Applications to Divinity School up 13 percent

With the economy sliding further into a recession, applications to Yale Divinity School have increased as people seek spiritual solace from the financial maelstrom, Divinity School administrators said.

Yale Divinity School reported a 13 percent increase in total applications, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Anna Ramirez DIV ’93 said Monday. The school had received 550 applications by its Feb. 1 deadline, up from 485 last year. The figure is the highest for the school over the past six years — the only years for which admissions data was made available to the News.

Although the number of applications at the Divinity School has risen over the past two years, administrators at the Divinity School said the bearish economic climate and the accompanying social stresses contributed to this year’s increase in applications. Similar application increases occurred nationwide after the dot-com crash and Sept. 11, when enrollment at seminaries nationwide surged 8 percent, according to the Association of Theological Schools.

“There are people who are seeking second careers, people who have lost their jobs, and people who were contemplating graduate degrees and then decide to pursue something meaningful like the Divinity School,” said Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge in an interview Tuesday.

Still, class size at the Divinity School will remain steady despite the rise in applications. Attridge said the school expects to admit an incoming class of 135 to 140 students next fall. The school’s current enrollment is close to 400, with the majority of students graduating in three years.

Amid the financial turmoil, the Divinity School’s financial aid policy is particularly attractive to these students.

Over the past several years, the percentage of scholarship aid given by the school has increased substantially. Attridge said the Divinity School currently subsidizes about 82 percent of aggregate student tuition, up from 65 percent in 2007.

Most of the aid comes from the school’s endowment, which was valued at approximately $325 million at the end of 2008, though the University has reported a decrease in that figure by approximately 25 to 30 percent.

But the endowment’s woes should not hurt financial aid at the school. In a December 2008 letter to the Divinity School community, Attridge said he expected the gross amount of scholarship aid to continue to grow in 2009, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years.

Only about half of Divinity School graduates seek ordination to become ministers; many go on to teach, work at nonprofit organizations or practice law.

One of those students who will pursue plans other than the ministry is Peter Cookson DIV ’10, a long-time educator and administrator. Cookson, 66, plans to return to education after graduation, but on a global level.

Although Cookson applied to the Divinity School before the recession hit, he said, he senses that society is in transition to a new era.

“It’s kind of a bellwether about society,” Cookson said. “People are beginning to think about bigger issues.”

Yale Divinity School will notify applicants of the school’s decision in mid-March.


  • Mom

    Most likely Mr. Cookson said "bellwether," not "dull weather." This is what $46K/year gets us?

  • Hieronymus

    Well, as the laughingstock of Yale--and divinity schools generally--of COURSE apps are up. The chance to score a solid brand name at community-college competiteness is sure to draw a bunch of out-of-work pagans.

    Indeed, that DIV continues to call itself a "divinity" school is rather an embarrassment; that it is still a wholly owned subsidiary of the Yale family of corporate entities even more so.

  • Yale09

    Typical of the general poor quality students and professionals at the Div School.

    Economy worsening?

    Just take a 2 year vacation at the Yale Div School.

    Then go into "ministry" with some generic pseudo-Christian community, supporting your own lifestyle off the generosity and trust of others.

    The Yale Divinity School is a relic and a drain on the whole of Yale University. It should be turned into another piece of Science Hill.

    Any undergrad who has had the unpleasant experience of attending class with any Div School students realizes how insanely unprepared, unqualified and unscholarly they are.

    But it's okay the world needs ditch diggers and Unitarian Universalist ministers too.

  • @#2

    Thanks for demonstrating that there's a way to be ignorant even in one's ignorance.

  • Apologetic

    On what basis does Hieronymous make these sorts of claims about the quality of Yale Divinity School? Seriously, look at the faculty, and Yale Divinity School is either the top theological school in the USA or maybe battling it out for the top spot with Chicago and Duke.

