Scholarships for Theology and Religious Studies Majors

Learn about the top theology and religious studies scholarships. Find out about financial aid that can help you pay for your education.

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by Staff Writers

Published on August 20, 2020 · Updated on May 13, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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Many students pursue theology or religious studies programs on the path toward becoming a church worker, minister, or member of the clergy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of 2-3% in the employment of clergy, church educators, and religious workers between 2020 and 2030. Many faith-centered occupations require at least a bachelor's degree and experience to enter the field. Therefore, many students rely on theology and religious studies scholarships and other financial aid to help fund their education and pursue their target careers.

The following guide covers many of the top theology and religious studies scholarships.

Financial Assistance for Theology and Religious Studies Students

Financial aid for theology and religious studies students includes scholarships, grants, fellowships, loans, and work-study programs.

Unlike other types of aid, scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are often based on merit, although some may also require students to demonstrate financial need. Most grants are awarded based exclusively on need rather than merit.

Campus-based learners may pursue work-study jobs, which provide wages that can be used to cover any expenses. Students may also take out loans to help pay for their degree. However, these should be considered a last resort after exhausting other aid options. Loans may have high interest rates and fees.

Accredited colleges require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as the first step toward pursuing financial aid. By filling out this form, students determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Their FAFSA results may also help determine whether a student qualifies for other funding sources, such as those offered by schools and private organizations.

Students seeking theology and religious studies scholarships, grants, and loans should begin their search by completing the FAFSA.

Theology and Religious Studies Grants

Grants can help students meet their financial aid goals. Many students with financial need apply for general awards, such as the Federal Pell Grant and/or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Additionally, students who belong to a particular congregation or denomination, as well as those who are pursuing a theology or religious studies degree in a particular county or school, may qualify for other faith-based grants.

Theology and Religious Studies Scholarships

Scholarships for theology and religious studies students are often awarded by schools, churches, and other community organizations. The following sections include popular theology and religious studies scholarships.

Featured Theology and Religious Studies Scholarships

The following scholarships may be suitable for a variety of aspiring theologians and religious workers. Scholarship programs have different requirements, which may be related to variables like grades, community service, and religious affiliation.

true American Baptist Home Mission Societies Undergraduate Scholarship

Who's eligible? American Baptist Home Mission Societies offers this scholarship to U.S. residents enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program at an accredited college or university. Applicants must be active in an American Baptist Church and maintain a GPA of at least 2.75. They must also submit a reference from their church pastor.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: April

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true Bethesda Student Scholastic and Service Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Bethesda Auxiliary awards this scholarship to students in their junior or senior year of a program that is preparing them to serve and support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Applicants must be active members of the Lutheran Church and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Award amount: $3,000

Deadline: May

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true Bishop Daily Vocations Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Knights of Columbus awards this scholarship to men studying for the Catholic priesthood through a four-year program. Candidates are evaluated based in part on academic merit. Preference is given to applicants who are members of the Knights of Columbus or who are the sons of members.

Award amount: $2,500

Deadline: Varies

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Champions for Christ Scholarship

Who's eligible? Champions of Christ awards scholarships to outstanding students planning to seek full-time employment in the Christian ministry after graduation. Students can reapply each term.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: July

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Christian College Scholarship Drawing

Who's eligible? Christian Connector awards this scholarship to students planning to enroll for the first time at a Christian university or Bible school. Applicants may not be existing college students. Christian Connector reserves the right to determine whether a school meets its qualifications.

Award amount: $2,500

Deadline: May 31

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Christian Ministries Scholarship Fund

Who's eligible? The Christian Church of Mid-America Disciples of Christ awards this scholarship to part-time or full-time undergraduate or seminary students who are members of the Christian Church. Applicants must be affiliated with a Mid-America or regional congregation of Disciples of Christ.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: May

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Elsa Everett Memorial Scholarship Fund

Who's eligible? The First Presbyterian Church Scholarship Fund awards this scholarship to students who are communicant members of the Presbyterian Church. Applicants must be pursuing a degree through a regionally accredited college or university, hold a minimum 2.0 GPA, and aspire to a Christian career.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: April

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Father McGivney Vocations Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Knights of Columbus awards this scholarship to male students in the first four years of a theology program in preparation for the Catholic priesthood. Candidates must demonstrate financial need. Applicants who are members themselves or are sons of Knights of Columbus members are given preference.

Award amount: $2,500

Deadline: Varies

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Harvesters Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Harvesters Scholarship Foundation recognizes students of the Evangelical Christian faith who are called to become a missionary upon graduation. Candidates must be enrolled full time in a qualified program in the U.S. or Canada, demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA, and earn less than $60,000 annually in combined student-parent income.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: May 31

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Higher Education & Leadership Ministries Leadership Fellows Program

Who's eligible? The Higher Education & Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers the Leadership Fellows Program to students entering their first year of college. Applicants must exhibit academic and Christian leadership qualities and be active church members.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: March

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John and Norma Normura DeSaegher Scholarship Fund for Divinity Students

Who's eligible? The United Church of Christ awards this scholarship to members in good standing who are accepted or enrolled in an accredited seminary or regional theological program leading to ministry. Applicants must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Preference is given to aspiring pastors in Hawai'i.

Award amount: $5,000

Deadline: March

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Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Khyentse Foundation awards this scholarship to students pursuing an undergraduate, certificate, or graduate program to study any sect of Buddhism. Applicants may apply the funds to ordained sangha, lay work, or work-study programs.

Award amount: $500-$3,000

Deadline: Jan. 15 and July 15

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Samuel Robinson Award

Who's eligible? The Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church awards this scholarship to junior or senior Presbyterian college students who can recite the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Applicants must be active members of the Presbyterian Church. They may also submit an essay or complete a project to be considered for additional awards.

