The Baptist University of the Americas, in San Antonio, was founded in 1947 to provide theological training for Mexican-American pastors and church workers. The movement to establish a permanent training school was led by Paul J. Siebenmann, a missionary for the San Antonio Baptist Association. In October 1947 plans for the school were approved by the Association; Siebenmann was named director, a course of study was outlined, and seven teachers were chosen. The first name given to the school, Mexican Baptist Training School, was later changed to Mexican Baptist Bible Institute. The first semester began on January 2, 1948, and classes were held at the Palm Heights Baptist Church. The original plan of study formulated by Siebenmann included courses on theology, religious education, and music, as well as English and Spanish. Siebenmann emphasized a practical program of studies that would prepare those interested in church work, both pastoral and lay leadership. During the administration of C. G. Carter, 1949–60, the curriculum was revised, and a four-year program of courses was patterned on the order of other Southern Baptist Bible institutes. The first three sessions of the training school were conducted in local churches, but in June 1950 the association purchased a building on the southwest corner of West Martin and North Leona streets. The school continued to operate there until September 1964, when it moved to South PanAm Expressway. Seven buildings were built, financed by gifts from the Texas Woman's Missionary Union and a local San Antonio philanthropist, Willard W. Rollins.
From 1948 to 1962 the school was owned and operated by the San Antonio Baptist Association, in conjunction with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In November 1962 the convention voted to assume full sponsorship of the school; it took over responsibility for the operating budget in January 1965 and continued until the school merged with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, in November 1982. At this time the institution's name was changed to Hispanic Baptist Theological Seminary. The school became a component institution of Southwestern Seminary, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. On January 1, 1989, the connection with Southwestern Seminary was severed and the school came under the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In June 1999 the trustees voted to change the name to Hispanic Baptist Theological School, since it was not an accredited seminary. The name was changed again in 2003 to the Baptist University of the Americas.
The student body is composed of students from all over the United States and from more than a dozen Latin-American countries. The curriculum is continually updated, revised and contextualized to meet the needs of all students. The school offers a program of theological education under the divisions of theology, religious education, and music, in both Spanish and English. Accredited associate-degree programs are offered in divinity, religious education, and church-music ministry. Extension centers operate in twenty-six locations, which provide theological education to those unable to study at the main campus in San Antonio. In the spring of 2001 enrollment was 282, including 75 at the main campus and 207 at the school's fourteen satellite centers.