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.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MASTER'S IN THEOLOGY?

Graduates with a master’s in theology are prepared for ministerial work as pastors or parish leaders and educator positions at all levels. Read more here.

DO I NEED AN UNDERGRADUATE IN THEOLOGY TO SEEK A MASTER'S IN THEOLOGY?

Admission requirements vary between schools. Some require students to hold a seminary-related undergraduate degree, while others require them to have any bachelor’s. For more accurate information, learners should contact their prospective schools. Read more here.

HOW MANY CREDITS ARE NEEDED FOR A MASTER'S IN THEOLOGY?

Credit requirements will vary between program, but will usually be between 30 and 50 credits. For more accurate information, students should check with their prospective schools. Read more here.

HOW MUCH DO THEOLOGY PROFESSORS EARN WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that in 2017, religion teachers earned a median salary of $69,590. Read more here.

IS A MASTER'S IN DIVINITY THE SAME AS A MASTER'S IN THEOLOGY?

A master’s divinity is considered the minimum degree to assume pastoral roles. The master’s of theology is most commonly used as a stepping stone to move into a Ph.D.. program in theology. Earning a master’s in theology can reduce the credit requirements of a Ph.D.. program. Read more here.

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.

Most graduates with a theology master’s find employment in the church as pastors or parish leaders, but can also find gainful employment at elementary and secondary schools, and universities.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN THEOLOGY PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

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.

WILL A MASTER’S IN THEOLOGY ONLINE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

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.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MASTER’S IN THEOLOGY?

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.

WHAT ARE THE BEST MASTER OF THEOLOGY ONLINE PROGRAMS?

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.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 Columbia International University RANKING SCORE 75.58 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 62% LOCATION Columbia, SC

CIU is a public university that was founded in 1929 in Columbia, South Carolina. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including a master's in theology online program. There are two program tracks: one for those with a minimum of 30 credits in biblical studies, church history, or theology and another for those who lack any previous experience in theological studies.

The 30-credit curriculum include courses on systematic theology, Bible interpretation, spiritual foundations, and modern evangelism. Students are assigned an academic adviser to craft their individual degree plan and can graduate in one-and-a-half to two years. This program combines practical knowledge and skills with an emphasis on the interpretation of scripture and spiritual growth. The online curriculum is the same as the on-campus version of the program. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. CIU welcomes transfer students and allows up to 49% of degree credits to be transferred from another university. However, accreditation mandates prohibit any life experience to count in lieu of the standard prerequisites.

Admission requires a master's degree from an accredited institution, although prerequisite courses taken at the bachelor's level may also be considered. In their previous education, students must demonstrate a minimum average grade of "C." Students in this online program receive a discounted tuition rate.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Tuition: $495/credit
Credit requirements: 48 credits
Program length: 1.5 to 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (803) 807-5024
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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2 Moody Bible Institute RANKING SCORE 74.74 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 55% LOCATION Chicago, IL

MBI is a private Christian university that was founded by evangelist and businessman Dwight Lyman Moody in 1886.

An interdenominational college that allows students to tailor degree plans to their career aspirations, Moody's many online programs provide working professionals the opportunity to earn advanced degrees around their busy work schedules.

Students interested in ministering should consider enrolling in Moody's master of arts in theology online. From its campus in Chicago, Illinois, the university's distance learning department provides a concentration in biblical exposition for students aspiring to work as musicians, evangelists, missionaries, or theological leaders and communicators. The 36-credit curriculum prepares students to compose and deliver effective sermons in any genre. Over the course of twelve classes in subjects such as homiletics, hermeneutics, narrative, and culture, students develop a personal preaching philosophy that integrates with a wide range of cultural perspectives on theology. Students can graduate from the program within three years.

General admission requirements include submission of official transcripts from accredited schools, a personal statement of the student's experience in ministry, a statement of purpose, and three professional references. Supplemental requirements include completion of the online application, agreement to Moody's doctrinal qualifications, and an autobiographical essay. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Biblical Exposition
Tuition: $420/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Contact
Phone: (800) 588-8344
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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3 Heritage Christian University RANKING SCORE 69.22 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 87% LOCATION Florence, AL

A private university in Florence, Alabama, HCU began offering its master of divinity in 2011. The theology master's online program at HCU prepares students to maintain small church communities by identifying needs and applying research methods to achieve positive outcomes.

The 75-credit program is divided into four parts and has a required spiritual formation element. The first 30 credits center on religious heritage: nine hours in Greek and Hebrew study; 12 hours in the old and new testaments; nine hours in general theology; and an elective course option chosen from either the writings of C.S. Lewis or theological history. Next, students complete 12 credits in a seminar in ministry management and ethical interpretation of scripture, followed by another 12 credits devoted to spiritual development.

The curriculum culminates in a religious heritage praxis in which students earn 27 credits in specialized course options. In this component, students choose 12 credits from classes in either theological counseling or congregational health. An additional nine hours are chosen from classes in theological youth and family care; new or old testament literature; history and biblical interpretation; and Greek or Hebrew. A practicum in ministerial leadership concludes the program, accounting for the required final six credits.

