Southern Seminary (SBTS): A Seminary in Kentucky

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
B.H. Carroll Memorial Building at SBTS

Southern Seminary, located in Louisville, KY, has been an innovator in theological education since its founding in 1859 as the first seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.  At Southern Seminary (SBTS), truth is the foundation for learning, and the school’s legacy runs deep.  Each year, thousands of students see their vision come alive while fulfilling their ministry calling with Southern Seminary.  The leaders here believe these are serious times, and they are looking for students who are serious about impacting our world with the gospel of Christ.

A Seminary in Kentucky

At its campus in Louisville, Kentucky, Southern Seminary is centrally located.  (Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate theology school, is also located on this campus).  People who live in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Nashville, Chicago and St. Louis are only a few hours from the school.  Those who live in states further away can still easily come to Southern Seminary on a plane.  Louisville’s airport is within 20 minutes of the campus.

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A Seminary Online

When family, ministry and work commitments make it difficult to relocate to our main campus in Louisville, another option for ministry training is Southern Seminary’s online programs.  Nearly all of the core requirements for the M.Div. are offered through the online seminary, as well as a wide variety of electives.  Students cannot complete an entire M.Div. degree online, however.

The seminary’s accreditation standards and academic policies allow for up to two-thirds (59 hours) of online-credit to apply towards the M.Div. program.   Other students may earn up to half of other master’s degrees online.   Seminary academic policy and accreditation standards, to put it conversely, require students to complete one-third of the M.Div. degree and half of other master’s degrees in residence – on the SBTS main campus.  The seminary offers intensive courses in winter and summer terms, frequently referred to as “D-” or “J-terms”, to help students obtain their residency hours.

By requiring a portion of each degree program to be completed on the SBTS campus, Southern Seminary distinguishes themselves as one of the top online seminaries.  The best seminaries online have a physical campus, and the faculty at SBTS want to make sure every student experiences learning in person.  Through the D- and J-term courses, Southern Seminary makes it possible for most students to complete the necessary courses on campus.

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Theology Degrees by Extension Education

Even those who are unable to relocate to Louisville can still earn a theology degree. Southern Seminary has established a network of extension education centers across the South, Midwest and Northeast. Each week, the school’s faculty members travel to its extension centers, bringing the same caliber of theological instruction that on-campus students receive to extension students.

Extension Centers are located in:

  • Northwest Arkansas
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbia, MD
  • East Tennessee (Knoxville Area)
  • Jackson, TN
  • New York City, NY
  • Washington, D.C.

Southern Seminary’s History

Southern Seminary was founded in 1859.  It is the product of James P. Boyce’s vision and was the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary.  Some well-known alumni include Douglas Carver, the Chief Chaplain of the U.S. Army, Mark Dever and W.A. Criswell.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Mission

SBTS has a desire to train men and women who are passionate about the gospel.  They seek to prepare people to take the gospel throughout the world.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

SBTS is a Southern Baptist Seminary

Southern Seminary, which is formally known as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, adheres to the Southern Baptist Conventions’ statements.  For more than 150 years, the seminary has been grounded by its confessional statements.

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Southern Seminary’s Degree Programs

As one of the top seminaries in the country, Southern Seminary offers a wide array of degree programs.  Southern Seminary is structured like a university, and offers the degrees through schools within the seminary.

School of Theology

The School of Theology at Southern Seminary trains preachers and teachers, pastors and missionaries, theologians and apologists, counselors and evangelists – all to the end of advancing the kingdom, that Christ may be glorified in the nations. The School of Theology is the oldest and central school of Southern Seminary.  It is devoted to training pastors, counselors and leaders within the church.

The School of Theology faculty is devoted to help equip students to stand and walk in a manner worthy of Jesus’ name.  By commencement day, theology students know the intricacies of the 66 books that comprise the Word of God. They graduate with confidence to teach it, preach it, counsel from it, evangelize with it, and defend it.

The School of Theology at Southern Seminary offers several degrees:

  • A Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree
  • A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree
  • A Master’s of Theology (Th.M.) Degree
  • A Master’s of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree with a concentration in Pastoral Studies, Christian Ministry, Biblical and Theological Studies, Worldview and Apologetics or Biblical Counseling
  • A Master’s of Arts (M.A.) Degree with a concentration in either Theological Studies or Biblical Counseling
  • A Diploma

School of Church Ministries

The School of Church Ministries equips leaders for real-life ministry.  For those whom God has called to his ministry, this school provides theologically rich, vocationally tested training in biblical worship, family discipleship and pastoral leadership.  The School of Church Ministries at Southern Seminary is devoted to training those in the associate pastor positions within the local church – worship leaders, executive pastors, youth ministers, children’s ministers – all towards the goal of disciple making within the church.

In the School of Church Ministries, theology is combined with missiology, and specialized training for ministries specific to the local church is included in the curriculum.  Students in the School of Church Ministries learn theology, church history, discipleship and specialized skills, so they can reach the people of the local church.

At Southern Seminary’s School of Church Ministries, students can earn a(n):

  • Doctor of Educational Ministry (D.Ed.Min.)
  • Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Master’s of Theology (Th.M.)
  • Master’s of Divinity (M.Div.)
  • Master’s of Arts (M.A.)
  • Diploma

Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism

The Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism has a biblical sense of urgency for the Great Commission and trains men and women to give their lives to evangelism, missions and church planting.  Under the leadership of Dean Zane Pratt, the Billy Graham School is devoted to training up missionaries, church planters and those who are called to take the gospel missiologically to North America and around the world.

The Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary confers the following degrees:

  • Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Missiology (D.Miss.)
  • Master’s of Theology (Th.M.)
  • Master’s of Divinity (M.Div.)
  • Master’s of Arts (M.A.)
  • Diploma

(For undergraduate degrees, see Boyce College, the undergraduate program of Southern Seminary).

An Accredited Seminary

Southern Seminary is not only accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), which oversees many seminaries in the United States and Canada, but SBTS has been a leading academic institution for decades.

The seminary began offering Ph.D. degrees in 1895, and has one of the top seminary doctoral programs in the country today.  In the 1950s, Southern Seminary brought the gospel to social workers through the first-ever accredited Master’s of Social Work (M.S.W.) offered by a seminary or divinity college.  During the 1970s and 1980s, the Ph.D. program at Southern Seminary was the country’s most extensive Ph.D. program in religion.

In the 21st century, Southern Seminary is continuing to expand its doctoral programs and be among the top seminaries. In 2009, the first Spirituality Ph.D. degree program at Southern Seminary was formed.  It seeks to incorporated the rigorous academic work of a research degree with the Spiritual impact of the gospel.

SBTS is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits the best Bible colleges, seminaries and secular universities in the Southern U.S.

More Information About Southern Seminary

More information about each school of Southern Seminary is available at


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