Choosing where to learn and prepare for ministry is a very important decision. It creates a wonderful opportunity to spend time in preparation, discover new circles of influence, engage in rich discussions, and plan for where God is calling you. With so many schools to choose from with great reputations, the decision is not one to take lightly. Many factors come into play like personal convenience and geography. But those factors aside, we’ve assembled the Sharefaith Top 20 Theological Schools and Seminaries for 2017. Each theological school or seminary has their own strengths, weaknesses, foci, and constituency.
Note: Our top 20 is listed in alphabetical order. All tuition expenses are estimates. Other things like living costs, application fees and graduation fees are not factored into the expenses. Some schools have been included in this list in spite of their failure to embrace orthodox Christianity. Some believers pursuing entrance into the scholarly world by higher education may benefit from the secular education of such schools, but they may not be best suited for the aspiring pastor, missionary, or church planter.
2017 Top 20 Theological Schools or Seminaries in the U.S.Choosing the right theological education is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Click To Tweet
Evangelical | Wilmore, Kentucky | Established in 1923
Tuition: $7,188 per 12 credit Semesters (2017/2018)
Asbury was founded in the Wesleyan heritage by Henry Clay Morrison, a Methodist evangelist with a vision for a leading holiness school. Today, Asbury is an approved school of the United Methodist Church, and celebrates a blend of spiritual formation and intellectual advancement. Notable faculty members at Asbury include John Oswald and Ben Witherington III. Theological students who see their future as part of the United Methodist Church, or those in a Wesleyan or Nazarene tradition, should keep Asbury high in their consideration.
Interfaith | Boston, Massachusetts | Established in 1839
Tuition: $20,100 per year (2017/2018)
Boston University was founded as a Methodist university in the first half of the 1800s. Even today, the school is maintained by the United Methodist Church, although its theological influence has weakened. BU’s theological degrees are highly regarded, but don’t expect to get an exclusively Christian education here. Boston is known for its interfaith dialogue. Theology students may take classes from Jewish and even Muslim professors. BU expresses its vibe with tag lines such as “just bring your imagination,” and “carve out your own [trail].” Such a direction suggests that students will receive teaching that may or may not be rooted in biblical research or revelation. Some alumni include Norman Vincent Peale, Andy Crouch, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many graduates pursue careers in non-profit management, social work, ecological justice, advocacy, peacemaking, and interfaith dialogue.
Evangelical | Salem, Oregon | Established in 1935
Tuition: $395 per credit hour (2017/2018)
Corban is a gospel-driven community of scholars and leaders who seek to bring a biblical perspective to all areas of study and practice. We offer deep scriptural rooting to students while training them for any of a wide variety of professions—from education to business and from counseling to political science. We believe the best way to make a difference in the world is to send biblically and theologically grounded graduates into a wide variety of fields.
Evangelical | Dallas, Texas | Established in 1925
Tuition: $6,720 per 12 credits (2017/2018)
For some theological students, “Dallas” is synonymous with “dispensationalism.” One of Dallas Theological Seminary’s major contributions is the popularization of dispensationalism, a view of the Bible and theology that recognizes God’s various actions in different periods of history. Theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer founded the seminary with a view to instructing students in expository preaching. One of the seminary’s continuing contributions to academic theology is the publication of Bibliotheca Sacra, a quarterly theological journal. Notable graduates include Gregory Beale, Hal Linsey, Chuck Swindoll, Andy Stanley, Bruce Wilkinson, and Tony Evans. Though dispensational teaching is still a component of the school’s biblical understanding, they provide an excellent theological education for students from many evangelical theological positions.
Methodist/Ecumenical | Durham, NC | Established in 1926
Tuition:$22,710-$37,750 per year (2017/2018)
With its Methodist heritage and mainline Protestant tradition, Duke offers a long record of intellectual rigor. Some of the best-known luminaries in Protestant academia hail from Duke, including Stanley Hauerwas, Paul Griffiths, Warren Smith, and Amy Laura Hall. Duke Divinity School is known for pioneering thought in post-liberalism, also known as Narrative Theology. Duke offers a strong option for those who wish to explore Narrative Theology or apologetics, especially on an advanced level.
