Religious Seminaries for Women

This page contains lists of religious seminaries for women divided by province, but also by two cycles of study. The second cycle is held to be equivalent to a BA degree and the third cycle equivalent to a MA degree. The maximum capacity for studentship for each seminary is given as well.  

The lists are comprehensive, but not complete. They reflect the official and public seminaries lists that the Management Center for the Seminaries (Markaz-e Modiriyat-e Houze-he ‘Elmiyeh) has published. It should be noted that there are a number of private seminaries that are not captured in the data. No such reliable data exists yet.

The Persian source for women’s religious seminaries for the second cycle can be found here

The Persian source for women’s religious seminaries for the third cycle can be found here

Whereas religious training for students of the seminaries has traditionally been offered in three cycles (muqqadimat, sotuh, dars-e kharej) over a period of ten to twenty years, female students of religious seminaries today study according to “the new system.” This new system was formally established in the Islamic Republic and consists of four cycles (sath-e 1, 2, 3 and 4). Seminaries for sathe 1 and 4 hardly exist, seminaries for sath-e 3 are rare, but seminaries for sath-2 are prevalent throughout the country. Programs of sath-e 1 and 2 have a general character and students get to know the different fields of study. Programs of sath-e 3 are specialized, and students have to choose from one of the major fields of study (see next paragraph). Programs for sath-e 4 do not formally exist yet, but it is claimed that students are (informally) trained in sath-e 4 at least in Qom, Esfahan and Khorasan. This cycle may be considered equivalent to the traditional dars-e kharej, the third cycle according to the old system.

Women can choose to study one of the following fields of study: Qur’anic exegesis and Qur’an studies (Tafsir and ‘Olum-e Qur’an); Jurisprudence and Principles of Law (Feqh and Osul); History of Islam; Islamic Philosophy; Islamic Ethics and Discipline (Akhlaq and Tarbiyat-e Eslami); Theology (Kalam); or Women’s Studies (Motale’at-e Eslami-ye Zanan). The lists in the Persian language give a detailed breakdown of the capacity of studentship for each seminary/ field of study divided by province. It also indicates whether attendance is required.



Dates and Number of Seminaries Established

Date Range of Establishment Number of Seminaries Established
Prior to 1979 9
1979-89 22
1990-99 67
2000-09 35
2010-11 1
No date available 78


Some inconsistencies exist in regards to the number and dates of the seminaries. One of the reasons has already been mentioned: In addition to those seminaries that are part of the system of the Markaz-e Modiriyat-e Houzeh-ye Elmiyeh, there are private and semi-private seminaries that are not captured in the data. Furthermore, some of these seminaries have existed as established women’s religious circles before they officially became seminaries, so that it becomes hard to assign a specific date of establishment for these institutions.

The source for the above table stems from the following interactive map (Persian).