Silliman University Divinity School is an institution that developed from the brainchild of Dr. Frank Laubach of the American Board Mission (Congregational) in Mindanao. In 1918, Laubach proposed to the Presbyterian Mission to establish a joint Congregationalist-Presbyterian Training School for Visayan-speaking students who want to go into church ministry. He imagined that this Training School could be attached to the Presbyterian Mission’s Silliman Institute in Dumaguete. There were difficulties encountered in the process, but these practical problems were overcome in 1920. Thus, the Silliman Bible School opened in June 1921.
In its early years, the Training School offered a two-year diploma course in pastoral ministry to high school graduates. Then the Congregationalists decided to merge its training school for deaconesses based in Cagayan, Misamis Oriental with Silliman Bible School in 1931. This became an impetus for Silliman Bible School to upgrade its curriculum and offered a four-year college degree in Bachelor of Theology and a three-year Deaconess Diploma Course.
The succeeding years witnessed the gradual integration of the Bible School into Silliman Institute. In 1935, the Bible School turned into the “College of Theology” and became a crucial determinant in the transformation of the Silliman Institute into a University in that same year. In 1962, the College moved to its present location and offered a four-year Bachelor of Divinity program, and a five-year double major program that evolved into a six-year combined degree program.
The College of Theology had its first batch of graduates of the Bachelor of Divinity program in 1965. In keeping with the trend of theological schools across the globe, Silliman’s College of Theology was renamed “Silliman University Divinity School”. In 1966, the Divinity School became a participating institution in the newly established South East Asia Graduate School of Theology (SEAGST). From then on, it began to grant the degree of Master of Theology, and eventually, Doctor of Theology under the then SEAGST.
In 1979, the last batch of students under the combined degree program graduated. During this time, the majors offered in the past years, namely, Christian Education, Religious Education, and Early Childhood Education were abandoned. Only the general Pastoral Ministry program remained. In the mid-1970s, however, the experimental Bachelor of Ministry and Master of Ministry programs were implemented in response to the clamor of the churches for shorter and less expensive degree programs. However, the result was not satisfactory.
Consequently, the Divinity School retrieved the Bachelor of Theology program and its B.D. program was upgraded into the Master of Divinity program, which is accepted among Protestant churches as the standard theological degree program. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Divinity School offered a Bachelor of Theology with a major in Liturgy and Music. These Divinity School programs are accredited by the Association of Theological Education in South East Asia (ATESEA) and are also recognized by the government’s Commission on Higher Education.
Today, the Divinity School offers a revised Bachelor of Theology and Master of Divinity (for non-B.Th. graduates) programs in response to the accreditation standards of ATESEA and the Commission on Higher Education. The Divinity School also offers B.Th. graduates a two-year M.Div. thesis track program with majors in Biblical Studies, Theology, Pastoral Ministry, Christian Education, Spiritual Care (Clinical Pastoral Education), and Master of Arts in Peace Studies. This program seeks to respond to the needs of the church and its related institutions. In the pipeline are master’s and doctoral degree programs in Development Studies, and Values and Peace Education.
The Divinity School has a program called the Justice and Peace Center, which is an expression of its concern for justice and peace. Based on biblico-theological framework, this program conducts advocacy work for peace based on justice and offers partner communities training on fundamentals of peace and peace education, conflict management to conflict transformation, and peacebuilding. It supports the efforts of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform to call for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and a revolutionary group toward the attainment of genuine peace in the country. It is home to three other centers for learning namely: the Institute for Mission and Inter-Cultural Studies in Asia (IMISA), Center for Clinical Pastor Education, and the Elena Maquiso Center for Liturgy and Music.
Silliman University Divinity School is a place of academic excellence, spiritual growth, and ministerial formation. It serves as a seminar and ministerial formation center of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. In 2008, all assets of the Divinity School were fully integrated into Silliman University.
Today, the Divinity School is recognized throughout Asia as a premier center for theological education because of its outstanding learning resources, programs, and innovations. The theological education institution shares the facilities, faculty, and programs of the prestigious Silliman University. The University is located in a safe and peaceful campus at the heart of Dumaguete City, in the island of Negros, Central Visayas region, Philippines with a library containing more than 100,000 volumes with online access to other libraries and equipped with a highly-esteemed faculty with notable academic accomplishments and credentials.
With an average enrollment of 72 students annually under training to be both pastors for the parish and scholars for the academe with its various degree programs from undergraduate to postgraduate level: Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Liturgy and Church Music, Master of Divinity (Thesis and Non-Thesis), Master in Peace Studies, Master of Theology, Master of Ministerial Studies and Doctor of Theology. The following certificate programs are also being offered: Certificate in Church Music, Certificate in Liturgy, and Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education.
Along with the basic academic classroom programs, the Divinity School complements these learning experiences with an array of special programs from spiritual nurture and discipline of each student through chapel services, dormitory evening devotions, and Koinonia and class spiritual retreats every semester to the experiences gained through weekend church placements, summer internships, and a one-year internship.
The Divinity School understands the importance of global cross-education and partnership. It has established partnerships with the Japan Biblical Theological Seminary, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and the United Evangelical Mission.
