Princeton Theological Seminary


Princeton Theological Seminary (PTSem), officially The Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church,[7] is a private school of theology in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1812 under the auspices of Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), it is the second-oldest seminary in the United States.[8][9] It is also the largest of ten seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church.

Princeton Theological Seminary
Established1812; 212 years ago (1812)
AffiliationPresbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment$1.459 billion (2022)[3]
PresidentJonathan L. Walton
Academic staff
40 (full-time) and 21 (part-time)[4]
New Jersey
United States
CampusSuburban, 23 acres (93,000 m2)
Colors    Yale Blue and Scarlet[6]

Princeton Seminary has had many leading biblical scholars, theologians, and clergy among its faculty and alumni. In addition, it operates the world's second largest theological library (after the Vatican) and maintains a number of special collections, including the Karl Barth Research Collection in the Center for Barth Studies. The seminary also manages an endowment of $1.459 billion in 2022,[9] making it the third-wealthiest institution of higher learning in the state of New Jersey—after Princeton University and Rutgers University.[10]

In the 1980s, Princeton Seminary enrolled about 900 students but as of Fall 2023, the seminary enrolls approximately 276 FTE students.[2] While around 26 percent of them are candidates for ministry specifically in the Presbyterian Church, the majority are completing such candidature in other denominations, pursuing careers in academia across a number of different disciplines, or receiving training for other, non-theological fields altogether.[11][12]

Seminarians hold academic reciprocity with Princeton University as well as the Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, and the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. The institution also has an ongoing relationship with the Center of Theological Inquiry.[13]


Princeton Seminary in the 1800s

The plan to establish a theological seminary in Princeton was in the interests of advancing and extending the theological curriculum. The educational intention was to go beyond the liberal arts course by setting up a postgraduate, professional school in theology. The plan met with enthusiastic approval on the part of authorities at the College of New Jersey, later to become Princeton University, for they were coming to see that specialized training in theology required more attention than they could give. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church established the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, in 1812, with the support of the directors of the nearby College of New Jersey, as the second graduate theological school in the United States. The seminary remains an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), being the largest of the ten theological seminaries affiliated with the 1.1-million-member denomination.[8][14]

In 1812, the seminary had three students and Archibald Alexander was its first professor. By 1815 the number of students had gradually increased and work began on a building: Alexander Hall was designed by John McComb Jr., a New York architect, and opened in 1817. The original cupola was added in 1827, but it burned in 1913 and was replaced in 1926. The building was simply called "Seminary" until 1893, when it was officially named Alexander Hall. Since its founding, Princeton Seminary has graduated approximately 14,000 men and women who have served the church in many capacities, from pastoral ministry and pastoral care to missionary work, Christian education and leadership in the academy and business.

The seminary became known during the 19th and early 20th centuries for its defense of Calvinistic Presbyterianism, a tradition that became known as Princeton Theology and greatly influenced Evangelicalism during the period. Some of the institution's figures active in this movement included Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and Geerhardus Vos.

Liberalism and split

Princeton Seminary class of 1922

In response to the increasing influence of theological liberalism in the 1920s and the fundamentalist–modernist controversy at the institution, several theologians left to form the Westminster Theological Seminary under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen.

The college was later the center of the fundamentalist–modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s.[15] In 1929, the seminary was reorganized along modernist lines, and in response, Machen, along with three of his colleagues: Oswald T. Allis, Robert Dick Wilson and Cornelius Van Til, resigned, with Machen, Allis and Wilson founding Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. In 1958, Princeton became a seminary of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., following a merger between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America, and in 1983, it would become a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) after the merger between the UPCUSA and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

Ties to slavery


In 2019, the seminary announced that it would spend $27 million on "scholarships and other initiatives to address its historical ties to slavery".[16]

2022 President


The Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton was announced to become the next president of Princeton Theological Seminary, with his tenure to begin on January 1, 2023. He was the first Black president to be named to the role since the establishment of the seminary in 1812.[17]


Stuart Hall. The main classroom building of the Princeton Theological Seminary, designed by William Appleton Potter in Venetian Gothic style. Built in 1876.

Princeton Theological Seminary has been accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) since 1938 and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1968.[18][1]

Degree programs



Wright Library

The Wright Library is a destination for visiting scholars from around the world. The current library building was completed in 2013 and was renamed on October 13, 2021, after Theodore S. Wright, the first African American to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary.[20] The library has over 1,252,503 bound volumes, pamphlets, and microfilms.[21] It receives about 2,100 journals, annual reports of church bodies and learned societies, bulletins, transactions, and periodically issued indices, abstracts, and bibliographies. The Libraries are:



Given its status as an autonomous postgraduate institution, Princeton Seminary does not appear in most global or national rankings for universities and colleges. As a graduate school, however, it does see such ranking on occasion. In 2020, it was ranked #53 nationwide – tied with University of Iowa and University of Florida – for the field of history by the U.S. News & World Report.[25] It was also rated at A+ by the American rankings and review company Niche in 2020.[26] The journal First Things, an organ of the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York, ranked Princeton Seminary fifth among American graduate programs in theology, in 2012.[27]

Student life

The physically separate Charlotte Rachel Wilson Campus is where residential quarters are.