    All university-based divinity schools out there have higher acceptance rates than do the law schools and medical schools, for the simple matter that there are far fewer people trying to get into ministry and religious studies than there are those who want to become doctors and lawyers. It's not that there is some mystery to this. If Yale Law school had 150 slots and only 400 applicants for those slots, its acceptance rate would be a lot higher too. It's not like the other great university-based divinity schools out there (Harvard, Chicago, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt) are in any differet situation on this.

    If Hieronymous thinks that divinity schools should not be part of the modern university system, that is fine. But to claim that Yale's Divinity School is somehow an inferior program or reflects poorly on Yale overall is simply wrongminded and bigotted.

    Historically, seminaries and divinity schools always do best number-wise when society is in crisis. When the Vietnam War was happening, Union Theological Seminary in New York City (at that time the most prestigious seminary in the world) had its enrollment at about 4-5 times what it does now. Did that make Union Theological Seminary any less of an outstanding school, or might it be possible that quality and acceptance rate do not have an absolute direct correlation to one another?

    If we want to talk about laughable statistics, why don't we talk about Yale Law School's miserable rates of students passing the bar exam on the first try? It may be formally ranked as the #1 law school in the country, but if its graduates can't even get out of the gates to practice law, that's just sad.

  • Anonymous

    this is one of the funniest comments of all time:

    “It’s kind of a dull weather about society,” Cookson said. “People are beginning to think about bigger issues.”

    unless he said bellwether…

  • @Yale 09

    Seriously? I've had many a pleasant experience with Divinity school students. Their knowledge surrounding biblical issues tends to be impressive.

    The work they do tends to be head and shoulders above what most undergraduate accomplish at Yale in scholarly fields, which is little to none.

    I'm guessing the senior above me has just had a bad experience.

  • Hieronymus

    Dear Yale DIV student (#5): Too funny: is there NO criticism that can be leveled without the dreaded "wrongminded and bigotted" charge?

    Bigoted? Against… pagans, maybe? UCC wannabes? Seriously, now…

    Yale, the school started because Harvard had gotten a little loosey-goosey in the religion department, has gotten about as far from Christianity as it can (btw: UU is lumped with "other non-Christian religions," and UCC will get there soon enough).

    I think #3 hit the nail on the cross, er, head: a two-year vacay and then live off some feel-good congo who then has to call you "Doctor." Oi veh!

    Nope--I am sticking with my rating: Laughingstock

    (Full disclosure: I think Yale OTHER schools: MED, LAW, EPH, ART, ARCH are all top notch--with special kudos to SOM, NUR, EPH, and FOR. Oh, and Drama. Indeed, I am outright chauvinistic when it comes to Yale. That is why DIV is such an embarrassment. At least GRD's shortcomings--at least the humanities--are more systemic than idiosyncratic. I *do* look forward to Yale's future in Engineering!)

  • Ha!

    #7 seems to be evincing that typical envy some grad students have for the "over-privileged spoiled brats" of Yale college. I have experienced this in many a section.

  • Yale 09

    You are confusing the incredible New Testament program that is part of the Yale Graduate Studies Department.

    The Divinity school does zero legitimate scholarship. It is a playground for delusional people.

  • Alum

    #2 and 3: truly pathetic. Yale has every reason to be proud of its divinity school, the part of Yale University that carries on Yale's first mission. And if you don't get that religion is at the core of so many of the world's issues and that institutions such as YDS have vital roles to play in bridging that which separates the world's religions and preparing the next generation of leaders - ordained and otherwise - then you are pretty obtuse. The resources of the University contribute to the education of the YDS students and YDS and its programs contribute to the rest of the University and beyond.
    #2: enlighten us about your contributions to the world. And #3: what do we have to look forward to from you?

  • @Ha!

    Umm, no. I'm an undergrad. I work a lot with graduate students and with divinity school students. They really are top notch.

