Best Online Master’s in Theology Programs

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If your calling lies in the church or ministry, an online master’s in theology can help turn your faith into a fulfilling career. In a master’s in theology online program, you will immerse yourself in scripture and theological research to further expand your Christian worldview. Upon completion, you will have the experience and knowledge needed to lead others and spread the word of God. Read on to learn more about the skills you will develop in an advanced program and the career opportunities that await you with an online master’s in theology degree.


A master of theology is a higher degree by research, so graduates of an online program will gain advanced skills in evaluating, analyzing, and disseminating intensive research. In a master of theology online program, you can also enhance your expertise within a specific interdisciplinary area by choosing a specialization; some options include biblical and historical studies, religion and science, or global studies. After completing the program, you will be eligible for several ministry-related leadership careers requiring a graduate degree, including roles as missionaries, pastors, or postsecondary teachers.


Master’s in theology online programs are designed to be flexible, and are ideal for working professionals, parents, or anyone else with life commitments that may prevent them from commuting to and from campus on a daily basis. Distance learning allows you to focus on your calling without uprooting your job or family; you will earn your degree from the same esteemed faculty who teach on campus, and from the comfort of your own home. If you are required to complete an internship, you are encouraged to connect with an online program coordinator to find a site that is close to your home for further convenience.


Master’s in theology online graduates are set to become leaders within the church and the community. Common careers for master of theology students include positions as denominational leaders, mission services directors, and professors at postsecondary institutions, among others. A master’s degree will also set you on the academic path to earn a PhD in the field, opening the door to even more advanced roles in the church.


Choosing an online master of theology program is an extremely personal decision, and only you can evaluate whether a school’s teaching approach, available specializations, and course outcomes will help you match your academic and professional goals. The following ranked list of schools is meant to serve as a starting point in your search for the best online master’s in theology programs throughout the U.S. We weigh criteria such as school graduation rates, career support services, and course offerings to determine academic excellence. Be sure to contact admission specialists at your target school to learn more about specific requirements and opportunities.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Liberty University

 2/550.41%Lynchburg, VA


Liberty’s M.A. in Theology is offered entirely online. The degree is designed for students interested in Christian ministry and it opens the door to a variety of careers requiring theological expertise. Graduates often become pastors, Bible instructors, missionaries, professors and theologians. The program consists of 36 total credit hours and allows up to six transfer credits.

Scholars study the Bible, Christianity, the Christian Church, Christian theology shaped by individual coursework in the Old and New Testament, the doctrine of God and systematic theology. Classes are taught asynchronously using virtual learning tools delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. Online students can watch weekly convocations streamed live and access the same resources as residential students, including counseling, career services, IT assistance and library catalogues.

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Luther Rice College & Seminary

 1/5N/ALithonia, GA


Luther Rice’s Christian Studies program can be completed entirely online or at the university’s campus in Atlanta. Enhancing Christian faith while providing the training necessary to interpret and teach the Word of God, the degree is ideal for students looking to pursue a career in theology, ministry, Church administration or Christian education. The program consists of 36 total credit hours.

Coursework centers on the Old and New Testament, systematic theology and biblical hermeneutics, supplemented by available electives exploring individual chapters of the Bible and further analysis of the Old and New Testament. Classes are delivered asynchronously through the Blackboard virtual classroom. The Online Reference Library boasts hundreds of thousands of electronic resources for distance learners. Remote students can also access full academic and technical support and Spiritual Life counseling.

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Southwestern Assemblies of God University

 3/541.03%Waxahachie, TX


SAGU’s master’s program in the Bible and theology helps students develop an intensive knowledge and understanding of the Bible and fundamental theological principles. The 36-credit program also prepares students for a career in ministry. Courses are comprised of a combination of professional and electives-based tracks, centered on leadership and non-thesis courses in related electives. A thesis option is available exclusively to students planning to pursue their doctorate.

Required courses include leadership in ministry, pastoral care and research literature and technology. Optional electives cover biblical hermeneutics, studies in the prophets, issues in contemporary theology and spiritual dynamics in ministry. Coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning platform, with video courses available via Tegrity 24/7.

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Hope International University

 3/549.43%Fullerton, CA


The Ministry Dual Concentration at Hope International is tailored to ministerial students looking to broaden their theological understanding as they improve their leadership skills or prepare for a second career. Core curriculum in the master’s program comprises a combination of biblical, professional and personal development courses. Students also pick two additional concentrations: choices include biblical studies, Christian leadership, pastoral care and a few others. The program requires 42 course credit units, including a minimum of nine units per each concentration.

