The evolution of Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry began in the summer of 1969, when local faith community leaders partnered with Seattle University to launch an intensive summer program for Masters Degrees in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. By 1971, the programs together boasted over 300 students. In 1985, Seattle University and the Archdiocese of Seattle partnered to prepare women religious and other lay ministers for parishes of the Archdiocese. By 1994, The Association of Theological Schools accredited and approved three graduate degrees: The Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies, Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality, and Master of Divinity. The following year, 10 Protestant, Anglican and Unitarian traditions became official partners with Seattle University and the Archdiocese of Seattle in offering Masters level degrees. In 1996, The Seattle University Board of Trustees formally established the school as a graduate school of Seattle University.
Since then, the School of Theology and Ministry has created and accredited three additional degrees--the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership and Master of Arts in Couples and Family Therapy and the Doctor of Ministry. It now offers extensive opportunities for professional development through the Economics and Pastoral Leadership Program in order to continue to support graduates and meet the needs of a growing community.
Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry has established itself as a unique, inclusive school rooted in Jesuit values with a dedication to interreligious relationships for the common good. Fourteen Christian denominations have signed formal partnership agreements with the school, and the school has built collaborative relationships with inclusively Christian and interreligious groups locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The school's Interreligious Initiative brings together people from all different spiritual backgrounds through special events, panels, and worship gatherings. There are only a few other institutions in the world with the school's breadth of commitment to dialogue.
This has earned the school national and international recognition for its innovative and practical approach to theological education including a place on the list of Seminaries that Change the World every year since the list was created. It has also caught the attention of notable donors and foundations including the Gates Foundation and Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. The school prides itself on being at the forefront of trends in theological education and finding ways to bridge the gap between academia and real world application. The school's most recent project, the Center for Religious Wisdom and World Affairs, focuses on using insight from faith communities to address some of the world's most complicated issues.