Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology has grown out of the school first established here in 1857 by Benedictine monks who came from the Swiss Abbey of Einsiedeln to establish a seminary in southern Indiana.
As its Swiss founders noted, the purpose of the foundation was that: "Young men are to be educated for the sacred ministry… and, having completed the course of studies, are to be placed at the disposal of the Bishops of that country." (Letter of Abbot Henry Schmid, OSB, of Einsiedeln to Pope Pius IX, October 6, 1852, as quoted in the History of Saint Meinrad Archabbey by Albert Kleber, OSB, 1954).
From 1857 until 1861, only secondary education was provided. Beginning with the academic year of 1861, complete commercial, classical, philosophical and theological courses were offered. Since the original faculty consisted of priests from the Swiss monastic school of Einsiedeln, the traditions of the European schools were made the basis of the cultural and educational program of the new school.
After the original buildings were destroyed by fire in 1887, the commercial courses were transferred to the nearby Jasper Academy, which was the forerunner of Marmion Military Academy and Abbey at Aurora, Illinois (1935). The newly built school at Saint Meinrad limited itself to educating candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood.
The school was organized, according to the decrees of the Councils of Trent and Baltimore, into major and minor seminary programs. The minor seminary consisted of four years of high school and two years of liberal arts. Major seminary training consisted of two years of philosophy and four years of theology.
In 1959, the schools were reorganized into the familiar pattern: high school, college and theologate. At that time, each school was separately incorporated in the State of Indiana. The Seminary and School of Theology has been a fully accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools since 1969. In 1979, the North Central Association also accredited the school.
The most recent comprehensive evaluation by the Association of Theological Schools and the North Central Association occurred in 2004. This evaluation reaffirmed accreditation for 10 years and continued full approval for the Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, and Master of Arts (Catholic Thought and Life) programs.