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The Best Methodist Seminary Schools

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The Best Methodist Seminary Schools
RankSchoolLocation
1Duke UniversityDurham, NC
2Emory UniversityAtlanta, GA
3Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, Texas
4Boston University School of TheologyBoston, MA
5Drew UniversityMadison, New Jersey
6Claremont School of TheologyClaremont, California
7Garrett-Evangelical Theological SeminaryEvanston, Illinois
8Gammon Theological SeminaryAtlanta, Georgia
9Wesley Theological SeminaryWashington, D.C.
10Oklahoma City UniversityOklahoma City, Oklahoma
11United Theological SeminaryTrotwood, Ohio
12Iliff School of TheologyDenver, Colorado
13Methodist Theological SchoolDelaware, Ohio

This is a ranking of the 13 Best Methodist Seminary Schools in the U.S.

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John Wesley dedicated himself to such a rigorous methodology in studying the scriptures that those around him began to call Wesley and his peers at Oxford “Methodists”.

This hard-working attitude eventually led Wesley’s reform movement within the Angelican Church to form its own group. Now, the Methodists are one of the largest Christian denominations in the world. Many know them for their substantial contributions to charity.

However, their disciplined approach to life also inspired them to found a large number of American universities. Many of these schools are now ranked among the best in the world.

This ranking lists the thirteen seminaries affiliated with the Methodist Church. Appearing after is a school list of seven universities and colleges also founded in the Methodist tradition (which includes a variety of research universities and small liberal arts colleges).


13 Best Methodist Seminary Schools

Ranking Guidelines:

SuccessfulStudent.org ranks schools and programs for the benefit of students in a bottom-up approach, ranking education options using criteria most beneficial to students. As such, we chose seminary schools that are Methodist affiliated, and then looked at the overall academic options (in terms of degree types and options) and academic influence.

1.Duke University

Durham, NC

Methodists and Quakers founded Duke University. The school is known as the Ivy League of the south. Duke has many national and international accolades. The University is now non-sectarian. However, the Duke Divinity School is one of 13 seminaries supported by the United Methodist Church.

The Divinity School opened its doors in 1926 as the first graduate professional school of the University. The school encourages religious unity through the study of scripture.

The School is intentional about formation training and preparing students to enter ministry. Students have access to several opportunities which help students discern their vocational calling.

Duke Divinity encourages multi-discipline learning. Students may take classes through other Duke University departments including:

  • Medical
  • Art
  • Public policy
  • Environmental

The available educational programs include:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Master of Arts in Christian Practice
  • Master of Theology
  • Three dual master’s degrees available in Divinity and Public Policy, Divinity and Social Work, or Theological Studies combined with a Juris Doctorate through the Duke Law School
  • Doctoral programs in Theology or Ministry

In each program, the School emphasizes strong scholarship and church commitment.

The school recently announced three new certificates that students can earn alongside master’s degree programs:

  • Certificate in Black Church Studies
  • Certificate in Faith-based Organizing, Advocacy, and Social Transformation
  • Certificate in Faith, Food, and Environmental Justice.

These certificates join 10 existing certificates and concentrations that give students the opportunity to focus their coursework on a particular area of ministry or study.

The diverse student body includes an age range of 20s to 70s. Several students come straight from undergraduate studies. Others are working pastors seeking further education and ministry enrichment.

Admissions: Most of the Divinity School programs require students to submit previous transcripts, a resume or CV, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. The number of letters of recommendation and other supplementary materials, such as a writing sample or GRE scores, varies from program to program.

Accreditation: Duke Divinity School receives accreditation from the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

2.Emory University

Atlanta, GA

Emory University is in Atlanta, one of America’s cultural capitals. This allows students access to major institutions like the Center for Disease Control or America’s largest airport. The University named the Candler School of Theology after Asa Griggs Candler. Asa was the founder of the Coca Cola company. He also provided the land grant which moved the school to Atlanta.

Following the Wesleyan tradition, the Chandler school emphasizes:

  • An ecumenical mind-set
  • Evangelical piety
  • A concern for the social issues of the day

Students can expect high standards of academic research, relevant field work, and an international perspective.

The Candler School offers 16 degree programs including:

  • Master’s degrees in Divinity, Theological Studies, Religious Leadership, Religion and Public Life, and Theology
  • Dual degrees are available in Bioethics and Theology, Business and Theology, Development Practice and Theology, Law and Theology, Public Health and Theology, and Social Work and Theology
  • Doctorate program in Ministry
  • Several certificate programs

Licensing of certified candidates is available through the joint effort of the Office of Methodist Studies, the South Georgia Annual Conference, and the North Georgia Annual Conference.

Other institutes and initiatives that the Candler School supports include:

  • The Laney Program in Moral Leadership
  • The Leadership and Multi-faith Program
  • The Youth Theological Initiative
  • The World Methodist Evangelism Institute

Admissions: Degree seeking students applying to the Candler school must submit all previous transcripts, a resume, an academic writing sample of four to seven pages, an autobiographical statement, and three letters of recommendation. Students may also need to submit a Plan of Study Statement based on the desired degree program.

Admissions evaluates transfer applications on a case-by-case basis. Transfer students must submit a Letter of Good Standing from their previous institution.

Accreditation: Programs within the Candler School receive accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada.

3.Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University

Dallas, Texas

Southern Methodist University is a private research university. It works in coordination with the Perkins School of Theology. The Perkins School emphasizes:

  • Service through faithful leadership
  • Diversity through cross-cultural immersion
  • Overall academic excellence

There are seven major academic programs available:

  • Master of Divinity (MDiv)
  • Master of Sacred Music (MSM)
  • Master of Theological Studies (MTS)
  • Master of Theology (ThM) which is also available in Spanish
  • Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
  • Doctor of Pastoral Music (DPM)

Several of the degree programs offer areas of concentration such as:

  • African American Church Studies
  • Church/Nonprofit Management
  • Theology and Social Justice
  • Urban Ministry

Students can also pursue a Doctorate or an Master of Arts in Religious studies. However, this is available through the Dedman College and not the Perkins School of Theology.

Other excellent resources available for students through the Perkins School include:

  • The Bridwell Library, the Perkins Intern Program
  • The Houston-Galveston Extension Program
  • The Spiritual Formation Program
  • The Global Theological Education Immersion Program

Admissions: For most degree programs students must submit the following – all previous official transcripts, biographical and church information, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a four to seven-page essay on a provided topic.

4.Boston University School of Theology

Boston, MA

The Boston University School of Theology is a United Methodist seminary that is open to students in all traditions. The School of Theology has one of the leading theological faculties in North America. The faculty are outstanding teachers and mentors, field-shaping researchers, and leaders in academic and community life. School of Theology students are passionate, smart, and committed to justice and compassion for our planet.

In addition to dual degrees and certificate programs, the School offers:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Master of Sacred Music
  • Master of Sacred Theology
  • Doctor of Ministry
  • Doctor of Philosophy

The School of Theology encourages students to cross train with other Boston University divisions such as:

  • the Schools of Management
  • Social Work
  • Education
  • Hospitality Administration
  • Fine Arts

Students also have access to the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium. This is a partnership with nine regional divinity schools and seminaries. This provides additional networking and cross-registration opportunities.

The School of Theology has several centers and programs that foster research and training including:

  • Religion and Conflict Transformation Program
  • Anna Howard Shaw Center
  • Center for Global Christianity and Mission
  • Center for Practical Theology
  • Faith and Ecological Justice Program
  • Raices Latinas Program in Theology, Leadership, and Research

Admissions: The majority of programs require that students submit all prior academic transcripts, three letters of reference, a personal statement of 500 words or less for Master programs and 2000 words or less for Doctoral programs, an application essay question for Master programs, standardized test scores, a resume or CV, and a sample of scholarly writing for Doctoral programs.

