The Best Online Bible Colleges

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In a world where alarming headlines are an everyday reality, there is a growing need for clergy, counselors and others who can restore calm, encourage hope and bring people together to strengthen their faith. Bible colleges are designed to help students achieve a deeper understanding of theology and pursue vocations that allow them to serve through ministry, community outreach or missions. The focus on religious studies without the distractions and demands of a more traditional university puts students on a fast track to an online degree in Biblical Studies or Ministry.

The best online programs for earning a bachelor’s or associate’s degree from a bible college are listed below. Snapshots of each college include an overview of academic strengths, learning goals and statistics. Several of the colleges offer a combination of distance learning classes with classroom instruction, while others offer all online programs.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Southeastern Baptist College

 1/580%Laurel, MS


Southeastern Baptist College offers a handful of online courses each term. The classes incorporate a biblical worldview in a Christian setting, and distance learners can choose from courses on Christian doctrine or take a marketing class presented within a biblical context. Each course counts for three credit hours and can be taken either independently or to fulfill a requirement for an SBC degree program.

Online courses at Southeastern Baptist College are open to professed Christians; applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis according to previous scholastic accomplishments and future academic potential. SBC's online courses, accessed through the the Populi student portal, offer modular study options to first-time freshmen and returning students who are interested in learning about Christian concepts or aspiring to a career in biblical studies or ministry.

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John Wesley University

 2/557.14%High Point, NC


John Wesley University is among the top bible colleges online to offer numerous options for distance education, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in ministry and theological studies. Online coursework mimics on-campus class time, and distance students may choose to take individual courses or complete an entire degree online. Depending on the student's area of concentration, degrees offered online may explore Christian education, intercultural studies, pastoral ministry, and more.

Though the majority of coursework can be completed online through the Canvas eLearning system, students may be required to fulfill the same community/Christian service credit hours in addition to academic credits as on-campus students, in their own time. Applicants to online degree programs are expected to commit to at least five hours of study time per course each week; students looking for an accelerated program may enroll in summer courses to potentially qualify for an earlier graduation date.

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LeTourneau University

 4/551.47%Longview, TX


LeTourneau University offers online bible college courses in biblical studies and ministry through its Arts and Sciences department. Students learn the philosophical concepts and practical applications of effective ministry skills. In addition to exploring individual courses online, students may choose to complete a BS or BBSM in biblical studies and ministry. Though electives may vary depending on area of interest, core coursework may include evangelism and discipleship, ministry of teaching, and biblical literature.

Online courses and degrees may be available in an accelerated format, generally offering year-round, three- or five-week sessions per course. Distance learners completing an online BS or BBSM in biblical studies and ministry are required to complete a total of 126 or 124 course credit hours, respectively, to earn their degree.

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Piedmont International University

 2/5N/AWinston-Salem, NC


Piedmont International offers online bible college courses and degrees in a variety of disciplines, including theology, leadership and ministry, education, and arts and sciences, all of which incorporate Christian principles and values. Generally, online coursework prepares students for a career in Christian ministry. Unique programs offered online at Piedmont International include an MA in Leadership and a one-year intensive biblical foundations course for those pursuing professional Christian education.

Piedmont International offers online coursework through the Spurgeon School of Online Education Admissions. Distance education courses are offered in two seven-week sessions per semester during a total of six predetermined enrollment dates throughout the academic year. Students complete weekly assignments asynchronously through Blackboard, and online courses are typically comprised of 15 students or less.

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Clear Creek Baptist Bible College

 2/561.54%Pineville, KY


Clear Creek students may take individual courses, including general education classes, or a BA in Pastoral Ministry online. They may also pursue a Certificate in bible that gives students a deeper understanding of the Old and New Testaments in the bible. This certificate is earned after completing 28 credit hours. Students in the pastoral ministry program are required to complete service activities in order to graduate.

Applicants must demonstrate specific personal and spiritual qualities to be considered for admission, including evidence of a divine call to vocational ministry or Christian service and at least one year of active church membership. Distance education courses are delivered through the Sakai learning system. Students enrolled in online coursework may be required to fulfill additional course credits according to the online chapel services system, with a separate student portal login.

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Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania

 3/554.37%Clarks Summit, PA

Listed among the best online bible colleges in the nation for its broad selection of academic offerings, distance learners may pursue a variety of certificates, as well as undergraduate, graduate, and seminary degrees online through Summit University of Pennsylvania. The school also offers traditional majors--such as counseling, education, and philosophy--centered on the Christian value system. Students may take individual courses or complete a certificate or degree program in its entirety online.