    I'm not even too sure what to say at Hieronymus. Though I know many people at the Div school aren't planning being UCC ministers and the like.

    You should talk to them and actually get to know. But I'm sure your heroic knowledge of their future life plans, how their education matters to them, and their general scholarly attitude: that can be divined by your very existence.

    Impressive. *sighs*

  • YCC (Yale Community College) Student

    it is nice to see that we are not without our generalizations while we cast aspersions at (presumably all) divinity students. to castigate an entire school-student body and faculty-based on interactions with a few students shows a level of ignorance (possibly arrogance, callowness or unreasonableness?) that is frankly surprising. it is surprising in that the negative comments have shown a systemic unawareness of what the divinity school does and its contributions to the university. but hell, i guess that is easier to wax ignorant than to educate one's self.

  • 99 Alum

    Can I also point out that the objective of Yale isn't to have as low an admit rate as absolutely possible? For around 5/6 of their existence, Yale College, Yale Law, etc., were about as hard to get into as Yale Divinity is now. They were still top of the line then - just as the Div School is today.

  • GRD Alumnus

    I remember when rumour was that Yale Div was to be shut down. Too bad it didin't happen (was this under Benno?).

    #11 is very correct--religion is at the root of many of the world's current problems. That said, Yale Div is definietly *not* going to be at the forefront of solutions--unless capitulation is deemed "success."

    While I will not be so harsh as have been others regarding divinity students, I have to agree that, in my experience, Yale Div was the least "rigorous" school, seemingly targeted much more at "social" concerns (lots of gaiaians, social ethicists, political lesbians--not that there is anything wrong with that) than academics. They were all very "nice," though.

  • Apologetic

    In response to #10:
    Aside from Dale Martin, everyone else in that superawesome New Testament program in the Graduate School are from the Divinity School faculty! Are Attridge and Collins and the others just not on your radar, because given that both of them have been presidents of the Society of Biblical Literature, they are on everyone else's radar as quality scholars.

    Just to respond to my dear, sweet, slightly sweaty friend Heironymous again:

    Seriously, you have no idea what you are talking about with the "pagans" and "UCC wannabe" comments. The top two constituencies of the divinity school are Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, with those two denominations alone representing over 45% of the divinity school student body! UCCs are the fourth highest group and that makes perfect sense when you realize that we here in Connecticut are living in the Land on Congregationalists (which are now part of the denomination called United Church of Christ). Unitarian Universalists are WAY down the constituency. You're just spewing with no facts to back yourself up.

    I'm glad you think that the all of the other Yale grad and prof schools are top notch. Why isn't the div school part of that list? Honestly, the faculty at Yale Divinity School is arguably unmatched by any other divinity school or seminary in the United States, with the possible competition of Chicago and Duke. How can the div school not be counted as a top-flight program?

    As to the 2 year vacation and they call you "doctor"… on what planet does that happen? What denomination refers to their ministers or priests as Dr upon graduating from the MDiv (3 year) program much less the MAR (2 year) program? In order to get called doctor, you either go on after 3 years of divinity school to get your PhD, ThD, DPhil, Dr. theol., or D.Min. (and yes, I'm TOTALLY willing to grant that the D.Min. is a weak degree on the whole quality of doctoral programs scale… my wife did a PhD and is horrified that there are DMins out there that have the same title she does).

    As to trying to put me down by implying I go to Yale Div, that would have been nice, but I did my theological studies at Cambridge. I'm a Yale Law guy now. I busted on my own school's lack of success at passing the bar exams as a way of saying that you should put your own house in order before trying to burn down someone else's.

    Seriously, what did the folks at the divinity school ever do to you to get you so mad and uppity toward them? Yikes. Who knew that holy water could get someone so aggitated.

    Again, if you don't believe that divinity schools should be part of a contemporary university system, that's fine. State that as your opinion, back that up, and I can certainly respect that as an opinion. But to just go off about Yale Divinity School without a shred of… well, *anything* to back yourself up with is just kind of mean-spirited. And you might be a troll just for the fun of it, and if so, then troll on buddy. Troll on with your bad self.