Distance courses are delivered asynchronously through the eCollege portal, which facilitates communication between students and instructors and hosts several interactive multimedia tools. Graduates of the online program are prepared for careers in a number of pastoral specialties, as well as pastoral counseling and executive leadership.

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Columbia International University

 3/567.86%Columbia, SC


Columbia’s Master’s in Theological Studies caters to students seeking a career in ministry or religious research. Foundational courses emphasize interdisciplinary research and analytical methods, Bible exploration, church history, intercultural studies and theology. Graduates are prepared to pursue a career in ministry or theological academia.

CIU’s website features hundreds of interactive tools to help distance learners. Courses for Columbia's fully online theology program are delivered through eCampus and Moodle, bringing live video lectures and chapel podcasts into the virtual classroom. CIU’s career services, financial aid and institutional research libraries are available to both residential and online students.

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Regent University

 1/550%Virginia Beach, VA

Regent’s Theological Studies program affords students the opportunity to broaden their spiritual understanding in one of four concentrations. Students can focus on biblical studies, Christian theology and the history of Christianity or choose an interdisciplinary program that combines elements of each. Students also take general courses in biblical hermeneutics, the Old and New Testament and spiritual formation foundations. These courses enhance students’ writing ability and their library information research skills. The master’s program provides the training necessary for a career in religion-based research, writing or education.

Students in the 48-credit program take classes in eight-week increments. Courses are taught entirely online or through a combination of distance and residential study. Students have five opportunities to enroll in courses between August and June. Classes are delivered through audio and video presentations on Blackboard, and the university’s online platform encourages interaction among students and professors through discussion boards in the virtual classroom.

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Dallas Theological Seminary

 3/5N/ADallas, TX

DTS’s Master's of Theology program offers over 30 degree emphases, allowing students to customize their degree to suit their calling. Theology students are required to complete 96 hours of core curriculum, including a mandatory three-hour leadership internship and at least nine credit hours in ministries and communication. Remaining electives include classes in adult education, media arts and philosophy.

Online students have access to a number of innovative tools that enhance the program. The program teaches all 66 books of the Bible through the Logos Bible Software suite, provided at no cost to incoming students. Classes are asynchronous but unit-driven, requiring students to regularly complete coursework over set intervals of time each term.

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Lincoln Christian University

 2/557.47%Lincoln, IL

LCU’s Bible and Theology master’s program provides comprehensive, holistic study of the scripture for Christian students. The 12-course, 36-hour online graduate program helps students develop their religious awareness while enhancing their spiritual growth as they prepare for their professional career. Prospective students looking to pursue ministry training are better-suited to an LCU seminary degree than the Bible and theology master’s program.

Before their first term of required core and electives courses, distance students must complete a 1-week introduction to online learning. Each seven-week course in the accelerated online program is asynchronous, ideal for busy adult learners. Through LCU’s inclusive online learning platform, students use a host of web-based learning tools to interact with professors and peers. They can also explore financial aid options, consult with career services staff and access library files.

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Nazarene Theological Seminary

 3/5N/AKansas City, MO

Students in the online theological studies program at Nazarene are divided into two paths of study: the general academic track and the research track, the latter of which offers two further concentrations. General academic coursework is ideal for students looking to deepen their understanding of Christianity and major disciplines of theology, while research courses are best-suited for doctoral candidates who already have a specialization in mind.

Each focus requires students to earn 48 credits before graduation: the general academic track requires 27 core courses and 21 electives, while research students take 36 core hours and 12 electives. Online courses are typically delivered synchronously via the Moodle platform. Students are expected to log on with professors and classmates four to five times per week to complete coursework and discuss assignments.

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University of the Cumberlands

 2/535.56%Williamsburg, KY

UC’s M.A. in Christian Studies prepares students for a career in ministry or religious instruction. The school emphasizes the practical application of scripture in courses ranging from Biblical study to contemporary religious culture. The curriculum allows students to listen to influential guest speakers from the Christian community and to complete a ministry project focused in the concentration of their choice.

Offered entirely online, the Christian Studies degree is a twelve month program. Each eight-week course is delivered mostly asynchronously, though students may need to log in simultaneously with instructors and classmates a few times during the course.