Enrollment for online programs is open to new students five times each year. Depending on the program and major of the student's choice, some courses may require a one-week, on-campus module in addition to online coursework, while others may require a combination of online and in-person attendance. Distance education courses are delivered asynchronously through Moodle. Most online courses are eight weeks in length, though some exceptions may apply.

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Dallas Baptist University

 4/554.6%Dallas, TX

Dallas Baptist University offers one of the largest selection of distance courses and programs among online bible colleges in the country. Students have a variety of choices involving Christ-centered education such as servant leadership, youth ministry, and developing a Christian mind. The school also offers coursework online in conventional subjects all within the framework of Christian leadership. Students may choose from hundreds of courses as well as associate, bachelor's, master's, and dual-degree options available online.

Online course length at DBU varies depending on the length of the semester during which the course is offered; semesters range from 5-16 weeks in length. Many courses offer open enrollment during fall, spring, and summer semesters, depending on individual student preference. Distance education courses are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard.

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Moody Bible Institute

 3/586.48%Chicago, IL

Moody Bible Institute offers both undergraduate- and graduate-level online bible college courses in ministry, theology, education, and the bible. Online programs include a 60-hour associate degree in biblical studies, a 25-hour undergraduate certificate, a 36-hour master's in applied biblical studies, and numerous 120-hour bachelor's degree options. All programs incorporate the concepts of Christian ethics and leadership into the curriculum, which is designed to provide professional training for those aspiring to careers in ministry, theology, and/or congregational and community engagement.

Online coursework is customizable according to individual student needs. Distance learners may enroll in one or more courses at a time, depending on preference, and they may choose either an 8-week accelerated or 16-week self-paced format. Both delivery methods follow a week-to-week assignment schedule. Online courses are delivered asynchronously through Blackboard.

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University of Northwestern – St Paul

 4/566.81%Saint Paul, MN

University of Northwestern-St. Paul offers individual online courses as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of subjects involving Christ-centered education. Students may take online undergraduate courses in bible, biblical arts, and ministry, among many other majors. An undergraduate certificate and associate degree in bible, as well as a bachelor's in biblical studies, are also available entirely online. The graduate degrees in theological studies and divinity degrees are hybrid programs that require students to be on campus part of the time.

Though offered online, some programs may require completion of an exposition, seminar, or other immersion course to finish the degree. In addition to courses and programs for new and returning adult students, online coursework is available to qualifying high school juniors and seniors through Minnesota's Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program. Online programs are delivered asynchronously via theROCK virtual student portal.

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Heritage Christian University

 2/550%Florence, AL

The same undergraduate and graduate degrees in biblical studies, ministry, and divinity are offered to online and on-campus students. Undergraduate students may choose from a 65-hour AA in biblical studies or a 128-hour BA in biblical studies. Graduate students may select either the 36-hour Master of Ministry or the 75-hour Master of Divinity, both of which include a required practicum to complete the degree. Most distance education programs at the graduate level require minimal on-campus attendance, on at least two occasions during the course of the degree.

Applicants may enroll in online programs during the fall or spring semester. With the exception of housing and campus-based financial aid opportunities, online applicants are held to the same rigorous standards and requirements as traditional students. All students are required to submit three letters of recommendation with their application, which must remain on file at Heritage for the duration of their studies. Online programs are delivered through Populi and Tegrity virtual learning platforms.

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Indiana Wesleyan University

 4/562.53%Marion, IN

IWU Online offers more than 80 online bible college courses in a variety of majors, including theology and ministry, as well as certificates and master's degrees through its Wesley Seminary school. In addition to numerous academic programs centered on bible studies and ministry education, IWU Online also offers the same conventional programs as on campus, all presented in the context of Christian values and immersive, faith-based curriculum. Most degree programs require a practicum in order to meet licensing and/or ordination standards for the student's preferred denomination of practice.

Distance learners participate in a consortium-style learning environment and spend the duration of their programs with the same group of peers. Students complete weekly assignments asynchronously via the MyIWU student portal; master's degrees earned through Wesley Seminary typically require completion of a capstone project in addition to online foundations coursework. Though terms vary according to program, certificate and degree programs in biblical studies, religious studies, and Christian ministries are offered at multiple start dates throughout the academic year.

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Nazarene Bible College

 3/516.67%Colorado Springs, CO

Nazarene Bible College offers online undergraduate degrees, certificates, and continuing education programs in ministry and ministry preparation. These online courses and programs span a diverse range of optional study tracks, majors, and concentrations for students aspiring to enter the ministry and/or educate others of the Christian faith. Distance learners earning their AA degree may choose from concentrations such as early education and Hispanic pastoral ministries, while bachelor's degree students can major in bible and theology, leadership and ethics, or Hispanic pastoral ministries, among other areas of interest.

Distance learners may take courses through the accelerated degree-completion format or the modular online course delivery system, which is primarily used for ministry-preparation programs. Courses are delivered through the MyNBC student portal, and assignments are completed asynchronously online. Interested students are required to submit transcripts along with their application, but Nazarene does not require an application fee, essay, or recommendation letters to apply, though terms vary according to program.

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Amridge University

 2/522.22%Montgomery, AL

Amridge University is among the nation's best online bible colleges for its variety of undergraduate and graduate programs with curriculums that incorporate a faith-based worldview. Specific courses and credit hour requirements vary according to program. Most bachelor's degrees require completion of a capstone course, and master's degree students who choose the thesis option may be required to complete a portion of their degrees on-campus.

Applicants to online bible courses and programs must submit transcripts of prior education and meet GPA and other requirements as determined by their individual program's standards. Courses are delivered through Blackboard. Amridge is proud to be a military friendly university, offering a special military tuition program to offset the costs of tuition, supplies, and fees for students who qualify.

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Regent University

 3/550%Virginia Beach, VA

Regent University offers more than 60 online degree programs that span numerous subjects through its College of Arts and Sciences and various graduate schools. Students may earn a degree in biblical and theology studies, Christian ministry, or Christian studies, among other faith-based subject areas, or select a conventional area of interest such as accounting, business, or nursing. All courses and programs at Regent are presented within the context of a strong Christian framework. Most bachelor's degrees require an internship and capstone course; master's degrees may require a thesis and/or supervised ministry experience.

Distance learners must be accepted by traditional means into Regent University, as well as submit the online enrollment agreement. Many online degrees offer students a variety of options for online degree-completion, including hybrid, modular and accelerated formats. Courses are delivered via weekly assignments through Blackboard. Enrollment periods vary according to each program, however some programs open enrollment during fall, spring and summer terms.

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Shasta Bible College and Graduate School

 3/537.5%Redding, CA

Shasta offers online bible college courses that can be applied to certificate, associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs. Students may choose from an extensive selection of majors, all of which are designed to further leadership and spirituality within the Christian faith. The school offers programs that explore biblical studies, Christian teacher education, pastoral ministry, military chaplaincy, and many more. Distance learners may complete courses individually, toward degree-completion credits, or wholly as part of a degree or certificate program.

Distance education courses at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School are concurrent with on-campus classes, comprising 15-week-long sessions during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants to the online program submit the same materials as their on-campus counterparts. Courses are delivered asynchronously through the Populi student portal. Online and on-campus courses are taught by the same faculty, most of which are also full-time ministers or administrators involved with a Christian organization.

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Lancaster Bible College

 3/561.86%Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Bible College offers online bible college courses through a variety of undergraduate degrees and immersive programs. Available programs include a BA and AA in bible, a BA in biblical studies, and a concentrated bible course. All programs providing a foundation in theology and theological concepts are designed with an interdenominational approach. Lancaster offers up to 30 tuition-free "life credits" for students who are able to demonstrate prior learning through personal experience.

Distance learners who apply to an accelerated online program at Lancaster Bible College must be at least 23 or show demonstrated maturity through full-time employment or married status and have a GPA of at least 2.0. They must also show a commitment to Jesus Christ as well as submit a reference from either a pastor, elder, or deacon of the church. Courses can be accessed and completed asynchronously through the student portal page.

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Lee University

 3/554.48%Cleveland, TN

Lee University offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees spanning six subjects, as well as an online bible certificate program. Undergraduate students may choose to major in Liberal studies, bible and theology, Christian studies, or ministry leadership; master's degrees are available online in ministry studies and business administration. Distance programs are designed to incorporate a multidisciplinary approach and allow students to customize their curriculum through a combination of core, general education, specialty, and collateral coursework.

Applicants to Lee University's distance programs must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, as well as at least three years of "life experience" post-high school graduation. Generally, distance courses are eight-weeks-long and require 14-17 hours of study time per week for the duration of the term. Most courses are delivered asynchronously through Moodle, though occasional synchronous sessions may be required by some instructors, depending on the course.

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Gods Bible School and College

 2/542.86%Cincinnati, OH

God's Bible School and College offers online undergraduate degrees through its Aldersgate Distance Education program. Available degrees include an AA in bible and theology, an AAS in ministerial education, and BAs in biblical and theological studies, ministerial education, and church and family ministries. Within these bachelor's degrees, students may select a specialty track or cognate from numerous options, including leadership, Christian counseling, and world missions. Distance learners may take courses individually or as part of a comprehensive degree plan.