  • Hieronymus

    Episcopalians are, these days, one step above UCC which, as noted previously, is half a step above UU.

    BTW: Do not confuse, as you have consistently, my disdain for DIV students with any thoughts re: DIV faculty; I do not think I have impugned any professors. It is the DIV admin (i.e., the admissions committee) that is clearly the weak link.

    Since you are concerned with statistics, I wonder the proportion of DMin--a.k.a., "mail-order PhD" (and you KNOW what I am sure you know what I mean)--versus serious academics.

    You wonder at my concern over Yale's weak links (DIV, Sociology, Comp Lit, and any of those derivative "majors" such as ERM, Women's Studies, and related bunk)?

    As for trolling--probably partly true. But your involved response makes it worth it.

    As for "dear, sweet, [&] slightly sweaty": spot on! Have you been peeking (or peaking) again?

  • Yale 09

    The Yale Divinity school.

    An embarassment.

    A joke.

  • Person

    In what way is it an embarrassment? I mean really. Because it focuses on study of God, religion, and philosophy? Please…

    These comments are unfounded. YDS faculty is outstanding and most of the students go on to do outstanding things. You misunderstand the religious makeup of the school and its aims. There is far more up the hill than characterized in these comments, and it simply shows some commenters' ignorance and disdain. If you don't like the Div School, fine, but it just seems to be opinion - let's not pretend that the Div School is actually the embarrassment of divinity schools everywhere or of the university just because you don't like it. That's silly.

    By the way, Harvard Div School's acceptance rate was around 50% last year, according to one of their staff members.

    The bias and ignorance here is almost sickening.

  • Yale 09

    The Yale Divinity School is an embarrassment because it studies everything BUT God, religion and philosopy.

  • Outsider

    I cannot comment on the quality of the students, but in the field of Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, the faculty at Yale are outstanding: Collins, Collins, Attridge, Sharp etc.

  • @#19

    Despite what #21 says, and despite good faculty, #20 really gets it: Yale Divinity students study "everything BUT God"

  • Up there


    Can you explain more? This is clearly a matter of opinion and is not based in fact.

    In front of me I have two philosophy of religion books to complete and hundreds of pages of readings on ethics of religion and society, pastoral care, and religious history. Perhaps it's that you don't consider those things to be about God, religion, or philosophy, but many, dare I say most, others do. I'd like to hear what you think we should be studying, or what you think the faculty should be teaching or researching, and how you came to form your impression of YDS.

    Furthermore, in whose eyes would our course of study be an embarrassment? Itself? The University? Which parts? The outside world? The American Academy of Religion? The Society of Biblical Literature? Harvard? U of C? Princeton?


  • Fools Rush In

    The web provides innumerable examples of YDS foolishness:

    "Recent years have seen the Divinity School develop a specialty in various aspects of narrative theology, or postliberalism. Many if not most leaders of this movement are YDS graduates."

    "Matt Riley, a second-year student at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., helps lead "The Left Behind," a club of atheists and agnostics at one of the nation's premier training grounds for clergy."

    "The Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Bisexual and Transgendered Coalition is a fellowship of Yale Divinity School students, faculty and staff of all sexual orientations dedicated to the full and equal participation of homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people in church and society."

    "More than half of the students currently enrolled in [Yale] divinity school are earning master of divinity degrees and many go on to seek ordination. That is in contrast to divinity schools at Harvard University and the University of Chicago, which have taken a strongly academic direction."

    "Nearly 30 percent of Yale Divinity School students are Episcopalians, drawn to the Episcopal Church-related Berkeley Divinity School, which is an integral part of YDS. Members of the United Church of Christ, heirs to the founding Congregationalists, vie with Roman Catholics from year to year for second place. Many of the Roman Catholics are women, who seek positions in parish ministries, Christian education and related fields."

