Union Theological Seminary Academics


Fields of Study


Biblical Field | Historical Field | Theological Field | Practical Theology Field | Interreligious Engagement Field

Biblical Field

The Biblical Field trains students in the contents of and critical approaches to the Bible.  The Old and New Testaments become objects of study using the tools of the historical-critical method, empire-critical theory, and other approaches that shed new light on these ancient texts.  Jewish and Christian sources are put into conversation with other sacred and historical documents from the Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, India, China, and elsewhere, and asks what the world looked like that produced what came to be known as Scripture.

Sample Classes:

  • Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • The Revelation to John: Earth, Economy, and Empire
  • Jewish Biblical Interpretation


Historical Field

The Historical Field treats church history throughout its major eras, from early church to the present day. This investigation involves not only facts, dates, names, and places, but also their evaluation and application to the church’s present struggle. At Union, church history is viewed through the experience of those at the historical margins, drawing on the insights of Liberation Theology, feminist theory, queer theory, postcolonial and postmodern criticism, and subaltern studies.

Sample Courses:

  • The History of Christianity Part 1, 2, and 3
  • The U.S. Latino Church: Borderlands and History
  • Gender, Sexuality and the Soul in Early Modern Europe
  • Social Justice – Philosophical Foundations, Religious History, Current Struggle


Theological Field

The Theological Field encompasses systematic theology, social ethics, and ecumenical studies.  Students investigate the traditional doctrines of the church, including Creation, The Fall, and Redemption, subjecting those traditions to the challenges of ethical engagement and responsibility to the oppressed. As the home of Christian Realism, Liberation Theology, and Womanism, Union has long pushed theological discussions in new and exciting directions.

Sample Courses:

  • In My Mother’s House: A Literary Womanist Theology
  • Economics and Theology
  • Hindu-Christian Dialogue
  • LGBTQ Sexual Ethics


Practical Theology Field

The Practical Field gives students the necessary resources for their preaching, teaching, and counseling ministries. In Homiletics, students learn about diverse forms of preaching from various traditions as well as different ways of holding worship. James Memorial Chapel serves as a laboratory for student-led services.  In Religion and Education, students learn how to complement their theological perspectives by thinking educationally . In Psychology and Religion, students apply the insights of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to religious insights, working toward analysis of the subconscious.

Sample Courses:

  • Introduction to Preaching and Worship
  • Preaching for Social Transformation
  • Theories of Depth Psychology
  • Preaching in Multi-cultural Congregations
  • Teaching Theology and Religion
  • Methods in the Study of Urban Life and Religion


Interreligious Engagement Field

The Interreligious Engagement field of study aims to prepare religious and sociocultural leaders for a multireligious world.  The field recognizes that theology, leadership, education and activism require a comparative lens. A distinctive feature of this field is equipping students to draw connections between interreligious dialogue, spirituality and social justice.

Drawing upon the diverse expertise of a large number of Union’s faculty, the interreligious engagement field of study offers courses that focus on specific religious traditions and practices, comparative and dialogical topics, theology of religions and comparative theology. Coursework is complemented and enhanced through student placements at interreligious field education sites (such as the Interfaith Center), Clinical Pastoral Education programs at Jewish Theological Seminary and through ongoing interreligious and interfaith programs and events (such as, the Interfaith Women’s Residency Program, the 2013 International Buddhist Christian Conference, Muslim Women’s Roundtable, and the Interfaith Caucus).

Every candidate for the M.Div. or the M.A. degree must complete a three-point course in interreligious engagement.

Sample Courses:

  • Theologies of Religion
  • Islam: Origins, Religious Thought, and Practice
  • Judaism and Christianity: Comparativist and Phenomenological Perspectives
  • Love Meets Wisdom: Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
  • Interrogating Religion
  • Comparative Feminist Theology
  • Islam and Religious Diversity
  • Hindu-Christian Dialogue
  • Zen Meditation and Dialogue with Zen Masters
  • Sufism


Field Sites: 

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