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The Debrecen Reformed Theological University as a member institute of the Debrecen Reformed College founded in 1538 has been one of the influential centres of theological sciences and ecclesiastic training of intellectuals.
Debrecen became the ecclesiastic centre of the Tiszántúl that became protestant by the middle of the 16th century. At that time the minister and teacher training in the region was carried out by the school of the town. Thanks to its professors with experience from Western European universities, extended school network in the country and protection and rich support from the town and from the princes of Transylvania the college soon became an institute of national importance. As the school of the poor it provided education for the lower layers of the society and supported their social advance. Besides notable scientists and science organizers several poets, writers and philosophers well known in Hungarian cultural history are found amongst the former students of the college.
The academic minister training with the gradual increase of the number of departments was extended to five years in 1820: the two years of theological professional training was based on three years of basic philosophy training.
Following the antecedents dating back to the 1850s the maintainer of the College, the Tiszántúl Reformed Church District decided to set up a separate academy of law under the leadership of a separate set of teachers and a dean in 1892. The theological and law academy survived until the foundation of a state university in 1912.
Teacher training was separated from minister training in 1855. Then it was continued in a new state maintained institute from 1959. The teacher’s training institute received college rank in 1976 and then in 1990 it was named after Ferenc Kölcsey, a former student of the Reformed College. The teacher’s training college came back under the maintenance of the Tiszántúl Reformed Church District in 1992 and then in September 2011 it was integrated into the Debrecen Reformed Theological University. As a result, teacher’s training returned into the Reformed College in Debrecen.
The state university founded in Debrecen in 1912 (today called: University of Debrecen) was organized from the academic units of the Reformed College and it was located in the buildings of the College until the main building of the state university was built in 1932. The Theology Academy was formed into a faculty of the state university and was moved from the Reformed College into the building of the state university in 1932. Simultaneously with the establishment of the Faculty of Theology the Church District organized a minister training institute in the College that carried out the practice training of future ministers and helped their church socialization as well.
In 1949 the Faculty of Theology moved back into the Reformed College due to pressure from the communist regime and then in 1950 it was separated from the University of Debrecen and became a separate, church maintained institute again under the name Debrecen Reformed Theological Academy. The academy – in concordance with its right for a doctoral school and its historical antecedents – remained a higher educational institute with university rank and since 1993 it has been operating as a state recognised and accredited university maintained by the Church under the name Debrecen Reformed Theological university (DRTU).
Our university was a founding member of the Debrecen Universitas Association and is still an associated institute of the University of Debrecen with which the cooperation is close even beyond joint trainings.
The DRTU currently has two institutes and seventeen departments. Our university apart from its undivided, basic, master and PhD and higher education vocational trainings carries out the training of further church employees, teachers and other secular intellectuals. The institute currently has 60 full time teachers and around 800 students.