Guide to Online Theology Degree Programs

The study of theology involves acquiring deep knowledge about specific religions and the global history and nature of religions in general. This knowledge can be applied to leadership positions in the church, evangelical missions, ministry, and a host of other pursuits. A theology degree can help launch a career in pastoral ministry, chaplaincy, or theological research. Theology is a broad field of study, and the types of classes students take vary significantly, depending on what religion they are interested in and the subjects of their theses. Many theology degrees concern Christianity, and will involve classes about Biblical exegesis, sermon writing, history, and classical languages like Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, in which the earliest known religious documents were first written. Theology, as a scholarly discipline, is deeply entwined with philosophy, which means, broadly, the study of knowledge itself.

Studying theology offers the twofold rewards of allowing students to study the faith they are passionate about while making them qualified to earn money in a job related to their faith. The median income for clergy is above the overall national median income in the United States, and the top 10% of clergy earn nearly double the national median. Students who are committed to their faith, and want to be able to have nuanced discussions and share their beliefs, will learn and grow in a theological degree program.

Theology Degree Programs

The schools listed below offer accredited theology degree programs that can give students a broad, yet detailed, knowledge base about religion. These programs simultaneously enlighten students and prepare them for careers that allow them to earn money while sharing their faith.

Liberty University
AA: Religion
MA: Theological Studies
MA: Worship
Liberty University –One of the nation's leading Christian colleges, Liberty offers numerous online theology degrees, such as Associate or Master's in Theology, as well as Pastoral Counseling, Sacred Theology, or Worship. These programs can often be completed much faster than their campus counterparts from the convenience of your home PC.
Saint Leo University
MA in Theology
Saint Leo University –For students interested in starting and advancing their careers, Saint Leo University offers online degree programs for bachelors and associate degrees. Saint Leo University has several popular degrees available like Master of Arts in Religion. The online programs combine multimedia and peer interaction with career-oriented curriculum for instruction.
Argosy University
EdD in Pastoral Community Counseling
Argosy University –The EdD in Pastoral Community Counseling program from Argosy University is based on religious/spiritual institutions providing a opportunities for human growth and development. The program prepares students within religious communities for personal and professional development, directed toward making contributions to their communities and society. Students will integrate the engagement of knowledge, the development of skills, reflective practice, and research in a manner that prepares the pastoral counselor to address individual and communal development in a responsible fashion.

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What Kinds of Theology Degrees are Available?

Because theology can be the study of one or many religions, there are diverse options for students seeking a theology degree. Degrees of all levels and all types are offered on the subject. The lowest level theology degree is the associate’s degree. It takes two years to earn an associate’s and is often awarded by community colleges, vocational schools, or even some religious institutions.

Bachelor’s degrees in theology are also available. Most often the bachelor’s degree in theology will be a BA, or Bachelor of Arts. It differs from a Bachelor of Science degree in that the first two years of core classes focus more on the arts than sciences. Some of the available bachelor’s in theology degrees are the Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies, and many others.

Those seeking a graduate degree in theology have several options: They can earn a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, Master of Arts in Christian Leadership, and others, or a Master of Divinity.

There are doctorate level degrees in theology as well. A few of them include the PhD in Theology, PhD in Theology/Religious Education, and PhD in Pastoral Counseling. These are the terminal degrees in theology, and will allow you to become a professor or highly respected academic in the field. There are also combined or accelerated programs that can help those going for a PhD earn a master’s degree in theology while going for their doctorate.

Types of Theology Degree Programs

Many people are interested in expanding their religious knowledge with a degree in theology. You may wonder what types of theology degrees there are. Theology degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level. Here are just a few of the theology degrees available:

What is the Difference Between a Theology Degree and Divinity Degree?

One of the most popular theology degrees out there is the Master of Divinity degree. Although it is based in theological principles, it is very different from a traditional theology degree. The Master of Divinity, or M. Div., is the degree you would get if choosing to become a pastor. Many Christian faiths use the M. Div as the standard for becoming an ordained pastor, preacher, revered, etc. It is offered in both seminaries and divinity schools. Even the Roman Catholic Church uses a Master of Divinity when ordaining priests as the standard.

Since the Master of Divinity is a graduate degree, an undergraduate degree is needed before studies can begin in divinity. Many who choose to get the M. Div. can choose to get their undergraduate degree in theology, although it is not necessary. Other degrees M. Div. candidates can choose include history, philosophy, religious studies, or related area.

Other degrees that can lead to a Master’s in Divinity include Bachelor of Sacred Theology, Master of Religion, and there are even programs where students can get both the Master of Divinity and Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the same school. Those who study Sacred Theology are those who go onto become Catholic priests or deacons. In contrast, the traditional theology degree is for those who want to study religion, not practice it, although each denomination has its own preferences on what degrees they want their holy men and women to have.

What Theology Degree Scholarships and Grants are Available?

If looking for financial aid for a theology degree, the best place to start is the school you plan on attending. Once you get in, be sure and ask what financial aid options are available to you before choosing to enroll. This way if you were accepted into more than one school, you can see which offer the best financial aid options because total tuition costs can be less if there is more financial aid available to you.

In addition, the financial aid office can help you apply for all the grants and scholarships you are eligible for. They can answer questions, help fill out forms, and more. Although scholarships are highly competitive and not everyone gets one, everyone who qualifies for and applies for a grant gets it. Scholarships are money for education handed out based on academic performance, need, or both. Grants are based on need, and neither grants nor scholarships have to be paid back if the student completes their studies.

There are many national scholarships for theology students as well. One such is the Catholic United Financial Scholarship. Those who are members and studying for an undergraduate degree can apply and over 5,000 have been awarded. Students can attend a Catholic or non-Catholic university to be eligible.

Vision International Education Network offers scholarships to Christian students. They have two special scholarships: The Joseph J. Bohac Memorial Scholarship and The Karen S. DeKoven Memorial Scholarship. They are awarded each year to up to ten students each who wish to continue or start a Christian education.

Those studying Jewish theology can also find scholarships. One of the best known ones is the JCC of North America Graduate Scholarships. It provides merit based aid to students who are going onto careers that will enhance the Jewish Community Center movement.

Online Degrees in Theology

If you’re interested in earning a theology degree online, you’re in luck. More and more schools now offer such programs online, making it much easier to earn your degree.

In order to earn a theology degree online, you’ll first need to find an accredited degree program. Accreditation is key, as it is the stamp of approval from education boards that ensures you’re receiving a top-notch education.

Once you’ve decided on a school, you’ll be required to complete a series of courses that involve theological education, spiritual formation, and other topics related to religious studies. Other courses may include:

  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Buddhism
  • Christian-Jewish Relations
  • Islam
  • Christian Ethics
  • New Testament Greek
  • and many more!

Keep in mind that every program is different and not every school offers the same courses and program structure. The type of degree you decide to pursue will determine the coursework and length of time it takes to complete the program. Online programs require students to complete the same courses as traditional, on-campus programs.

If you think an online program in theology is right for you, our list of accredited degree programs provides the information you need to learn more about your options.

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