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Study Theology at University of Stellenbosch

This institution was originally established in 1859 as a Theological Seminary to train ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC). This makes it the oldest institution of its kind in the country. It is still accommodated in the same building, albeit with extensions. The DRC became established in South Africa in the middle of the 17th century. In 1961 the Seminary amalgamated with the DRC Missionary Training Institute (established in 1877 at Wellington, South Africa) and in 1963 it became a Faculty of the University of Stellenbosch, which confers all degrees obtained at the Faculty. The University was formally established in 1918.
Historically speaking, the University of Stellenbosch used to be what was known as a 'white' University, but this has changed over the past two decades. Currently about 20% of the 18 000 strong student body are persons of color. Of the 340 students enrolled in this Faculty (under as well as post graduate), over 40% are persons of color. In January 2000 about 50 students and three lecturers from the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA - a mainly 'Colored' and black church) transferred to the Faculty for their studies. This has dramatically changed the profile of the Faculty. The DRC and the URCSA have been involved in church union talks for some time.
Close ties have always existed with the DRC, but the Faculty has all along been accessible for students from other denominations to train here as well. With the entrance of the URCSA, a joint Church Advisory Board had already been established. This Board comprises of representatives of all denominations that enter into an agreement with the University of Stellenbosch to have their candidates for the ministry trained here. An official agreement had been signed in 2002 with the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa who became a member of the Advisory Board. In addition, at postgraduate level in particular, a considerable percentage of students come from not only other denominations, but also from other countries, mainly in the African continent (but not exclusively).

2.1 The Faculty is entirely `national' or `indigenous,' i.e.comprising of South African staff. The majority are from a Reformed background, but a process has already begun whereby persons from other participating denominations are also being appointed as Faculty members. All permanent members of this Faculty hold doctorate degrees in Theology (full CV's can be provided, if required). Currently, there are twelve full-time Faculty members (6 Professors, 1 Assistant Professor, 4 Senior Lecturers and 1 Lecturer), plus one term appointment as Lecturer (initially for three years). A considerable number of academics, including emeritus professors and overseas guest lecturers, assist as visiting professors and in part-time teaching. These figures include three members representing URCSA and one member of the Moravian Church of South Africa.

3.1 The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa as well as the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa maintain a Theological Training Board (Curatorium) which supervises the training of its ministerial candidates and provides spiritual care and nurture to them. These Boards liaise with the University on matters of mutual concern in terms of a written agreement.
3.2 The Faculty has, during the past years, taken definitive steps towards greater interdenominationality. Other denominations are currently becoming involved through the establishment of a more widely representative Church Liaison Council of the US (CLCUS). This development has been brought about in order to give expression to the aim of the Faculty to render service to the wider ecclesiastical community. This will also facilitate greater compliance with government policy regarding theological faculties at Universities, which are required to display a greater interdenominational character as well as diversity.
3.3 The Faculty has close ties with sister Faculties in the Universities of Pretoria and of the Free State. Links also exist with various other Faculties and Theological Training Institutions in the country. The Faculty is a member of the South African Council for Theological Education (SACTE)
3.4 The Faculty was instrumental in establishing an agreement between the University of Stellenbosch and the Cape Town-based Cornerstone Christian College (formerly known as CEBI - the Cape Evangelical Bible Institute). As from 1999 students studying there register at the University of Stellenbosch and obtain a three year BTS (Bachelor in Theoloical Studies) degree from the University while being tutored at Cornerstone. This program is offered entirely in English.
3.5 Towards the end of 1997 a lecturer, from the Moravian Church (Rev KT August) was appointed onto the Faculty. This post was made possible through a grant from CCLT - the Church Community Leadership Trust which is funded, inter alia, by the Ford Foundation. He is currently a fulltime staff member (Senior Lecturer).

