The Census

InfoGraphic by Ms Jones NYC

Over the past three decades, overall enrollment at ATS-accredited schools has declined, but in an analysis by Chris Meinzer, chief operating officer of the Association of Theological Schools, three distinct periods have emerged. From 1990-2004, most schools’ enrollments were stable to growing; from 2005-14, enrollments fell, and have been relatively stable since 2015, though most schools are not growing.

The analysis, published in the ATS’s Colloquy Online, showed that from 1990 to 2005 the majority of schools grew or were stable in all but two years. Since then, those data have reversed. The only year since 2007 that showed growth is 2020-21, the year of the pandemic.

This year, all of the major degree areas are down except for Master of Arts degrees, including Doctor of Ministry enrollment, which, if the numbers hold, would show the first decline in six years. Given the importance of D.Min. programs, that could be significant for theological schools to consider.

Another notable figure in 2023-24: The initial numbers show that enrollment in M.A. programs outnumbers Master of Divinity degree enrollment by as many as 1,000 students across all ATS-accredited programs.


More information can be found here.


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