Students can access course content in the form of lectures, recorded presentations, and slideshows using the university's content management system at any time during the program. Students visit the campus in person for a graduate studies introductory orientation, formal graduation, and any comprehensive exams, although alternative arrangements may be considered with approval of the graduate committee. Applicants must submit a personal statement, the names of all previously attended universities, and contact information for three professional references. They must also plan to take the MAT or GRE.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Divinity
Tuition: $249/credit
Credit requirements: 75 hours

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: MAT or GRE

Contact
Phone: (800) 367-3565
Email: mailto:[email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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4 Santa Clara University RANKING SCORE 68.65 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 0% LOCATION Santa Clara, CA

Established in 1934, California's SCU offers a master of theology online through its Jesuit School of Theology for students who seek to advance their understanding of Catholic theological principles in a convenient, flexible format. The curriculum combines topics in theological history, liturgy, and ethics to foster increased scriptural literacy and knowledge of historical doctrines and ethical outcomes. Most classes can be completed virtually, although students may be required to participate in live sessions or class discussion meetings at a specified time.

Students complete 16 courses to earn 48 credits, which takes around two years of full-time study. Part-time students must finish the program within four years from their original registration date. Prior to graduation, all students complete a graduate synthesis paper or project. Basic theology courses make up 36 of the required credits. On top of core courses, the program requires a three-credit proseminar that includes the synthesis paper option. The remaining nine credits are electives. Students with graduate theology courses taken within the last six years may apply for advanced placement in the program. A maximum of twelve transfer credits can be applied to the program completion requirements.

Prerequisites for admission include official transcripts for a baccalaureate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, at least one year of active experience in ministry, and a formal background in theology or religious studies coursework. However, the required previous experience mandates also consider equivalent experiences in lieu of the official program prerequisites. Supplemental application materials include a 750-word personal statement and two letters of recommendation.


Program Overview
Program name: Online Master of Theological Studies
Available concentrations: Liturgy, history, spirituality, ethics
Tuition: $984/credit hour
Credit requirements: 48 credit hours
Program length: 4 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (408) 554-4000
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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5 Clarks Summit University RANKING SCORE 67.81 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 67% LOCATION Clarks Summit, PA

Located in northeast Pennsylvania and founded in 1932, CSU's Baptist Bible Seminary offers a master's in theology online for students interested in Christ-centered careers in ministry leadership. Students learn efficient skills in research and comprehension of scripture, including elements of Greek and Hebrew.

The online program follows a hybrid format, combining one-week, on-campus intensives with courses that students complete remotely. Each semester, students finish the majority of their coursework online, followed by a week of required on-campus study. Each fall and spring semester is divided into two eight-week sessions, and the summer semester is a single eight-week session.

The core curriculum consists of 20 credit hours, followed by 12 credit hours of electives for a total of 32 credit hours. Students complete courses in communication methods in Bible teaching and current trends in global ministry along with seminars in hermeneutics and exegetical methods. The master of theology online program at CSU builds upon the foundation of a master of divinity degree, meaning applicants must have previously earned a master of divinity degree — with biblical Greek and Hebrew studies included — from an accredited university. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required, as well as demonstrated skill in ministry and biblical research in an academic setting.

To apply, students submit the Ph.D studies application since the theology master's degree curriculum parallels the foundational coursework for the Ph.D degree at CSU. Degree plans are tailored to each student's aspirations. The seminary's nine full-time faculty members are experienced professionals with terminal degrees in theology studies, and the school's on-campus library provides distance learners access to various online databases to aid in research and study.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Theology
Tuition: $400/credit
Credit requirements: 32 credit hours
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (800) 451-7664
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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6 Harding University RANKING SCORE 67.55 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 48% LOCATION Searcy, AR

In 1924, Harding was founded as a senior college in Morrilton, Arkansas. After relocating its main campus from Morrilton to Searcy in 1934, Harding became the first institution to offer a master of arts in ministry (MMIN) degree in a fully online format. Recently, Harding suspended its Searcy campus MMIN program due to curriculum overlap with its master of ministry program at the Harding School of Theology, a remote campus in Memphis, Tennessee.

The revised MMIN program from Harding uses a customized learning platform to deliver course content to distance learners one day each week through live interactive video. The majority of students in the program are professional ministers who seek to enhance their biblical knowledge and interpretation skills at a pace that allows them to continue working in their current full-time positions. Students complete an initial MMIN program orientation worth three credits during their first semester of coursework. The subsequent component of nine to 15 credits includes core classes in theological foundations and morals, Old and New Testament studies, and Christian ministry in contemporary culture. The remaining 18-24 credits constitute elective course options in the ministry discipline. Students may register for a one-hour practicum in addition to its corresponding three-hour elective course.

The 36-credit curriculum offers students a multitude of practicum option topics such as the art of preaching; conflict management; spiritual formation and discipleship; servant leadership; women and interdisciplinary ministries; and Christian evangelism strategies. Students complete an integrative capstone project during their final semester of studies. Students in the online master's in theology program have remote access to Harding's library of approximately 120 online databases, which also includes interlibrary loan services for obtaining items outside of the university's current holdings.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Ministry
Tuition: $756/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credit hours
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (501) 279-5290
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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7 Bethany Global University RANKING SCORE 67.14 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Bloomington, MN

Founded under the moniker Bethany Fellowship in 1945, BGU in Bloomington, Minnesota, offers a master of arts in theology online that is identical to its traditional residential program. Students in the cross-cultural ministry program at BGU access all course content virtually, allowing them to tailor the curriculum to fit their needs.

Students complete a core curriculum of intercultural ministry classes in cross-cultural communication, applied cultural anthropology, applied church-planting models and methods, and contextualization missions. Elective course options include classes in intercultural leadership and education. No thesis is required, but students who expect to complete a terminal degree, or who want to teach, are encouraged to complete a thesis prior to graduation. The thesis track is five classes completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Each three-credit course in BGU's 36-credit program lasts eight weeks. Students registering for one course each term can expect to graduate in two-and-a-half years. However, all students must reach graduation within five years of their start date in the program. Tuition rates are the same for all distance learners, regardless of their state residency status.

Students may begin the program at any of the five start times available each year. To apply, they submit an online application form, a teacher/employer reference form, a pastor's reference form, a personal reference form, and official transcripts for their completed baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Applicants with a GPA lower than 2.0 can contact BGU's admissions office to discuss alternative options available for them. Applicants without an undergraduate degree but with experience in missions or ministry may be granted conditional acceptance to the program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Intercultural Ministry Studies
Tuition: $300/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credit hours
Program length: 2.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: No minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (952) 222-0699
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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8 Dallas Baptist University RANKING SCORE 64.87 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 43% LOCATION Dallas, TX

Founded in 1898, DBU in Dallas, Texas, offers a fully online master's in theology with a concentration in children's ministry. The program's emphasis on qualitative research integrates faith and spiritual development for students to serve as leaders in ministry positions worldwide.

The 36-credit core curriculum includes 18 credits of core courses, nine credits of courses in children's ministry, and nine credits of courses in the student's choice of electives in general or special needs children's ministry. The core component addresses topics in leadership, hermeneutics, history and heritage, systematic theology, and spiritual formation and worship. Culmination of the core requirements is a field-based service-learning course in ministry mentorship. Other courses include early childhood ministry, ministry to families, improvement of instruction, disability and suffering, and classroom and behavioral management strategies.

Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all required courses for degree completion and, from start to finish, must complete all coursework within six years. Prerequisites include survey courses in both the Old and New Testaments and at least one graduate-level course in either religion or theology, although this stipulation may be waived if a student has completed acceptable previous coursework.

Application materials are a completed online application, evidence of active church membership within the last 12 months, official transcripts from all previous postsecondary institutions, two letters of recommendation, a 150-word statement of purpose, and a current resume. DBU allows 12 graduate-level credits taken no more than six years prior with a minimum grade of "B" from another regionally accredited university, and the number of credits transferred cannot exceed 50% of the program's required hours for completion. Courses permitted for transfer credits must meet equivalency requirements.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Children’s Ministry
Available concentrations: General, special needs children’s ministry
Tuition: $959/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credit hours
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (214) 333-5943
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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9 Biola University RANKING SCORE 64.64 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 33% LOCATION La Mirada, CA

Biola University's La Mirada campus is located on the border between the Orange and Los Angeles counties, minutes from the beautiful beaches of sunny southern California. The Talbot School of Theology — Biola's theologically conservative evangelical seminary — offers a master of theology online with a concentration in divinity that provides servant leaders the opportunity to continue their theological education in a flexible, fully online program.

Students have six concentration options to choose from: evangelism and discipleship; messianic Jewish studies; missions and intercultural studies; pastoral and general ministries; pastoral care and counseling; or spiritual formation. With the exception of the spiritual formation concentration, all specializations include the option of completing a four-unit thesis. Regardless of focus, all students complete 79 total credits prior to graduation.

The curriculum offers a wide variety of course topics, including hermeneutics and bible study methods; Greek and Hebrew biblical language studies; rabbinic theology and literature; Jewish history; biblical church growth; pastoral ministry; cultural anthropology; Christian formation and discipleship; contemporary biblical preaching; and spiritual formation and vocation. The faculty at Talbot are nationally renowned and widely published scholars with active experience in ministry leadership. Admission requirements vary depending on the chosen concentration. Generally, an undergraduate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.6 from an accredited institution is required, although students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in a baccalaureate degree from an unaccredited program may be granted conditional admission to the program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Divinity
Available concentrations: Evangelism and discipleship, messianic Jewish studies, missions and intercultural studies, pastoral and general ministries, pastoral care and counseling, spiritual formation
Tuition: $621/unit
Credit requirements: 79 units
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.6 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (888) 985-9858
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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10 Creighton University RANKING SCORE 64.16 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 52% LOCATION Omaha, NE

Creighton University, a top-ranked Jesuit university based in Omaha, Nebraska, established its graduate school in 1893. The master of arts in theology online at Creighton prepares students for ministry positions in the Catholic Church; however, ministry professionals from other denominations are also encouraged to apply for admission.

The 46-credit program includes a core curriculum of 36 credits delivered in an accelerated online format divided into eight-week units. The core component covers theological topics in Christology, ecclesiology, catechesis, the Old and New Testaments, Catholic identity, canon law, ecumenism, and moral theology and decision making. Participants earn their next four graduate credits in ministry, personal human and spiritual development of the minister, psychological issues in ministry, and lay spiritual movements. Completion of an internship is required, accounting for between one and four credits. The curriculum concludes with a two-credit synthesis course in lay ecclesial ministry.

The program follows a hybrid format, in which students complete courses remotely during the fall and spring semesters and then attend on-campus, week-long seminars during the summer semester. Students who work full-time and complete one course each semester can graduate in three years. Distance learners in Creighton's master's in ministry program receive 50% remission of tuition fees.

Requirements for admission are three letters of recommendation, a personal statement that details the student's motivations to study ministry at Creighton, and official transcripts for a bachelor's degree within the past decade in any field of study with a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Previous study must include nine credits in undergraduate theology courses. The faculty at Creighton are nationally and internationally renowned scholars and educators. In addition, visiting faculty from equivalent graduate-level programs at other Jesuit institutions contribute to the university's course offerings.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Ministry
Tuition: $425/credit
Credit requirements: 46 credits
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (402) 280-2700
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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11 Fresno Pacific University RANKING SCORE 62.61 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 43% LOCATION Fresno, CA

Founded in 1944 as a Christian and independent university, FPU has a long history of providing a wide variety of postsecondary degree options in flexible formats from its five locations in California's central valley. From the university's main campus in Fresno, FPU's Biblical Seminary has grown to include graduate offerings since it was established in 1955. The school currently offers a theology master's online program designed specifically for pastors in ministry.

The 48-credit master of arts in ministry curriculum at FPU combines theory and practice in its focus on leadership and culture. Divided into four parts, the first 18 credits cover core topics in biblical and theological reflection, including scripture interpretation and renewal movements throughout church history. The next nine credit encompass themes in personal and holistic formation, such as discerning personal vocation and calling, individual spiritual development, and theology and technology. The third component incorporates radical and practical applications in entrepreneurial and transformative leadership; effective public communication and social media use; and resiliency in crises. A capstone course is also required.

Although students complete the three-year program primarily online, FPU's program mandates that students spend 10 hours each week performing in-person service at their local church. In addition, during their time in the program, distance learners participate in weekly synchronous discussions of 90 minutes each and attend three week-long retreats. Admission requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 in an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, a personal profile statement, a writing sample, and three letters of reference. Upon acceptance, each student is assigned a coach or spiritual director to ensure satisfactory degree completion in accordance with the program's leadership standards.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership, and Culture
Tuition: $450/unit
Credit requirements: 48 units
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (559) 453-3690
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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12 University of Dallas RANKING SCORE 62.01 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Irving, TX

Minutes from downtown Dallas in Irving, Texas, the Ann and Joe O. Neuhoff School of Ministry at UD has granted theological study degrees at the postsecondary level since 2005. The school's master's in theology online has two concentration options: biblical theology and Catholic secondary school teaching.

Each concentration requires a specific set of electives germane to the specialization. The latter couples theology courses with education courses and prepares students for certification by the Texas Catholic Conference in secondary education religious studies. Regardless of which track is chosen, all students work with their faculty adviser to complete an annotated bibliography prior to graduation. Upon admission, students first complete a pro-seminar that does not count toward the 37 total credit hours needed to graduate. Next, they begin the 22-credit core curriculum component, which includes study of the Old and New Testaments, systematic theology, and moral and reflective theology.

Students select elective courses from UD's theological course offerings, which involves evangelization and catechesis, homiletics, and pastoral proclamation. With special permission, students may opt to select courses from the business or liberal arts disciplines to satisfy the required 15 hours of electives. For admission, students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA. For transfer students, UD allows a maximum of nine graduate credits from another regionally accredited university to be applied toward degree completion. Additionally, UD's program stipulates a minimum of 28 credits must be taken from the Neuhoff School of Ministry.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Theological Studies
Available concentrations: Biblical theology, Catholic secondary school teaching
Tuition: $650/credit
Credit requirements: 37 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (972) 721-5000
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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13 Lincoln Christian University RANKING SCORE 61.82 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 53% LOCATION Lincoln, IL

Situated on 130 acres in Lincoln, Illinois, LCU strives to make its educational offerings available to anyone, anywhere. Founded as a Bible institute in 1944, the university went on to establish its graduate school in 1952. Today, LCU's seminary provides busy professionals the opportunity to continue their biblical and theological education entirely online through its master of arts in Bible and theology.

The 36-credit curriculum of 12 classes is preceded by an orientation to LCU and a course in graduate research and writing. Students then begin to earn their first 18 credits in the six required core courses, studying general theology and Bible topics like the Old testament, the New Testament, Bible interpretation, and Christian theology worldviews. The second set of 18 credits are earned from the student's electives. Prior to graduation, all students complete a required capstone project based on either research or experience. All 12 courses required for completing LCU's master of theology online are offered remotely. Each course lasts seven or eight weeks, and students can graduate from the 36-credit program in two years. LCU allows a maximum of 18 credits in transfer credit from another university.

Application requirements include submission of official transcripts that demonstrate completion of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited program with a cumulative 2.5 GPA, two written essays, and a character reference to be completed by someone who serves in a church leadership position. Distance learners have access to all of the same online resources as their traditional on-campus peers. Moreover, if a student lives in or is visiting the area during their time in the program, they have full access to every on-campus resource available to all presently enrolled LCU students.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Bible and Theology
Tuition: $440/credit hour
Credit requirements: 12 courses
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: No minimum required

Contact
Phone: (888) 522-5228
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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14 Franciscan University of Steubenville RANKING SCORE 60.25 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 57% LOCATION Steubenville, OH

Ohio's Franciscan University was founded by the first bishop of Steubenville in 1946. In 1980, Franciscan established its theology graduate program, which now gives distance learners the opportunity to earn a master of arts in theology online. The program imparts Catholic theological knowledge in scripture, tradition, and education.

Students choose from three concentration options: catechetics, research, or canon law. The first specialization is for students who seek to serve in the field of catechetics; the research track is for students who intend to pursue a subsequent doctorate degree; and the canon law concentration is for students who aspire to earn a canon law degree at Catholic University of America. Graduation requires completion of 36-42 credits, depending on the chosen concentration. Course offerings in the curriculum include dogmatic theology, Mary in the modern world, New Testament writings, and theology fundamentals. Classes start three times each year, with each semester lasting 15 weeks. Students complete the program in two to seven years. All students are subject to the same tuition rate, regardless of state residency status.

Course content is delivered virtually in recorded lectures, live webinars, podcasts, and vodcast. Small class sizes of no more than 20 students keep student-to-faculty ratio low and quality of education high. Franciscan professors are internationally distinguished professionals in their respective fields of specialty and are steadily available as a resource for students during their time in the program. Faculty also help each student to tailor their individual degree plans for their career goals. Admission requires three letters of recommendation and a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Students with a degree in a field unrelated to theology may have to complete two background courses to begin the program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Theology and Christian Ministry
Available concentrations: Catechetics, canon law, research intensive
Tuition: $685/credit
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (740) 284-5239
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Twitter

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15 Maranatha Baptist University RANKING SCORE 60.14 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 86% LOCATION Watertown, WI

Maranatha Baptist Seminary at MBU in Watertown, Wisconsin, offers busy professionals the option to earn their master's in theology online. MBU was established in 1968 and has grown since then to include 11 degrees that can be obtained completely online. The online master of arts with a concentration in the Bible at MBU emphasizes academic rigor and practical application in its theological curriculum.

The curriculum is split into six components and includes the study of the Old and New Testaments, in addition to systematic, pastoral, and historical theology courses. Class topics cover a wide range of topics, including biblical prophets, gospels, prolegomena, anthropology, hermeneutics, theological systems, apologetics, eschatology, angelology and ecclesiology. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA in all coursework. Requirements allow a maximum of two "C" grades to count toward degree completion. Each session lasts eight weeks.

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. MBU allows a maximum of 12 semester hours to be transferred from an approved institution. If the student's previous school was an approved Bible college, a maximum of 26 credits may be applied toward degree completion. For students who did not complete their undergraduate degree from a Christian college, completion of a minimum of 33 semester hours is necessary, including a prerequisite course in biblical study and teaching principles. Regardless of current state residency, all online students at MBU pay the same tuition rate. Distance learners have access to MBU's estimated 220,000 digital library holdings to aid in their theological study and research. Another resource for all seminary students -- whether traditional on-campus students or distance learners -- is mentorship from MBU's faculty that consists of a diverse population of experienced theological professionals.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Bible
Tuition: $315/credit hour
Credit requirements: 33 credit hours
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (920) 206-2324
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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16 Bryan College-Dayton RANKING SCORE 59.24 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Dayton, TN

Based in the scenic hills of Dayton, Tennessee, Bryan has been providing non-denominational theological postsecondary education to students since 1930. The entirely online master's in theology from Bryan is meant for ministry professionals in leadership, administration, education, missionary, and nonprofit and para-church organization positions. The program teaches students principles in biblical leadership and practical applications in a convenient and flexible format for busy working professionals.

Bryan offers specializations in either ministry administration or Bible education. The former concentration prepares students for a multitude of roles in ministry administration with its focus on business principles for effective management. The latter concentration provides instructional knowledge necessary to effectively teach the Bible, highlighting aspects of theology, apologetics, interpretation, classroom management, and curriculum development. Courses in the 36-credit hour curriculum include Old and New Testament interpretation, history of Christianity, vocation of ministry, and Christian theology and worldview. Courses are delivered online in accelerated format and start every nine weeks. To graduate the program in 18 months, students complete two courses each semester.

To apply, students must submit a completed online application, official undergraduate transcripts, contact information for two professional recommendations, and a statement of intent. Tuition is the same for all online students, whether or not they currently reside in the state of Tennessee. Bryan faculty are experienced Christian leaders with diverse and extensive ministry backgrounds. Small class sizes afford a low student-teacher ratio. It is recommended that each student meet monthly with their appointed adviser to ensure they are on track with their degree plan for completion.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Christian Ministry
Available concentrations: Administration, Bible education
Tuition: $390/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credit hours
Program length: 18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: N/A

Admission Requirements
GPA: No minimum required
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (877) 256-7008
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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17 Multnomah University RANKING SCORE 59.13 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 63% LOCATION Portland, OR

Located on 17 acres in Portland, Oregon, MU was established in 1936 to provide the Pacific Northwest with theological education opportunities. The university held its first classes in a former mortuary with 49 students in attendance. Since then, MU's degree options and its enrollment have progressed to include a wide variety of offerings for theology students.

MU's master of theology online program is designed especially for local church leaders, pastors and program staff, primary and secondary Christian school teachers, and students who intend to pursue doctoral degrees in theology or intercultural studies. The 48-credit curriculum involves biblical, historical, and systematic theology, as well as apologetics and intercultural studies. The program's accelerated format condenses the traditional curriculum, but the coursework is the same for online students as it is for on-campus peers. From start to finish, students can graduate in two years. Although relevant transfer credits are allowed, students must obtain a minimum of 30 credits from MU for degree completion. Students with undergraduate degrees from an accredited Christian university or Bible college may be allowed a maximum of 12 credits toward the 48 required credits. Online tuition rates remain the same for all students, regardless of state residency status.

To apply, students submit official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. A minimum of 32 credits are needs in general studies topics such as English composition, history, speech, sociology, and psychology. Students must have a computer no more than five years old with a high speed internet connection. Additionally, completion of coursework requires a webcam and headphones or a microphone and speakers.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Tuition: $545/credit
Credit requirements: 48 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (503) 251-6485
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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18 Loyola University Chicago RANKING SCORE 58.77 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 24% LOCATION Chicago, IL

Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the largest Jesuit universities in the United States. The private institution boasts more than 80 undergraduate majors and over 170 graduate, professional, and certificate programs. Loyola's 16,000 students also benefit from studying at any one of 13 schools across four campus locations, in addition to the main campus in Lake Shore, Illinois.

Loyola is a pioneer in online learning, first offering distance education programs in 1998. Over the last two decades, Loyola's online programs have grown to comprise more than 40 graduate, certificate, and degree completion programs. The master of divinity program, offered through the Institute of Pastoral Studies, can be completed fully online.

The online master's in theology targets non-ordained students aspiring to become professional ministers. The degree prepares graduates for work in parishes, churches, hospitals, schools, nonprofit organizations, or organizations seeking professional spiritual leaders.

The 24-course curriculum features three main components: reflective critical understanding, faith formation, and ministerial practice. Courses in critical understanding introduce students to essential Christian concepts and theories, and include coursework on scripture, theology, ethics, and Christian living. Classes in faith formation and ministerial practice prepare students to lead in a religious setting and pass on Christian teachings to others. Students can complete the 72 credits of coursework in three to six years, depending on whether they opt for full- or part-time study.

Prospective students should note: this is a hybrid program that requires distance learners to attend an on-campus intensive in liturgical leadership. Graduates join Loyola's network of more than 150,000 alumni in the United States and around the world.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Divinity
Tuition: $1,033/credit hour
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (312) 915-7400
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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19 Milligan College RANKING SCORE 57.72 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 5% LOCATION Johnson City, TN

Located in northeastern Tennessee, Milligan College is a liberal arts institution with more than 150 years of experience in Christian higher education. Milligan serves approximately 1,200 students, and offers more than 100 majors, minors, concentrations, and pre-professional degrees across five schools. The school is affiliated with the non-denominational Christian Church, and integrates biblical perspectives into all academic subjects.

The school's Emmanuel Christian Seminary offers a fully online master of arts in Christian ministries. The program helps active church leaders improve their current work without having to attend school on campus on a full-time basis. Through the program's distance education format, students can learn to serve their communities from the comfort of their own homes.

The MA in Christian ministries includes 17 courses in four subject areas: Christian ministries, biblical studies, church history and Christian theology, and spiritual formation. Students take a total of 48 credits and can complete the program in three years. The MA in Christian ministries is a hybrid program, requiring one to two campus visits per year. In addition to completing 12 online courses, students attend five on-campus intensives over the course of the program.

Milligan believes strongly in the cohort format, which allows students to form relationships with each other despite participating in a distance learning program. During campus visits, the school provides meals and encourages students to meet their classmates and faculty.

For admission to this online master's in theology program, students must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students must also demonstrate that they have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to their church and community.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Christian Ministries
Tuition: $485/credit hour
Credit requirements: 48 credit hours
Program length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: No minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (423) 461-1535
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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20 Northwest Nazarene University RANKING SCORE 54.40 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 67% LOCATION Nampa, ID

Established in 1913, Northwest Nazarene University is one of eight liberal arts colleges in the United States affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. Dedicated to four core values – transformation, truth, community, and service – Northwest Nazarene University integrates Christian faith into all of its academically rigorous programs.

The university started as an elementary school, and has since expanded to offer more than 60 areas of study, 18 master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees. Northwest Nazarene's main campus is located in Nampa, Idaho, but the school also offers courses through its Idaho Falls campus and online.

The master of arts in pastoral ministry is a 40-credit, fully online program. All 15 courses are taught asynchronously. Students may access coursework when it is convenient for them, as long as they submit assignments before the deadline. Northwest Nazarene expects students to engage with class materials five days per week, and students spend 20-25 hours per week in class or completing assignments.

To be considered for the online master's in theology, students must be at least 23 years old with a GPA of at least 2.5 in all academic coursework. The program is not reserved for active ministers only; while many students are ordained ministers, the program is open to anyone interested in a theological education.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry
Available concentrations: N/A
Tuition: $510/credit
Credit requirements: 40 credits
Program length: 28 months

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (877) 668-4968
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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21 Cedarville University RANKING SCORE 54.27 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 40% LOCATION Cedarville, OH

Cedarville University was founded in 1887 in Cedarville, Ohio. Affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the school imparts a biblical worldview to all of its nearly 4,000 students and builds a Bible minor into all undergraduate programs of study. Cedarville offers more than 130 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across nine departments and six schools.

Cedarville's eight online programs include the master of ministry degree, which is intended for clergy members. In addition to improving their ministry skills, graduates learn to make an impact in their home communities. Cedarville also welcomes students who are not currently in ministry and are interested in transitioning to a new career.

The 12-course curriculum is typically completed in two semesters, and blends Christian teachings and practical skills. Students master essential biblical concepts through courses in biblical theology and contemporary theology, while required classes in ministry, education, and preaching help students develop methods for teaching and leading others.

Students earning the master's in theology online complete a six-hour internship that acts as a capstone project. Degree seekers gain ministry experience under the mentorship of seasoned ministers, and have the flexibility to complete the internship during any semester. Additionally, students enhance their ministerial and critical thinking abilities through one colloquium each semester. These high-level courses involve meeting with the program director to pray and discuss Christian topics.

Cedarville requires prospective students to have a GPA of 2.3 or higher when applying to the master of ministry program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Ministry
Tuition: $399/credit
Credit requirements: 38 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.3 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (937) 766-7700
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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22 Cornerstone University RANKING SCORE 53.07 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 47% LOCATION Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone University is an interdenominational Christian institution located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1941 as the Baptist Bible Institute with just 200 students, the school now offers more than 100 programs in fields such as business, education, and psychology at the undergraduate, graduate, and seminary degree level.

Cornerstone features 23 online degrees and certificates, including the MA in ministry leadership. This program is open to all students currently in ministry, those who wish to transition into ministry, and those who are simply interested in personal religious development.