GBSC distance education applicants are required to submit a letter of recommendation from a church leader, such as a pastor or deacon, along with their admissions materials. Generally, distance courses are offered on a semester schedule similar to on-campus courses, offering enrollment in spring and fall terms, though exceptions may apply. Coursework is delivered through GBSC's student portal.

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Huntsville Bible College

 1/5N/AHuntsville, AL

Huntsville Bible College offers online undergraduate degrees as well as a certificate in biblical studies. Available majors include ministry, Christian ministry and theology, and conventional subjects including business technology, social work and childhood development. All programs are designed to uphold the same coursework and enrollment standards as their on-campus counterparts. Many distance courses are taught by on-campus faculty in their respective departments of specialty.

Distance education students at Huntsville are required to follow the same application process as traditional students. Courses are offered through Edvance 360 and the HBC student portal. Students may pursue individual courses as part of a non-degree-seeking program, or complete their undergraduate degree or certificate entirely online. Most courses are three credit hours and follow 16-week spring and fall semester schedules and an 8-week summer term at HBU.

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South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary

 2/5N/ADeerfield Beach, FL

South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary offers online BA degrees in leadership and ministry and business administration and management. Within these programs, coursework explores concepts respective to each major, including accounting, marketing, and ethics training for business administration and management majors; and Christian counseling, teaching and preaching, and communication concepts for leadership and ministry students.

Students interested in the online bible college courses at SFCTS are required to adhere to the same policies as traditional, on-campus students. Distance learners must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and submit a letter of recommendation from their church pastor to be considered for admission. Courses are accessed through Populi and enrollment is offered year-round. In addition to completing a full bachelor's degree online, non-degree-seeking distance learners have the option of taking individual courses for college credit.

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Manhattan Christian College

 3/545.45%Manhattan, KS

Manhattan Christian College offers two distance education degrees at the bachelor level in biblical leadership and management and ethics. A 21-hour certificate program in biblical leadership is also available online for those who do not require a full undergraduate degree. MCC's distance education degrees are intended for students seeking an accelerated degree-completion program, and applicants are required to have completed at least 40 credits of post-secondary education or military experience to be eligible to enroll. Both degrees require completion of a Christian service course, and the BS in management and ethics requires a capstone project.

Distance courses at MCC are eight weeks in length, and, in order to remain eligible for online-specific financial aid, students are limited to two courses per eight-week term. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through MCC Online, which also provides distance learners with access to the same virtual resources as on-campus students. Applicants must submit official forms completed by their personal references as part of their admissions materials.

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Colorado Christian University

 4/542.26%Lakewood, CO

Online bible college courses at Colorado Christian University span a broad variety of subjects and range from certificates to post-bachelor's specialty programs. Students may elect to complete an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree or certificate online in majors including biblical studies, theological studies, and Christian leadership, among many other traditional subjects such as nursing and business. A post-baccalaureate educator licensing endorsement program is also available online at CCU. Non-degree-seeking students may also take individual online courses or study via hybrid format.

CCU distance courses are offered via accelerated format in sessions that last five weeks. The university's course schedule is the same for both online and on-campus students, counting fall, spring, and summer semesters as the whole of the academic year. Coursework is delivered through Blackboard, and students may enroll at the start of a course at any time throughout the year. Though similar, degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students are required to adhere to minor differences in the application process in order to communicate their intentions for online study at CCU.

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Central Baptist College

 3/531.73%Conway, AR

Available online courses and degree programs at Central Baptist include associate and bachelor's degrees for the non-traditional student such as a BS in leadership and ministry, a BBA in business administration, and an AS in military technologies. CBC also offers a customizable online general studies degree.

CBC distance learners must submit the same basic admissions materials as on-campus students for consideration. The university's schedule allows enrollment for courses in fall, spring, and summer semesters. Coursework is delivered through the Webstudy portal and supported by the Campus Anyware system. Distance courses are typically five weeks in length and consist of at least eight online sessions with the instructor and peers.

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Barclay College

 3/547.06%Haviland, KS

Barclay College offers a variety of certificates and undergraduate degrees online. Students may choose an associate degree in general studies or a bachelor's degree or certificate in subjects including biblical studies, Christian ministry leadership, business management, and psychology. Online programs are intended as accelerated degree-completion tracks of study, so students who wish to enroll must have completed 50-60 prior credits with at least a "C" grade to meet eligibility standards.

