Online Theology Degrees

A theology degree will give you the skills you need to critically analyze religious texts, engage with important contemporary spiritual themes, and lead religious communities and organizations. In an online theology program, you can pursue your calling and study the history of Christianity, systematic theology, moral theology, and much more. After graduation, you’ll be ready to serve as a clergy member, religious leader, or postsecondary educator.

Around the country, churches and organizations are looking for new leaders in their community. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that positions within the clergy will grow by approximately 6% between 2014 and 2024, and that the job market for educators in the field will rise 9% during the same period. Salaries for many religious professions range from about $40,000 to more than $60,000 annually.

If you feel dedicated to serving others or if you enjoy helping individuals and communities find spiritual fulfillment, an online theology degree may be the right fit for you. Read on to learn more about earning an online theology degree, including costs, courses, majors, and job options for distance learners.

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Elaine Bayless Theology

“I researched several schools for my Masters of Divinity degree…I was looking for a program that wouldn’t lock me into one particular Christian denomination.”


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Degrees

Online Theology Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $16,722 9.64% 2 years $44,000 $40,000 N/A
Bachelor's $18,452 8.3% 4 years $36,041 $45,000 4.5%
Master's $19,464 6.34% 2 years $54,326 $55,000 2.7%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Most occupations that require a theology degree also require an education beyond an associate degree. Unless you want to work in postsecondary education, most theology jobs don’t require a doctoral degree.

Online Theology Degrees

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Online Associate’s Degree in Theology

Most occupations in theology require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some choose to earn an associate theology degree first. An associate online theology degree is an ideal option for students who plan to complete a bachelor’s theology degree, but who first want to acquire important foundational knowledge in the field. Associate degree students generally take introductory theology classes. After graduating, they can work in the church, youth ministry, or even the nonprofit sector, and can expect a mid-career salary of about $40,000 annually. An associate degree in theology can generally be completed in two years of full-time study.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Study of the Old/New Testament, Religious Fundamentals, and Biblical Interpretation. In some cases, students might also study prominent Biblical languages, such as Greek or Hebrew.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Theology, religion, ministry.

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Missionary, assistant pastor, church planter, and more.

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    Average income can be difficult to determine for those holding an associate theology degree, as the BLS has limited data on religious workers outside of the clergy. However, it’s estimated that all religious workers other than the clergy earn an average of $28,750 annually.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    For 2014-2024, experts estimate a 5% job increase for religious workers.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Theology

A bachelor’s theology degree provides students with a more specialized, in-depth knowledge of theological studies, focusing on topics such as history, education, and ministry. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree will provide the minimum academic qualifications required for those who wish to enter the clergy and other prominent jobs in the field. A bachelor’s theology degree online will qualify students to become church leaders, including ministers, priests, or rabbis, although some denominations require a master’s degree to be ordained. Additionally, individuals with a bachelor’s degree in theology can expect mid-career salaries of about $45,000 annually. A bachelor’s online theology degree generally takes four years to complete and has an average total tuition cost of $18,452.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Biblical Languages, History of Christianity/The Church, Biblical Interpretation/Theology, and Christian Leadership.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Biblical and theological studies, Christian studies, theology, Christian ministry, and more.

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Director of religious activities and education, pastor, minister, priest, chaplain, and more.

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $44,250 annually for members of the clergy, $38,780 annually for directors of religious activities and education.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    For 2014-2024, experts estimate a 6% increase for members of the clergy and a 4% increase for directors of religious activities and education.

Online Master’s Degree in Theology

A master’s online theology degree is an advanced degree that not only provides a foundational knowledge of Christian or religious culture, scholarship, and history, but will also teach students to think critically. Additionally, because certain denominations of Christianity require a master’s theology degree for ordination, completing master’s-level education will dramatically strengthen your prospects for employment. With a master’s theology degree, you can work as a member of the clergy, such as a priest, minister, or rabbi, and can expect a mid-career salary of about $55,000 annually. Generally, master’s programs take two years to complete and cost about $20,000.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    History of Christianity, Biblical Interpretation, and World Religions. Students will also often study Biblical languages, including Greek and Hebrew.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Divinity, biblical studies, theology, theological studies, ministry.

