Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary is a multidenominational Christian evangelical seminary in Pasadena, California, with regional campuses in the western United States. The seminary has 2,897 students from 90 countries and 110 denominations.[1][2]

Fuller Theological Seminary
PresidentMark Labberton
United States


Fuller Theological Seminary was founded in 1947 by Charles E. Fuller, a radio evangelist known for his Old Fashioned Revival Hour show, and Harold Ockenga, the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston. The seminary's founders sought to reform fundamentalism's separatist and sometimes anti-intellectual stance during the 1920s-1940s.[3] Fuller envisaged that the seminary would become "a Caltech of the evangelical world."[3]

The earliest faculty held theologically and socially conservative views, though professors with differing perspectives arrived in the 1960s and 1970s.[3] There were tensions in the late 1950s and early 1960s as some faculty members became uncomfortable with staff and students who did not agree with Biblical inerrancy.[3] This led to the people associated with the seminary playing a role in the rise of neo-evangelicalism.[3]


Fuller has had five presidents over its 70+ year history. Founding President Ockenga remained in Boston and served as president in absentia from 1947 to 1954. He described his role to Charles Fuller as recruiting faculty and setting the curriculum, which did not require his active presence in Pasadena.[4] His successor and protege Edward John Carnell, a Baptist theologian and apologist, took over the post in 1954 but resigned in 1959 under failing health.[4] Ockenga resumed his in absentia leadership until 35-year-old David Allen Hubbard, a Baptist Old Testament scholar and member of Fuller's third entering class, came on as Fuller's third president in 1963.[5] Hubbard served for 30 years and led the seminary through both substantial growth and significant controversy.

Hubbard was succeeded by Presbyterian philosopher and theologian Richard Mouw, who served as president of Fuller from 1993 to 2013. In 2006, a Los Angeles Times article labeled him as "one of the nation's leading evangelicals".[6] In July 2013, Mark Labberton became The Clifford L. Penner Presidential Chair of Fuller. Labberton, a Presbyterian (USA) pastor, had previously served Fuller as Director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching since 2009. He retains his position as Lloyd John Ogilvie Associate Professor of Preaching alongside the presidency.[7] Mouw remains at Fuller as Professor of Faith and Public Life.[8]

Theology and academics

Fuller is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Fuller's student body of 2,897 includes students from 90 countries and 110 denominational backgrounds.[1][9]

The seminary is frequently at the center of debate among religious and secular intellectuals on issues ranging from politics, religion and culture. Fuller instructors have proposed an alternative perspective on the conservative/liberal debate: Faculty member Tom Sine was quoted in the Seattle Times in 2004 as saying, "We need to be the voice of a third way that flows out of biblical values, instead of buying into the political ideology of either the right or the left."[10]

Schools and degrees

Fuller Theological Seminary is organized into schools of theology, psychology, and intercultural studies. The seminary emphasizes integration of the three schools and many students take courses in more than one school. The seminary offers 18 degree programs, including seven master's degrees and 11 advanced degrees.[11]

School of Theology

The School of Theology is the oldest school at Fuller and blends academic theology and practical ministry training. Many graduates from the School of Theology serve in roles as pastors, teachers, or lay ministers at churches of many denominations throughout the U.S. and the world.[12]

The School of Theology offers the following degrees: Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts (MA) in Theology, MA in Theology and Ministry, Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Theology, and Master of Theology (ThM). The MA, ThM, and DMin degrees are also offered in the Korean language,[13] and the MDiv and MA in Theology and Ministry can be earned completely in Spanish.[14]

School of Psychology

Fuller's School of Psychology opened in 1965 and is the first seminary-based psychology program to receive accreditation from the American Psychological Association. The School of Psychology consists of two different departments: Clinical Psychology and Marriage and Family. Research in the School of Psychology takes place within the context of Travis Research Institute,[15] named after the school's founding Dean, Lee Edward Travis. Distinctive centers have been established for biopsychosocial research; the study of stress, trauma, and adjustment; research in psychotherapy and religion; and child and adolescent development research.

The School of Psychology offers the following degrees: MA in Family Studies, MS in Marital and Family Therapy, Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Clinical Psychology.[16]

School of Intercultural Studies

The School of Intercultural Studies was founded as the School of World Mission in 1965. The school equips students to serve in ministries and organizations with a cross-cultural focus. More than 3,500 alumni/ae are now serving in over 150 countries in a wide range of cross-cultural contexts and areas of work including missions and nonprofit organizations, church planting and pastoral ministry, education, and international development.[17]

The School of Intercultural Studies offers the following degrees: MA in Intercultural Studies (in English and Korean language), MA in Global Leadership (earned primarily online), ThM in Missiology (in English and Korean), Doctor of Ministry in Global Ministries (in Korean), Doctor of Missiology, and PhD in Intercultural Studies.


In addition to its main campus in Pasadena, Fuller Theological Seminary offers classes at eight regional campuses located in the western United States: Fuller Northwest (Seattle), Fuller Bay Area (Menlo Park), Fuller Sacramento, Fuller Orange County (Irvine), Fuller Arizona (Phoenix), Fuller Colorado (Colorado Springs), and Fuller Texas (Houston). The seminary also offers a number of distance learning courses, either completely online or in hybrid formats. Five of the master's degrees can be earned in flexible programs without relocating to one of the campuses: the Master of Divinity, MA in Intercultural Studies, MA in Theology and Ministry, and MA in Global Leadership.[18]

Fuller is closing Fuller Northwest (Seattle), Fuller Bay Area (Menlo Park), Fuller Orange County (Irvine). It is also reducing degree programs offered in Fuller Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Fuller Arizona (Phoenix).[19] These closures and reductions will take place before the 2019-20 academic year.

In May 2009, Fuller opened its 47,000-square-foot (4,400 m2) David Allan Hubbard Library that incorporated the former McAlister Library building at its main campus in Pasadena, California for a total of 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2).[20]

On May 23, 2018, Fuller announced that its main campus in Pasadena will be sold and the seminary will move its main campus to Pomona by 2021.[21]

Social issues

While Fuller has established policies, the seminary is open to difference in opinion among students and faculty.[22] The seminary's current president, Mark Labberton, marched in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in 2013.[23] Others have expressed support in the Fuller forum for the "Black Lives Matter" movement as raising awareness for civil rights.[24] In 2015, some faculty at the seminary called on Christians to openly discuss, with respect, issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, refugees, and immigrants.[25] While the seminary officially recognizes marriage as "between a man and a woman", the seminary did allow an LGBTQ student club to organize on campus; the club, "OneTable", became the first LGBTQ group organized within an evangelical seminary.[26]

See also


  1. "About Fuller". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  2. "Fuller Theological Seminary | The Association of Theological Schools". www.ats.edu. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  3. Marsden, George M. (1987). Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-3642-7. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
  4. Strachan, Owen. Awakening the evangelical mind : an intellectual history of the neo-evangelical movement. Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN 9780310520795. OCLC 907181035.
  5. "COLLECTION 0150: David Allan Hubbard: Presidential Papers, 1947-1996". Fuller Seminary Archives and Special Collections. 2017.
  6. Kang, K. Connie (December 2, 2006). "Aiming to Clarify the Meaning of a Loaded Word". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  7. "Mark Labberton Faculty Profile". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  8. "Richard J. Mouw Faculty Profile". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on November 27, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  9. "Fuller Theological Seminary | The Association of Theological Schools". www.ats.edu. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  10. Tu, Janet I. (October 28, 2004). "Religious moderates finding their voice". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 8, 2009.
  11. "Facts and Figures :: Fuller". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  12. "About the School of Theology". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on January 19, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  13. "Korean Programs". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  14. "Centro Latino". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  15. "Travis Research Institute". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  16. Fuller Seminary Academic Programs Retrieved October 22, 2019
  17. "Vocational Placement". Fuller Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on July 11, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  18. "Flexible Degrees". Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  19. "Fuller Theological Seminary closes some campuses". Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  20. Williams, Janette (May 18, 2009). "Fuller Theological Seminary celebrates new library". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  21. Vincent, Roger (May 23, 2018). "Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena and putting campus up for sale". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  22. "Institutional Commitments". fuller.edu. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  23. "Fuller Seminary students, staff march on Pasadena City Hall for immigration reform". pasadenastarnews.com. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  24. "A conversation on why Black Lives Matter to White churches". Fuller Studio. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  25. "Conversations the Church needs to have in 2015". fuller.edu. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  26. "LGBT group finds acceptance at evangelical college". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 27, 2016.

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