Middle English, seedbed, nursery, from Latin seminarium, from semin-, semen seed
- 1: an environment in which something originates and from which it is propagated
- 2a : an institution of secondary or higher education
- b : an institution for the training of candidates for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West the term now refers to Roman Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.
The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent. The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology.