About JDS


Jakes Divinity School prepares leaders through academic rigor with experiential learning, spiritual formation, and creative innovation that are necessary for the future of ministry in the Church and society. Our curriculum incorporates an emphasis on: effective preaching, vibrant worship, biblical thought, tacit knowledge, and quality instruction. The school is committed to integrating faith, scholarship, and integrity of the practice of ministry.

Greetings from the Chancellor!

We are an emerging institution with a vision to educate leaders for the church and society in a Spirit-filled and academically rigorous environment. Leadership is key to transforming our world for a positive and productive future. After more than 40 years of ministry and leadership, I want to see future generations step into their God-ordained purpose and soar into their spiritual calling.

At JDS, we are partnering with some of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning to offer fully accredited degrees and prepare women and men with the very best training. Now is the time; the world is waiting for leaders like you. How will you prepare for the opportunities and challenges ahead? I would like to invite you to prayerfully consider the role of Jakes Divinity School in your path to success.

Bishop T.D. Jakes

Founder and Chancellor


Learn More About Bishop T.D. Jakes

The School’s Namesake:
A Tribute to a Rich Heritage and Living Legacy

Jakes Divinity School (JDS) carries a rich heritage and living legacy, stemming from its illustrious founder and chancellor, Bishop T.D. Jakes. In a Shakespearean tragedy entitled “Romeo and Juliet,” William Shakespeare raises the question, “What’s in a name?” He then suggests that “a rose by another name would smell as sweet.” However, when it comes to the name T.D. Jakes, the fullness of the moniker runs deep and signatures a noteworthy heritage and legacy.

The Granddaddy

Grandson of ex-slaves in Mississippi, Bishop Jakes’ paternal grandfather and namesake, Thomas Dexter Jakes, was killed during his lunch break at only 23 years old. He and his wife Lorena had a young son, Hoover, with another child on the way.

Jakes’ employer filed his death certificate claiming the death “accidental while bathing in a swift current in the creek.” The Jakes family refutes the claim, as they argue a strikingly different account. Jakes habitually swam across the lake, going from the turpentine camp where he worked to his home each day at noon to enjoy a meal with his family before returning to his shift.

In early June of 1928, according to Lorena Jakes, her husband had quarreled with some of his white coworkers. As Jakes’ uncle Hoover explains, “They threw some barbed wire in the lake. He dived in there, and the barbed wire tangled and caught him. That’s why they found him dead.”

With corrupt social structures and systems in place, American lynch mobs often got off scot-free when countless African Americans “mysteriously died”, “oddly disappeared”, or were “accidentally killed”. With weakened legal muscles to achieve justice, black families maintained oral history with little to no written record of what really happened.

The Bishop

Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes, the youngest of three siblings, was born between two stillborn babies. Named after his grandfather, the birth of the young Thomas Dexter Jakes seemed to redeem the death of the beloved relative he would never meet. Hailing from Montgomery, West Virginia, to Dallas, Texas, Bishop Jakes has built a multicultural, two-decade, global ministry at The Potter’s House. He is a family man, prolific author, successful filmmaker, global leader in humanitarian efforts, an ardent voice in the fight toward social justice, and a name of integrity. While history never achieved justice for Grandpa Jakes, JDS preserves the integrity of the namesake and will continue the legacy of Bishop Jakes for generations to come.

The School

Jakes Divinity School (JDS) is one of the very few institutions of higher learning founded by an African American, Spirit-filled, charismatic minister. We are committed to providing a unique educational experience by immersing students in both online and in-person opportunities.* Degrees offered by JDS are accredited through our partnerships with fully accredited institutions.

We specialize in integrating forward-thinking proposals for local and global ministry engagement. By combining a biblical foundation, rigorous education, networking opportunities, spiritual depth, and Bishop Jakes’ multifaceted approach to ministry and partnerships, JDS exposes students to a theological education that reaches beyond traditional ecclesial, party-political, industrial, and denominational impasses for spiritual effectiveness.

