Mission and Tradition

A Community after God’s Heart:
Shaped by Faith in One God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
We seek to follow Jesus,
Walk in the Spirit,
Join God’s Mission.

We are a Christian seminary dedicated for forming God’s people for Servant leadership in ministry and mission:

  • Gathering in gratitude and faithfulness, to be reformed according to the Word of God.
  • Growing in the Church’s biblical faith in the Triune God.
  • Excelling in theological education and scholarship.
  • Living as faithful stewards of God’s Gifts.
  • Engaging the changing needs of the Church and World.

As a community, the University practices its Christian faith by educating students and pursuing excellence in scholarship. Therefore, the University of Dubuque is committed to:

  • the Presbyterian tradition,
  • excellence in academic inquiry and professional preparation,
  • relationships which encourage intellectual, spiritual, and moral development,
  • community where diversity is appreciated and Christian love is practiced,
  • stewardship of all God's human and natural resources,
  • zeal for life-long learning and service.


The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary was founded in 1852 to reach out to German settlers pouring into the Midwest. The seminary provided theological education to those called to serve the region as evangelists and pastors. The school – initially known as Van Vliet Seminary after founder Adrian Van Vliet – was renamed the German Theological School of the Northwest in 1864.

In 1870, the seminary was accepted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church as a theological institution of the church. Because few of the students had college educations, undergraduate studies were eventually added. On June 17, 1920, a new charter was issued, renaming the school the University of Dubuque. 

In the mid-twentieth century the three seminaries in Dubuque – UDTS, Wartburg Theological Seminary (then of the American Lutheran Church), and Aquinas Institute of Theology (Roman Catholic) – began to explore various avenues of ecumenical cooperation.  This bore fruit in 1965 when these schools formed an unprecedented threefold-seminary consortium. UDTS moved its operations to the Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, sharing classroom, library, and living arrangements with Dominican seminarians and faculty. This lasted until 1981, when the Dominicans moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and UDTS returned to the University of Dubuque campus. Today, the Schools of Theology in Dubuque consortium allows cross-registration to both Wartburg and Dubuque Seminary student bodies.

Since 1998, the seminary has been educating ruling elders through distance education to provide leadership for smaller congregations. We also provide continuing education for teaching elders in distance format.

Beginning in 2007, Dubuque Seminary became one of a handful of mainline theological institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools to offer up to two-thirds of the Master of Divinity courses via distance education. In 2013 we started offering the Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship Christianity in both distance and residential formats. 

Throughout its history, the faculty and staff of UDTS have been committed to our mission: to follow Jesus, walk in the Spirit, and join God’s mission.