3.6 Extended contacts and formal cooperative agreements (including exchange programs) have been concluded with the following Institutions:

* Murray Theological College, Masvingo, Zimbabwe (Reformed Church in Zimbabwe)
* Justo Mwale Theological College, Lusaka, Zambia (Reformed Church in Zambia)
* Zomba Theological College, Malawi (Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian - CCAP)
* Nkhoma Institute for Further Theological Training, Malawi (NIFCOTT) (Nkhoma Synod, CCAP)
* Reformed Institute for Theological Training (RITT), Kenya (Reformed Church of East Africa)
* Hefsiba Bible School, Vila Ulongue, Mozambique (Igreja Reformada em Mozambique)

These ties were strengthened and further formalized in April 2001 when an organization called Network for African Congregational Theology (NetACT) was established in Lusaka, Zambia, with seven institutions participating. The Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch is the anchor institution for NetACT.
Click here to visit the NetACT webpage (http: //

Another key Unit that plays an important role in the Faculty is the Unit for Religion and Development Research.

Click here to visit the URDR webpage (http: //

The Beyers Naud- Centre for Public Theology, by means of (a) thorough research, (b) education and training as well as (c) appropriate service initiatives, strives to assist Christians (i.e. individual Christians in their various personal and public roles, church leaders, congregations, denominations, ecumenical bodies, interreligious organisations etc.) in identifying, describing and fulfilling their responsibility in the various public spheres of the democratic South African society, namely in politics, economics, civil society and public opinion.
Click here to visist the BNC homepage (http: //

Other institutions with which co-operative agreements of various degrees exist, include:

* Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of the Western Cape (UWC)
* Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town
* Hugenot College (in accreditation with the University of South Africa - UNISA), Wellington, S Africa
* Dept of Theology and Religion, Chancellor College, University of Malawi
* African Bible College, Lilongwe Malawi

3.7 The Faculty has a close liaison with the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) and recognizes degrees (B.Th. or Licentiate in Theology) granted by ACTEA-accredited institutions. Graduates from such institutions may enter into postgraduate degree programs offered by the Faculty (either directly or via the Post Graduate Diploma).

3.8 Contacts and varying degrees of interaction have also been established with close on forty theological training institutions in South, Central and Eastern Africa. During 1997 and again in 1998 as well as in 2000 members of our staff personally visited all of these institutions

3.9.1 Exchange agreements involving both staff and students have been concluded with several overseas institutions, including the following:

* Louvain Catholic University, Belgium;
* T'bingen University, Germany;
* Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany,
* The Hervormd Theologisch Wetenschaplijk Instituut, The Netherlands (HTW);
* Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Ga, USA;
* Princeton Theological Seminary, USA
* Rijks Universiteit, Leiden, The Netherlands
* INTEGON, Universiteit van Utrecht, The Netherlands,
* Kwang Ju Presbyterian Theological College and Seminary, Korea
* Chongsin Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea.
* Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.
* The Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology

3.10 Individual members of Faculty are involved in a variety of joint research programs or mutual exchange programs with colleagues from other institutions on the African continent, the United Kingdom, Europe, USA, and Korea

The Faculty of Theology, being a Faculty of the University of Stellenbosch, is an academic institution which seeks to practice theology in such a way that it renders service to church, society and science . At the same time it also recognizes its historic link with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC) and more recently with the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA), and the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, and hence with the Reformed Tradition. This link goes back 140 years to the time when the Dutch Reformed Church established the Seminary. Thus the traditional ethos of the Faculty is Reformed. Under Reformed theology the Faculty wishes to define itself as an institution which does Theology within a dynamic Scripture-oriented tradition, which acknowledges the authority of Scripture and its relevance for our day in promoting an integrated life style, mature faith and internalised values and norms.
At the same time the Faculty places a high premium on ecumenicity by which it endeavours, in its relatedness to its African context, to participate in the broad ecumenical movement as well as to promote interdenominational interaction. This is done within the dynamics of both peculiarity (confessionality/identity) and communality (ecumenicity/unity).


5.1 Identity and function
Being part of the University of Stellenbosch, the overall objective of the Faculty of Theology is to so serve the church, community and science, bearing in mind our commitment to the African context and sensitivity for the concerns of different Christian traditions of faith.
* The Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch is an ecumenical faculty. It provides facilities for the hosting and cultivating of Christian theology according to different confessional convictions and church traditions.
* In order to maintain its ecumenical character, the faculty provides the capacity for the establishment of different Houses of Study.
* Within the Faculty different Houses of Study have the responsibility to provide training and theological education according to their own confessional and denominational needs.
* It is the responsibility of the Faculty to synchronize the different Houses of Study in order to establish cooperation and unity, as well as the provision of personnel, programs, student organizations, structures for training and the enhancement of a Christian spirituality.
* Within the Faculty the Training School (Kweekskool) of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Theological School of the Uniting Reformed Church, and the Theological School of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa provide training and theological education in Christian Reformed Theology.

5.2 Interpretation
a] The Faculty is the structure and unit for theological education of the University of Stellenbosch. The Faculty is ecumenical and provides theological training in Christian theology. It is an open faculty and characterized by its Christian identity.
b] The ecumenical character of the Faculty is reflected structurally in different Houses of Study. One House of Study for Reformed Theology has been established.
c] Houses of Study refer to a specific confessional based theology; schools refer to denominations/churches and specific ministerial needs.
d] Currently, there are 3 role players [entities] in the House for Reformed theology: the Kweekskool of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Theological School of the Uniting Reformed Church and the Theological School of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.
e] In order to enhance co-operation and efficient liaison, church representatives on the Board for Lecturers as well as a Church Liaison Body serve as links between the academic structure and the interests of the churches.
5.3 A graphic representation of this structure:

5.4 Other goals of the Faculty:
5.4.1 To promote academic excellence by:
> Emphasizing the practice of Christian Theology in a systematized, critically responsible and scientific way.
> Thorough exegesis and interpretation of the Bible for today.
> Training and educating of Christian leaders, ministers, pastoral caregivers, lay workers and researchers.
> Contributing to theological research within a national and international context.
> Contributing in a constructive way to interdisciplinary academic work.

5.4.2 To become involved with social and ethical questions by:
> Addressing ethical questions concerning persons within social contexts and ethical structures.
> Addressing the relationship between theology and human/ecological needs.
> Promoting justice, reconciliation and fellowship (koinonia and ubunthu).

5.4.3 To interpret the identity and faith tradition of the church in various contexts in terms of:
> The role and calling of the church in society and the contribution to the international debate on vital questions.
> The churches' involvement with the ecumene by means of confessional commitment and ecumenical liaison.
> The contribution by the church to the inter-religious debate by means of a critical-constructive dialogue.
> The promotion of the quality of congregational ministry in order to effectively witness to the Gospel message through proclamation and active outreach (service).

5.4.4 To promote an ethos that correlates with the nature of Christian spirituality in terms of:
> Responsible scientific practice.
> An integrated lifestyle.
> The development of mature faith and internalized values and norms.

5.4.5 Values in respect of behavior and function
> Scientific character
To understand, interpret and explain Scripture in a systematized, critical-reflective way so that valid knowledge could be linked meaningfully with contextual and vital questions in interaction and dialogue with other appropriate disciplines, also with a view to meaningful integration of theory and practice.
> Ecumenicity
By virtue of our being in Africa, to be involved with Africa in the ecumenical movement, inter-church liaison and international debate on vital questions within the dynamics of both uniqueness (confessionality/identity) and catholicity (ecumenicity/unity) for the promotion of human dignity, peaceful coexistence and the conservation of Creation.
> Integrity
To allow the content of our faith to correlate with our behavior in such a way that the Christian ethos becomes visible in our striving to reflect identified values as credibly as possible in our structures, attitudes and mutual behavior, inter alia by means of dealing with potential causes of conflict/tension by means of adaptability, flexibility, sensitivity, fairness and equality of rights.
> Creativity
To develop student abilities in order to enable them to think inventively and creatively, to serve and build the interests of the Faculty on the basis of enthusiastic and imaginative action/performance; to promote an openness to transformation amongst lecturers.
> Hospitality
To create an atmosphere of loving openness, respect and friendly well being among staff and students so as to reflect the uniqueness of other people. Also to accommodate and deal with people from different contexts in such a way that they would feel welcome and secure.
> Justice
In an Africa context, to actively promote human dignity and a worthy existence against the background of basic human rights, so that people may experience fairness and equality and thus be helped to react responsibly to life's exigencies without a sense of discrimination against them.
> Transparency
To serve the truth by means of an open debate about contentious issues, so that nobody may feel deceived, wronged or cheated because of incorrect or one-sided information (or by withholding any relevant information).

