About DTS

A History of Dallas Theological Seminary

Founding and Growth

Chafer in Class
Dr. Chafer teaching

In the fall of 1924 the first student body of Dallas Theological Seminary met to study under the noted Bible teacher, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer. This class of thirteen students was the result of Dr. Chafer’s burden and vision to found a seminary that would emphasize expository preaching and teaching of the Scriptures.

In 1935 the seminary pioneered the four-year Master of Theology (ThM) degree, which is a year longer than the three-year Master of Divinity (MDiv) offered at most other seminaries. The ThM gives all the essential theological courses offered in a three-year curriculum with additional emphasis in systematic theology, Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis, Greek and New Testament exegesis, and Bible exposition.

In 1974 the seminary instituted the two-year Master of Arts (MA) program in Biblical Studies for students whose ministries would not require the in-depth language training of the ThM program (name changed to Master of Arts [Christian Studies] MACS in 2015). The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree began in 1980 to provide further pastoral training for seminary graduates to meet the changing demands of ministry. In 1982 the seminary began the MA in Christian Education so students could receive specialized training for Christian ministries. In 1987 the MA program in Cross-cultural Ministries was inaugurated to give specialized missions training. In 1993 the seminary launched a three-year MA in Biblical Counseling (MABC) degree program and a two-year MA (Biblical Exegesis and Linguistics)(MABEL) degree program. The latter program is offered jointly with the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics located in south Dallas. In 2005 the seminary launched the MA in Media and Communication (MAMC) degree program for those interested in employing the media arts in ministry (name changed to Master of Arts in Media Arts and Worship in 2013). In 2011 the seminary began offering the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (MACL) degree program. The Master of Biblical and Theological Studies (MBTS) program and the academic Master of Arts degree with majors in Old Testament Studies, New Testament Studies, and Theological Studies began in 2015.

Outstanding leadership and scholarly expertise have characterized the seminary’s presidents:

  • Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1924–52
  • Dr. John F. Walvoord, 1952–86
  • Dr. Donald K. Campbell, 1986–94
  • Dr. Charles R. Swindoll, 1994-2001
  • Dr. Mark L. Bailey, 2001–present

Throughout the seminary’s history it has steadfastly maintained its allegiance to biblical truth. A doctrinal statement articulates the beliefs of DTS, and each year the faculty and members of the boards reaffirm their agreement with this statement.

Historical Milestones

Passion Global Institute extension program begun in Atlanta, GA.
First online course in Spanish offered as part of DTS en Español initiative.
Knoxville Extension relocated to Nashville. 
Master of Biblical and Theological Studies program begun (MBTS)
The academic Master of Arts degree program (MA) with majors in Old Testament, New Testament, and Theological Studies begun
Master of Arts (Biblical Studies) renamed to Master of Arts (Christian Studies)
Reaffirmation of accreditation with both SACSCOC and ATS for 10 years
Approved fully online MABS degree
Offered all students Logos Bible Software
Established Mobile Seminary program
Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (MACL)
Dedication of the Miller Prayer Chapel
Washington, DC extension program established
"Marriage and Family" DMin cohort established
Certificate of Graduate Studies completion program for non-graduate alumni
Washington Hall single-student apartment complex completed
"Women in Ministry" DMin cohort established
First online course in Chinese offered
Campbell Academic Center renovated
Master of Arts in Media and Communication (MAMC) degree program
Approval by ATS to offer the full ThM and MACE programs in Houston
Online education program
Approval by ATS to offer the full MACS degree at Atlanta and Austin extensions
DMin program in Spanish offered through SETECA
Chafer Chapel renovated
Reaffirmation of accreditation with both SACS and ATS for 10 years
Swiss Tower student apartment complex completed
Mark Bailey became fifth president
Reaffirmation of Accreditation with ATS for 10 years
Atlanta and Austin extension programs
Charles Swindoll became fourth president
Accredited by Association of Theological Schools
Houston and Chattanooga extension programs established
Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling
Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis and Linguistics program
ThD nomenclature changed to PhD
Christian Education in DMin program
Certificate of Graduate Studies program started
Joined Association of Theological Schools
San Antonio extension program established
Master of Arts in Cross-cultural Ministries program
Donald Campbell became third president
Center for Christian Leadership established
Master of Arts in Christian Education program started
Doctor of Ministry program started
Summer School program launched
Master of Arts in Biblical Studies program
Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Name changed to Dallas Theological Seminary
Mosher Library erected
Chafer Chapel construction completed
John F. Walvoord became second president
Name changed to Dallas Theological Seminary and
Graduate School of Theology
Master of Theology (ThM) program started
First issue of Bibliotheca Sacra published on campus
Davidson Hall, first permanent building, erected
Doctor of Theology (ThD) degree program initiated
Current campus site purchased
Doctrinal statement officially adopted
Evangelical Theological College established
Lewis Sperry Chafer became first president