School of Theology

BU’s School of Theology, founded in 1839 as the Newbury Biblical Institute, is the oldest Methodist theological seminary in North America, and the founding school of Boston University. Its historic commitments are represented in the Boston University coat of arms: learning, virtue, and piety.

From the beginning, the School of Theology has had a tradition of both envisioning the world as it could be, and embracing the world as it is. We have educated an unbroken line of scholars and leaders in churches, universities, schools, and nonprofit agencies that stretches back more than a century and a half. Our graduates have led change, fueled by faith and a sense of vocation.

With the quickening pace of social change, religious leaders are now called to do even more. Sustained by our legacy and by recent innovations, the School is preparing the bold leaders our times demand. Spiritual and intellectual formation is our great strength, together with global and community engagement. These emphases enable us to train students for courageous leadership in the 21st century.

The School of Theology is seeking $25 million to strengthen our research, teaching, and outreach. With your support for the strategic priorities outlined below, we can educate the next generation of religious leaders who will take what they have learned here into the church and world.

Campaign Priorities

To enhance and support the faculty

The School of Theology is distinguished by its world-class faculty, whose members balance research and publication, teaching and mentoring, and engagement in the world. To further enhance and support our faculty, we seek funds for faculty research and to increase or complete funding for six named professorships.

To prepare those who minister and serve

In order to support our students in these challenging economic times, we need more resources—resources that will help build the structures to support contextual learning, including more internship sites and travel seminars. Another major priority is to increase the endowment for student financial aid. A more secure source of increased aid will make an immense difference, not only to our individual student leaders, but to the very foundations of the School: We will be able to recruit and continue to challenge the most promising students, regardless of their economic circumstances.

To train the next generation of scholars and teachers

The School offers doctoral research degrees in theology, ethics, scripture, liturgics, mission, and religious practices.  The professional doctorate trains committed individuals for leadership as scholars and teachers, and educates professionals to develop a deeper understanding of and expertise in ministry. Endowed student financial aid is a critical priority for the advanced research degree programs. Time for in-depth study and significant research is essential in doctoral studies, and increased aid will heighten the quality and innovative approaches of our doctoral students.

To strengthen resources for academic research

The School has created innovative centers and programs focusing on key research areas. To further their work and impact, we seek to endow the Center for Global Christianity & Mission, the Center for Practical Theology, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Initiative for the Development of Ethical Leadership, and the Religion & Conflict Transformation Program. In addition, we are actively seeking to create an endowment for acquisitions and to renovate the library’s physical and technological infrastructure to fulfill 21st-century needs.

To improve the quality of community space

The high cost of housing in Boston presents a challenge to our current and prospective students. To address this issue, we have established a housing endowment fund to develop more affordable student residence options that extend the educational experience and enhance the life of the community. We also need to improve our physical infrastructure to benefit our entire community. Our top priority is the renovation of the School’s basement into a LEED-certified community center, with flexible space for meals, a student lounge, offices, study areas, and facilities for seminars and workshops. A parallel focus of our infrastructure improvements is upgrading our technology to facilitate distance learning.

To expand the boundaries of theological education

As one of the few U.S. seminaries within a major research university, the School of Theology has a unique opportunity to explore and build multidisciplinary programs and courses. Already students are benefiting from our dual degree programs with the School of Social Work, and the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts. We also collaborate in courses with the Schools of Education and Law and with many departments of the College of Arts & Sciences. We plan to develop more joint degree programs in the near term, including a counseling psychology PhD in partnership with the School of Education, and we hope to offer accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s (MDiv or MTS) degrees with the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Fine Arts. In addition, we plan to design distance learning options for our students, graduates, and others.