Skip to content
September 11, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Top Graduate Theology Programs in the United States

Top Graduate Theology Programs: Your Guide to the Best Graduate Programs in Religious Studies (MA & PhD)

One of the best places to find a personalized ranking for graduate theology programs is on Phds.org. You may also be interested in member schools from the Association of Theological Schools.

Possible questions or factor to consider for future theology graduate students:

1) Desired program(s) of study
2) Desired focuses and professors
3) Program size & flexibility & diversity
4) Location & logistics meet your needs
5) Other criteria like financial support/aid
6) Opportunities for service, publication, and career advancement
7) Cultural fit with program

Here is one professor’s perspective on top theology/religious studies programs.

Given that disclaimer, the top-ranked PhD programs in Religious Studies in the US, in approximate order, are:
University of Chicago
Princeton [I assume this is Princeton Theological Seminary]
Harvard
Brown
Duke
University of Virginia
Columbia
Vanderbilt
Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
Stanford
University of California at Santa Barbara
Brandeis
Indiana University
UNC Chapel Hill
NYU
Yale
UC Berkeley
Northwestern
University of Iowa
Rice
USC
Syracuse
Catholic U
Drew
U Wisconsin, Madison
Florida State U
Temple
Pitt

The top Masters programs are:

University of Missouri, Columbia
Miami University in Ohio
University of Colorado
University of Kansas
University of Arizona

(I’m not sure how these masters programs in theology as supposed to be added to the mix. I think they are top masters programs without a PhD programs–so isn’t as helpful as an overall ranking of programs)

Here are some of the top as well as some ranking & commentary from R.R. Reno the editor of the theological/philosophical publication First Things on some others seminaries which may not be worth your time, money, or resources. (link)

1) Duke University Graduate Program in Religion and Notre Dame Department of Theology
2) Princeton Theological Seminary
3) Marquette Theology Program

Averageish to Honorable mention: Fordham, St. Louis University, and Boston College

Other reviews of notable theological seminaries:

But I keep coming back to the problem of theological vocation. At Chicago, Yale, and Harvard, orthodox Christian theology is marginal at best.

I don’t tend to recommend the University of Virginia or Brown or Columbia or other doctoral programs that might have one or two fine professors. The danger is that a young graduate student will find him or herself slowly socialized into the role of the tentative intellectual outsider who downplays the theological dimension in order to be in on the conversation.

R.R. Reno, features editor at First Things, is a professor of theology at Creighton University.

Graduate theology programs repped and recommended in the comments section by First Things readers:

Baylor University Theological Seminar
Boston College School of Ministry and Theology
University of Virginia Religious Studies
Saint Louis University
Chicago University Divinity School
Yale University Graduate Religious Studies
Westminster and
Vanderbilt
along with Princeton Theological Seminary
Notre Dame University Graduate Programs in Theology
and Duke Divinity School

Finally, the list of available programs in theology at Grad Schools.com is quite extensive. I think the PhD.org ranking methodology may be a better filter–but Grad Schools.com will allow you to cast a wider net (in addition to any narrow targeting at PhDs.org).

Check out the comments section for an approximate ranking of graduate seminaries and religious studies programs from an anonymous professor. If you have any recommendations with regard to the best graduate programs in religious studies and theology–feel free to leave a comment. If I’ve made any errors–I apologize in advance. I hope this helps you begin your search in a constructive fashion as you search for the best theology program for your needs.

About these ads

7 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Sep 11 2010 4:38 pm

    Professor X on Yahoo ranked the religious studies programs **approximately** as follows (although my guess is those are based on academic vs. pastoral considerations–I would talk to current students, past students, and professors to confirm these approximate rankings).

    Anyway, it really depends on your particular field of specialization. For example, if you will be studying contemporary American neopaganisms, Yale would not be suitable at all. Likewise, if you’re interested in Critical Theory or postmodern methodologies, Syracuse would rise much higher on your list. Perhaps the most important factor in PhD admissions is called “fit,” and it focuses on the match between the applicant’s intended area of study, and faculty specializations.

    Given that disclaimer, the top-ranked PhD programs in Religious Studies in the US, in approximate order, are:
    University of Chicago
    Princeton
    Harvard
    Brown
    Duke
    University of Virginia
    Columbia
    Vanderbilt
    Notre Dame
    University of Pennsylvania
    Stanford
    University of California at Santa Barbara
    Brandeis
    Indiana University
    UNC Chapel Hill
    NYU
    Yale
    UC Berkeley
    Northwestern
    University of Iowa
    Rice
    USC
    Syracuse
    Catholic U
    Drew
    U Wisconsin, Madison
    Florida State U
    Temple
    Pitt

    The top Masters programs are:

    University of Missouri, Columbia
    Miami University in Ohio
    University of Colorado
    University of Kansas
    University of Arizona

    I know Fuller and Pepperdine were left off the list. I don’t know if either has a strong reputation for producing PhDs (or rather university teachers) or pastors.

  2. Compassioninpolitics / Sep 12 2010 10:34 am

    I also noticed that Biola was left off the list.

    Its worth noting that the following quote is from the 2006 version of the rankings:

    Vanderbilt, Emory, and Yale have seen a decline in serious intellectual life brought on by the intensely ideological agendas of Christian feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, as well as recycled versions of liberal Protestantism.

    I’m curious if this still continues & to what it extent it effects the core curriculum or if it alters the fundamental product students think they are gettting vs. what they actually get.

  3. matt trussell / Feb 16 2011 8:30 pm

    I graduated with an M.Div from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and was greatly surprised to not see it listed in this group. Considering that it has several of the top professors in their respective fields (Thomas G. Long, Luke Timothy Johnson, etc.). I am not sure what criteria was used to determine these but give I give my vote to Candler.

    • Sangkyu Lee / Jun 13 2012 5:16 pm

      I strongly agree with you. The professors you mentioned are best scholars and teachers in the world. Especially, Dr. Long is my favorite, who is a theologian of theologians, a preacher of preachers, and a pastor of pastors.

  4. Nathan Ketsdever / May 3 2013 7:31 pm

    I thought I should include this as well–massive list of seminaries & Bible schools:
    http://churchrelevance.com/resources/theological-seminaries-list/

  5. Matt / Aug 13 2013 6:47 am

    Reno’s list put Duke’s Divinity School at the top. I’ve also read that Within the past year Duke’s grad program in religion was considered the best in the US.

Trackbacks

  1. Top Christian Bible Colleges and Universities « Compassion in Politics: Christian Social Entrepreneurship, Education Innovation, & Base of the Pyramid/BOP Solutions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 196 other followers

%d bloggers like this: