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Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, Early-Morning Seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy, academia, or ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions. In the USA, the term is currently used for graduate level institutions, but in history it has been used for high schools.
The establishment of modern seminaries resulted from Roman Catholic reforms of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent. The Tridentine seminaries placed great emphasis on personal discipline as well as the teaching of philosophy as a preparation for theology.
In North America, four entities that accredit religious schools in particular are recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation: Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Association for Biblical Higher Education, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
In general use, a seminary can be a secular institution, or part of an institution, designated for specialized training, e.g. a graduate course. It has occasionally been used for military academies, though this use is not well attested after the nineteenth century.
In some countries, the term seminary is also used for secular schools of higher education that train teachers; in the nineteenth century, many female seminaries were established in the United States.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) hosts seminary classes for High School students ages 14 to 18, as part of the Church Educational System. Unlike use in other religious contexts, the word "seminary", in an LDS Church context, does not refer to a higher education program designed to train students that they may obtain a church-based career. LDS seminary students do not get high school credit for their seminary studies.