Admissions does accept transfer students to the School of Theology.

5.Drew University

Madison, New Jersey

Drew Theological School opened its doors in 1867 for the education of Methodist Episcopal Church ministers. To this day, the School continues in the Wesleyan and Methodist tradition. The goal is to educate student leaders in:

  • Creative thought
  • Social justice
  • Religious faithfulness
  • Neighborly peace

Drew Theological School is the only school chartered by the General Conference. It also maintains the unique United Methodist Archives and History Center. Students will find all six of the denominational courses that the United Methodist Church requires for ordination available through the Theological School.

The academic programs available include:

  • Master of Arts in Religion
  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry
  • Master of Sacred Theology
  • Doctor of Ministry
  • Doctor of Philosophy

Several certificate programs are also available. Classes are flexible and available all year round with enrollment options of:

  • On campus
  • Evening-hybrid
  • Blended
  • Weekend intensive
  • Week-long intensive
  • Online options

The Theological School maintains several centers and initiatives for advanced training, networking, and hands-on ministry experience. These include:

  • The Center for Christianities in Global Contexts
  • The Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict
  • The Institute for Ecstatic Naturalism
  • The Social Justice Leadership Project
  • The Summer Music Institute

Admissions: The majority of programs require students to submit prior academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and standardized test scores. Requirements may vary based on the specific program of interest.

The Theological School does accept transfer credits.

Accreditation: The Theological School receives accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools.

6.Claremont School of Theology

Claremont, California

The Claremont School of Theology has the same religious roots and educational goals as other Methodist schools. What sets Claremont apart is the goal to ‘desegregate’ religious education. Claremont does this by increasing religious diversity on campus and in the classrooms.

Claremont believes that this diversity helps students to come to a deeper understanding of their own faith. Students also learn to be more understanding and respectful of the faith of others. Following the Methodist tradition, the overall curriculum of the School emphasizes:

  • Scripture
  • Tradition
  • Experience
  • Reason

These are the necessary tools to equip students for roles in ministry, leadership, and service.

There are six main degree programs available:

  • Master of Divinity – A 72-unit degree for those who wish to pursue ordination with an emphasis on spiritual formation and social engagement
  • Master of Arts in Religion – A 48-unit degree for students who wish to pursue higher education with various concentrations available
  • Master of Theological studies – A 48-unit degree with a variety of concentrations for students who are seeking an in-depth knowledge of their faith
  • Doctor of Ministry – A 28-unit degree excellent for pastors seeking further faith formation
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology – A 48-unit degree with two areas of concentration for students with a prior Masters degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Religion – A 48-unit degree with five areas of concentration for those with previous graduate work and a desire for a deeper faith understanding

Additionally, there are several certificate tracks.

Claremont encourages students to take part in Internship and Field Education experiences. Students also have access to a variety of research centers for further education and networking experiences including:

  • The Center for Global Methodism
  • The Center for Pacific and Asian-American Ministries
  • The Center for Sexuality, Gender, and Religion
  • The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability

Admissions: Admissions requirements vary by program. However, most degree tracks require students to submit prior academic transcripts, a resume or CV, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Most programs do not require standardized test scores.

7.Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Evanston, Illinois

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary opened its doors in 1853. Garrett was the first Methodist seminary in the Midwest. The Seminary is on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The University itself is nonsectarian. In contrast, the Seminary keeps ties with the United Methodist Church. The Seminary emphasizes an ecumenical emphasis and an international mind-set.