As part of their formal application, distance learners must submit proof of a GPA of at least 2.0 along with standardized test scores and two references, one personal and one professional. Coursework is accessible by obtaining credentials from Barclay staff and logging in to the exclusive student portal page. Certificates available via distance learning at Barclay are open only to students with at least 24 prior college credit hours.

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Southwestern Assemblies of God University

 3/541.03%Waxahachie, TX

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is among the best online bible colleges for its selection of degrees and programs, including more than 70 associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees, as well as fast-track options in a range of disciplines. Distance learners have their choice of majors including faith-based bible and theology, children and family ministry, divinity, and church leadership topics; traditional degrees are also available in subjects including business, English, and education. SAGU also offers four unique fast-track options, which combine bachelor's and master's requisites in an accelerated online program, in church leadership, child and family ministry, pastoral leadership, and youth and student ministry.

Applicants to distance education programs at SAGU are required to demonstrate evidence of a born again spiritual experience, as well as lead a Christian lifestyle and provide a character reference to support this admission. Students with prior qualifying life and/or work experience may be eligible to receive up to 45 hours of course credits through the 3-hour experiential learning credit program. Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Most distance learning degrees offer flexible start dates and open enrollment during fall, spring, and summer terms.

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While Christian liberal arts universities and colleges offer a more broad-based curriculum, the best online bible colleges offer focused degree programs and fellowship opportunities with like-minded people who want to devote their lives to service in a faith-based occupation, often as pastor of a church or in the role of a missionary. In addition to comprehensive online programs that center on bible study and preparing for ministry, bible colleges also provide students with off-campus opportunities for community outreach with pastoral training at homeless shelters, nursing homes, prisons and other venues. Students who are pursuing online degree programs in Biblical Studies and Ministry frequently have a chance to socialize with other students and professors through online discussion groups, on-campus meetings or at local churches and community events.

Graduates from online bible colleges have an opportunity to pursue several different careers. The field continues to grow as religious organizations expand and add new administrative and managerial positions. While occupations in the religion sector aren’t known for offering the highest paying salaries, the rewards can be great for those who choose to follow their passion and pursue a vocation that makes faith and serving others a priority. The table below highlights median annual salaries for four of the most popular vocations pursued by graduates from bible college online programs.

Minister or Pastor: The minister of a church performs religious worship services and provides spiritual and moral guidance to members. Depending on the size of the church the minister may also be responsible for administrative duties and hiring other staff members.

Bible Studies Professor: A professor of bible studies may teach at a bible College or teach theology or a specialized religious topic at a liberal arts college or university. Education and training may include studying religious philosophy, plus in-depth study of the bible and religions around the world.

Choir Director: The Choir Director of a church has specialized music skills in addition to a college degree from a university or bible college. Duties include working with the minister to coordinate appropriate songs for worship services, overseeing choir rehearsals and recruiting members to perform with the church choir.

Youth Director: Youth directors at many churches are frequently assistant pastors. The youth program director coordinates classes and activities, and works with young people of the church to strengthen their faith through bible study, counseling sessions and community outreach activities.

PositionMedian Annual SalaryProjected Growth Rate
Minister (Clergy)$46,5100.9%
Choir Director$48,1803%
Bible Studies Professor$70,79013%
Youth Program Director$41,6101.8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook

There are many other career opportunities available to graduates of online bible colleges. You might work as a business administrator for a religious group, take on a counseling or administrative role with a faith-based nonprofit organization, or serve as a missionary in a foreign country. Some larger churches and religious groups also employ administrators who oversee missions, community outreach activities and other services. For those hoping to find work with a church or other faith-based organization, a bible college online program can provide the training and certification necessary for a respected and meaningful career.

Professional Organizations

Council for Christian Colleges and Universities: CCCU offers more than 100 programs and services to meet the needs of Christ-centered colleges and universities. In addition to providing professional development and research resources, the website features job postings and networking opportunities.

Association for Biblical Higher Education: Responsible for evaluating and accrediting many of the nation’s bible colleges, this association website offers a list of accredited colleges, career listings and practice exams accessible to faculty and students.

Association of Theological Schools: In addition to accrediting theological schools, ATS offers valuable resources for students trying to decide which bible college to choose and how to evaluate career goals.

Moody Bible Institute Career Development Center: Affiliated with Moody bible Institute, the Career Development Center provides career assessment assistance to potential students and assists graduates and churches throughout the country with job listings, counseling and networking opportunities.

Ratio Christi: Bringing together students and faculty around the world to discuss historical, philosophical and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ, this global movement encourages a renaissance of Christian thinking at universities and bible colleges.