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Director of religious activities and education, priest, pastor, rector, minister, and more.

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $44,250 annually for members of the clergy, $38,780 annually for directors of religious activities and education.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    For 2014-2024, experts estimate a 6% increase for members of the clergy, and a 4% increase for directors of religious activities and education.

Online Theology Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, OnlineColleges.net has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Theology Master’s Degree Rankings

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Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryLouisville$$$$$2825 Lexington Rd
Louisville, KY 40280-0001
(800) 626-5525

Since 1859, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been preparing students to share the Word of God with people throughout the globe. Based in Louisville, KY, the school is the oldest member of the Southern Baptist Convention and currently serves more than 5,000 students each academic year. Students can find numerous options at SBTS: the online master’s in theology (ThM) comprises 88 credits and takes three-and-a-half years to complete, providing students with the biblical and theological knowledge they’ll need for future pursuits. Meanwhile, the master of arts in theology trains and educates students looking to work directly in leadership or ministry positions. Specializations available in this track include intercultural leadership or lay leadership. Students can complete their entire degrees online, although a residency option is offered. Classes are on an eight-week rotation and are accessed through the learning platform Moodle. Learners who are members of a Southern Baptist church are eligible to receive half-price tuition.

2Dallas Theological SeminaryDallas$$$$$3909 Swiss Ave
Dallas, TX 75204
(214) 887-5000

With a focus on creating servant leaders, Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas will soon be celebrating a century of fulfilling their mission. The school has invested greatly in their online degree offerings and it shows: approximately one-quarter of all students elect to complete their DTS degrees from the comfort of their homes. Online master’s in theology students looking for academic rigor can find it at the seminary, with approximately 230 graduate degrees held by faculty members who have published more than 450 books. Both the master of divinity and master of theological studies can be completed entirely online, with both taking around three years of full-time study to fulfill graduation requirements. The MDiv allows students to use 29 credit hours to create a customized emphasis, while 12 more hours can be earned via volunteer or leadership roles at churches or ministries. Students with aspirations to complete a doctorate of theological studies receive a scholarship covering tuition for their final 24 required hours, provided they completed their master’s at DTS.

3Covenant Theological SeminarySaint Louis$$$$$12330 Conway Road
Saint Louis, MO 63141-8609
(314) 434-4044

Covenant Theological Seminary trains learners in reformed theology education and has been doing so since 1956. Today the school maintains its original St. Louis, MO campus while also offering a campus in Nashville, TN and a thriving distance learning program. Graduates can be found using their degrees to further the Kingdom in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. CTS’s online master’s in theology is a 48 credit hour program that takes an average of three years to complete and is only offered on a part-time basis. Upon admission, students must take and pass the bible content examination before they can enroll in their first class. Of the required credits, students may use 14 of those as electives to focus their studies in a particular area of their choice. Professors of online classes at CTS work diligently to ensure students have the opportunity to interact regularly, such as discussion boards, group projects, and video conferences.

4Nazarene Theological SeminaryKansas City$$$$$1700 E Meyer Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64131-1246
(816) 268-5400

Offering classes taught from the Nazarene perspective, the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO has more than a century of teaching experience to offer at its seven campuses in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, and online. The master’s in theology online MDiv program is comprised of 76 credits and offers two paths: professional and ordination. While the professional is comprised of 18 hours of Christian scripture, 21 hours of church history and theology, 25 hours of ministry foundation and practice, and 12 hours of electives, the ordination path requires 55 hours of course of study requirements and 21 hours of electives. The MA in theological studies, on the other hand, requires 48 credit hours and allows students to customize their learning via 21 hours of electives. A more wide-ranging degree, the MATS is typically undertaken by students looking to broaden their perspectives before honing in on a career path.