To promote continuing theological education, the Church Workers Convocation is staged annually as a program designed for the clergy and lay workers, especially in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, to be renewed, re-tooled, and informed of new and emerging trends in theology and ministry.
Celebrating A Century of Faithful Service
Even amid a raging pandemic, the Silliman University Divinity School marked its centenary through a series of virtual events held from August 28 to 30, 2021 via ZOOM Communications and Facebook Live with active participation by its alumni, former students and faculty, friends, and benefactors.
For the Divinity School of Silliman University, resilience to the challenges of the times and yet, staying faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ are two main reasons for the unwavering success of the virtual celebrations along with the commitment and collaboration of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, benefactors, and the church.
Indeed, the celebration has become a huge success due to the synergy forged among various stakeholders that make the Divinity School what it is today and in the coming decades and centuries of its existence.
Similar to how the centenary has been celebrated, the school also embraced the online platform due to the pandemic. With no students inside the campus, the lectures, practicals, exams, retreats, individual conferences, theological reflections, and even the worships were held in the virtual space. But despite the challenges, it has remained faithful to the mission and ministry of the Divinity School – of empowering and nurturing church workers for the ministry of Jesus Christ.
ADMISSION & ENROLMENT REQUIREMENTS
- Application Form for Admission Silliman University
- Transcript of Records for college-level work (for graduate applicants) and Transferees; and Grade Report Card in High School (for BTh.applicants)
- Application for Dormitory Housing
- Payment of Counterpart for Tuition and Other Fees
- Medical examination results
- Letters of Recommendation (teacher and community)
CHURCH REQUIREMENTS (For UCCP DS)
- Student personal information form and biographical sketch
- Endorsement of Local Church
- Endorsement of the Conference Ministerial Formation Committee
- Academic Records
- Psychological and Aptitude Test Results
- Pledges of Support
- Physical Examination (usually here at SU)
- Letter of intent from benefactors
- Essay on Candidate Journey of Faith
- Audition Results (for students enrolling in Bth major in Liturgy and Music)
DIVINITY SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
- Letter of Intent from Student
- Budget and Sources
- Letter of commitment to serve the UCCP after schooling
- Application Letter for Housing (Married Students)
ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS (just accomplish the requirements listed here which are not listed above)
Upon enrolment, incoming students are expected to present the following:
- Duly accomplished endorsement forms from the local church and conference
- Certification of Completion of Apprenticeship signed by the Supervising Minister and Conference Minister. The certification must be submitted along with a summary evaluation that indicates the candidate’s:
i. familiarity with the Bible;
ii. genuine interest in, and proper attitude towards the ministry;
iii. on the part of those interested to be in the liturgy and music program, the competency evaluation must be based on the candidate’s ability to:
a. sing and sight-read notes,
b. accompany a song with guitar, and do rhythm;
c. play on the piano a memorized music piece equivalent to Thompson’s grade 2 level and one hymn that is randomly chosen;
iv. areas where the apprentice shows strength, and the areas where the apprentice demonstrates a weakness.
3. Payment of Counterpart for Tuition and Other Fees
SCHOLARSHIPS & FINANCIAL AID
Tuition and Other University Fees
Students pay their tuition and other university-required fees directly to the SU Business and Finance Office. Students must pay the down payment of Six Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (PhP 6,5000) upon enrolment and pay the next three installments on or before the Preliminary Exams, Midterm Exams, and Final Exams. The Divinity School does not and could not make promissory notes on behalf of the students.
Students may apply for scholarships and Financial Aid. Scholarship and financial aid are granted depending on the availability of funds, and on the need and capability of the student to pay for their tuition fees. Moreover, Financial Aid is granted and computed based on a single student’s needs, regardless of the student’s status. The Divinity School may assign scholarships or financial aid to applicants based on need and academic merits.
Scholarship Grant Policies: Qualifications and Requirements
- must be a Filipino and member of UCCP
- endorsed by the Local Church and Conference
- Full-time Junior, Middler and Senior students; Freshies and Sophies can also apply but they are not our priority unless specified by the donor;
- student does not have failing grades or lower than the required grades by most scholarship donors (usually 2.5 per subject)
- student is not repeating the same academic level or extending beyond the regular number of years for the academic program
- student is not a recipient of any other scholarship
- student intends to serve the church upon completion of their study at the Divinity School
- willing to render work services for a minimum of 60 hours a semester
- Doctor of Theology, New Testament
- Doctor of Theology Major in Social Ethics
- Doctor of Theology (Biblical Studies Old Testament)
- Master of Divinity
- Master in Peace Studies
- Doctor of Theological Studies
- Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa)
- Master of Theology in Mission Studies
- Doctor of Theology in Old Testament
- Master of Theology major in Spiritual Care
- Master of Divinity
- Doctor of Theology in Christian Education
- Master of Divinity Major in Pastoral Ministry, Minor in Christian Education
- Master of Theology in Mission Studies (Area of Concentration: Liturgy)
- Master of Music, Major in Music Education
- PhD in in Church Music
- Master of Divinity
- Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology
- Doctor of Naturopathy/Doctor of Natural Medicine
- Master of Divinity
- Doctor of Theology (New Testament)
- Doctor of Philosophy in Missiology
- Doctor of Philosophy in Theology, Ethics, and Human Sciences
- PhD in Peace and Development