The Mission of the Seminary is to:

  • Encourage a deep gospel-based spirituality
  • Pursue works of service and justice
  • Lead transformative social change

There are several degree programs available. At the Master level students may choose:

  • Master of Divinity (MDiv)
  • Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE)
  • Master of Arts in Music Ministry (MAMM)
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (MAPCC) – Optional Clinical Track
  • Master of Arts in Public Ministry (MAPM)
  • Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction (MASFD)
  • Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

The Doctor of Ministry program offers six tracks:

  • Community Organizing
  • Congregational Leadership
  • Preaching as Leadership in Hispanic/Latinx Congregations
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Strategic Leadership for Black Congregations
  • Preaching

The Doctor of Philosophy also offers six concentrations:

  • Biblical Studies
  • Christian Education and Congregational Studies
  • History of Christianity and Historical Theology
  • Liturgical Studies
  • Pastoral Theology, Personality and Culture – Optional Clinical Track
  • Theological and Ethical Studies

Admissions: The majority of programs require students to submit prior academic transcripts, a Statement of Purpose, resume, and three letters of recommendation. The Doctor of Philosophy program also requires standardized test scores.

8.Gammon Theological Seminary

Atlanta, Georgia

Gammon Theological Seminary dedicates itself to the needs of the black ministry context. Gammon participates in the six-member Interdenominational Theological Conference. This Conference is an alliance among African American schools in the Atlanta region. Students at Gammon experience the social justice tradition and religious diversity of Methodism.

Degree programs available include:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in Christian Education
  • Master of Arts in Church Music
  • Dual Master of Arts in Christian Education and Master of Divinity
  • Dual Master of Arts in Church Music and Master of Divinity
  • Dual Master of Arts in Church Music and Master of Arts in Christian Education
  • Dual Master of Divinity and Master of Public Health
  • Doctor of Ministry
  • Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling.

There are certificate programs also available. As a whole, the curriculum encourages:

  • Independent thinking
  • Effective communication
  • Spiritual development
  • Intellectual growth

The Seminary emphasizes spiritual leadership and faith formation. Students gain these experiences through Christian Education programs and educational centers such as:

  • The Center for Chaplaincy
  • The Center for Race and Religion
  • The Gammon Retreat Center

Admissions: Admission requirements vary by program. All students must submit an autobiographical essay of up to four pages.

Gammon does accept transfer students. Transfer students must present a letter of good standing from their previous institution.

9.Wesley Theological Seminary

Washington, D.C.

Wesley Theological Seminary is a member of the Washington Theological Consortium. It is also one of the 13 recognized graduate theological school of The United Methodist Church. The Seminary maintains a global, ecumenical vision. But also remains rooted in the biblical teachings and traditions of the Methodist Church. The Seminary’s comprehensive curriculum includes classroom theory and practical field experience. Students gain ministry experience through the local churches and hospitals.

There are four degree programs:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Doctor of Ministry

Dual degrees are available combining the Master of Theological Studies from Wesley with the Master of Arts degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution or International Development from the neighboring American University.

The Master of Divinity program offers specialization in:

  • Emerging ministry
  • Arts and theology
  • Missional church
  • Urban ministry

Admissions: The majority of degree programs require students to submit prior academic transcripts, a personal statement, resume, and letters of recommendation. Other requirements may vary by program.

Admissions does accept transfer students.

10.Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Saint Paul School of Theology operates out of two locations. The first location is out of Leawood, Kansas. The second is on the Oklahoma City University’s home campus. Saint Paul and the University often collaborate, but are otherwise unaffiliated with each other.

There are three Masters programs available:

  • 79-credit Master of Divinity
  • 38-credit Master of Arts in Christian Ministry
  • 49-credit Master of Arts in Theological Studies

Saint Paul also offers one 30-credit Doctor of Ministry program with a focus area of Spiritual Leadership in Unsettled Times. Students seeking further education but need less of a time commitment may enjoy:

  • The Certificate in Theological Formation
  • The Deacon Studies degree program
  • The United Methodist Course of Study (a continuing education program for licensed pastors)

Each program’s curriculum strives to combine intellectual growth with practical hands-on experience. Saint Paul encourages students to take part in opportunities for personal growth and ministry experience. These may include:

  • Internships
  • Congregational site visits
  • Small focus groups
  • Case studies
  • Spiritual formation retreats
  • A year-long mentorship

Saint Paul offers online, on-campus, and hybrid classes for all their degree programs.

Admissions: Interested applicants must submit prior academic transcripts, three to four letters of recommendation, and a Personal Statement. Doctoral candidates must also submit a theological writing sample.

Accreditation: Saint Paul receives accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools.

11.United Theological Seminary

Trotwood, Ohio

United Theological Seminary is in the larger Dayton, Ohio area. United is a Methodist school with a strong emphasis on inter-denominational dialogue. It has also has a strong presence in the civil rights movement. The Seminary strives to educate spirit-led, Christ-like leaders. The Seminary emphasizes global transformation and the historical faith.

The school’s schedule is flexible and thus very accommodating towards busy pastors. Classes are available in a variety of formats including on campus, online, hybrid, or week long intensives. There are six main degree programs:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Christian Ministries
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Master of Arts (a self-directed program supporting a wide range of interests)
  • Doctor of Ministry

United also offers a pre-doctoral program. This is for students who are interested in the Doctor of Ministry but who lack a Master of Divinity. Several continuing education and certificate courses are also available.

Admissions: Students interested in the Master’s programs must submit official transcripts, three to four letters of recommendation, and answers to one to two short essay questions. Doctoral students must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a two to three-page ‘spiritual autobiography’, and a one-paragraph description of their current ministry context.

Accreditation: United Theological Seminary receives accreditation from the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission.

12.Iliff School of Theology

Denver, Colorado

The Iliff School of Theology is a small school named after John Wesley Iliff. It is one of the thirteen places of theological instruction affiliated with the Methodist Church. Nevertheless, many students of other faiths also study here. Iliff is an excellent school for students interested in interdenominational dialogue. The school is across the street from the University of Denver and the two institutions maintain a working relationship.

There are five main degree programs available:

  • Master of Divinity (MDiv) – a three-year program for those seeking ordination
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral and Spiritual Care (MAPSC) – a professional degree ideal for those seeking chaplaincy
  • Master of Arts in Social Justice and Ethics (MASJE) – a two-year professional degree for those interested in leadership for social change
  • Master of Theological Studies (MTS) – a two-year interdisciplinary program
  • Doctor of Philosophy (JDP) – a joint program between Iliff and the University of Denver for those interested in independent research and teaching

Within the MDiv and MTS programs there are several concentrations to choose from including:

  • Black Religious Studies
  • Historical Studies
  • Leadership in Emerging Contexts
  • Systematic/Constructive Theology

Admissions: Most of the degree programs require students to submit transcripts, resume, references, application essay, and a financial plan. Application requirements may vary slightly based on the program of interest.

Accreditation: Iliff Seminary receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

13.Methodist Theological School

Delaware, Ohio

The Methodist Theological School in Ohio, often called MTSO, is one of the younger Methodist schools in America. The seminary seeks to implement words with its actions. For example, to support sustainability the school runs an organic farm and operates many outdoor facilities. In 1973, MTSO combined with Trinity Lutheran Seminary and the Pontifical College Josephinum to form the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus.

Students may choose from five graduate degrees:

  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries
  • Master of Arts in Social Justice
  • Master of Theological Studies
  • Master of Arts in Practical Theology
  • Doctor of Ministry

Several certificate programs and continuing education opportunities are also available. Each curriculum encourages hands-on training through various churches and other ministry organizations. The Office of Field Education manages these placements.

Beyond the classroom, students will find opportunities for personal and spiritual growth through:

  • The Student Enrichment Program
  • The Cross-Cultural Immersion experience
  • The Schooler Institute on Preaching
  • The Williams Institute for guest speakers
  • The Annual Lecture on World Religions and Inter-religious Dialogue

Admissions: Most degree programs require potential applicants to submit prior transcripts, a statement of vocational goals, a current resume or CV, and three letters of recommendation. Doctoral candidates must hold a prior Master of Divinity degree and have a minimum of three years professional ministry experience.

Admissions does accept transfer students and evaluates transfer credit on a case-by-case basis.