Bayan Islamic Graduate School was founded in 2011 at the Claremont School of Theology (CST), a world-renowned seminary that sought to “desegregate” theological education and enable its students to learn about multiple faith traditions in an authentic manner. The need for a partner to provide graduate-level Islamic Studies led to the formation of Bayan and its incubation towards eventually becoming a free-standing institution. The support of the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), where the founder and president of Bayan, Jihad Turk, was the Imam and Religious Director, helped launch Bayan. Key community members drawn to the vision of higher education and leadership development for Muslim Americans also helped establish the school. Through the partnership with CST, Bayan was able to design and manage accredited graduate degrees with concentrations relevant to the needs of the Muslim community. Bayan functioned as part of an interreligious consortium representing Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and other faith traditions in southern California.
Today, Bayan is partnered with the Chicago Theological Seminary, and will continue this open structure of collaborative education so Bayan students learn within a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, graduate institution that values diversity. Bayan's degree programs, certificates, and courses are open to students of all backgrounds.
Bayan provides higher education to men and women who serve as Muslim religious leaders, scholars, chaplains, activists and educators. Bayan's program emphasizes the diversity of perspectives and experiences found in the Islamic tradition and in contemporary Islamic thought, and integrates knowledge from a variety of academic disciplines to prepare our graduates to engage their professional contexts effectively and at the highest standards.
Bayan is producing a cadre of pioneering indigenous Muslim scholars and leaders who will positively serve the needs of Muslim and other communities in the religious and cultural pluralism of North American societies. In addition to providing a foundation in traditional fields of Islamic scholarship, Bayan prepares its graduates to engage the current and future generations of American Muslims, and to be effective in civic and interfaith engagement. Graduates are well-qualified and equipped to effectively present the Islamic faith to the broader American society. The success of Bayan will be an historic milestone for Muslims in America.
Bayan provides an Executive Master’s format that is ideal for working professionals and others who can benefit from a low-residency model of education. There is no need to relocate to our campus area for several years to complete a graduate degree. In our program, students from around the country travel to Chicago for a short period of time each semester. Faculty and students meet in-person for one specific week (6 consecutive days, for 5 hours per day), covering 30 contact hours, or ⅔ of the requirement for a typical 3-unit course. The remaining 15 hours are fulfilled with scheduled online meetings before and after the intensive week. A student may be enrolled in two courses that have intensive meetings during one week. If a student is enrolled in additional intensive courses, then the student may attend a second intensive week for those meetings. At most, a student will attend in-person class meetings for up to two weeks in any given term (Fall, Spring and Summer). Some courses in the program are fully online, and do not require any travel; they involve live online meetings with faculty, and weekly self-paced assignments. A combination of hybrid intensive courses and fully online courses provides students with a variety of options to suit their individual schedule.
"A world that understands Islamic values in a modern context"
"Offer a world-class non-sectarian education and produce dynamic and ethical leaders and scholars grounded in the Islamic tradition."
Bayan began operating as Bayan Claremont in 2011, signifying its connection with the Claremont School of Theology. Bayan’s collaboration with CST to offer an MA in Religion with a concentration Islamic Studies and Leadership was a significant development, representing the first accredited graduate degree at a seminary offered by an independent Muslim higher education non-profit organization.
This chart illustrates the cumulative growth in the number of graduates and total matriculated students.
Bayan starts student recruitment efforts nationwide and starts a consistent pattern of enrollment growth.
Bayan pioneered the intensive course format featuring visiting faculty from preeminent universities and institutions.
Launched the first 72-unit accredited M.Div. in Islamic Chaplaincy, and the first 48-unit accredited M.A. in Islamic Education in the nation.
Began organizing Bayan Tours, academic group travel programs to worldwide destinations.
Despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Bayan continues to see high enrollment and its largest cohort of 16 graduates, bringing the alumni total to 37. Grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation enable Bayan to strengthen its academic programs and community-oriented initiatives.
During this academic year, Bayan had its first 2 graduates….. there were 8 students
Bayan initiated fully-online Arabic language courses for beginning and intermediate levels, comparable to in-person courses at major universities.
With the blessing of Muhammad Ali’s family, Bayan inaugurated a full-tuition scholarship for students who are working as leaders in under-served communities nationwide. Bayan also launched BayanONLINE, a subscription platform giving access to the community the same graduate courses Bayan students study with world-class instructors.
Bayan witnesses significant enrollment growth, reaching approximately 60 students, and bringing the total number of graduates to 21, including the first three MDiv graduates. A new partnership is established with Chicago Theological Seminary to broaden Bayan’s reach and impact nationwide.
As of Fall 2019, Bayan’s degree programs are being offered in partnership with the world-renowned Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), one of the earliest Chicago seminaries. Degree programs at CTS are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) as well as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the state of Illinois. CTS, founded in 1855, is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC).
Bayan’s programs constitute “concentrations” within established accredited degree programs of the host institution. The majority of program requirements are fulfilled by enrolling in courses provided by Bayan. In due course, Bayan intends to apply for independent accreditation with the appropriate regional bodies.
Bayan initially operated beginning in Fall 2011 as a division of the Claremont School of Theology (CST), which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). CST, founded in 1885, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church (UMC). CST’s leadership took the pioneering step of incubating Bayan as one of the first Muslim American theological schools, with the purpose of enabling authentic Islamic education and leadership development, and sincere interreligious learning among students of various faith backgrounds. Bayan’s academic partnership with CST will conclude in June 2021, with the graduation of Bayan students completing programs they began at CST.
The Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street
Suite 7-500 Chicago, IL 60604
Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh. PA 15272
Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) was established in the boomtown of Chicago in 1855, and the Seminary’s first mission was to train church leaders on what was then America’s western boundary. Throughout its history, CTS has been a leader in theological education, social justice, and societal transformation. Today, CTS helps develop individuals for the next generation of religious leadership – whatever that may be. CTS is committed to transforming society towards greater justice and mercy. CTS is one of the most inclusive and diverse institutions anywhere.
Claremont School of Theology comes from a long tradition of crossing boundaries in seminary education. From the beginning the School embraced the California ethos by being open to new ideas and taking on tough issues. From liberation and feminist theologies to social justice issues, such as civil and sexual rights, CST’s faculty members have spoken out early and forcefully. CST has consistently turned outward to meet human needs—even when that has meant a dramatic re-imagining of mission and programs. Bayan wishes CST well as it embarks on a new phase of the school’s story as an embedded graduate school of Willamette University in Salem, OR.