The BJU Seminary was unofficially founded in the fall of 1932 when Bob Jones College added a master of arts in religion. It was offered to students who studied for a year after completing their bachelor’s degree and submitted a satisfactory thesis. However, the program was discontinued in the fall of 1936 because BJC did not have faculty qualified for the necessary classes.
In 1942 the master’s in religion was reintroduced as part of the new Graduate School of Religion. Dr. Charles Brokenshire, after coming to BJC in 1943 and becoming dean of the graduate school, added a Ph.D. in religion in 1943, more master’s programs, and a bachelor of divinity — the school’s first true seminary degree — in 1949.
The Current BJU Seminary
The BJU Seminary developed over the years alongside BJU’s undergraduate schools in the Alumni Building, but it eventually needed its own building. Bob Jones III said in an issue of the BJU Review, “Dad and I had often talked about our desire to see the seminary have its own identifiable presence on campus. When the time of Dad’s departure to Heaven was near at hand, graduates began expressing their desire to have a suitable memorial for him. There was no question in my mind that it had to be a seminary building. I was able to tell him of it a few days before he died.”
Bob Jones Jr.’s zeal for Christ, evangelistic fervor and love for missions made him a natural choice as the building’s dedicatee.
In January 1999 ground was broken behind the Alumni Building near Mack Library for the Bob Jones Jr. Memorial Seminary and Evangelism Center. The 17,967-square-foot building was completed and dedicated in March 2000.
The building was designed with a rotunda, separated from the main building and designed to be a gallery of memorabilia. Its dual purpose is to “commit now to faithful men the things which thou has learned” (2 Tim. 2:2) and to emphasize world evangelization through multimedia presentations and historical artifacts. Computer science graduate Steven Lee (’95) created the presentations on Bob Jones Jr. and other ministerial leaders. A total of 42 oak cases are recessed into the walls, displaying letters, sermons and other memorabilia. The 20-foot by 7-foot History of Evangelism mural by former BJU art faculty on the second floor further illustrates the history of Christianity in America.
Other unique features of the rotunda include 11 stained glass windows and a skylight measuring 225 square feet and rising over 37 feet off the main floor.
Several rooms have also been dedicated to men who have made BJU their ministry, including:
- Charles D. Brokenshire, dean of the Graduate School of Religion and dean of the School of Religion (1949–1950), dean emeritus (1950–1954)
- Marshall Neal, dean of the School of Religion (1964–1978)
- Stewart Custer, chairman of the Division of Bible (1974–2000)
- Thurman Wisdom, dean of the School of Religion (1978–2000)
- Robert D. Bell, chairman of the Seminary and School of Religion, Division of Graduate Studies (1979–2000)
BJU’s heritage of equipping men to preach and defend the Gospel continues today. “I always like to say that the BJU Seminary filled my bag with all the necessary tools I needed to serve God and others,” said BJU President Steve Pettit. “The Gospel-oriented training I received from BJU Seminary became the invaluable foundation to my ministry as a youth pastor, evangelist and even now as the president of Bob Jones University. My understanding of the truth was expanded and I learned how to more effectively communicate God’s truth in ministry.”
BJU Seminary offers programs via five delivery methods: residence, livestream, online, module and evening flex.
BJU Seminary offers three graduate certificate programs: biblical counseling, chaplaincy and teaching Bible. Each certificate program requires 15 credits of master’s level course work, allowing students to train for ministry in less time than a full master’s degree. In order to enroll, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 GPA.
Master’s Degree Programs
Apologetics, biblical counseling, biblical language & literature, biblical studies, intercultural studies and ministry studies — these are the six master’s degree programs offered through BJU Seminary. Each program equips the student for the specific ministry to which God has called him, giving him the tools he needs to serve effectively.
Master of Divinity Program
BJU Seminary’s master of divinity program has eight concentrations. This program is designed to cultivate a mastery of biblical content, theology, hermeneutics, church history, biblical languages and ministry skills. In addition, students will hone their skills in interpretation, leadership, counseling and effective communication of God’s truth.
Doctor of Ministry Program
The doctor of ministry is BJU Seminary’s most advanced professional ministry degree for those already engaged in full-time ministry. This program provides advanced instruction in three concentrations: biblical counseling, expository preaching and pastoral ministry. It is designed to deepen and sharpen the pastor’s ability to proclaim the Scriptures and to strengthen his competency in serving the church.