5The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryLouisville$$$$$2825 Lexington Rd
Louisville, KY 40280-0001
(800) 626-5525

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary takes its marching orders from the Great Commission, working to educate more than 3,400 students each year from its Wake Forest, NC campus and via distance learning. Additionally, SBTS is proud member of the Southern Baptist Convention. The school’s master of theological studies is unique in that it was designed to cater to international students working in a cross-cultural setting. Admission into this 48-hour credit program is contingent upon a student’s participation in the Global Theological Initiative cohort at SBTS. In order to graduate, students must complete all their classes at a satisfactory level and also produce a researched thesis project. Distance learning offerings at SBTS have grown rapidly since the school first started offering online classes: between 2004 and 2014, nearly 400 students completed 420 degrees.

6Phoenix CollegePhoenix$$$$$1202 W Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 264-2492

Although it’s the newest school in this ranking -- having been founded in 1988 -- Arizona’s Phoenix Seminary is the only graduate-level theological seminary within the state. But the school’s reach now extends far beyond The Copper State, with online students hailing from 43 states and 13 countries. Aside from regional accreditations, the school is also professionally accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Phoenix Seminary’s 48 credit hour master of arts in biblical and theological studies is currently the only program offered fully online, and requires both field education and a researched thesis to be qualified for graduation. The school is currently authorized to train students online from 44 different states, but prospective learners should check with the seminary directly before applying. Once classes start, every student is assigned a personal librarian to help with research requests, while all students are also encouraged to undertake career counseling with the associate dean of students.

7Calvin Theological SeminaryGrand Rapids$$$$$3233 Burton St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4387
(616) 957-6036

Named for the 16th century Protestant Reformer John Calvin, Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been around since 1876. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, the school offers five specialized degree programs designed to fit into the lives of busy students. The master of theological studies (MTS) requires 65 credits and takes three years to complete via distance education. This program provides all the foundational knowledge students need, including old and new testament studies, Greek,, theology, and apologetics. The master of theology (ThM) requires 21 credits and was designed for students who already hold a master’s of divinity or MTS but want to specialize their knowledge. Some of the concentrations available include systematic theology, philosophical and moral theology, history of Christianity, and pastoral care. All distance learners are required to attend two campus intensives each year – one in the spring and one in the fall – lasting five days each.

8Luther Rice University & SeminaryLithonia$$$$$3038 Evans Mill Rd
Lithonia, GA 30038-9869
(770) 484-1204

With approximately 530 students, Luther Seminary is a small school in St. Paul, MN focused on providing personalized education. The school was founded by a series of mergers, bringing together multiple seminaries and institutions committed to educating within the Lutheran tradition.. Small as it may be, Lutheran Seminary offers a master’s of theology online through a program known as distributed learning. Two-thirds of the required classes are taught online, while the rest are taught via two-week intensives that take place at the school’s campus in January and June. Each program is designed around a 25-student cohort, allowing learners to grow and challenge each other throughout the coursework. Aside from class requirements, all students are required to complete an internship, Christian Public leader exercise, a clinical pastoral education (field education), and a cross-cultural experience. The seminary’s administrators are available to help students find suitable sites for these experiences in their region.

9Assemblies of God Theological SeminarySpringfield$$$$$1435 N Glenstone Ave
Springfield, MO 65802-2131
(417) 268-1000

Operating under the umbrella of Evangel University in Springfield, MO, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary encourages cross-cultural dialogue and the understanding of other faith traditions, regardless of a student’s own beliefs. Learners who elect to pursue their master’s of theology (MTh) online will become very familiar with the Canvas learning platform, using this tool to submit assignments, find required reading, interact with professors, and discuss topics with their peers. The MTh online is a perennially popular option, as each of the required 48 credit hours can be completed in an asynchronous fashion to allow maximum flexibility for students with outside responsibilities. Unlike other programs, AGTS also considers previous undergraduate coursework: students who studied religion previously may only need to complete 39 credits to graduate. In addition to coursework, students also submit a research paper of seminar quality and a portfolio demonstrating how they’ve achieved the program’s learning outcomes.

10Bethel Seminary-San DiegoSan Diego$$$$$6116 Arosa St
San Diego, CA 92115
(619) 325-5200

Although the main campus of Bethel University is located in Saint Paul, MN, its San Diego campus affords students hands-on experience in cross-cultural ministry and service. The San Diego campus has a distinguished program that includes a master of theology taught completely online. Bethel is the largest school in the 13-member Christian College Consortium, but each student is assigned a cohort to work with throughout their coursework, making distance-learning a more personal experience. In addition to this intimate style of teaching and learning, students visit the campus twice a year for seven-day intensives. Online students can also take advantage of a range of support services during their time at Bethel, including an online writing center, pastoral counseling, technological assistance, career support, online libraries, and a range of student organizations.

11Columbia International UniversityColumbia$$$$$7435 Monticello Rd
Columbia, SC 29203-1513
(803) 754-4100

What started in 1923 as a small bible college, designed to educate locals and future missionaries, has now blossomed into Columbia International University. Today the school has nearly 20,000 alumni working to further the message of God in more than 150 countries. If a student can’t make it to CIU’s South Carolina campus, CIU will come to them. The master of arts in theological studies is a fully online master’s of theology program that focuses on instilling an interdisciplinary knowledge of biblical principles, history, theology, and intercultural studies. The program is offered with two different tracks, for students with no previous biblically-related credit hours and those who have at least 30 previous credits. Students in the former category will spend two years completing 48 credit hours, will those in the latter only need 33 credits.

12United Theological SeminaryDayton$$$$$4501 Denlinger Rd.
Dayton, OH 45426-2308
(937) 529-22013200

United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH is one of the oldest schools in this ranking, with a distinguished history reaching back to 1869. However, despite the school’s longevity, its commitment to providing an excellent education and learning experience remains stronger than ever. A recent survey of their students found that 95% felt they were growing intellectually, while 89% said they were growing spiritually. The master’s in theology online was designed specifically for people who believe their ministerial capacity is augmented through the academic study of religion. Within the degree, students also have the option to concentrate their learning in the history of Christianity, systematic theology, or Wesleyan-Methodist studies. The program culminates with 48 credit hours and can be completed in two or three years of full-time study. In addition to online coursework, students attend intensive weeks four times per year at the Dayton campus.

13Jewish Theological Seminary of AmericaNew York$$$$$3080 Broadway
New York, NY 10027-4649
(212) 678-8000

As the only school in this ranking operating in the Jewish tradition, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America offers a fully online master’s degree in Jewish education via the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. In addition to the core curriculum, JTSA is committed to providing individualized degrees that allow students to tailor them to future goals. To that end, the school provides four concentrations: pedagogy and teaching, educational leadership, arts education, and educational technology. For students seeking a study abroad opportunity, the Davidson School in Israel also provides an experiential educators program. Although most classes are completed online, students are required to visit the New York City campus to complete four courses on-site. These are typically done during the JTS Summer Sessions, a month-long intensive program. Students must also complete a practicum, but these can take place near their home.

14Urshan Graduate School of TheologyFlorissant$$$$$704 Howdershell Rd
Florissant, MO 63031
(314) 921-9290

Owned and operated by the United Pentecostal Church International, Urshan Graduate School of Theology offers a range of programs, including an online master’s in theology. All programs are delivered via FinalSite, a learning platform that allows students and professors to interact via discussions, live classes, lectures, and assignments. Upon enrollment, learners choose from either the general or research track, both of which require 48 credit hours for graduation. While the general track allows students to complete 18 electives in any discipline to concentrate their knowledge, the research track allows for six electives and requires students to complete a capstone thesis project. This path also includes a more intensive biblical studies course requirement. During the first few courses, students are allowed to change tracks, should they find the other to be more suitable.

15Midwestern Baptist Theological SeminaryKansas City$$$$$5001 N. Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64118-4697
(816) 414-3700

Operating from the multicultural location of Kansas City, MO, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary teaches from the Southern Baptist tradition but is committed to ensuring students also learn about other faith traditions. Can’t get to Kansas City to get your postgraduate degree? Enter the master of theology online provided by MBTS. Administered via OnlineYou and Blackboard, the Master of Theological Studies is a 45-hour program with numerous emphases available, including: church planting, church revitalization, Christian counseling, leadership, discipleship ministries, missions, preaching and pastoral, and even a Korean language track. Aside from coursework, students also complete a leadership practicum after taking a required church administration course. For busy students already deeply involved in ministry efforts or those who have personal responsibilities outside the classroom, MBTS provides six different start dates throughout the academic year and allows learners to complete courses asynchronously.

