven Green.

After a significant period of enrollment decline, the school began fundraising from alumni for new faculty and facilities.[5] Divinity Hall was constructed on the present-day site of Grace Hopper College between 1869 and 1871, featuring two classroom wings and a chapel.[5] Around the time of the new campus' construction came the arrival of new faculty, including James M. Hoppin, George Edward Day, George Park Fisher, and Leonard Bacon.[5] The first Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) was conferred in 1867, and the department became a separate School of Divinity in 1869.[4] The school remained across from Old Campus until 1929, when a new campus was constructed on the northern edge of the university campus, at the top of Prospect Hill.

Sterling Divinity Quadrangle

Berkeley Divinity School affiliated with Yale Divinity School in 1971, and in the same year the university replaced the B.D. with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program. While Berkeley retains its Episcopal Church connection, its students are admitted by and fully enrolled as members of Yale Divinity School. The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, a division of the Divinity School, maintains a large collection of primary source materials about Jonathan Edwards, a 1720 Yale alumnus. The Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) is jointly-affiliated with the Divinity School and School of Music. It offers programs in choral conducting, organ performance, voice, and church music studies, and in liturgical studies and religion and the arts.

In May 2016, Andover Newton Theological School president Martin Copenhaver announced that Andover Newton would begin a process of formal affiliation with the Divinity School over the next two years. In the 2016–17 academic year, a cohort of faculty relocated to New Haven teaching students and launching pilot initiatives focused on congregational ministry education, while Andover Newton continued to operate in Massachusetts over the next two years. In July 2017, a formal affiliation was signed, resulting in smaller Andover Newton functioning as a unit within Yale Divinity School, similar to its arrangement with Berkeley.[6]

In October 2020, YDS received a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment as part of the foundation's Thriving Congregations Initiative to fund a program entitled, "Reimagining Church: New Models for the 21st Century." Reimagining Church will involve 40 congregations in Connecticut as well as YDS students, faculty, and staff over a five-year period.[7]

In November 2020, the Yale Divinity School Women's Center revived the publication of The Voice Journal of Literary and Theological Ideas, a feminist journal that initially ran from 1996 to 2002.[8]


Yale Divinity School is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)[9] and approved by ATS to grant the following degrees:

Students pursuing an M.A.R. can choose between a comprehensive and concentrated program. The following concentrations are offered:[10]

Students in any degree program at Yale Divinity School can also earn certificates in any of the following areas:[11]


Gregory Sterling, a New Testament scholar and Church of Christ pastor, has been the dean of the divinity school since 2012, succeeding New Testament scholar Harold W. Attridge, who returned to teaching as a Sterling Professor upon completing two five-year terms as dean.[12] The leaders of the affiliated seminaries are Andrew McGowan, Dean and President of Berkeley Divinity School, and Sarah Drummond, Founding Dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School. Organist Martin Jean is director of the Institute of Sacred Music.

Deans of Yale Divinity School[edit]

Name Years Served Academic Field Denomination
Gregory E. Sterling[13] 2012–Present New Testament Churches of Christ
Harold W. Attridge 2002-2012 New Testament Catholic
Rebecca Chopp[14] 2001-2002 Theology Methodist
Harry B. Adams (acting dean) 2000-2001 Pastoral Theology
Richard J. Wood[15][16] 1996-2000 Philosophy Quaker
Thomas Ogletree[17] 1990-1996 Ethics Methodist
Aidan Kavanagh (acting dean) 1989-1990 Liturgics Catholic
Leander Keck 1979-1989 New Testament Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Colin W. Williams 1969-1979 Ethics Methodist
Robert Clyde Johnson 1963-1969 Presbyterian
Charles Forman (acting dean) 1961-1963
Liston Pope 1949-1962 Ethics Congregationalist
Luther Allan Weigle[18] 1928-1949 Christian Education Lutheran/Congregationalist
Charles Reynolds Brown 1911-1928 Theology Congregationalist
Edward Lewis Curtis (acting dean) 1905-1911
Frank Knight Sanders 1901-1905 Semitics Congregationalist
George Park Fisher 1895-1901 Church History Congregationalist
George Edward Day[19] 1888-1895 Hebrew Congregationalist


Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, campus of the Yale Divinity School

When the department was organized as a school in 1869, it was moved to a campus across from the northwest corner of the New Haven Green composed of East Divinity Hall (1869), Marquand Chapel (1871), West Divinity Hall (1871), and the Trowbridge Library (1881). The buildings, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, were demolished under the residential college plan and replaced by Calhoun College, now known as Grace Hopper College.[20]

In 1929, the trustees of the estate of lawyer John William Sterling agreed that a portion of his bequest to Yale would be used to build a new campus for the Divinity School.[21] The Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, completed in 1932, is a Georgian-style complex built at the top of Prospect Hill. It was designed by Delano & Aldrich and modeled in part on the University of Virginia.

Courtyard at Sterling Divinity Quadrangle

A $49-million renovation of Sterling Divinity Quadrangle was completed in 2003. Sterling Divinity Quadrangle contains academic buildings, Marquand Chapel, and graduate student housing for YDS students.[22]

Yale Divinity School is currently planning the construction of the Living Village, a zero-waste, sustainable living community that will house 155 YDS students.[23]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable past professors[edit]

Former faculty: 20th–21st centuries[edit]

Former faculty: 19th century[edit]

Current faculty (ca. 2019)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What's New in the New Year: YDS embarks on 2022-2023". Yale Divinity School. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Admissions FAQ | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  3. ^ History of Higher Education Annual: 1997, p. 94.
  4. ^ a b A General Catalogue of the Divinity School of Yale College: A Brief Biographical Record of Its Members in The First Half Century of Its Existence as A Distinct Department. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse, & Taylor. 1873.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Yale Divinity School Milestones, 1822-2012". Yale University Library. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  6. ^ "YDS and Andover Newton sign historic agreement". Yale Divinity School. July 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "With Lilly grant, YDS launches initiative reimagining church for 21st century | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  8. ^ Brown, Julia; Hahamy, Madison (5 November 2020). "Divinity students revive feminist journal". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  9. ^ "Member Schools: YALE UNIVERSITY DIVINITY SCHOOL". Association of Theological Schools. Fall 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Concentrated Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.) | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  11. ^ "Degree Programs and Certificates | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  12. ^ "YDS Dean Greg Sterling reappointed to second five-year term | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  13. ^ "Yale Divinity Library Exhibit: YDS Milestones 1822-2012". divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  14. ^ "Yale University Appoints New Dean to Lead Divinity School". YaleNews. 2001-03-19. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  15. ^ "Former YDS dean Richard Wood dies at 78 | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  16. ^ Taylor, Frances Grandy (27 March 1996). "YALE DIVINITY NAMES NEW DEAN". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  17. ^ "Thomas W. Ogletree | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  18. ^ "Luther Allan Weigle". Database: Christian Educators of the 20th Century. Biola University. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  19. ^ "Day Missions Library | Yale University Library". web.library.yale.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  20. ^ Yale's Lost Landmarks: Divinity Hall, Yale Alumni Magazine
  21. ^ Bedford, Steven (1998). John Russell Popoe: Architect of Empire. New York: Random House. pp. 166–168. ISBN 9780847820863.
  22. ^ "The Quad | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  23. ^ "The Living Village | Yale Divinity School". divinity.yale.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  24. ^ "Raymond Benjamin Culver". 1937-1938 Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University (PDF). Yale University. 1938. pp. 137–138.
  25. ^ "Faculty Members: Professor David Ford". University of Cambridge. 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  26. ^ "Faculty directory".
  27. ^ Bernstein, Adam. "Ernest W. Lefever dies at 89; founder of conservative public policy organization", Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2009. Accessed August 3, 2009.
  28. ^ "Niebuhr, Reinhold". The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. 31 May 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  29. ^ Mooney, Tom, "Peter Pond's War," Providence Journal, Oct 15, 1989 p. M-06.
  30. ^ Moore, Gary E. (1988). "The Forgotten Leader in Agricultural Education: Rufus W. Stimson" (PDF). Journal of the American Association of Teacher Educators in Agriculture. 29 (3): 50–58.

External links[edit]