Drew Theological Seminary opened its doors in 1867 in response to dramatic changes not only within American Methodism but also in the life of the United States. To mark the centennial of Methodism’s arrival in North America, Methodist leaders sought to renew the church in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War and to heal the devastating divisions that had torn apart American Methodism. Methodist leaders saw learning as an essential component in the improvement of society, and so key to their plans was the founding of a seminary for the purpose of training ministers. The seminary, funded initially by Methodist Wall Street financier Daniel Drew, linked its mission to the legacy of 18th-century English Methodists John and Charles Wesley and to the itinerant preachers who had spread Methodism throughout North America. The seismic shifts in American society in the middle of the 19th century convinced increasing numbers of leaders in the Methodist Episcopal Church that ministers, no matter their zeal or natural talent, needed intellectual sophistication, advanced academic training, and sharp leadership skills if they were to effectively address the challenges of the day such as the industrial revolution, post-war trauma, income inequality, the plight of slaves, and mass migration. In response to such realities, Drew’s faculty designed a curriculum that required future ministers to understand and respond to the needs of people around the world.
After nearly 150 years, the Wesleyan and Methodist ethos so key to the founding of Drew continues to animate the intellectual and spiritual life of the school, and is especially visible in our efforts to inspire habits of disciplined reflection and deep learning in those called to serve the common good.
Morris L. Davis
Associate Professor of Christianity and Wesleyan Methodist Studies
The University is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Theological School is further accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Other Academic Programs
The Theological School also offers various opportunities for individuals to enroll in courses without matriculating into a degree program:
- Non-Degree Student: Enroll for up to 9 credits without matriculating. Apply to the Graduate Admissions office.
- Visiting Student: Students matriculating at another seminary or divinity school may enroll in up to 9 credits to be transferred to the student’s home institution. Apply to the Graduate Admissions office.
- Visiting United Methodist Student: As a seminary of the United Methodist Church, Drew offers the courses in Methodist history, doctrine, polity, mission, worship, and evangelism required of students seeking ordination in the UMC. Students at non-Methodist seminaries can enroll at Drew for the full list of United Methodist courses offered both online or in-person in Madison, New Jersey. Apply on the Registrar’s Office webpage.
- Community Fellow: Theological School alumni and local community members enroll to audit courses for an administrative fee ($100 per credit). Apply on the Registrar’s Office webpage.
Visiting Scholars and Researchers
Visiting Scholars: Faculty and doctoral students at other institutions are invited to affiliate with Drew University during funded sabbaticals, post-doctorates, or grant-funded research projects. Visiting Scholars have library privileges and are welcome at community lectures and events. To inquire about affiliation, contact the Theological School Dean’s Office (email@example.com).
Wesleyan and Methodist Researchers: Drew University is home to The United Methodist Archives Center, a collaboration between the Methodist Library of Drew University and the General Commission on Archives and History for the United Methodist Church (GCAH). The Methodist Library holds print materials related to United Methodism and related denominations, including over 50,000 books. The GCAH is the official archival repository for The United Methodist Church. Its collection includes records from the various denominational agencies within the United Methodist tradition, and personal papers of several bishops, denominational leaders, and missionaries from the 19th and 20th centuries. The materials held in The United Methodist Archives & History Center are available to anyone interested in viewing them. Patrons can view all materials in the Wilson Reading Room. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The Florence Ellen Bell Scholar Award is given annually to support research at Drew.
Academic Centers and Conferences
The Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict (CRCC) at Drew focuses critical attention on the complex ways in which cultures and religions interact, and how both difference and similarity can serve as a resource for building peace. To achieve its ambitious objective of combining study and praxis, the CRCC supports a number of projects and initiatives, including: hosting distinguished visiting scholars; sponsoring lectures, symposia, and roundtable discussions; making research grants to promote scholarship; and supporting promising model projects to enhance inter-religious and cross-cultural understanding. The mission of the CRCC is to educate a next generation of leaders in interfaith and intercultural understanding and peace.
The Institute for Ecstatic Naturalism is centered around themes of Ecstatic Naturalism, a philosophical system developed over the past twenty-five years by Robert Corrington, Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Philosophical Theology at the Theological School. Integrating American pragmatism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and German Idealism, Ecstatic Naturalism pursues an alternative metaphysic that argues that nature is all that there is, without an appeal to a supernaturalist entity or creator. The Institute puts on an annual Congress that explores Ecstatic Naturalism’s robust engagement with critical topics such as immanence and transcendence; race and gender; and mind, semiotics, and symbols in nature.
Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium: a signature Drew annual scholarly conference that fosters a fresh style of theological discourse that is at once self-deconstructive in its pluralism and constructive in its affirmations. Committed to the long-range transformation of religio-cultural symbolism, these colloquia continue Drew’s deep history of engaging historical, biblical and cultural hermeneutics, current philosophy, practices of social justice and experiments in theopoetics. Past conferences have focused on themes such as decolonizing epistemologies, a theology of eros, divine multiplicity, Africana Studies and Religion, and political theology.
At the center of Drew’s worshipping and learning community is the historic Craig Chapel, located on the second floor of Seminary Hall. Weekly services, vespers, lectures, special ceremonies, and many more events bring the Drew community together for worship, learning, and celebration. The chapel also serves as a learning lab for worship and music practica.
The Theological School Community Garden is a space for learning and thinking theologically about the interconnections of creation. As a founding member of the Green Seminary Initiative, Drew’s commitment to ecological wellbeing is demonstrated across the Theological School community in recycling, reusing, and reviving our environment through a culture of awareness and activism. The garden serves as a learning lab for ecologically-oriented study and practical training in community organizing around gardening and sustainable food practices.
Partnership for Religion and Education in Prison (PREP)
Drew’s PREP Program brings the Theological classroom into the prison setting, with the goal of expanding the horizons of both “inside” and “outside” students through the sharing of diverse experiences, identities, and belief systems. PREP is a unique experience that allows Drew students to collaborate with degree-seeking inside students from two New Jersey State Prisons: Northern State Men’s Prison and the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. These combined classes are taught by Theological School faculty once per semester at each institution and cover a variety of subject matter, including pastoral care, theology, sociology, and biblical studies. By providing students the opportunity to learn alongside of these often forgotten and disparaged populations, PREP makes manifest the Theological School’s commitment to social justice.