West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS) was established in April 1989, when a group of Nigerian and expatriate Christian leaders met to consider the needs of the Church in Nigeria, and in particular, to determine how to provide sound theological training to as many pastors as possible. Led by Rev. Prof. Gary S. Maxey of the USA, the group moved quickly to found a strong, academically competent, non-denominational theological seminary, now known as WATS.
For its first twelve years, the seminary (first known as Wesley International Bible College, and later as Wesley International Theological Seminary) was located in Owerri, Imo State, in eastern Nigeria. In 2000, the Governing Council voted to change the name of the institution to West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS).  In 2001, the seminary took a giant stride by relocating 350 miles westward to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa.
The growth of WATS has been significant since it first opened its doors, and over the years, more than 2500 pastors, evangelists, missionaries, church leaders and teachers have been trained. Over 200 missionaries have further been sent into Africa, North America, Europe and Asia.
Because WATS is nondenominational, it has attracted students and ethnic groups from a broad spectrum of churches, language groups and countries. Today, WATS is Africa’s largest nondenominational seminary. A strong focus on holiness and missions continues to set WATS apart from scores of other Bible colleges and seminaries around the country. The primary academic strength of WATS is found within its robust masters and doctoral programs.
WATS long-proclaimed intention to become the “soul” of a mega Christian university is almost becoming a reality. WATS is fully on course to join the emerging Providence International University (PIU) as its autonomous faculty of theology. In addition to its historic success in training leaders for the African Church, WATS will now provide required training in Spiritual Formation and Christian Worldview for all of PIU’s faculties – eventually imparting tens of thousands of university students.
At any given moment, WATS usually has students from at least:
  • Thirty of Nigeria´s states,
  • Over forty native languages,
  • Ten or more other African countries, and
  • Over eighty different church groups
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