We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Seminary?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 23, 2024

A seminary is an educational institution which is dedicated to religious training; the word is derived from the Latin semin, which means “seed.” At one time, private schools for women were also referred to as “seminaries,” although this convention has since been dropped. Seminaries around the world train priests, rabbis, and other religious officials; training in a seminary is required for many religious officiants, along with approval from a bishop or high-ranking church official who will ordain the candidate, accepting him or her into the priesthood.

Typically, a seminary offers graduate-level coursework in theology, and students often live on site. In addition to candidates for the priesthood, seminaries may also offer training to people interested in religious studies in general. It is also not unheard of for people to study at seminaries which offer training in a faith different in their own, to learn more about other faiths and religious traditions. This practice tends to be confined to religious scholars; obviously prospective priests want to study at seminaries which will qualify them for priesthood in their own faith.

Theological training has been offered to candidates for the priesthood for thousands of years, but when people hear “seminary,” they usually think specifically of Judeo-Christian tradition. Seminaries of some form or another have been around since the fourth century CE, with training supplemented by monasteries and other educational institutions, although seminary training was not always required for people who wanted to serve the Church.

For Roman Catholics, seminary training for priests has been required since the 1500s, when the Council of Trent mandated that each diocese establish a seminary for the purpose of offering religious training. Different faiths have their own training requirements; if you are interested in becoming a priest, pastor, minister, rabbi, or some variant thereof, you may want to see a religious professional for guidance.

The coursework at seminaries is often challenging, and many seminaries have behavioral and dress codes for their students as well. These codes are enacted in the understanding that students at the seminary want to become religious officiants, and therefore they need to demonstrate their commitment to the faith with appropriate behavior. At any point during training in a seminary, a candidate can decide to stop with no penalties, as he or she has taken no formal vows to commit to the priesthood. Once a candidate applies for ordination, however, it becomes more challenging to leave the religious life, which is why seminaries encourage candidates to think carefully about their decisions.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon155818 — On Feb 24, 2011

LDS seminaries provide classes for high school students who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The focus of these classes is the study of the scriptures, not preparation to become clergy.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.