University description (as per official university website)
A charter member of the Graduate Theological Union (1962), the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) was founded in 1871 and is the center of Baptist ecumenical theological education in the far western United States. The seminary is affiliated denominationally with the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. ABSW admits students from a variety of denominational traditions and unites national and international relationships with over a century of Baptist-related theological education.
ABSW traces its lineage to the 1871 Charter of California College. As one of California's earliest colleges, the school was first located in Vacaville and then moved to Oakland in 1887. In 1912 California College relocated in Berkeley, changing its name to Berkeley Baptist Divinity School. Three years later this school merged with the Pacific Coast Baptist Theological Seminary, which had begun instruction in 1890 at the First Baptist Church of Oakland and had moved to Berkeley in 1904.
From 1915 to 1968 the school carried the name Berkeley Baptist Divinity School. In 1968 the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School joined with California Baptist Theological Seminary, which had been founded in 1944 at Temple Baptist Church in Los Angeles and was moved to Covina in 1951. The new two-campus institution was renamed American Baptist Seminary of the West. In 1974 the Covina faculty joined the faculty in Berkeley, where together they could share in the resources of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU).
Today, as a member of the GTU, ABSW offers its students a myriad of resources through the largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. ABSW students may take advantage of the strength of Baptist traditions as well as interdisciplinary religious thought, study, and practice through cross-registration at other GTU seminaries. In addition, ABSW students have access to one of the finest theological libraries in the world, an uncommonly large faculty of distinguished scholars, and the resources of the University of California, Berkeley. Through the GTU, students can pursue ABSW degrees as well as the Ph.D., Th.D., and M.A., plus two joint Ph.D. programs with the University of California, Berkeley.
American Baptist Seminary of the West is committed to providing theological education to all students at the most reasonable cost possible. Sources of financial assistance include:
Tuition Aid Grants
Based on demonstrable financial need, degree students are eligible to receive 60% of their tuition as financial aid when taking six (6) or more units. You will be required to apply for Financial Aid through the GTU Financial Office. Courses taken for audit do not qualify for financial aid.
Seminarian Support Program
In addition to tuition aid grants, by working through the ABC Board of National Ministries in Valley Forge, PA, American Baptist students who have been members of an American Baptist Church for a minimum of one year have the opportunity to make their own requests for direct scholarship aid from any member congregation or ABC organization.
The Board of National Ministries can match funds raised by students on a dollar-for-dollar basis to $1,000 per student per year (which would provide a potential total of $2,000 per student in addition to the usual ABSW tuition grant).
The exact amount can vary from year to year, based on the number of students who apply for SSP monies. Continuing ABC students who are carrying 9 to 12 units for the M.Div. degree are eligible for the matching funds. New students beginning the M.Div. program have an August 1 deadline for fall semester, and a January 1 deadline for spring semester. Payments are sent directly to the seminaries to be credited to each student’s account. Work/study jobs are another source of financial aid, and a limited number of positions are available on campus.
Government Guaranteed Student Loans
If financial obligations exceed anticipated resources and tuition aid grants, students may fill out the proper forms obtained from the GTU Financial Aid Office to apply for loans. All such information is confidential. Government loans are handled by the GTU Financial Aid Office. Loans are processed through commercial lending agencies, are low–interest with repayment beginning six months after graduation.