Film studio Summit Entertainment said on Thursday that Winslet, 37, will play the cold and unlikeable Jeanine Matthews in the film set in a dystopian future.
"Divergent," based on the first of a trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth, is set in a society that is divided into five factions that define how a person lives their life.
The Abnegation people are selfless while the Erudite devote themselves to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. Winslet will play the leader of the Erudite, Summit said in a statement.
The studio previously announced the casting of rising star Shailene Woodley, 21, and British newcomer Theo James, 28.
"Divergent," due for release in March 2014, is the latest young adult novel to be translated to the big screen following the conclusion of lucrative franchise "The Twilight Saga" and the success last year of "The Hunger Games," starring new Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.
The five "Twilight" films, which followed the romance between a vampire, human and werewolf, grossed more than $3.3 billion at the global box office and put studio Summit into Hollywood's big leagues.
Film studio Lions Gate Entertainment, which acquired Summit for $412 million last year, released "The Hunger Games" in March 2012. It grossed more than $690 million worldwide.
The next installment of the "Hunger Games" franchise is due out in November this year, while "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," another adaptation of a young adult novel with supernatural and dystopian themes, is due in U.S. theaters in August.