Washington Theological Union - Wikipedia

Washington Theological Union

Washington Theological Union (WTU), a Roman Catholic graduate school of theology and seminary in Washington, D.C. in the United States, was founded in 1968,[1] stopped accepting students in 2011,[2] and suspended operations at the end of June 2015.[3][4] Founded by religious communities of men for presbyteral (priestly) education, their vision expanded to include theological education for religious communities of women as well as deacons, lay men and women and members of other faith traditions from the United States and many foreign countries. It closed its doors because of financial difficulties, low enrollment, and declining vocations.[2]

Washington Theological Union
Photo of the school's building in Takoma, DC
Mottofreedom, faith, integrity
TypePrivate Roman Catholic seminary
Active1968 (1968)–2013 (2013)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic Church, Franciscan and Carmelite orders, among others
6896 Laurel St., NW
, ,
38°58′29″N 77°00′50″W / 38.9746°N 77.0138°W / 38.9746; -77.0138Coordinates: 38°58′29″N 77°00′50″W / 38.9746°N 77.0138°W / 38.9746; -77.0138

Over 4,500 students have taken courses for credit, whether or not formally enrolled in a formal degree or certificate program.[5] Of these, over 1,500 students have received one or more of several masters' level degrees in theology offered. Over 800 degree recipients have been ordained to the Catholic presbyterate in their role as members of the many religious orders of men that have been associated with the Union. Although the Master of Divinity degree is primarily pursued by those to be ordained, 22 laymen and 23 laywomen have received this degree as well. Beyond the degree programs, the formal Graduate Certificate program offered many students another option in furthering their theological education. Over 200 students received one of the several different certificates offered under this program, several as a companion to their degree program.

An opportunity offered to many men and women religious was a special certificate program in ministry development that was achieved as part of a year-long sabbatical. About 500 sabbatical students were awarded this special certificate.

The Master of Arts (MA) in Theology was first awarded to 10 religious order men in 1972 and was the more challenging masters level academic degree. The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree was first awarded in 1975 to 4 religious order men. In 1977, the first religious order woman received a Master of Arts degree in Theology and in 1980, the first laywoman received the Master of Divinity degree, followed in 1985 by the first layman to receive a Master of Arts in Theology degree. As a capstone, the new Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree in Christian Spirituality was first awarded in 2011 to a layman, followed by several other religious men and women, priests and laymen and women; the last being awarded in May 2015.

The many graduates from WTU serve in a variety of ecclesial positions: bishops and archbishops, university presidents, national and diocesan officials, educators, church organizations, chaplains, and many as parochial pastors, deacons, lay leaders and ministers.

WTU was accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and was a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[6]

Student records and archival history were transferred to Saint Bonaventure University in New York in 2015 after operations were wound down. Student records are administered by the Registrar's Office and other official historical information is administered by that university's Friedsam Library.


  1. ^ Catholic News Service (July 12, 2011). "Washington Theological Union's closing not seen as harbinger for others". Catholic Standard. Archdiocese of Washington. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Catholic seminary Washington Theological Union to close in 2013". Catholic News Agency. June 29, 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  3. ^ Merella, Deacon Bartholomew J. "Note About the Disposition of the WTU Website". Washington Theological Union. Archived from the original on October 7, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2021. As of June 30, 2015, all official WTU administrative operations will cease.
  4. ^ Payne, Fr. Steven (November 29, 2019). "CUA Carmelite Chair Installation Speech". Order of Carmelites. Retrieved February 15, 2021. When the Union finally closed operations in 2015…
  5. ^ "Our Gift to the Future". Washington Theological Union. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  6. ^ Washington Theological Consortium membership list.

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