In 2021, 114 degrees were awarded, 52.6% to women, and 47.4% to men.[28]

Seminary Chapel

Miller Chapel

Built in 1834, Princeton Seminary's chapel was named to honor Samuel Miller, the second professor at the seminary. It was designed in the Greek Revival style by Charles Steadman, who also designed the nearby Nassau Presbyterian Church. Originally located beside Alexander Hall, it was moved in 1933 toward the center of the campus, its steps now leading down onto the seminary's main quad. Miller Chapel underwent a complete renovation in 2000, with the addition of the Joe R. Engle Organ.[29]

On January 18, 2022, members of the Association of Black Seminarians physically removed the sign naming the chapel "Miller Chapel" and held a protest calling for the trustees to rename the chapel because of Samuel Miller's direct ties to slavery.[30] On January 25, 2022, the Board of Trustees of Princeton Seminary voted to rename Miller Chapel in light of the protest. "This decision followed thoughtful deliberation by the Board of Trustees, and it is part of their commitment to the ongoing work of confession and repentance that was part of the historical audit on slavery."[31]


In 2011, Princeton Theological Seminary's Office of Multicultural Relations and The Kaleidoscope Institute worked together to initiate an effort known as "Navigating the Waters", a program designed to promote cultural proficiency and diversity competency in faculty, staff, and students.[32]



Center for Barth Studies

Alexander Hall. The original building of the Princeton Theological Seminary, patterned after Nassau Hall, and designed by John McComb, Jr. Built in 1814.

The Center for Barth Studies was established at Princeton Seminary in 1997 and is administered by a board of seminary faculty. The Center sponsors conferences, research opportunities, discussion groups, and publications that seek to advance understanding of the theology of Karl Barth (1886–1968), the German Swiss professor and pastor widely regarded as the greatest theologian of the 20th century. The Karl Barth Research Collection, part of Special Collections in the Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries, supports the scholarly activities of the Center for Barth Studies. The Karl Barth Research Collection is acquiring a collection of writings by and about Karl Barth. Although many volumes are still needed, the Research Collection has already acquired Barth's most important works in German and English, several first editions, and an original hand-written manuscript by Karl Barth.[33]

Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology


The key aspect of the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology is the Abraham Kuyper Collection of Dutch Reformed Protestantism in the library's Special Collections, which focuses on the theology and history of Dutch Reformed Protestantism since the nineteenth century and features a sizable assemblage of primary and secondary sources by and about Abraham Kuyper. The center maintains in partnership with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam an online database of secondary literature about Abraham Kuyper.

The center has also established an annual event organized to award the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, during which the recipient delivers an address. The Abraham Kuyper Consultation, a series of further lectures, takes place on the following day.

In 2017, there was a controversy surrounding the plan to award the Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller, then Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. A group of students and faculty protested that Keller should not receive the award due to his non-affirming views regarding LGBTQ and women clergy.[34] President Barnes initially defended awarding Keller the prize before changing his position.[35] Keller withdrew himself from consideration for the prize and still delivered his lecture. While drawing support from some quarters, the decision to not award Keller the prize also drew criticism in the Wall Street Journal[36] and Washington Post.[37]

Center of Theological Inquiry


In 1978, Princeton Theological Seminary's Board of Trustees established the Center of Theological Inquiry' (CTI) as an independent, ecumenical institution for advanced theological research, "to inquire into the relationship between theological disciplines, [and of these with] ... both human and natural sciences, to inquire into the relationship between diverse religious traditions ..., to inquire into the present state of religious consciousness in the modern world, and to examine such other facets of religion in the modern world as may be appropriate ..." Today, the center has its own board, funding, mission and staff, yet maintains close relations with Princeton Theological Seminary. The present director is William Storrar and the director of research is Robin Lovin.


Princeton Theological Review, Volume 1, Number 1 (1903)

Theology Today is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal of Christian theology founded in 1944.

Koinonia Journal is published annually by doctoral students at Princeton Theological Seminary. The publication and its annual forum promote written and face-to-face interdisciplinary discussion about issues in theology and the study of religion. It is distributed to well over 100 libraries worldwide.

Princeton Theological Review is a student-run, annual and online journal that exists to serve students within the Princeton Theological Seminary body as well as the wider theological community. It is distributed to well over 100 libraries worldwide.

