A degree in theology can prepare you for a rewarding professional life. Theology is the study or science of God and encompasses many different concepts related God and religion. By earning a degree in theology, you’ll be qualified for a range of endeavors and ministry-related careers. Learn more about theology degrees below:
- What are the requirements for enrolling in a theology degree?
- What schools offer theology programs and how do I learn more about them?
- What are the career opportunities in theology?
- What are some fields of study related to theology?
What are the requirements for enrolling in a theology degree?
The requirements for enrolling in a theology degree program vary greatly depending on what level of education you decide to pursue. You can earn an associate degree in theology in just two years while a bachelor’s degree often takes four years to complete. Both degrees will require a high school diploma or GED, and each school may look at admission test scores.
A master’s degree is a graduate level program that takes about two years to complete. Unlike other graduate programs that only require a bachelor’s degree and experience/GRE in some cases for enrollment, a student is typically expected to earn a Master of Divinity before they pursue a Master of Theology degree. Finally, a Doctor of Theology is a terminal research degree requiring two to three years of study. Doctor of Theology programs generally require a master’s degree in divinity, theology, or a closely related field.
What schools offer theology programs and how do I learn more about them?
Online degree programs in theology vary widely 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 links you can use to learn more about your options:
Grand Canyon University
Colorado Christian University
What are the career opportunities in theology?
Careers in theology are quite varied. You can pursue a career in the ministry or work as a professor at a college or university. Some graduates opt to pursue missionary work or start their own congregation. It all depends on what you’re interested in doing and the level of education you obtain. A PhD will likely qualify you to teach at the collegiate level while a bachelor’s degree is a great starting point if you want to become an ordained priest or minister.
Pursuing a career in religion or theology requires a high level of dedication, passion, and spiritual faith. While employment for clergy members is only at 2% (much lower than the national average), the mean annual salary is a respectable $47,730 while the median is $43,950 (BLS.gov). While churches, faith-based organizations, and other religious institutions are the biggest employer of those with a theology degree, other industries especially those related to health care or patient care pay the most:
|Industry||Employment||Annual mean wage|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||6,930||$49,430|
|Home Health Care Services||4,950||$49,560|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||1,050||$53,100|
|Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)||940||$72,940|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||200||$54,000|
|Offices of Physicians||120||$53,240|
|Outpatient Care Centers||100||$54,420|
What are some fields of study related to theology?
Beyond theology, other fields of study focus more on either religions and their histories or ministries and leadership. Theology can often be a bridge between the two areas, but there may be a degree that better suits your specific career goals. Our degree guides cover each subject more in-depth and provide some insight to its requirements and typical career outcomes.
- Ministry – While an associate degree in ministry overlaps theology significantly by covering topics like biblical studies, church and Christian history, and discipleship, this program focuses on communication and counseling for congregations. Students are prepared for careers as ministers, faith-based education, or nonprofit groups.
- Religion – Associate degrees in religion take a more general approach than theology and focus more on the religions around the world. Students will learn the history, culture, and beliefs of religions across the globe and how religions influence one another.
- Christian and Bible Studies – Biblical and Christian studies degrees take a thorough look at the principles, beliefs, and content of the Christian faith and the Bible. These programs explore each part of the Bible, including Creation, Sin, and Revelation and delve into Christian theology further.
- Ministry and Leadership – Ministry and leadership bachelor’s degrees explore Christian faith and leadership more thoroughly that the associate counterpart. While programs are not designed for students to lead ministries completely, they will be prepared for several assisting and administrative roles.
- Religion – A bachelor’s degree in religion covers the religions of the world in great detail, especially their histories and cultures. Students will typically develop a broad perspective on how religions interact and influence with each other.
- Christian and Bible Studies – Graduate programs for biblical and Christian studies are designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the Bible and theology and provide them with knowledge they can apply to ministry or pastoral work. Courses include study how to interpret material and communicate that with others effectively.
- Christian Counseling – Graduate degrees in Christian counseling help prepare students to become licensed counseling professionals within the context of church and religious settings. These programs are designed to teach students how to console other individuals and families on a variety of sensitive issues and events.
- Ministry and Leadership – Graduate degrees in ministry and Christian leadership are designed to train students to take on high level leadership and management roles within churches, missions, or nonprofit groups. Organization, discipleship, and leadership strategies are often a central part of course curriculum.
- Religion and Divinity – Religion and Divinity graduate programs can vary greatly from school to school but generally cover in-depth biblical studies, global perspectives in religion and cultures, histories of faiths, and systematic theology. Students are prepared for a wide range of roles from nonprofit leadership to hospital chaplaincy to teaching.
- Theology – Graduate degrees in theology are most widely used to pursue careers in advanced level ministry and leadership. In particular, master of theology degrees are usually the follow up to a master of divinity degree and cover a broader range of material in greater detail.