I see some Christian education institutions refer to themselves as "Bible College" and some as "Seminary" and some as "Bible College and Seminary". What is the difference between those, if any?

  • This question needs more geographical scoping. From my experience there is no real difference. Perhaps because they don't call themselves seminaries here. You've left out theological colleges and schools of theology, divinity schools etc.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:36
  • Reading this from my Bible College dorm ;) But yeah, seminary is like grad school basically.
    – NealC
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 6:25

4 Answers 4


In the US, a Bible college is typically a 2 year or 4 year school that specializes in Christian undergraduate education. (typically with programs like Biblical Studies, youth ministry, things like that, rather than traditional math/science/teaching programs you'd find at say a Christian liberal arts school)

A seminary is typically a graduate school that specializes in training people for the ministry (pastorate, counseling etc).

A school that advertised as both may offer a double degree or cater to people seeking either a four year degree in something bible related, or people heading into the ministry. Doing both is good synergy and they may be able to save a pastor some time (get under grad and seminary done in 5 years instead of 6 or something).

  • 1
    adding to this - I usually don't see accreditation's when I see "Bible College". Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 20:21
  • 2
    @GregMcNulty Lots of Bible Colleges are accredited. They just don't usually offer graduate level programs.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 20:25
  • Yup. I took some graduate level classes in counseling at Capital Bible Seminary, which shared facilities with the undergraduate Washington Bible College Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 2:41
  • Is this answer for any particular country or state? Because it is completely inaccurate for where I live.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:36
  • 1
    @curiousdannii it's pretty typical for how this verbiage is used in the US.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:48

I've recently figured this out for myself. Bible Colleges typically offer Bachelor degrees, which some are accredited and some are not. Then, seminary is usually always referring to a graduate program in Biblical-focused areas. I've still heard of people who have gone straight into "seminary" from high school, to which I cannot explain but most likely not accredited. I'd assume some places might take advantage of the loose term "seminary" just like "bible colleges" not always being accredited.

To provide some context, I attend North Central University in Minneapolis. NCU is accredited for a ton of Bible and liberal art bachelor degrees and they also offer an accredited graduate/masters degree in strategic leadership. While NCU offers an accredited grad program, I'd assume we're not a "seminary" due to the fact we don't offer grad programs within the biblical studies-ralm, but general leadership.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer here. However, it really doesn't address the question, which is about the difference between a Bible college and a seminary. See: What makes a good supported answer? Though your answer will likely be deleted, I hope you'll stick around and read some of the other questions and answers here. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 3:57
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    Thank you for the edit, this now does answer the question Welcome to the site. Please do take some time to read the links in Lee's comment. This really would be better if it were well-referenced, rather than your personal observation, but not bad for a first post. I hope you decide to stick around. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 4:59

A “bible college” is like a community college or small liberal arts college, offering a bachelors degree or certificate.

Seminaries are for professional formation of clergy or ministers, and might also be called a “divinity school” especially if attached to a university.


The dictionary states that seminary is "a college that prepares students to be priests, ministers, or rabbis." In addition to this, Wikipedia gives some of the same definitions regarding seminary... I wondered about this some years ago before going to a university, that had a bible college that I attended. I received my four year degree in Practical Theology and will be going back for my MDiv. I also asked some of my religion professors this question as well. All in all, if a person is attending a bible college for a ministry degree that prepares them for ministry (pastors, ministers, priests, etc.) they are in seminary. Doesn't matter if its a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate's degree. Hopefully this response helps. Please excuse typos...


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