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Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary

 1/5N/AJacksonville, TX

This online Master’s in Theology prepares students for ministerial roles, theological study and teaching. The program comprises 36 total credit hours over two years. All students take 15 hours of theological history, 12 of Biblical studies and three of applied theology. Electives include further Biblical study and historical theology.

The fully online program uses a variety of video-conferencing tools and interactive resources to deliver content to distance learners. The seminary’s innovative online platform also supports live-stream videos and encourages real-time communication between classmates. Courses are typically asynchronous, though students are still required to complete coursework on a regular schedule.

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Indiana Wesleyan University

 3/562.53%Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan’s Master’s of Theology offers a practical education in theology and is intended for students who will eventually pursue a PhD. The 36-credit program includes core classes in the Bible, global Christian history, cultural contexts of ministry and pastoral studies. Students round out the curriculum with courses in the missional church, Christian worship and congressional spiritual formation.

IWU caps admission to their online courses to keep class sizes small and instructors provide individual attention to each student. Courses are asynchronous, though online attendance at synchronous discussions and collaborative sessions is encouraged for added insight and perspective. IWU uses Blackboard to deliver coursework, incorporating an interactive "virtual classroom" model rather than sit-and-listen video lectures.

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Kentucky Christian University

 1/534.38%Grayson, KY

KCU’s online Biblical Studies degree promotes an advanced understanding of theological principles in an academic context. The 36-hour program offers core courses in history and Christian thought, research of the Old and New Testaments and ethics in Christian leadership. Students also take 12 hours of elective credit, chosen from concentrations in the Bible and biblical backgrounds. Master’s graduates are prepared to pursue a doctorate in theological research or education.

Most coursework is online, but the program requires all students to attend a one-week on-campus session; certain individual courses may also require on-campus participation. Courses are asynchronous, delivered through a multimedia online learning platform that provides access to course materials and discussion forums. The extensive virtual databases available to KCU online students truly set the program apart: distance learners can access ebooks, library databases and scripture searches remotely.

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Apex School of Theology

 1/591.3%Durham, NC

Students in the Apex School of Theology study Christian education in a two-year, 60-credit and fully online program. The curriculum focuses on the Old Testament in the first year of study and the New Testament in the second. Additional courses explore spiritual formation, teaching and program design, church administration and Christian ethics. The program is ideal for graduate students who want to teach theology.

Courses are taught asynchronously and are delivered through AST’s comprehensive virtual learning system. Apex has articulation agreements with Seminary Extension of the Southern Baptist Convention and other Christian education programs, which helps facilitate off-campus education opportunities, independent study programs and lifelong learning extensions for online students.

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Concordia University – Chicago

 3/557.83%River Forest, IL

Concordia’s Christian Studies program appeals to two types of students: those already working in the church and laypersons interested in deepening their knowledge of the Bible and Christian principles. The program requires 33 credit hours over two years. Concordia has 15 core requirements in the Old and New Testament, theology and religious education. Students also take 15 courses in the concentration of their choice, including the epistles and Christian worship. A capstone course completes the curriculum.

Each eight-week course is offered entirely online. Courses are asynchronous, delivered through the Blackboard learning platform, which duplicates the camaraderie and collaboration of a face-to-face classroom setting. Students are encouraged to use interactive tools to help their online classmates collectively complete each module.

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Crown College

 2/557.14%Saint Bonifacius, MN

Crown College’s Christian Studies program acts as a "mini-Master of Divinity" degree, providing practical training for a variety of theological careers. Perfect for pastors, ministers and theology educators, the curriculum helps students develop a thorough understanding of scripture while also addressing the specific cultural needs of your ministry or organization. The program totals 36 credit hours and combines core classes with additional coursework in one of four specializations: spiritual formation, theological studies, ministry training or intercultural ministries. The program prepares distance learners for licensing and ordination/consecration with the Christian and Ministry Alliance.

Crown College's fully online degree was built with active, adult learners in mind. Online instructors understand the needs of their students, and the theology professors facilitating this degree are actively working in the field themselves; many hold terminal degrees in theology or other Christian studies. Coursework is delivered through Blackboard.

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Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania

 2/554.37%Clarks Summit, PA

BBC designed their Master’s in Theology degree to promote excellence in pastoral leadership through Biblical study and personal training. Coursework in the program is modeled after first-term foundational courses in the school’s Doctor of Philosophy program, and it prepares students looking to continue their studies into post-graduate work. The 32-credit program is comprised of core courses in exegesis, hermeneutics and teaching techniques. Students complete the program with 12 elective credits and a three-credit thesis in an emphasis area of the student’s choosing.