6.1 The majority of undergraduate students are in the program for ministerial training (6 years, including two years of post graduate programs). These courses are residential and students attend regular classes. Most undergraduates are South African and teaching is normally done through medium of both English and Afrikaans (bilingual policy). Persons unable to follow the Afrikaans language, are able to take up language studies provided for by the University.
6.2 At postgraduate level English is used wherever this is required. All postgraduate programs can be done either full-time or part-time (i.e. non-residential).
All the standard subjects are taught, i.e. Old Testament, New Testament, Ecclesiology, Systematic Theology and Ethics, Practical Theology and Missiology (which includes the study of various World Religions as well as Developmental Studies).
6.2 Programs offered
6.2.1 B.TS. - a three year program offered through and in conjunction with Cornerstone Christian College (see par 3.4 above): all tuition through medium English;
6.2.2 B.Th. - a four-year ministerial training program;
6.2.3 M.Div. - a one year advanced ministerial training program (postgraduate),
6.2.4 Licentiate in Theology - a further one year advanced ministerial training program (normally following upon the M.Div program) and consisting of mainly practical "on site" training under supervision in local congregations, coupled with regular reading and writing assignments and reports;
6.2.5 Postgraduate Diploma in Theology - a one-year program after a minimum of three years' tertiary-level study (this also accommodates students coming from non degree conferring private or church institutions and who comply with the entrance requirements);
6.2.6 M.Th.

- a one-year program (after a four years' theological qualification, eg B.Th. or equivalent)
- several structured M.Th. programs in Practical Theology (Youth Ministry, Clinical Pastoral Care, Ministry Practice)
- a structured program in Developmental studies (Church and Development)

Providing certain conditions are met, students who have completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Theology may apply to be admitted into a M.Th. program. Thus the Diploma also serves as a bridging course to enable candidates who otherwise might not have had the opportunity, to qualify for post graduate degree studies

6.2.7 D.Th. - a two-year (minimum) program involving the writing of a doctoral dissertation plus, where necessary subsidiary work;
6.2.8 Two postgraduate programs in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts:

i) B.Phil. in Biblical Studies - one year
ii) M.Phil. in Biblical Studies - two years

7.1 While the majority of undergraduate students still come from the URCSA, the UPCSA and the DRC, the situation is considerably different at post graduate level where a large number of denominations are represented.
7.2 Both in terms of racial as well as gender composition the situation has continued to improve. Female students in the Faculty are up from 10% in 1996 to 20% at present, while the component of persons of colour enrolled in the Faculty now stands at around 50%. The first female Professor was appointed to the Faculty in 2000, and the first black lecturer (Xhosa speaking) from 2003. A considerable number of postgraduate students come from other countries on the African continent and many of these are prominent leaders in their churches and/or teach in theological institutions in the countries from which they come .
7.3 The Faculty houses a separate Theological Library which currently holds about 56 000 volumes and subscribes to more than 230 theological journals. This forms part of the larger University Library which holds a total of over 600 000 volumes and subscribes to over 5 500 journals, apart from 31 500 other items (i.e. microfiche, sound, cinematic and video materials).
7.4 The University operates HUMARGA, a large computer center which provides computer facilities as well as training to students in the Faculties of Arts, Theology, Law and Education (240 computers, 5 electronic teaching centers, scanners, Braille-transmitting facilities and access to Internet and E-mail).
7.5 In addition the Faculty of Theology has recently opened its own electronic media center for the use of faculty staff and students. The center provides computer facilities and training as well as access to various programs and data bases. These include Logos, CD Rom as well as other computer facilities. Several lockable study booths have also been installed at the Faculty for the use of postgraduate students or visiting researchers.
7.6 The University also offers training facilities to assist foreign students using English as a second language in acquiring the necessary linguistic and communication skills for their studies.
7.7 This facility is provided by the University's International Office which provides varied logistical assistance to foreign students throughout the process of applying, coming, residing and studying here (see website at: http: /
7.8 The University offers rented accommodation for single students in a number of student hostels as well as in several residential houses reserved for students. A number of apartments, including apartments for married students are also provided. In addition a wide variety of outside accommodation can be obtained, ranging from rented rooms or flats in private homes to apartments run by private companies or agents. On the premises of the Faculty of Theology there are three apartments (each suitable for one or two persons sharing) which are intended primarily for short-term post graduate students or visiting lecturers. The joint URCSA/DRC/RCA Commission for Witness in the Western Cape, in co-operation with NetACT and the University have furbished private accommodation for up to fourteen single persons coming on short term study programs - mostly from neighboring countries from where they commute from time to time in terms of part time post graduate programs. Administration and bookings are done through the International Office of the University.

