The Divinity School will admit women as regular graduate degree candidates for the first time next fall, George H. Williams, Acting Dean of the Divinity School, announced yesterday. "An over-widening demand for women in the church" prompted the new policy, Williams said.
Inquiries from women seeking degrees have increased in the past two years to six or seven a term, according to Williams. In the past Radcliffe girls have taken Divinity School courses, but could not receive degrees.
"Many other theological schools admit women but have shorter programs for them," said Williams. "We will require them to take the regular three-year Bachelor of Divinity degree program demanded of men," he continued.
The Master and Doctor Degrees of the Divinity School, will also be open to women starting next fall, About eight of next year's 140-145 students are expected to be women.
Williams said that many denominations new ordain women although few women actually have parishes. He said most women therefore substitute studies in education and other fields for courses in pastoral care.
John P. Dillenberger, associate professor of Theology, praised the change last night for "removing an obstacle in the path of women who want to enter the pulpit."
Three Years Work Required
Williams and Dillenberger both emphasized that the change is unique in requiring at least three years of graduate work from women as well as men. Special shorter programs may be instituted later after careful consideration. Dillenberger said. "We want to avoid an influx of one-year students that might lower standards," he added.
Williams said Divinity School alumni first recommended admitting women in 1894. The admissions committee proposed the move last fall and the faculty unanimously recommended it to the Corporation for approval. "There was little serious opposition in recent years," said Dillenberger, "only inertia."