16Winebrenner Theological SeminaryFindlay$$$$$950 North Main Street
Findlay, OH 45840
(419) 434-4200

Although Winebrenner Theological Seminary is now an independent graduate school of theology, it was part of the University of Findlay in Ohio until 1961. Today the school offers a range of biblically rooted degree programs for students looking to gain an academic understanding of theology. The online master of arts in practical theology is a more extensive program than others, requiring four years to complete 60 credit hours. It was developed as a hybrid experience, with 33 credits being taught as intensive courses at a retreat center near the Findlay campus. The other 27 credits can be completed through online learning. In addition to core courses, students also have the option to complete a concentration in biblical studies, Christian leadership, or pastoral ministry. Students with previous academic credits in theology may be able to test out of a few courses by passing a bible exam. In addition to regional accreditation, the school is also accredited by The Association of Theological Schools.

17Payne Theological SeminaryWilberforce$$$$$1230 Wilberforce-Clifton Rd.
Wilberforce, OH 45384
(937) 376-2946

Created in 1894, Payne Theological Seminary has a long and unique history. It is the oldest black seminary in the U.S., one of six currently in operation. The Afrocentric curriculum is accredited by The Association of Theological Schools, while students at both the Wilberforce, OH campus and the online campus enjoy courses provided by qualified and knowledgeable professors. The online master of divinity (MDiv) offers four areas of concentration within the required 90 credit hours: biblical studies, historical studies, theological studies, or practical ministry. In addition to the online component, there are six courses students must complete via campus intensives in the spring, fall, or summer. Additionally, students must also complete a one-year, supervised experiential learning experience in both church and non-church settings. Administrators help students find a suitable church or organization in their region.

18Interdenominational Theological CenterAtlanta$$$$$700 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW
Atlanta, GA 30314-4143
(404) 527-77007711

The Interdenominational Theological Center is a unique entry in this ranking as it is a fully ecumenical institution comprising multiple denominations. ITC was formed in 1958 after four denominational seminaries came together to form one graduate school of theology. Its main location is within the Atlanta University Center, but students enrolled in the master’s in theology online program can be found peppered throughout the country. Courses are taught via Moodle and encourage students to interact with their professors and peers regularly to gain both spiritual and academic support. Because many of the school’s students are full-time pastors, ITC’s degree can be completed entirely online without any trips to campus for intensives. The master of divinity combines both biblical theory and pastoral practice, giving graduates the skills and knowledge they’ll need, whether returning to their position or seeking out a new religiously-focused role.

19Luther Rice University & SeminaryLithonia$$$$$3038 Evans Mill Rd
Lithonia, GA 30038-9869
(770) 484-1204

Luther Rice University & Seminary is based in Atlanta, GA although it was originally founded in Florida. This private institution teaches from the Southern Baptist tradition and exists to provide a biblical education to those who feel called to work locally or globally. The school’s master of theology online requires no visits to campus and allows students to complete coursework and assignments at times that suit their schedules. Although the MDiv requires 90 credit hours, students are allowed to transfer up to 45 credits at the time of matriculation. Ninety-six percent of graduates said they were satisfied with their experience at LRUS and can now be found spreading the gospel throughout the world. Students can choose from two different paths: the open electives track allows students to customize their study with 24 hours of electives, while the biblical languages track provides students with the opportunity to learn both Greek and Hebrew.

20Wesley Biblical SeminaryJackson$$$$$787 E. Northside Drive
Jackson, MS 39206
(601) 366-8880

With a mission of creating “Spirit-filled shepherd-theologians and leaders for the 21st century,” Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS teaches from a non-denominational perspective that embraces a Trinitarian faith. It is one of the 270 graduate schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and WBS also holds regional accreditation. The MA in theology requires two to three years of study to complete the required 50 credit hours. All online master’s in theology students are required to take Greek language in real time via the learning platform Zoom, unless they have previous beginner’s Greek language from their undergraduate coursework. Aside from the postgraduate degree, online students may also elect to complete a graduate certificate in biblical and theological studies. Before qualifying for graduation, students must successfully pass a summative evaluation focused on ministry studies.