Award amount: $2,000-$4,000

Deadline: June, September, and December

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Ullery Charitable Trust Fund

Who's eligible? The First Presbyterian Church Scholarship Fund grants this award to students who are communicant members of the Presybterian Church and are in an accredited college program to become full-time Christian workers in the Presbyterian Church.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: April

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Young Christian Leaders Scholarship

Who's eligible? Young Christian Leaders awards a monthly scholarship to high school seniors or full-time undergraduates who have a commitment to service, hold membership in their local church, and demonstrate financial need. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and be permanent residents of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

Award amount: $1,000

Deadline: Monthly

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Theology and Religious Studies Scholarships for Minorities

Many organizations grant theology and religious studies scholarships to students from minority groups, including applicants who identify as African American, Latino/a, and Native American.

true Presbyterian Study Grant, Racial Ethnic Leadership Supplemental Grant

Who's eligible? The Presbyterian Church awards this grant to racial-ethnic minority students. Applicants must be an active member of the church and demonstrate financial need.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

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Spanish American Baptist Seminary Scholarship Fund

Who's eligible? American Baptist Home Mission Societies offers this scholarship to students of Hispanic origin pursuing a degree in theology or religious studies or a seminary program through an accredited theological institution. Applicants must be U.S. residents with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They must also hold active membership in the American Baptist Church.

Award amount: $500-$3,000

Deadline: April

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Theology and Religious Studies Scholarships for Graduate Students

Many students need help to pay for their graduate degree in theology or religious studies. The following theology and religious studies scholarships target graduate students — especially seminary and master of divinity (M.Div.) candidates.

true Beth E. Marcus Scholarship Fund

Who's eligible? The Reformed Church in America (RCA) awards this scholarship to female seminarians in a full-time or part-time MA, M.Div., or master of theological studies program at an approved institution. Applicants must be active members of the RCA with intentions to pursue a career in missions and ministry. They must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a four-year degree.

Award amount: $500 (part time) or $1,000 (full time)

Deadline: April

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true Cooperative Baptist Fellowship At-Large Leadership Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship offers this scholarship to students who have demonstrated leadership skills in the Baptist Church. Applicants must be enrolled in an M.Div. or master's in theology program at an accredited higher learning institution.

Award amount: $5,000

Deadline: April

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true Ellen Cushing Scholarship

Who's eligible? American Baptist Home Mission Societies offers this scholarship to female graduate students with a minimum 2.75 GPA in a theological field (except M.Div. and doctor of ministry programs) who aspire to careers in human service. Applicants must reside in the U.S. and be active members of the Baptist Church.

Award amount: Varies

Deadline: April

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Marguerite Young Endowment Fund

Who's eligible? Through the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Marguerite Young Endowment Fund awards scholarships to seminary students and interns of the Protestant Church who are preparing for a full-time ministry career. Applicants must be M.Div. candidates or students pursuing a theology degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Award amount: $1,500

Deadline: April

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Presbyterian Study Grant

Who's eligible? Presbyterian Mission Agency offers this award to active members of the Presbyterian Church who are M.Div. or master of arts in Christian education candidates. Applicants must be enrolled full time in a program accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and demonstrate financial need.

Award amount: Up to $6,000

Deadline: May 16

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SOYO Metropolitan PHILIP Youth Worker Scholarship

Who's eligible? The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America offers this award to candidates who are active members of an Antiochian parish for at least the last three consecutive years. Applicants must enroll or plan to enroll in an Orthodox Christian master's degree program with a focus in youth ministry, and commit to a minimum of three years of work in youth ministry after graduation.

Award amount: At least $800

Deadline: Aug. 1

View Scholarship

Additional Financial Aid Resources

An Overview of Financial Aid

Our guide provides a variety of financial aid resources for theology and religious studies students. In addition to covering scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loan opportunities, our overview walks students through the FAFSA process and explores saving and budgeting for college.

Financial Aid for Online Students

Students increasingly choose online college programs for their convenience and affordability. Many schools and organizations offer theology and religious studies scholarships and other financial aid for distance learners.

Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

Learners with disabilities often rely on financial aid to help pay for their degree. Our guide outlines the many unique financial aid resources for theology and religious studies students with disabilities.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Single mothers and fathers can research specific financial aid opportunities using our comprehensive guide.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Veterans and active-duty military students can pursue several scholarships — including awards for theology and religious studies students — offered by schools, private organizations, and the federal government.

Frequently Asked Questions

true How do you pay for a degree in theology and religious studies?

Many college students use theology and religious studies scholarships and other financial aid to help pay for their degree. Students generally prefer scholarships and grants over other forms of aid because these do not require repayment.

true Are there many scholarships available for theology and religious studies students?

Schools, churches, and private foundations offer scholarships for theology and religious studies students. Many scholarships are available, each with their own criteria.

true Are there grants for theology and religious studies students?

Students who receive federal grants, such as the Pell Grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, may apply the award to an accredited program in theology or religious studies. Additionally, many nonprofits, churches, and missionary programs offer grants to students with financial need.

How do I qualify for a theology and religious studies scholarship?

Theology and religious studies scholarships are available to undergraduate and graduate students in nearly every religious denomination. Additionally, certain awards may target minority students or individuals from other underserved populations.

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College graduates deal with major financial issues — from new jobs to student loan bills. Learn about the best financial planning tips for recent grads. Didn't receive enough financial aid to attend your target college? Consider submitting an appeal letter to explain your situation and request more money. Wondering how to get scholarships for college to help with tuition? Explore the best resources for college scholarship searches and databases.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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