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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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AQUINAS INSTITUTE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY. In 1950 the DOMINICAN ORDER divided the schools of philosophy and theology at their River Forest, Illinois, school. The Dominicans moved to Dubuque the same year because of its rich Catholic history and founded the theological school of the Dominican Fathers at St. Rose Priory on Asbury Road.

In 1964 the theological school was completely reorganized and renamed Aquinas Institute School of Theology. It was part of the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology. The School of Philosophy was located in River Forest, Illinois. The final stage of reorganization was completed in early February 1964 when St. Rose Priory, formerly held by the Iowa corporation Dominican College of St. Rose of Lima, was transferred to the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology. The change did not affect the religious organization of the institution which remained at St. Rose Priory. (1)

Recognized as a leader in the United States in the world ecumenical movement, Aquinas affiliated with the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY for Presbyterians and WARTBURG THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY for Lutherans. This action, taken in 1969, was the first of its kind in the nation. Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology (River Forest, IL) and Aquinas Institute of Theology (Dubuque, IA) merged in 1970 to become Aquinas Institute of Theology (Iowa). Financial conditions including insufficient tuition led to faculty reduction in 1972. Annual salaries dipped as low as $4,000 for Dominican teachers. Aquinas was subsidized by the Dominican Province beginning in 1978. By moving to St. Louis in 1981, Aquinas was able to share programs and facilities with St. Louis University operated by the Jesuits.

The school offered a number of graduate degrees, such as a Master of Arts in theology (MA), a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), as well as some unique programs, including the country's only Roman Catholic doctoral program in preaching and a Master of Arts in Health Care Mission degree. The school has been in a leader in online theological study, currently offering four separate graduate programs in a blended online/intensive format. A doctoral degree in ministry was first offered by Aquinas Institute of Theology, University of Dubuque Theological seminary, and Wartburg Theological Seminary in September of 1973. The first year only fifteen would be allowed to enter the program. Prerequisites for admission included at least three years of experience in some form of professional ministry and a basic professional theology degree or its equivalent. The degree was offered to increase the competency in ministry of its participants. (2)

Aquinas Institute is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional school accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It is also accredited with the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada Association of Theological Schools, an organization of seminary and other graduate schools of theology.



1. "Priory School Reorganized; Renamed Aquinas Institute," Telegraph-Herald, February 11, 1964

2. "New Degree Program," Telegraph Herald, May 20, 1973, p. 6