Theology is a broad field that examines the foundations, tenets, and practice of religious beliefs. Students study historical religious texts, scientific evidence of divine existence, and testimonials of spiritual experiences. Theology provides students with the academic background to advocate and preach for a particular religious tradition or to challenge them. Theology can also be a way to examine religious beliefs without reference to any formal religious tradition. If you enjoy debating religious topics and find yourself curious about the nature of divine and spiritual phenomena, an associate degree in theology may be right for you.

What are the best theology programs of 2020? Here are our top 4:

Rank School Location
1 Franciscan University of Steubenville Steubenville, OH
2 Calvary University Kansas City, MO
3 Concordia University Wisconsin Mequon, WI
4 Johnson University Knoxville, TN

2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Theology Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

Located in Ohio, Franciscan University of Steubenville enrolls around 3,000 students annually and awards about 40 associate degrees, including an online associate in theology. Franciscan utilizes Blackboard as its online learning platform and offers classes on an asynchronous schedule.

Distance learners in this 60-credit AA program receive instruction from on-campus faculty through podcasts, recorded lectures, blogs, and webinars. Students may take up to five classes per semester.

First-time applicants must hold a high school degree (or the equivalent) with a minimum 2.4 GPA. They should also submit their ACT scores. The university accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited postsecondary institutions and charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Franciscan is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

2

Calvary University

Kansas City, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Calvary University also oversees an Innovation Center in Fort Morgan, Colorado, and a popular online division. Most on-campus classes are video recorded, giving onsite and online students the opportunity to access course lectures at their convenience.

Cavalry offers an online associate degree in biblical studies. This degree requires 66 credits and includes core classes like Bible studies/hermeneutics, teaching the Bible, and evangelism and spiritual life. Students view recorded lectures asynchronously through the Canvas learning management system.

Applicants must submit standardized test scores and two letters of recommendation, one of which must come from a pastor. The school charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Calvary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

3

Concordia University Wisconsin

Mequon, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Based in Mequon, Concordia University Wisconsin offers more than 80 degrees, certificates, and diplomas online, including a 63-credit online associate in theological studies. This degree features core courses like the heritage of faith, the life of Christ, the religious education of youth and adults, and Christ's people through the ages.

CUW assigns every online learner a personal student advisor from the moment of enrollment. Additionally, each online instructor also works with an instructional designer to streamline the online learning process.

Applicants to this program must hold a high school diploma (or the equivalent) with a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. CUW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4

Johnson University

Knoxville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, Johnson University's online associate degree in biblical studies features core classes that cover topics like the Old Testament, exegetical methods, the New Testament, and fundamentals of Christian faith.

Graduates who earn this online associate degree can find careers in a variety of lay ministry roles. Students can also continue their education at Johnson by pursuing undergraduate study through the university's School of Congregational Ministry. Additionally, Johnson participates in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program.

The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Johnson is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Theology Degree?

CAREER PATHS

A theology degree can be applied to a variety of different career paths that do not directly relate to religious practices. As a discipline in the liberal arts and humanities, theology fosters critical thinking, communication, research, and writing skills. Graduates with an online associate degree in theology are prepared for careers as teachers, journalists, lawyers, program directors, and more. Theology degrees online are useful for students who wish to enter a profession related to religious and spiritual activities or education. Here is a list of possible occupations for individuals with a degree in theology:

Clergy

Clergy are religious leaders who usually preside over religious rituals or oversee religious activities and education. The various roles and names for clergy members vary depending on the specific religious tradition and denomination. Christian religious leaders include pastors, ministers, priests, and bishops. Jewish religious leaders are called rabbi. Clergy members are typically ordained by a specific religious institution, like a Church or Mosque, and work with that institution to teach religious doctrines and practices.

Median Annual Salary: $49,450

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

High School Teacher

High school teachers are responsible for educating students and preparing them for college or the job market. They create lesson plans according to the school district's curriculum and objectives, give lectures, and facilitate preparations for standardized tests. High school teachers must have a bachelor's degree and be licensed by the state to teach certain subjects. An associate degree in theology could be beneficial for those who wish to teach at a religious private school.

Median Annual Salary: $58,030

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee the day-to-day operations of community service organizations, nonprofit organizations, social service companies, and government agencies. They manage volunteers and paid service workers who provide social service programs. This position typically requires a bachelor's degree and some work experience.

Median Annual Salary: $64,680

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Social Workers

Social workers dedicate their lives to helping individuals, families, and communities with everyday problems. Social workers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, adoption clinics, non-profit organizations, social service organizations, and mental health institutions. They are often required to have a bachelor's degree in social work. Clinical social workers must also have a master's degree and be licensed by the state in which they work.

Median Annual Salary: $46,890

Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Theology Professor/Theologian

A theologian is a specialist who teaches theology courses and gives lectures. Many theologians are also university professors who conduct research regarding the nature of the divine, publish academic papers, and teach college level courses. Theology professors are required to have a PhD in theology or a similar field.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

After obtaining an associate degree in theology, you may want to consider transferring into a bachelor's program. An undergraduate program gives students the opportunity to focus their education, like on Biblical texts. Some professions require a higher degree. Teaching theology or a similar discipline at the college level requires at least a master's degree. If this is something you're interested in, then getting a bachelor's degree is the next step.

  • Religious Studies: Religious studies is devoted to investigating and comparing religious beliefs, traditions, history, and institutions. It combines perspectives from a variety of different disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, history, and philosophy to examine religious behavior objectively and contextually, without being partial to any religious tradition.
  • Social Work: Social work programs combine social science research and methodology in order to develop programs that help solve social problems. Many social work programs include coursework in other departments like sociology, psychology, economics, and law. Social work encompasses philanthropic efforts without any religious affiliation.
  • Philosophy: Philosophy is the investigation of intellectual and social questions concerning existence, reason, knowledge, language, body, and mind. It emphasizes and fosters skills such as critical thinking, rational argument development, and persuasive writing. Coursework may cover topics such as the texts of ancient and contemporary philosophers, logical argument and persuasion, and philosophical paradigms. Philosophers are often university professors, but students with an undergraduate degree in philosophy can be found in various professions, such as law, journalism, and politics.
  • Theology: Theology bachelor's programs offer individuals with an associate degree in theology a chance to gain further expertise in the subject. This commonly leads to a teaching career.

ASSOCIATE IN THEOLOGY SALARY

Many specialists in theology may choose to pursue further education and teach at the postsecondary level. The top paying states for postsecondary theology and religion professors are mostly located in the Northeast, with a few exceptions. So if you want to become a theologian, keep an eye out for employment opportunities in the following states:

Top 5 paying states for postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers
State Median Annual Salary
Rhode Island $100,070
California $95,490
Massachusetts $94,380
New Hampshire $93,160
Utah $86,110

Source: Payscale

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Professional theology organizations are dedicated to promoting engagement in theology and other related fields. Through professional organizations, students meet other professionals in the discipline, participate in theology conferences, receive notifications about theology-related job openings, and discover publication opportunities in theology journals. Conferences hosted by professional organizations are a great outlet to present theological research and learn about pedagogy practices.

Financing Your Online Associate in Theology Program

Many students pursuing an online associate degree in theology are eligible for financial aid. Check with your school to verify if they offer any financial aid programs or scholarships to students in your field. Some schools offer theology specific, merit- or need-based fellowships. Every student should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This allows you to see how much federal aid you're eligible to receive.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.