Non-denominational | Pasadena, California | Established in 1947
Tuition: $4,980 per 12 credit Semesters (2017/2018)
As the flagship evangelical school during evangelicalism’s growing pains of the 50s-60s, Fuller continues to retain its status as the place to go for high-quality theological training. Hailed as “the most influential” of evangelical schools, Fuller has a large student body and a vibrant intellectual atmosphere. Fuller is recognized for its progress in psychology and intercultural studies. Because of the large influx of South Korean students, the school also offers a Korean-language M.Div. on its Pasadena campus. Some of the leading voices in evangelicalism and post-evangelicalism graduated from Fuller, including pastors Bill Bright, John Piper, and Rick Warren. The faculty of Fuller includes past and present figures such as Carl F.H. Henry, George Eldon Ladd, C. Peter Wagner, Glen Stassen, and Richard Mouw. Today, Fuller is a top choice for many Christian pastors and theologians, especially evangelicals.
Evangelical | South Hamilton, Massachusetts | Established in 1969
Tuition: $19,950 per year (2017/2018)
As one of the largest evangelical seminaries in the world, Gordon-Conwell enjoys a notable influence among American evangelicalism, simply on account of its numbers. Founders A. J. Gordon and Russell Conwell were both Baptist ministers who both founded independent schools that later merged. In spite of its Baptist origins, Gordon-Conwell is clearly nondenominational today. They still subscribe to a conservative statement of faith that includes key evangelical conditions such as biblical inerrancy. Several evangelical leaders graduated from Gordon-Conwell including Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, Woodrow Kroll, and Tim Keller. Faculty members have included major figures such as Harold Ockenga, Gordon Fee, and Gregory Beale. Gordon-Conwell is a top tier choice for excellent biblical education.
Evangelical | Ft. Lauderdale, Florida | Established in 1989
Tuition: $4,920 per 12 credits (2017/2018)
D. James Kennedy, former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, founded Knox Theological Seminary in 1989. He named the school after the 16th Century Scottish reformer, John Knox, widely considered to be the founder of the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, and the school has a decidedly reformed tilt, though it is not a denominational school. Although it’s a young school, it distinguishes itself with a solid faculty, including teachers such as R. C. Sproul, Michael Allen, and George W. Knight III. Knox is a top choice especially for those who are pursuing theological training from a Reformed perspective.
Baptist | Lynchburg, Virginia | Established in 1973
Tuition: $22,880 per year (2017/2018)
Liberty University is largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, and its seminary is equally large. One of the reasons for the school’s impressive size is its online school, which reaches more than 60,000 students globally. Liberty is, perhaps, best known for its conservatism. Often referred to as the “holiest university” Liberty is an unabashed supporter of conservative politics and evangelical theology. Founder Jerry Falwell also helped begin the Moral Majority. Today, the school welcomes students of various denominations but serves mainly a Baptist and congregational constituency. Because of its online classes, Liberty has helped many pastors who would otherwise not have access, gain advanced theological training.
Evangelical | Chicago, Illinois | Established in 1886
Tuition: $10,081 per semester (2017/2018)
Pastor and evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody founded Moody Bible Institute alongside Moody Church. His wanted the, “education and training of Christian workers, including teachers, ministers, missionaries and musicians who may completely and effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Today, thousands of graduates minister all over the world. The school’s publishing arm, Moody Publishers, also has an extensive reach. Although known as Moody Bible Institute, it offers a full theological slate of degrees: M.A., M.M., and M.Div. Moody also has a reputable online school, which provides training to many full-time pastors.
Evangelical | Tulsa, Oklahoma| Established in 1963
Tuition: $10,116 per year (2017/2018)
Founded to educate the whole person – spirit, mind and body – Oral Roberts University promises a thorough education in the context of a vibrant Christ-centered community. ORU is a place for advancing knowledge, pursuing intellectual discovery and building life-long friendships in a vibrant campus community. ORU students are empowered on the quest for wholeness; having the time of their lives, while preparing for their life’s mission. A comprehensive university dedicated to student outcomes, ORU offers more than 76 undergraduate majors, as well as 12 master’s-level programs and two doctoral degrees. Faculty members educated at the nation’s top graduate schools serve as academic, professional and spiritual mentors to students.
Presbyterian | Princeton, New Jersey | Established in 1812
Tuition: $15,500 per year (2017/2018)
Princeton is one of the most reputable theological schools in the United States, and is aligned with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Its vast theological library is second only to the Vatican. The school’s theological pioneering is so well known that a brand of Calvinism took the name “Princeton Theology. During the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the 1920s, the school was racked by internal and external pressure to adopt a more modernistic stance. The conflict resulted in the departure of some faculty and the founding of Westminster Theological Seminary by J. Gresham Machen. Despite its wide influence, Princeton’s student body is intentionally small, about 500 students. The faculty list reads like a Who’s Who of conservative biblical scholarship, including such scholars as Bruce Metzger, James Moorehead, Geerhardus Vos, Emil Brunner, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen. Forty percent of Princeton’s students are headed toward ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is, however, an excellent place for studying theology on an advanced level, regardless of one’s denominational tilt.
Admissions Assistant – Sherry Garrahan
Evangelical | Vancouver, British Columbia | Established in 1968
Tuition: $11,640-$43,650 per year (2017/2018)
When Regent College began, founders wanted to provide advanced theological education to non-ministers. Today, Regent provides theological training to many who lead churches, start congregations, and serve in missions. As many as one-third of the students are from overseas locations. The theology of the school is evangelical. Several of the notable faculty members, visiting or emeritus, include Eugene Peterson, Gordon Fee, J.I. Packer, Bruce Waltke, and N.T. Wright. Regent is considered a top choice for many evangelicals.
Baptist | Louisville, Kentucky | Established in 1859
Tuition: $1,090-$1,930 (3-credit Semester, 2017/2018)
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the flagship institution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Protestant denomination. President R. Albert Mohler took leadership of the school in a time of major theological transition in the convention. Mohler continues to uphold the school’s historical biblical principles in spite of theological decline over the past several generations of leadership. The school is well-known for its conservative theology and high educational standards. It still services the SBC with a large number of graduates, but trains students in other theologically conservative denominations and persuasions as well.
Evangelical | La Mirada, California | Established in 1952
Tuition: $7,104 per 12 credits (2017/2018)
Biola, an acronym for Bible Institute of Los Angeles, launched Talbot nearly fifty years after its founding. The school is named after a former president of Biola and seminary founder, Dr. Louis T. Talbot. The school is dedication to conservative evangelical theology, including an emphasis on inerrancy and pre-millennialism. Talbot distinguishes itself as a source of excellent theological training, especially in the areas of biblical exposition and apologetics. Well-known Talbot alumni include R. Kent Hughes, John MacArthur, and Josh McDowell.
Evangelical | Multiple Locations | Established in 1897
Tuition: $8,100 per 12 credits (2017/2018)
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is known by its acronym, TEDS. The school is operated by the Evangelical Free Church, a relatively small American denomination with Swedish origins. In spite of the small size of its parent denomination, Trinity is one of the largest evangelical seminaries and one of the most denominationally diverse. Trinity has received recognition for its advances in both Old and New Testament scholarship, due to the research and writing of faculty members such as Gleason Archer, D. A Carson, John Feinburg, and Grant Osborne. Their church history department is strong as well with faculty members John Woodbridge, Doug Sweeney and Scott Manetsch. Other offerings include The Center for Bioethics and a very strong missions focus. Several of Trinity’s notable graduates include Scot McKnight, Mark Noll, and Ravi Zacharias. Trinity offers a range of excellent master’s degree programs as well as Ph.D. level training.