Students can complete a master of arts in theology online, which allows them to deepen their biblical knowledge and become more effective ministers -- all while working full-time. Courses include biblical hermeneutics, global impact, and organizational leadership. The curriculum consists of 12 courses completed in 15-week blocks. Full-time students can complete the curriculum in as few as two years, while part-time students may spread the coursework out over three to four years. Cornerstone also boasts smaller-than-normal cohort groups of just 12 to 15 students, which provides an intimate learning experience.

In addition to a minimum GPA of 2.5, prospective students must provide personal and a ministry references to be considered for admission. Cornerstone makes transferring to one of their programs quick and easy. The school accepts transfer credit from all regionally accredited schools, all Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges, and institutions with a "G" listing or higher in the AACRAO information bulletin. Additionally, Cornerstone participates in the Michigan Transfer Agreement and accepts transfer credit from select non-accredited institutions.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership
Tuition: $460/credit
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2-4 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (616) 949-5300
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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23 Freed-Hardeman University RANKING SCORE 52.63 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 71% LOCATION Henderson, TN

Based in Henderson, Tennessee, Freed-Hardeman University is a private institution in the Church of Christ tradition. The school has a total enrollment of under 2,000 students, and boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. Freed-Hardeman awards degrees through six schools, and offers 14 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs.

Freed-Hardeman's online master's are available in a unique distance format. All classroom sessions are recorded and broadcast in real time, allowing distance students to learn alongside their on-campus classmates. Students can also watch classes whenever it fits into their schedule.

The fully online master of divinity is meant for current or future preachers, educators, and counselors interested in high-level Bible study. The university requires students to complete 87 hours of coursework in topics including apologetics, ministry, and missions. Students take additional introductory courses in Greek and Hebrew.

The curriculum leaves plenty of room for customization, and students can select from 10 courses to satisfy requirements. Students must also complete a six-hour internship as part of their coursework, and may complete an optional thesis.

Freed-Hardeman requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission to the online master's in theology program, but students with a GPA of 2.5 may be accepted on a conditional basis. Transfer students enrolling the master of divinity program may transfer a maximum of 42 hours to count towards graduation.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Divinity
Available concentrations: Old Testament, New Testament, Biblical languages, apologetics, ministry, missions, church history
Tuition: $590/credit hour
Credit requirements: 87 credit hours

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (731) 989-6624
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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24 St Mary's University RANKING SCORE 51.79 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 6% LOCATION San Antonio, TX

St. Mary's University was founded in 1852 by Marianist brothers and priests in San Antonio, Texas. The school is the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest and grants bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees through four schools and online. One of seven graduate-level programs offered in a distance format, the master of theology program prepares people to serve the Catholic Church. Members of religious communities and lay people alike can work full-time or raise a family while earning their master's in theology online.

St. Mary's master of theology -- established more than 50 years ago -- is available online in a synchronous format. Online students attend class at the same time as their on-campus counterparts, which allows them to interact with classmates and professors in real time, just as they would in a traditional classroom setting.

Students complete the 36-credit program through 11 courses and a capstone project. The program stresses the importance of scripture and offers specialized courses such as psalms and passion narratives, prophets and visionaries, and Johannine literature. In addition to scripture, students take courses in systematic theology and Christian life and practice. The curriculum is highly customizable, and students select courses that best fit their interests.

Once a student is admitted into the program and completes nine credits of coursework, they must submit a candidacy application. Students who complete a thesis are exempt from general examination requirements in the subject area of their project.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Theology
Tuition: $935/credit hour
Credit requirements: 36 credit hours

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: synchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (210) 436-3011
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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25 Point Loma Nazarene University RANKING SCORE 51.72 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 31% LOCATION San Diego, CA

Point Loma Nazarene University -- a liberal arts Wesleyan institution in San Diego, California -- prides itself on its strong Christian heritage. The school was founded in 1902 by Phineas Bresee, a founder of the Church of the Nazarene. Today, Point Loma is recognized for its extensive academic offerings, with more than 60 undergraduate and graduate areas of study available. Serving more than 4,500 students, the school maintains a small student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1.

Point Loma Nazarene University features strong adult education and distance programs, such as the Master of Arts in Christian ministry. The program merges academic rigor and Christian teaching into a core curriculum that includes Christian formation, Christian scripture, church in mission, and Christian tradition.

The curriculum of the Masters of Arts in Christian ministry is delivered in a hybrid format, which means students complete coursework online and on campus at the university's main campus. Each course lasts eight weeks and includes four weeks of pre-course online work, one week of on-campus study, and three weeks of post-course online work.

Students can complete all 36 units through Point Loma Nazarene University or can complete 12 units from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Students can transfer their coursework at PLNU to Nazarene Theological Seminary to complete the Master of Divinity degree. They can also transfer up to 9 approved units from an accredited seminary.

