A new failure criterion was presented to predict the ultimate strength of shale under the triaxial and polyaxial state of stress. A database containing 93 datasets was obtained from the results of the uniaxial, triaxial, polyaxial compressive tests, an indirect tensile test was collected from reliable references, and this test was carried out on the shale samples taken from the southwestern oilfields in Iran. The database was used to evaluate the proposed criterion, and its accuracy was compared against the popular failure criteria in rock mechanics, particularly those used for stability analysis such as the Hoek-Brown, Mohr-Coulomb, Drucker-Prager, and Mogi-Coulomb failure criteria. In order to evaluate the model, seven important statistical indices were selected. Subsequently, curves from various failure criteria were fitted to the triaxial and polyaxial data, and the corresponding coefficients and statistical indices were determined. The results obtained indicated that, in all cases, compared to the other failure criteria, the proposed criterion succeeded to predict the ultimate strength at a higher accuracy. Also the proposed criterion was used calculate the uniaxial compressive and tensile strengths with a minimum error. For a further examination of the proposed criterion, a series of results from the triaxial test including the ductile failure data were utilized for evaluation of the applicability of the proposed criterion to the ductile zone. It showed that the criterion could predict the ultimate strength of shale over a wide range of stresses.