This program only admits male students.

BCC’s degree is taught in a hybrid format, alternating 12-weeks of online courses with one-week spent on campus. Each online course is delivered through Moodle in a Web-enhanced format, encouraging chat room discussion and open dialogue between students and professors. Modules in the program are composed around interactive technology, using live-stream video lectures and real-time conferencing to complete lessons online.

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Cornerstone University

 3/545.37%Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone’s Master of Theology program attracts students who have already earned a Master of Divinity, or those who hold an M.A. in a related discipline and want to specialize in a theological subfield. Cornerstone offers concentrations in the Old Testament and the New Testament in this program; each requires 30 credit hours of study. Coursework in the Old Testament specialty includes the study of the history and culture of Israel and the ancient Near East, as well as advanced OT exegesis. The New Testament concentration includes grammar and translation instruction and a teaching of the general epistles and revelation.

All adult programs at Cornerstone permit students to choose their delivery format, allowing you to take courses online, in-person or through a blended model. Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard and students can study at their own pace. This program follows an accelerated course schedule, allowing many students to graduate in just 18 months.

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Missouri Baptist University

 2/544.22%Saint Louis, MO

Missouri Baptist’s Christian ministry program provides students a foundational education in theology. The program develops Christ-like characteristics in church leaders, preparing them to share the love and wisdom of Christ with their congregation. Students can customize their graduate track, choosing either pastoral ministries, urban ministries, apologetic studies, biblical counseling or biblical languages as their area of emphasis. The degree requires two years of study.

The program is customized for busy adult learners, offering a fully online format and year-round enrollment for maximum flexibility. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard. Online classes meet once per week for eight week-long sessions.

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Southeastern University

 3/542.47%Lakeland, FL

Southeastern’s M.A. in Theological Studies cultivates aspiring pastors and religion professors. The program offers an in-depth exploration of the Bible, theology and the principles of the Pentecostal denomination. Five core subjects comprise the bulk of the 48-hour program: historical theology, systematic theology, biblical theology, ethical theology and practical theology. The elective courses required in practical ministry and research are also applicable to Southeastern’s Master’s in Ministerial Leadership.

Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard, though students attend a synchronous mandatory weekly discussion meeting for each eight-week course. Enrollment follows the traditional academic semester calendar. As is common among fully online degree programs, students will complete a variety of graded and ungraded assignments to help acclimate themselves to the virtual classroom.

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Loyola University – New Orleans

 3/561.94%New Orleans, LA

The pastoral studies master is offered through the College of Social Sciences at Loyola Institute for Ministry. Coursework brings together skills from the realm of social work and focused competencies in theology according to the Catholic tradition. The course requires 36 course credit hours, comprising a combination of theological core classes, electives in related topics, focus area courses and a capstone. Students select a concentration relevant to their ministerial or spiritual path. Among other options, students can choose to focus on Christian Spirituality for Ministry, Digital Culture and Ministry or Religion and Ecology.

The pastoral studies degree is offered in three settings: online, on-campus or in a hybrid format. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard, though synchronous live lectures and educational events are also available as a supplement to relevant coursework. On Blackboard, students use a variety of interactive tools, discussion forums and social media platforms.

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Heritage Christian University

 1/550%Florence, AL

The Master of Ministry degree at Heritage helps ministers enhance their leadership and service skills so they can engage their congregation more effectively. The 36-hour program comprises six required sections: general courses, introduction to graduate studies, a major, a minor, electives and a practicum. Students select a major and minor from topics including ministerial counseling, homiletics/ministerial care, history of biblical interpretation and theology and biblical studies. Electives, comprising 12 hours of the degree requirement, can be selected from any graduate program at HCU.

Distance learners are occasionally required to attend events on campus. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Populi and Tegrity, web platforms that provide access to video lectures, interactive live conferencing and other multimedia tools.

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Virginia Baptist College

 1/5N/AFredericksburg, VA

Virginia Baptist’s Biblical Studies program allows students who feel called to expand their knowledge of the Bible to continue their education in post-graduate study. Students adhere to one of two available tracks: language and non-language courses of study. Students focused on language-based theology will study Greek and Hebrew while taking electives in ministerial or theological education. Those opting for the non-language concentration simply select the majority of their courses from related offerings in ministry and education. Both tracks must complete core studies requirements, including advanced hermeneutics, theology and an introduction to the Old and New Testaments.