For admission, students must provide official transcripts and a writing sample. Students must also pass an interview with the director of the Master of Arts in Christian ministry program. Courses are taught from the Wesleyan tradition, but the university welcomes students from all denominations.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Christian Ministry
Tuition: $295/unit (2018-19 school year)
Credit requirements: 36 units
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5
Standardized tests: Not required

Contact
Phone: (866) 692-4723
Email: [email protected]

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To get the most out of studying your master’s in theology online, it’s important to find out which program best suits your needs. Details vary depending on the school and program chosen, but the following covers the basics of what you should expect.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN THEOLOGY

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Biblical studies Course electives focus on scripture, including intensive study of an ancient language, the history of Christianity, spiritual formation, and how to interpret theological themes. This provides a deep understanding of the religion. Ministry director, foreign or domestic missionary, school enrollment counselor, chaplain, social worker, youth pastor
Religious education This concentration explores education with a biblical perspective. Students have the opportunity to develop professional competency in specific types of instruction, such as catechetical or secondary education, and may prepare you to complete a teacher certification. Catholic (elementary, middle, or high) school teacher, Catholic school administrator, director of religious education
Christian leadership The Christian leadership concentration allows you to specialize in an area specific to your ministry needs or area of interest. These may include revival strategies, ministry administration, or church planting. Community leader, teacher, youth leader, nonprofit organizer, director
Pastoral counseling Pastoral care or counseling combines biblical, theological, and pastoral training with the skills needed to provide care. Depending on the subject areas you focus on – which may include marriage and family, psychology, and human sexuality – the concentration might prepare you for licensure. Clinical counselor, marriage and family counselor, chaplain, addiction counselor, youth pastor

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN THEOLOGY

Coursework can vary between programs. To give you an idea of a typical master’s in theology online curriculum, sample courses are listed below.

  • Church history: This course provides foundations in historical, biblical, and theological training, exploring Christianity through different cultures and eras. Historical theology can provide skills useful for teaching, research, and doctoral studies.
  • Spiritual formation: Spiritual formation emphasizes spiritual growth and gaining a deeper understanding of concepts and practices leading to a Christ- and community-centered life. This subject can equip you for a future as a spiritual director or leader of a spiritual formation ministry.
  • Intercultural studies: Intercultural studies, which generally integrate theology with ethics, sociology, and anthropology, develops global leadership skills and appreciation for diversity. These skills can prepare you for work among other ethnic and cultural groups, such as military chaplaincy or diplomatic positions in overseas U.S. embassies.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN THEOLOGY?

On average, a theology master’s program online requires students to earn 34-38 credit hours, and this can be accomplished with about two years of full-time study. Some programs can be completed in 18 months while others take up to four years. This depends on the depth of instruction, the specialization or concentration you choose, whether you study part time or full time, and whether the school offers an accelerated track.

There are also variables specific to distance learning to consider as online degrees are presented in various formats. Asynchronous delivery provides flexible, 24/7 access to coursework that you can complete on your own schedule. Synchronous and cohort learning mimic the traditional classroom; all students attend online classes at the same time.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN THEOLOGY PREPARES FOR

  • Biblical counseling: Gaining online seminary licensure in counseling can open the door to roles in vocational, family, and ministry settings, such as pastors or high school counselors. Some curricula are designed around certifying agencies’ requirements so that students automatically graduate with certification. Coursework will qualify you to sit for licensure examinations.
  • Teaching: Agencies such as the Religious Education Department of the Catholic Education Office grant certifications with different requirements for various age levels. A master of divinity online concentration in teaching is usually required to qualify for certification.

Proper accreditation is important to the ministry as it demonstrates that you received a quality education – one that meets recognized standards in curricula, faculty, learning resources, and governance. Accreditation also allows you greater flexibility if you pursue education beyond your master’s of divinity online, as some institutions won’t accept credit from unaccredited schools.

Most online seminary schools are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regional accreditation, compared to national accreditation, is more widely accepted between schools and sought after by employers.

The DOE and the CHEA have a strong influence on accreditation. Both oversee the approval of accrediting organizations to ensure they meet strict regulatory criteria, which in turn, ensures the quality of accredited schools. You can find a database of accredited institutions on the the DOE’s and the CHEA’s websites.

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.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Theology Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Urshan Graduate School of Theology Florissant, MO
2 Covenant Theological Seminary Saint Louis, MO
3 Payne Theological Seminary Wilberforce, OH
4 Luther Rice University & Seminary Lithonia, GA
5 Bethany Theological Seminary Richmond, IN
6 Dallas Theological Seminary Dallas, TX
7 Luther Seminary Saint Paul, MN
8 Pentecostal Theological Seminary Cleveland, TN
9 Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary Jacksonville, TX
10 Wesley Biblical Seminary Jackson, MS
11 Nazarene Theological Seminary Kansas City, MO
12 Calvin Theological Seminary Grand Rapids, MI
13 Interdenominational Theological Center Atlanta, GA
14 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
15 Bethel Seminary-San Diego San Diego, CA
16 Phoenix Seminary Phoenix, AZ
17 Bethesda University Anaheim, CA
18 Iliff School of Theology Denver, CO
19 Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Elkhart, IN
20 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, KY
21 Apex School of Theology Durham, NC
22 United Theological Seminary Dayton, OH
23 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, NC
24 Assemblies of God Theological Seminary Springfield, MO
25 Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL

Best Online Master's in Theology Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 Luther Rice College & Seminary Lithonia, GA
3 Southwestern Assemblies of God Universities Waxahachie, TX
4 Hope International University Fullerton, CA
5 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
6 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
7 Dallas Theological Seminary Dallas, TX
8 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
9 Nazarene Theological Seminary Kansas City, MO
10 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
11 Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary Jacksonville, TX
12 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
13 Kentucky Christian University Grayson, KY
14 Apex School of Theology Durham, NC
15 Concordia University - Chicago River Forest, IL
16 Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN
17 Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania Clarks Summit, PA
18 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI
19 Missouri Baptist University Saint Louis, MO
20 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
21 Loyola University - New Orleans New Orleans, LA
22 Heritage Christian University Florence, AL
23 Virginia Baptist College Fredericksburg, VA
24 Bethesda University of California Anaheim, CA
25 South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary Deerfield Beach, FL