As the spiritual center of a great research university, Duke Divinity School is the embodiment of Duke University’s motto: Eruditio et Religio — Knowledge and Faith. Founded in 1926 as the first of the university’s graduate professional schools, the Divinity School attracts students from across the nation and around the world. One of 13 seminaries founded and supported by the United Methodist Church, the school has from its beginnings been ecumenical in aspiration, teaching, and practice. With many diverse theological perspectives represented here, students find common ground through immersion in Scripture and the church’s tradition for addressing the challenges of faith in contemporary contexts.
Duke Divinity School in Context
Duke Divinity School’s student body consists of about 550 students from 35 states and nine foreign countries. Approximately 50 percent of the student body is United Methodist, 13 percent is Baptist, and other students come from more than 30 different denominations in the Christian faith.
Our students range in age from the 20s to the 60s. Duke Divinity School has one of the youngest student bodies in the country, with a median age of 26. Currently, the student body is 55 percent male and 45 percent female. More than 24 percent of Duke Divinity School entering students represent minority ethnic or cultural groups.
Duke University’s student body numbers close to 13,700, including approximately 6,400 undergraduates and 7,300 graduate and professional students in nine schools.
The Divinity School is located at the heart of Duke’s West Campus, which is renowned for its Gothic architecture.
Next door is Duke Chapel, featuring a 210-foot tower and 1,600-seat nave. A few steps across the quad are West Union and the 1,500-seat Page Auditorium. Also nearby is the Bryan University Center.
The 467-acre campus opened in 1930 and inspired author Aldous Huxley to call it “genuinely beautiful, the most successful essay in neo-Gothic that I know.”
Westbrook Building & Goodson Chapel
The Divinity School greatly expanded its space for worship, learning, and fellowship with the construction of the Westbrook Building and Goodson Chapel, which opened in 2005. The $22 million project added about 50,000 square feet to the Divinity School, linking seamlessly in function and design with the older Langford and Gray buildings.
- Goodson Chapel, a 315-seat worship space with 55-foot-high ceilings and an organ balcony
- Three large lecture halls as well as several classrooms and seminar rooms
- Expanded and improved offices for the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life
- The Refectory Café, with dining facilities seating 200 and including kitchens as well as additional terrace seating
The first thing you see when you enter Duke Divinity School’s new Westbrook Building is an inscription over a stone archway that reads, “Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds.”
The text comes from the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Rom 12:2), and the full force of the Apostle’s call comes clear when we read the rest of the sentence in which it appears: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” Students who come to Duke Divinity School are invited into the adventure of which Paul speaks: being challenged to have their minds made new by God so that they no longer live by the conventional wisdom of our time.
This transformation of the mind has three dimensions.
First: patient and rigorous study. Duke’s world-class theological faculty guides students in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to be discerning interpreters of the Bible, the church’s theological traditions, and the practices of God’s people past and present.
Second: participation in a community of worship, prayer, and service. Through regular worship in Goodson Chapel, through spiritual formation groups, and through field experiences in local churches, students are encouraged to ground their identity in the church and to grow into wise, imaginative leaders for the community of faith.
Third: engagement in a rapidly changing global culture. As one of the professional schools within Duke University, the Divinity School exposes students to all the challenges and resources of contemporary culture. Our international programs provide opportunities for students and faculty members to see the world through the eyes of others and to participate in transformative service to human needs.
Duke Divinity School is one of the 13 theological schools founded and supported by the United Methodist Church, which continues to be central to the school’s mission. Additionally, the school is a major ecumenical center by virtue of its Wesleyan tradition and its commitment to the catholicity of the church. We welcome students from diverse denominations and perspectives, and we ask that all members of the community be willing to test their cherished views and assumptions. In a world painfully polarized by stereotypes and divisions, we strive to create a generous community of conversation, in which we have enough in common to make thoughtful conversation possible and enough differences to make it both necessary and interesting.
In addition to the school’s degree programs, we also offer diverse non-degree programs to serve those already involved in the many and varied ministries of the Christian church. These programs address some of the following topics: preaching, youth formation, Christian institutional leadership, clergy health, racial reconciliation, care at the end of life, and theology and the arts.
As you explore a vocation to theological study or ministry, we invite you to join our community, and thereby to join a pilgrimage in which all of us are seeking together to be transformed.
Grace and peace,
Richard B. Hays
The Art of Duke Divinity School
Duke Divinity School commissioned more than a dozen works of art, all based in Scripture, to be incorporated into Goodson Chapel and the Westbrook building.