    "The dean of the Berkeley Divinity School, an Episcopal seminary affiliated with the Yale Divinity School, announced yesterday that he was resigning, following a widening rift between Berkeley and Yale that began over the propriety of the dean's use of the school's money."

    "Rev. Otis Moss III [MDiv 95] takes to the pulpit before a congregation that includes Barack Obama, he's as likely to preach about Tupac Shakur or one of his favorite authors as he is the Apostle Paul.

    The 37-year-old "hip-hop pastor," as he's called by congregants, will become the head of Trinity United Church of Christ in June, taking over at a time of turmoil for the 8,000-member church, the nation's largest United Church of Christ congregation."

    "A lot of contemporary Christian music has such locked-down, straightforward meaning that you can't play with it," says Lutheran Rev. Christian Scharen, director of the Faith as a Way of Life Project at Yale Divinity School and author of a new book, One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God.

    "U2 is good at the art, using language like a poet would, like the classic hymn language. Listen to their lesser-known song Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car, which is about grace. We mess up, but God is merciful. That's playful."

  • Up there

    Fools, you haven't explained anything. You've simply taken quotations from online sources that point to activities that some of the huge variety of Christians and non-Christians would really appreciate. You have no explanation of foolishness there. I hope you have more information to help us understand what your particular issue is with YDS. I'd love to hear more.


  • Yale 08

    Hieronymus should change his moniker to histrionics. For those on this board first posting, you need to understand something about Hier: he is an overinflated, pompous windbag that engages in sophistry and unqualified analysis of whatever article piques his hyperego for the day. His favorite sport appears to be fanning the flame of incendiary remarks much to to the dismay of other posters who are usually way more qualified to comment on the respective issue at hand.

    My favorite feature of his theatrics involve his cute but irritating fusion of high prose and logic argumentation, designed overall to make him look smart. He is harmless and I suspect either an insecure freshmen with too much time on his hands (you should see his himalayan, waste-of-space, niggling comments on other boards) or someone who was rejected from Yale outright.
    Regarding his crass assessment of YDS and the state of religion in the world, it has no basis in fact or historical context and should be as disregarded as all of his many other senseless diatribes.

  • So what…

    They have a nice campus. They have a banner that says torture is wrong. They're generally good people. If you have an issue with them tainting all the "smarter" students, well, they're as distant as you can get on Central Campus. As long as they're not causing undue drain on the resources of the rest of Yale, then just live and let live.

  • New YDS Student

    It seems to me that getting rid of the divinity school would sever Yale's ties to a central aspect of its history (such an an important element in fact that it may not be identified with the historic ivy league yale that was founded to train ministers)

    While I can understand why one may want to entirely revamp the structure of the divinity school, getting rid of divinity itself given yale's history with the field seems extreme. If yale can provide professional degrees for aspiring lawyers, doctors, business people, etc. why not also ministers, given this was yale's original purpose?

  • S. Kalitan

    Congratulations and the very best to yoiu Fellas in the NCAA Tourney.

  • Anonymous

    It's the catamounts.
    Yale plays UVM 630 friday.
    Michigan and Air Force is the other East Regional matchup.

  • Seriously, people

    Wow. Gotta love some of the negativity here!

    If only you take one example at YDS — the Faith and globalization initiative (there are many more) — you have a prime example of how the divinity school is breaking new ground in very important, precient ways that other div schools do not even have on their radar.

    For those of you who have not noticed, religion is rooted and intimately woven into the history of mankind back to its earliest recorded moments. To fail to recognize the implications of this simply betrays *your* ignorance. Even the need to explain its significance implies that the audience doesn't even belong at Yale period.

    As for "heirnonymous," his comments simply betray an unstudied, knee-jerk, sophomoric manner of forming opinion. He's obviously bitter. Hmm. I wonder why?