Seminaries in the United States and Canada reached a record enrollment of 55,112 in 1983, a rise of 4.7 percent over 1982, says the 1984 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

The growth rate in seminary enrollments was three times that of higher education overall, “once again indicating that general post-secondary enrollment trends do not apply to schools of theology in any direct way,” said Marvin J. Taylor, associate director of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, who prepared the report.

The 55,112 students enrolled in seminary last year were equivalent to 39,923 full-time students.

“Each year, entering seminary students appear to be a bit older than their predecessors, many coming from other careers, and fewer each year direct from college,” Taylor said. “There are fewer full-time enrollees. They are coming to seminaries at an older age, wanting to study part-time while pursuing careers and other interests. Seminaries are learning how to cope with the new type of student.”

In 1983, record highs were also reached in the seminary enrollment of women and minority students. Women now comprise 24.4 percent of the enrollment, compared with 10.2 percent in 1972. However, the growth rate has been slowing in the last few years, Taylor said.

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