What’s in a name?

JDS preserves the treasure of a name, the legacy of a man, and the integrity of a ministry etched in the halls of global history. Graduates from JDS wear the banner of a ministry that has changed many lives and impacted the world for the glory of God. A school by any other name is not the same at Jakes Divinity School.

*Due to the pandemic, in-person opportunities are temporarily being conducted virtually.

Our Programs

Our degree, diploma, and certificate programs relate to the multidimensional foci of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ life and ministry which includes: the art of presentation, leadership, entrepreneurship, global humanitarianism, entertainment, and media. We nurture students to apply their hearts, heads, and hands – hearts of compassion and love for a fragile world in need of God’s love; heads that wander in search of God’s truth; and, hands that work to advance the Kingdom of God in the world.

Connect with JDS

The school is committed to integrating faith, scholarship, and integrity of the practice of ministry.


Jakes Divinity School students will enjoy a unique experience characteristic of Jakes Divinity School in partnership with existing institutions. Jakes Divinity School students will enroll in fully accredited degree programs because the degree offerings are powered by our fully accredited institutional partners: North Central University and Vanguard University.

Powered by North Central University

North Central University is a Christian university—a Bible-based and Pentecostal university, affiliated with the Assemblies of God – located in Minneapolis, MN. NCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. North Central University is an institutional participant in the NC-SARA initiative (National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements) and is listed on the NC-SARA website (www.nc-sara.org). NCU is approved by the Department of Education of the State of Minnesota for the training of veterans and war orphans under Public Laws 358, 634, 87-815. The university is approved by the United States Department of Justice for the training of foreign students.

NCU is approved by the State of Minnesota, Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, for the training of students with disability handicaps.

Powered by Vanguard University

Vanguard University (VU) is also a private, coeducational, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies that believes its Spirit-empowered Christian community provides a supportive and challenging environment to pursue quality education. The vision that guides the VUSC community is rooted in the University’s heritage as an institution of the Pentecostal tradition which was birthed out of the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, at the turn of the twentieth century. VU is a community that encourages individual integrity and responsibility in accordance with biblical Christianity and its social and ethical implications. VU is a Christian university affiliated with the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God. VU has maintained regional accreditation and membership in the Western Association of Schools and Colleges were granted since 1964.

Powered by Paul Quinn College

Paul Quinn has become one of the most innovative and widely recognized small colleges in America. Paul Quinn College (PQC), founded in 1872 by a group of African Methodist Episcopal Church preachers, is a private, four-year, faith-based, liberal arts-inspired Historically Black College. Located in southern Dallas, PQC proudly educates students of all races and socio-economic classes under the banner of their institutional ethos, WE over Me. Guided by the mission to create servant leaders and agents of change for the global marketplace, PQC is committed to providing a quality education that addresses the academic, professional, and social development of students.  By focusing on academic rigor, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship PQC has become a model for urban higher education.

Paul Quinn College is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). Paul Quinn College is affiliated with the Association of Institutions of Higher Education of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Jakes Divinity School (JDS) and Paul Quinn College (PQC) are developing a new Executive Master of Business Administration degree program for business executives, entrepreneurs, and Christian leaders. Pending Board approval, JDS and PQC will launch the eMBA program fall 2021. Because the eMBA degree is powered by Paul Quinn College in partnership with Jakes Divinity School, it will be a fully accredited eMBA.

We are grateful to our partners. As a new institution for higher learning, Jakes Divinity School has not yet achieved accreditation. We plan to begin the process soon. Yet, the degree offerings are accredited through our partnership schools. Thus, students who enroll in Jakes Divinity School will be dually enrolled in Jakes Divinity School and the partnering institution per the particular degree program enrolled. Students will earn degrees with the name of the partnering institution as well as a certificate from Jakes Divinity School.

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