Apart from South African students of all races, i.e. Black, Colored, Asian and White (with the latter admittedly still somewhat in the majority) who study in our Faculty, we have, over the last eight to ten years (the 'New South Africa' era), experienced a growing interest in postgraduate studies from persons coming from various denominations and particularly from other countries within the African continent. Currently students (mostly ordained persons) in our postgraduate programs come, inter alia, from Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and even Egypt.
We believe this is happening not only because of the appreciation which exists for the academic standard and theological position of our Faculty, but also because there is a growing recognition of the value of doing postgraduate studies within the continent of Africa. Not only is this contextually much to be preferred, but also financially more attainable. A postgraduate student (single) studying full time, can be accommodated for about US$8 000 to 9 000 p.a. - this includes all fees, books, board and lodging, food and personal expenses and traveling between home and Stellenbosch once a year. Students studying on a part-time basis, including those doing non-residential programs, need even less.
In terms of the priorities often laid down by sponsorship or funding organizations, a considerable number of candidates amongst those mentioned above would certainly merit support. Currently we have postgraduate candidates (to mention only those from within the rest of the African continent) who:
  • minister in large cities (Harare, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Nairobi, etc.)
  • study theology (all fall within this category)
  • teach others (amongst our present postgraduate candidates are persons teaching at undergraduate and even graduate institutions in Zimbabwe (5), Zambia (2), Malawi (2) and Kenya (3), while several more are currently in the process of applying
  • all of the above are indigenous to the people amongst whom they already have ministered or plan to minister; practically all are ordained persons.

One of the major problems most of the postgraduate students in the above category face, is that of finance. Most, if not all, receive some help from their home churches, which, however, are mostly very poor. Others also receive support from institutions that are in some or other form of partnership with their home churches. Others find some support from elsewhere but very few have adequate access to funding. In several cases, severe hardships are being experienced, while others who have actually been admitted, have failed to take up the opportunity due to the lack of funds. The DRC, through its Theological Board of Trustees Bursary Committee, has taken a policy decision to assist all candidates from an African (Black) background, regardless of country or denomination of origin. But their funds are not sufficient to provide more than a fraction of what is really needed (currently, support of about US$400 p.a. each, and in some cases considerably more, is being provided to at least 25 persons who fall within the above category).
We strongly believe that our Faculty, in conjunction with NetACT of which it is the anchor institution, is in a position to render effective and meaningful service to the church in Africa, particularly by training church leaders as well as teachers of future church leaders at a postgraduate level. Obtaining outside sponsorship or the support of bodies providing scholarship grants will certainly facilitate this and provide much needed support to churches within the African continent.

To a lesser extent, support could also be solicited for the Korean postgraduate students, currently enrolled in our Faculty, but the need is much greater amongst African students.
In presenting this fact sheet, we hope to promote more contact, interaction and co-operation not only with other theological institutions within the African continent and abroad, but also with various potential sponsoring bodies and scholarship programs.
We would be happy to supply any further information that may be required. Information is also obtainable from our Faculty website (see below)
Prof DJ Louw
Dean: Faculty of Theology
Tel -27-21-808 3255; Fax -27-21-808 3251;

Website: http: //
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Stellenbosch University

Postal Address:
Faculty of Theology
171 Dorp Street
7600 Stellenbosch
South Africa

Prof DJ Louw
Dean: Faculty of Theology
Tel -27-21-808 3255; Fax -27-21-808 3251;