A Baptist seminary is an educational institution focused on providing the theological education necessary to become an ordained minister or hold other positions within the Baptist church. Offering postgraduate degrees in divinity and theology, students take a variety of courses aimed at preparing them for a lifetime within the church. When finished, graduates have many options, depending on their degree and its focus.
The Baptist seminary focuses strictly on the Baptist religion and its teachings. The religion, an outgrowth of 17th century English separatists, had more than 110 million followers worldwide. It is a Christian religion that shares beliefs and differs with other religions in a few key areas. Its belief in a believer's baptism, not infant baptism, and its belief in salvation through faith alone are its main differences when compared to many other forms of Christianity.
There are dozens of Baptist seminary schools around the globe. A Baptist seminary also might be called a Bible seminary and is a standalone college for furthering religious education, not just a department of a larger school. Some seminaries offer undergraduate degrees, but the majority focus on postgraduate degrees. In order to be accepted into a Baptist seminary, an applicant must meet grade requirements, have a bachelor's degree in theology or liberal arts and be a member of a Baptist church.
Every Baptist seminary operates differently, but most offer similar degrees, such as a Master of Divinity degree, Master of Arts degree and research doctorate degrees. These degrees are offered through a variety of course study, generally learning about evangelical history, theology, Bible study, music and ministry management. Most seminaries require up to 90 hours of coursework before graduation and can last for several years before all of the requirements are met for graduation.
A Baptist seminary prepares students for a range of careers within the Baptist church. The most traditional path is to become a minister of a congregation upon completing a Master of Divinity degree, but it is not the only option. A degree from a seminary also prepares graduates for a career as a youth minister, church musical director and mission operator. Many with doctorate degrees go on to focus on being religious scholars or seminary professors.