The primary accrediting body, Association of Theological Schools (ATS), accredited 246 institutions during the 2015-16 school year with an enrollment of just over 37,000 students (full-time equivalent) in the USA.
Earlier this month Chelsen Vicari mined the ATS data to determine the largest seminaries in the USA. Based on full-time enrollment numbers for the 2015-16 school year she found
- The top ten largest seminaries (based on highest enrollment) are all Evangelical Protestant
- Half of the top ten largest seminaries are affiliated with the Southern Baptist denomination
The ten largest seminaries account for more than 1/4 of the student body of the 246 seminaries accredited by the ATS. The top ten institutions range in size from 1,542 to 731, including six with at least 1,000 students: Fuller Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dallas Theological Seminary.
With nearly 11,000 full-time students at the largest ten seminaries, the average full-time student count for the remaining 236 schools is 110.
Bigger isn’t necessarily better. In the current higher education marketplace, however, scale helps in many areas from marketing to fundraising.
- What seminary are you most familiar with? How large is that institution today? Based on what you know of the seminary, what are its top challenges?
- Are you surprised to learn that 100% of the ten largest seminaries are Evangelical Protestant? What challenges does this present for those in denominations affiliated with Mainline Protestantism?