Interfaith | Chicago, Illinois | Established in 1891
Tuition: $11,382 per quarter (2017/2018)
The University of Chicago Divinity School is, according to the National Research Council, the number one school for religious studies. More theological professors hold graduate degrees from this school than any other divinity school in the country. The school possesses an impressive list of scholarly works, and an even more impressive list of professors, such as Margaret Mitchell, Michael Sells, and David Tracy. Students of a Christian persuasion are less likely, however, to be found within the lecture halls of University of Chicago Divinity School. Although the school was originally Baptist, it now has studies that cover the religious gamut — from Buddhism to Hinduism.
Executive Assistant to the Dean – Inna Furlong
Catholic | Notre Dame, Indiana | Established in 1842
Tuition: $46,237 per year (2017/2018)
Notre Dame is a Roman Catholic school, which also welcomes evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims, and students of any faith background. The school is decidedly religious, however, with more than 93 percent of the student body identifying as “Christian” and 80 percent Catholic. Notre Dame has one of the highest-regarded theology programs in the world, and actively supports many Church organizations and programs. The university itself is the seat of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a major Catholic order. The Department of Theology is considered to be, “the heart of Notre Dame’s education in faith and reason.” Evangelical Christians who attend Notre Dame are respected for their beliefs, but can expect to be challenged by the overwhelming majority of Catholic professors and students. Those who wish to engage in early church studies and scholarly research will find Notre Dame beneficial, but it is not considered an ideal choice for those who are considering a pastoral ministry in a Protestant church.
Department of Theology
Administrative Assistant – Patti Guzowski
Protestant | Nashville, Tennessee | Established in 1875
Tuition: $46,500 per year (2017/2018)
Vanderbilt is considered one of the top five mainline Protestant schools. Although the school has no denominational affiliations, it was a major Methodist training center during the late 1800s. Today, many United Methodist ministers are still trained at its divinity school, along with others from PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, African-American Baptist, and United Church of Christ backgrounds. During the 1960s, Vanderbilt Divinity School became a lightning rod for controversy, due to the school’s expulsion of an African-American student who participated in nonviolent protests. Today, the school has a strong reputation as a major research center.
Presbyterian and Reformed | Glenside, Pennsylvania | Established 1928
Tuition: $5,700 per quarter (2017/2018)
Westminster was born out of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s. As Princeton theologians careened towards modernism, a dissenter by the name of Gresham Machen distinguished himself as a defender of the truth. When it became clear that he could not keep Princeton pure, he started his own school — Westminster Theological Seminary. The school is known for its staunch Reformed position and Calvinist theology. It maintains close ties with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, also founded by Machen. Several of the seminary’s greats are Tim Keller, Vern Poythress, Cornellus Van Til, Bruce Waltke, Carl McIntire, Harold Ockenga, and George Marsden. Westminster is an excellent choice, especially for those in the Presbyterian or Reformed tradition.
Evangelical | Wheaton, Illinois | Established in 1860
Undergrad Tuition: $35,190 per year (2017/2018)
M.A. Tuition: $9,900 for a 12-hour semester.
Jonathan Blanchard was a social activist, anti-Masonite, abolitionist, pastor, and even a candidate for the presidency of the United States. He founded Wheaton College in 1860. The college has high ratings and its graduate school shares the same excellent reputation. Although its founder was a Congregationalist with close ties to Wesleyan Methodism, the school is non-denominational. The graduate school offers a collection of masters and Ph.D. programs but does not offer a n M.Div.
Interfaith | New Haven, Connecticut | Established in 1822
Tuition: $23,920 per year (2017/2018)
Yale Divinity School is one of the oldest and most famous centers of theological training. Although closely aligned with the Episcopal Church, Yale provides is both non-denominational and interfaith. It certainly is one of the most prestigious names in education. One of its greatest contributions to Christian scholarship is their research of theologian Jonathan Edwards, a 1720 graduate of Yale College as well as a former president, albeit for a short time before his death. The school maintains a primary source Edwards library. Yale has also made strides in the field of narrative theology.
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