University description (as per official university website)
About the GTU
The Graduate Theological Union is an ecumenical and interreligious crossroads, building bridges among Christian denominations and other faith traditions, and dedicated to educating students for teaching, research, ministry, and service. We seek to achieve our mission in two ways: as a graduate school offering academic programs in a wide range of fields in theology and religious studies, and as the largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. The GTU flourishes as a haven for interdisciplinary religious thought, study, and practice, making a tangible difference for the greatest good – and serving as the place where religion meets the world.
Located in Berkeley, California, where the diversity of cultures and faith traditions reflects our own, study at the GTU is intellectually challenging and rich in resources. Our union is a pioneering educational environment: a graduate school that is a consortium of nine theological seminaries and eight centers and affiliates. We are blessed with one of the finest theological libraries in the world, an uncommonly large faculty of distinguished scholars, and a close collaborative relationship with our neighboring institution, the University of California, Berkeley. The proximity of our member schools, multifaith centers, and interdisciplinary programs creates a dynamic intellectual community that draws scholars from around the world.
As a union, we have the largest theological faculty in the United States, including renowned experts in Christian spirituality and homiletics as well as critical and creative scholars in 14 other areas – from Biblical Studies to ethics and social theory. Religious traditions represented here now include Protestant, Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and Buddhist—all of us working together for a common mission while maintaining the distinctiveness of our particular communities of faith. Our curriculum has grown beyond the traditional strengths in Bible, history, theology, and ethics to include the arts, cultural and historical studies, spirituality, and interdisciplinary studies. Students can pursue the Ph.D., Th.D., and M.A., plus two joint Ph.D. programs with the University of California, Berkeley.
Our graduates are both rigorous thinkers and passionate doers. Since its founding in 1962, the GTU has produced thousands of alumni who teach at eminent universities and seminaries, minister to a broad range of congregations, and work in a variety of arenas – cultural, economic, religious, and political – to achieve the greatest good. They lead institutions and work for peace and justice worldwide.
History of GTU
A Brief History of The GTU
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, several Protestant denominations and Catholic orders successfully established theological seminaries in the San Francisco Bay Area.
By the 1930's, several Protestant seminaries had relocated to Berkeley, drawn by the proximity of the University of California and the availabilLibraryity of its vast educational resources. In the early years, the University and the seminaries would open classes to students of other schools, list courses in the several catalogs, and share library resources. With time, and the growth of all the schools, this level of cooperation fell, each denominational seminary becoming more isolated, understanding themselves to have adequate resources to train their own students for specific denominational ministry and careers in religious work.
With the post-World War II period, however, came a rise in ecumenical sensitivities and cooperation. The war had brought devastation, displacement of populations, and disruption of church organizations in Europe. The global church community responded with the formation of the World Council of Churches (begun prior to the war, but not completed until after) in the Protestant tradition, and the Vatican II Council in the Catholic tradition, 1962-65. The understanding of theological education, too, began to shift away from denominational isolation to a more ecumenical approach. Seminaries began to understand the advantages of working in cooperation to strengthen curricula and advanced degree programs. Consortia of seminaries began to form in major cities throughout the United States during the 1960's.
In this atmosphere, negotiations to form a cooperative degree program began among the Protestant seminaries in Berkeley, and the San Francisco Bay Area, around 1958. The ad hoc committee consisted of representatives from the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now American Baptist Seminary of the West), Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Episcopal), Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), and Pacific School of Religion (Multidenominational). Agreement among four of the schools was achieved, and the Articles of Incorporation forming the Graduate Theological Union were signed in 1962. The Pacific School of Religion chose not to enter the GTU until 1964. In that same year, the Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian) also joined. There followed a period of excitement and expansion as the fledgling GTU sought to define its identity, its programs, curriculum, policies, student body, every facet of an educational institution.
The first Catholic school was admitted in 1964, St. Albert's College (now Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology), relocating from Oakland, California. They were followed in 1966 by Alma College which relocated from Los Gatos, California and was renamed the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley; and the Franciscan School of Theology moved up from Mission Santa Barbara in 1968.
The first affiliated centers of the GTU were established 1968-70: the Center for Judaic Studies (now the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies) and the Center for Urban Black Studies. In the decades to follow, the GTU affiliated institutes, centers and programs have grown to eight including the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, and the Institute of Buddhist Studies.
The nine member schools originally maintained their own libraries. In 1964, the Bibliographical Center was formed to consolidate collections and centralize book ordering and cataloging. In 1969, the GTU Common Library was established. The individual collections were merged and housed in the basement of a member school. A major project of the GTU during the 1970's was the planning and construction of a building to house the library and the GTU administrative offices. Constructed in two phases, the library was completed in 1987. The Flora Lamson Hewlett Library is now one of the major theological libraries in the country.
The GTU was initially created by the participating schools to offer a stronger graduate degree program than any one could offer alone. By 1971, the GTU was itself fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
First offering only a doctorate in Theology, the GTU now offers the Ph.D., Th.D., and M.A. There are two joint Ph.D. programs with the University of California at Berkeley in Near Eastern Studies and Jewish Studies. The original four areas of study—Bible, history, theology, and ethics—were broadened to include the arts, the personality sciences, phenomenology of religions, spirituality, and inter-area studies. The combined faculties of the member schools, numbering 150, serve a total student body of 1,300.
The Graduate Theological Union remains committed to the spirit of ecumenism in which it was formed. Rich in resources and rich in spirit, the GTU seeks to educate women and men for vocations of ministry and scholarship, equip leaders for a future of diverse religions and cultures, teach patterns of faith which nurture justice and peace, and serve as an educational and theological resource for local communities, the nation, and the world.
1. Applicant may be a foreign or domestic student.
2. For merit-based aid, applicant must complete requirements established by the admissions office of the individual graduate school or seminary.
3. For need-based consideration, applicant must complete a Financial Aid Application.
4. Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Gift Aid, aid that does not have to be repaid, is a merit-based or a need-based form of aid that is intended to reduce the cost of a student’s tuition. The seminary or graduate school that the student is attending or affiliated with (in the case of the GTU Common M.A.) provides the institutional gift aid. The GTU Financial Aid Office administers each school’s gift aid according to its financial aid program and policy.
Federal Student Aid
1. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen;
2. Be working toward a degree or certification;
3. Be registered with Selective Service (if required);
4. Be making satisfactory academic progress;
5. Not be in default or owe a refund on a federal grant or federal loan;
6. Be enrolled at least half-time.