Seminary Lectureships

Kagawa Toyohiko at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1914
  • Abraham Kuyper Lecture and Prize, held in April. In 2017, Princeton Theological Seminary reversed its decision to award the Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller after a group of alumni voiced their objection to the choice due to Keller belonging to a denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) that ordain neither women nor practicing homosexuals. However, the seminary did allow Keller to deliver the Kuyper Lecture without receiving the Kuyper Prize.[38]
  • The Alexander Thompson Lecture, held biannually in March.
  • The Frederick Neumann Memorial Lecture, held biannually in November.
  • Dr. Geddes W. Hanson Lecture, held biannually, fall semester.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, held in February.
  • Dr. Sang Hyun Lee Lecture, held biannually, spring semester.
  • The Donald Macleod/Short Hills Community Congregational Church Preaching Lectureship, held biannually, fall semester.
  • Toyohiko Kagawa, Japanese Evangelist and Social Worker; Lecture held triennially spring semester.
  • Students' Lectureship on Missions, held biannually, fall semester.
  • The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture, held in April.
  • The Levi P. Stone Lectures, held biannually in October. Brings an internationally distinguished scholar to the seminary each year to deliver a series of public lectures. Created in 1871 by Levi P. Stone of Orange, New Jersey, a director and also a trustee of the seminary. Previous lecturers include Samuel Colcord Bartlett (1882), Samuel H. Kellogg (1892), Abraham Kuyper (1898), Henry Collin Minton (1902), Herman Bavinck (1908), Archibald Thomas Robertson (1915), Henry E. Dosker (1918), Louis Berkhof (1921), Valentine Hepp (1930), Hendrik Kraemer (1958), Karl Menninger (1969) and Nicholas Wolterstorff (1998).
  • Students' Lectureship on Missions, held in October.
  • The Annie Kinkead Warfield Lectures, held biannually in March, are a series of lectures which honor the memory of Annie Kinkead Warfield, wife of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, distinguished professor of theology at the seminary from 1887 to 1921. Previous distinguished lecturers include Karl Barth (1962), John Howard Yoder (1980), T. F. Torrance (1981), and Colin Gunton (1993).
  • Women in Church and Ministry Lecture, held in February.

Frederick Buechner Prize


Acclaimed writer and theologian Frederick Buechner has long standing ties to Princeton Theological Seminary and the seminary has honored him with the creation of the Buechner Prize for Writing. Princeton sponsored and hosted the Buechner Writing Workshop in June 2015. Also, Princeton Theological Seminary has given copies of Buechner's Telling the Truth to students as part of their graduation.



Principals and Presidents of Princeton Theological Seminary

Brown Hall, 1860

Prior to the creation of the office of President in 1902, the seminary was governed by the principal.

The Principals
The Presidents
View of front entrance

Notable faculty (past and present)


Notable alumni



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  2. ^ a b "Princeton Theological Seminary | the Association of Theological Schools".
  3. ^ As of June 22, 2022. ATS Data Tables 2021-2022 and 2011-2012.xlsx (Report).
  4. ^ "Faculty 2022-2023". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on 2023-01-25.
  5. ^ a b "Summary of Students in 2021-2022". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on 2023-01-25.
  6. ^ Haycraft, Frank W. (1927). The Degrees and Hoods of the World's Universities and Colleges (3rd ed.). Cheshunt: Cheshunt Press. ASIN B0007IWKQM.
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  10. ^ "New Jersey Richest Colleges". 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 2019-09-08.
  11. ^ "ATS – Member Schools". Archived from the original on 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  12. ^ "PTS Statistics". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on 2015-11-25.
  13. ^ "Untitled Page". Official Website. Princeton Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on 2013-10-03.
  14. ^ "Summaries of Statistics – Comparative Summaries" (PDF). PC(USA). 2020. Retrieved 2024-04-22.
  15. ^ Steward, Gary (2014). Princeton Seminary (1812–1929): Its Leaders' Lives and Works. Phillipsburg NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed. ISBN 9781596383975.
  16. ^ Shanahan, Ed (October 21, 2019). "$27 Million for Reparations Over Slave Ties Pledged by Seminary". New York Times. p. A20. Archived from the original on October 24, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  17. ^ Banks, Adelle (October 14, 2022). "Scholar and preacher Jonathan Lee Walton named next president of Princeton Seminary". Religion News Service. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  18. ^ "Member Profile". Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Archived from the original on 2017-06-19.
  19. ^ "Master of Divinity". 26 May 2016. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22.
  20. ^ "Princeton Seminary Names Library After Theodore Sedgwick Wright". Princeton Theological Seminary. 2021-10-13. Retrieved 2023-05-25.
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  22. ^ Karl Barth>Center for Barth Studies
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  36. ^ Thorp, Case (2017-03-23). "A Seminary Snubs a Presbyterian Pastor". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2017-10-28. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
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Further reading

  • David B. Calhoun, History of Princeton Seminary. In Two Volumes. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1996.
  • James Moorhead, Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2012.
  • Richard Osmer and Gordon Mikoski, With Piety and Learning: The History of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary 1812–2012. Lit Verlag, 2012.

40°20′40″N 74°39′52″W / 40.34444°N 74.66444°W / 40.34444; -74.66444