Doctor of Philosophy Program
The doctor of philosophy in theological studies program provides the most extensive preparation for teaching at the seminary level, for theological research and writing, and for preaching or teaching ministry in the local church. BJU Seminary has been awarding PhD degrees to qualifying candidates for over 50 years, and the cost of the program is highly competitive. Applicants for the PhD must demonstrate outstanding academic performance, competence in research and writing, and a high level of personal leadership and Christian character.
The seminary also offers resources to students, faculty, staff and the Greenville community. These resources include publications and conferences.
In addition to several faculty being published authors, BJU Seminary also publishes the following:
- Viewpoints — blog
- Theologically Speaking — podcast
- Journal of Biblical Theology & Worldview — journal
- Theology in 3D — faculty blog
BJU Seminary sponsors both the Stewart Custer Lecture Series and the CoRE Conference every year, focusing on struggles churches face every day. In 2020, the Seminary Wives Institute was introduced to provide relevant ministry training and mentoring for the wives of the men in BJU Seminary. Each meeting, conference and lecture encourages attendees to meet the needs around them with the hope found in God’s Word.
“I went to BJU Seminary because I wanted to be trained under godly professors who were actively serving the Lord. They were brilliant in their area of study, but they were also zealous in their pursuit of reaching people with the Gospel,” said current Dean of BJU Seminary Neal Cushman. “I saw in each of my teachers a love for the church, for missions, for biblical counseling and for preaching the Word. I even got the opportunity to go to a mission field with one of my professors during several summers — and that’s the field where my wife and I went after graduation.
“I am thankful to say that their legacy lives on in the current faculty of BJU Seminary. Monday conversations always seem to revolve around what God did on Sunday in the churches that they lead. Frequently I see a professor sitting with a student, coffee cup in hand, sharing blessings and prayer requests.
“I count it a privilege to serve alongside these wonderful servants of the Lord.”
Bob Jones Jr.
Childhood and Education
Robert Reynolds Jones Jr. was born on Oct. 19, 1911, in Montgomery, Alabama. Many people influenced him during his childhood. Before he was old enough to go to school, a hired woman cared for him when Jones accompanied his parents on his father’s evangelistic campaigns. Jones wrote, “I am sure she must have had a tremendous influence on my life, though her association with us ended about the time I was old enough to go to school.” His grandmother Estelle Siddons Stollenwerck began teaching him about literature when he was 5 and then French when he was 6. Jones was also influenced by his father and was saved after hearing his father preach in Illinois when he was 5.
Jones began his formal education by attending a private school near his home in Alabama. He and his teacher, however, did not get along well. As Jones wrote, “Miss Gussie and I managed to tolerate each other. Frankly, she scared me to death, and I am sure I took a year or two from her life.” To explain his situation, he added, “I remember as a first grader I got to blow soap bubbles because I called another first grader a fool. I went home and told my parents Miss Gussie punished me for telling the truth, and I still think so to this day.” When Jones traveled with his parents, tutors supervised his education.
After about five years with Miss Gussie, Jones briefly attended a public school before being sent to Starke’s University School, a military academy in Montgomery, in 1923. Although Jones did not like taking orders from higher-ranking peers, Professor Starke became one of the men Jones most admired for Christian character.
When Bob Jones College and Academy was founded in 1927, Jones transferred to the Academy for his senior year at age 16. After graduating, he attended Bob Jones College and graduated in 1931 with a speech major and history minor. In 1933 he earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh over the course of two summers.
Involvement and Influence at BJU
Jones joined the faculty at BJC immediately after he received his undergraduate degree. In 1932 he was appointed vice president of the college and acting president while his father traveled.
In 1947 he became president of BJU. As president, he helped the college transition to become a university and designed the Greenville campus and many of its buildings. He also instituted many programs that still influence BJU today, including
- The Classic Players in 1930
- Artist Series (now Concert, Opera & Drama Series) in 1933
- BJU’s travel agency Unusual Tours in the late ’30s
- The Opera Association in 1942
- Unusual Films in 1950
- The Museum & Gallery in 1951
Jones became the University’s chancellor in 1971 and continued to serve BJU by preaching and representing BJU around the world until his death on Nov. 12, 1997.
“The broader a man’s interest in any legitimate and wholesome field of study, the more enjoyment he will find in life,” he wrote in his book Cornbread and Caviar. Jones not only lived this philosophy in his own life but also engraved it into the BJU culture of excellence.