Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary - George H. Long Hall
Type Seminary
Established 1794 (1794)
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
40°28′00″N 79°55′18″W / 40.46667°N 79.92167°W / 40.46667; -79.92167Coordinates: 40°28′00″N 79°55′18″W / 40.46667°N 79.92167°W / 40.46667; -79.92167
Campus Urban
Website www.pts.edu

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, founded in 1794, is a graduate seminary in the Reformed tradition teaching theology and preparing students for service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other Christian churches. Teaching is grounded in scripture and ecumenically minded. The Seminary is located in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and houses one of the largest theological libraries in the tri-state area.


Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was formed in 1959 by consolidating the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.'s Western Theological Seminary and the United Presbyterian Church of North America's Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. The consolidation was the result of the 1958 merger between the PCUSA and the UPCNA to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary began with the founding of Service Seminary (Associate Theological Seminary in the town of Service, Beaver County, PA) in 1792 by the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania. Prior to that time, the Presbytery was dependent on a supply of ministers sent from Scotland. The Rev. John Anderson, D.D., was elected as the first teacher of divinity and the school began with an enrollment of six students. Service Seminary moved several times, from Service to Canonsburg, PA, then to Xenia, Ohio, where it became Xenia Theological Seminary. This occurred in the 1850s and was prompted by a desire to locate nearer to the growing population in the midwest. The Rev. Joseph Kyle joined the faculty in 1900 (leaving 4th U.P. Church in Allegheny, PA). In approximately 1914 Kyle was appointed president. In 1920 the trustees determined to move the seminary to St. Louis, MO, also to be nearer to potential students in the plains states. In 1921 the Rev. Dr. Kyle died unexpectedly. This loss of leadership at a crucial transition period created problems for the fledgling institution and it never really took root. In 1930 it merged with a seminary that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1825 and together they formed the Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. This institution was later augmented by the resources of Newburgh Seminary, founded in New York City in 1805 by John Mitchell Mason.

Western Theological Seminary, the other branch of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's pre-1959 history, began with the establishment of classical academies in Washington, PA, the first in 1785 by Joseph Smith and another in 1787 by John McMillan. Out of these academies, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA created Western Seminary. It was indeed a western seminary in 1825, furnishing a ministry for the rapidly opening frontier territories along the Ohio River.

Since the 1959 consolidation, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has been located on the former Pittsburgh-Xenia Seminary campus in the Highland Park/East Liberty section of Pittsburgh. It became a PC(U.S.A.) seminary following the 1983 merger between the UPCUSA and the Presbyterian Church in the United States.


Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The seminary has scholars in all major fields of theological inquiry, and offers language training in Greek and Hebrew. The following degrees are offered by the institution:

The Seminary also cooperates with other institutions within the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education to offer joint degree programs, including;

Clifford E. Barbour Library

The Clifford E. Barbour Library [1] is the most important theological resource in Western Pennsylvania. Its 300,000 volumes, several online databases, and more than 800 periodical subscriptions make it one of the larger stand-alone theological libraries in the United States. The library is located in a three-story building of American Colonial design, dedicated in 1964. The library houses several valuable collections, including the John M. Mason Memorial Collection, which consists of many rare theological works dating from the Reformation. On display in the Hansen Reading Room are the desk and chair of Karl Barth, dedicated to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by Barth's son, Markus Barth, a faculty member from 1963-1972. Many of the books and periodicals in the collection were made possible by a $15 million gift from wealthy banker and businessman Thomas Clinton.

Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is home to the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology. The museum contains a collection of ancient Near Eastern and Palestinian pottery and artifacts brought together by travelers and archeologists over the past 60 years. Many exhibits resulted from the eight excavations of which the seminary has been a part.

The Seminary is very involved in Biblical archaeology, and sponsors the Zeitah Excavations in Israel at Tel Zayit.[2] The excavation was founded under the direction of Professor Ron E. Tappy, Professor of Bible and Archaeology and director of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology. The excavation began in 1999 with a 55-member international team of experts and volunteers. In July 2005 excavators discovered the Zayit Stone, which contained an inscription dating to the 10th century BCE (King Solomon’s reign). The two-line inscription, on a 33-pound limestone boulder embedded in the stone wall of a building, is the earliest securely-dated example of the complete Hebrew alphabet (an "abecedary"). The letters show a transitional script emerging from Phoenician and leading to the Hebrew national script of the 9th century BCE. The first significant inscription from this period in nearly a century, the discovery was reported in the New York Times.

Continuing education

CE holds more than 40 events a year including Spiritual Formation Certificate, online and on-campus theology courses, professional workshops, and a distinguished speakers series. The office works with denominational offices and community resource agencies to provide education opportunities for specialized ministerial and professional groups.

Church planting initiative

The Seminary established the Church Planting Initiative to set up new churches, and offers the M.Div. with Church Planting Emphasis.

Metro-Urban Institute

The Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MUI) was founded in 1991 to adapt to an increasingly urbanized society. The Institute focusses on public issues affecting the urban environment, using interfaith and interdisciplinary approaches to solving social problems and encouraging ministries of justice, service, and advocacy with the intention of promoting systemic change within the city.

MUI offers several degree and certificate programs. Students matriculating in either the MDiv or MA programs of PTS may earn a Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry. Students may also earn the Christian Leadership Certificate (CLC) program, quality theological education for students regardless of academic background.

World Mission Initiative

World Mission Initiative (WMI) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is a fellowship of Presbyterians dedicated to developing mission vision, nurturing missionary vocation, and cultivating missional congregations.[3]

WMI prepares seminarians to become pastors with a mission, and coordinates cross-cultural trips. It has a church focus and works to train world Christian pastors. WMI hosts missionaries, national church leaders, and scholars on campus throughout the year.

Miller Summer Youth Institute

The Seminary sponsors the Miller Summer Youth Institute (SYI), providing studies in academic theology and ministry as a vocation. All SYI participants receive full scholarships that cover room, board, and tuition.

Student body

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); more than 20 denominations are represented in the student body. Students come from more than 30 states and countries and benefit from a low student-to-faculty ratio.

Faculty and alumni

Prominent faculty include: (mostly former)

Current Faculty include:

Prominent graduates include:


  1. "Library". Pts.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  2. "The Zeitah Excavations - Archaeology at Tel Zayit, a biblical town in ancient Israel". Zeitah.net. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  3. "World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary". Worldmissioninitiative.org. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
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