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



The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent.[4] The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology.[5]

Accreditation and recognition

Some seminaries elect to acquire accreditation. 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.[6]

Other uses of the term

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.[2] This use is not well attested after the nineteenth century.[2] In some countries, the term seminary is also used for secular schools of higher education that train teachers. During the 19th century in the United States, "Seminaries educated women for the only socially acceptable occupation: teaching. Only unmarried women could be teachers. Many early women's colleges began as female seminaries and were responsible for producing an important corps of educators."[7]

See also


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ a b c "Seminary, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ "History". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ Glazier, Michael; Hellwig, Monika, eds (2004). "Ecumenical Councils to Trent". The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press. p. 263. ISBN 9780814659625. 
  5. ^ Rose, Michael S. (2002). Goodbye, Good Men. Regnery Publishing. pp. 217–25. ISBN 0895261448. 
  6. ^ "Accreditation in the United States: Specialized Accreditation Agencies". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Rise of Women's Colleges, Coeducation". The Women's College Coalition. Retrieved June 24, 2011. 

External links

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  • Seminary Co-op — Seminary Cooperative Bookstores, Inc. is a cooperative bookstore with three branches in the Chicago area. Its flagship, known colloquially as the Seminary Co op or simply the Sem Co op, is located in the basement of the Chicago Theological… …   Wikipedia

  • Seminary — Sem i*na*ry, n.; pl. {Seminaries}. [L. seminarium, fr. seminarius belonging to seed, fr. semon, seminis, seed. See {Seminal}.] 1. A piece of ground where seed is sown for producing plants for transplantation; a nursery; a seed plat. [Obs.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seminary — Seminary, MS U.S. town in Mississippi Population (2000): 335 Housing Units (2000): 150 Land area (2000): 0.949315 sq. miles (2.458715 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.006709 sq. miles (0.017375 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.956024 sq. miles (2.476090… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Seminary, MS — U.S. town in Mississippi Population (2000): 335 Housing Units (2000): 150 Land area (2000): 0.949315 sq. miles (2.458715 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.006709 sq. miles (0.017375 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.956024 sq. miles (2.476090 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • seminary — mid 15c., plot where plants are raised from seeds, from L. seminarium plant nursery, figuratively, breeding ground, from seminarius of seed, from semen (gen. seminis) seed (see SEMEN (Cf. semen)). Meaning school for training priests first… …   Etymology dictionary

  • seminary — ► NOUN (pl. seminaries) ▪ a training college for priests or rabbis. DERIVATIVES seminarian noun seminarist noun. ORIGIN Latin seminarium seed plot, seminary , from semen seed …   English terms dictionary

  • Seminary — Sem i*na*ry, a. [L. seminarius.] Belonging to seed; seminal. [R.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • seminary — [sem′ə ner΄ē] n. pl. seminaries [ME, seed plot < L seminarium, seed plot, nursery, neut. of seminarius, of seed < semen, a SEED] 1. Now Rare a place where something develops, grows, or is bred 2. Old fashioned a school, esp. a private… …   English World dictionary

  • Seminary — No debe confundirse con Seminario. Seminary, Misisipi Pueblo de los Estados Unidos …   Wikipedia Español

  • seminary — Seminar Sem i*nar , n. [G. See {Seminary}, n.] A group of students engaged, under the guidance of an instructor, in original research in a particular line of study, and in the exposition of the results by theses, lectures, etc.; formerly called… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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