The fully online program can be completed throughout the year, in both week-long modules and projects with variable completion times. Students in the language-based theology concentration complete courses in a traditional semester-driven format. Students use a web-platform called Populi to download and consume podcasts and lectures.

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Bethesda University of California

 2/575%Anaheim, CA

The Biblical Studies program at Bethesda University of California helps students deepen their understanding of the Bible. This two-year professional degree comprises 60 hours of foundations courses in biblical study. Further coursework includes theological and historical evaluation, practical ministry training and field education requirements. The program is structured for students who already work as ministers and pastors.

Coursework is delivered through Moodle. While classes are typically asynchronous, students are occasionally required to complete assignments or activities at designated times. With a comprehensive online learning system customized to suit the needs of distance learners, Bethesda encourages students to maximize their use of group forums and social chat rooms. These tools are the primary form of communication between students and instructors.

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South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary

 2/5N/ADeerfield Beach, FL

The biblical studies program at SFBC&TS teaches students to analyze the bible in a historical context. During this 36-credit program, students learn to evaluate Christian doctrine while they develop their biblical worldview. The school expects students to be involved in the ministry of their local church while they take classes. Additionally, all distance learners are required to complete an exegetical research project prior to graduation.

Students must complete 12 courses to graduate. Most coursework can be completed asynchronously, and classes follow the same semester-based schedule that residential students adhere to. Distance learners access their classes online through Populi, where they can also find homework and other course materials.

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Ministerial and theological work is not for everyone. Students blessed with the belief, patience and grace for religious training are a rare breed, and prospective theological students should understand and evaluate the rigors of studying in an advanced program before pursuing an online Master’s in Theology.

For those called to theology, both the classwork and the career opportunities that await after graduation are incredibly rewarding. Students can expect to deepen their understanding of Christian principles and the Bible. The programs listed above provide exposure to the world’s most influential religious texts, while renowned faculty train students to become experts in religious history and cross-cultural ethics. Those programs prepare you for a career in religious-based academia or for life in the ministry, and the school will offer insight into the challenges inherent in providing religious counsel in the modern world. Students also emerge from school prepared to integrate scripture with modern technology in either academia or the church.

Most graduates with a theology master’s find employment in the church as pastors or parish leaders. Beyond religious organizations, theology degree-holders often find gainful employment within educational institutions, including elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and professional learning facilities. Though master’s degree-holders are typically eligible for teaching jobs at churches and schools, most colleges require theology professors to hold a doctorate.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s in theology may help you qualify for an entry-level job, though most theological careers require at least a master’s degree. Fortunately, fulfilling positions are increasingly in demand for postsecondary graduates: the BLS projects an employment growth of 8.9% among religious workers between 2012 and 2022 and reports an annual mean wage of $34,700 as of May 2014 for professionals in this occupation, an increase from a reported $31,600 in 2011.

While the coursework in any postsecondary program will challenge people of all backgrounds, the online format facilitates efficient instruction while providing sufficient resources for students to succeed. Distance learners have as much access to world-class faculty and a variety of theological subfields as residential students, and the online format is ideal for working professionals to strengthen their bond with Christ without disrupting their professional and familial responsibilities. If a career and a life in theology is your true calling, earning your diploma from one of the best master’s degree in theology programs online is the perfect way to get started.


The methodology behind our rankings is grounded in statistical data and a few consistently applied guiding principles. Our 2017 rankings reflect the most recent data compiled from IPEDS and the College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Our goal is to objectively assess relative quality based on academic outcomes, affordability, and the breadth and depth of online learning opportunities. The following criteria was used to make these assessments:

Minimum Requirements

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, not-for-profit institution.
  • Must offer an online master’s in Theology degree program
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ranking Factors

All eligible institutions are ranked on a 100 point scale. A perfect score of 100 is earned by ranking #1 for all ranking factors.


  • Admissions Rate – 25%
  • Enrollment Rates – 15%
  • Retention Rate – 15%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate – 25%
  • Number of Master’s Theology Graduates – 20%


  • Average Net Price – 40%
  • Percentage of Enrolled Students Taking Federal Loans – 20%
  • Loan Default Rate – 40%


  • Percentage of Graduate Programs Offered Online – 40%
  • Graduate School Enrollment – 40%
  • Percentage of Programs Offered at the Graduate level – 20%