21Reformed Presbyterian Theological SeminaryPittsburgh$$$$$7418 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15208-2594
(412) 731-6000

The oldest institution on this list, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary was created in 1810 in Pennsylvania, shortly after the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America was founded in the same state. Even before distance education existed, the school had numerous campuses to ensure students had access to the education they needed to spread the gospel. That mission holds true today with the master of theological studies degree offered entirely online. Requiring 60 quarter hours, full-time students take four to five courses per semester, allowing them to graduate within two years. These classes are divided into four themes: biblical studies, doctrinal studies, church history, and pastoral studies. Upon graduation, students have historical knowledge, a theoretical framework, and practical hands-on skills they need to be successful in ministries ranging from churches to non-profit organizations. Concentrations available include doctrinal and historical studies, biblical studies, or biblical counseling.

22Pentecostal Theological SeminaryCleveland$$$$$900 Walker St NE
Cleveland, TN 37320-3330
(423) 478-7037

A Church of God institution, Pentecostal Theological Seminary is tailored to students who want to bring the message of God to the world. Learners seeking a master’s of theology online have two choices at PTS: a master of theological studies with an emphasis in pentecostal theology or biblical studies. The former requires 48 hours while the latter requires 60 credits, but both are available fully online. Each program was specifically designed for students who aspire to postgraduate academic study of theology. However, those with a desire to answer the call of ministry upon graduation will also be well-equipped to do so. In addition to rigorous academics for current students, PTS also places great emphasis on continuing to work with alumni and ensure they have the tools they need to fulfill their God-given potential. The alumni network at PTS is active, and current students can turn to those already in the field for pastoral guidance.

23Iliff School of TheologyDenver$$$$$2201 S University Blvd
Denver, CO 80210-4798
(303) 744-1287

Iliff School of Theology in Denver is an inclusive, multicultural, and highly esteemed school that attracts those who are passionate about heeding the call of the Great Commission. IST values diversity and that shows in the vastly ranging group of students who choose to complete their postgraduate biblical educations through the school – be it on campus or online. All online classes are taught via Canvas, and administrators are on hand to ensure learners are able to get the most out of their distance educations. Through the “Journey” Master of Divinity degree, Iliff believes a hybrid program is best for providing both flexibility and ensuring that students get the necessary interaction with peers and professors they need to thrive. Prospective students should be prepared to visit campus three times a year: for one week in the fall, two to four days in the winter, and two to four days in the spring. All of the online classes are lead by the same fully qualified, full-time faculty leading campus-based courses.

24Moody Bible InstituteChicago$$$$$820 N LaSalle Blvd
Chicago, IL 60610-3284
(312) 329-4000

Founded by father of the Holiness movement D.L. Moody, Moody Bible Institute has been working to spread the gospel worldwide from its Chicago campus since 1886. The school promises that all students, regardless of their major, spend more time studying the Bible than any other book to ensure they are knowledgeable and competent in Christian concepts upon graduation. The school’s master’s in theology online is offered as an MDiv and works to develop biblical expertise and advanced preaching skills. Completed in a cohort sequence, students spend four years – including summer classes each year – completing the required 90 credits. These hours include core coursework and two semester-long internships in the student’s local community. Learners will also have the opportunity to hone their preaching and counseling skills after taking courses in narrative preaching and pastoral counseling during their third year.

25Clarks Summit UniversityClarks Summit$$$$$538 Venard Rd
Clarks Summit, PA 18411-1250
(570) 586-2400

Looking for a school where Christ is at the center of every course offered and every faculty member’s goals? Pennsylvania's Clarks Summit University has held this mission close since 1932 and instilled it within the more than 13,000 alumni who have completed their biblical educations at the university. As of 2016, graduate enrollment includes 145 students, meaning all learners enjoy small classes and personal attention from their professors. SUP is also unique in how it structures the online master’s in theology. Offered as a master of arts, the goal of the 30 credit-hour program is to prepare students “for any ministry God lays on your heart.” With this mission in mind, students are given the freedom to design plans of study that incorporate both their skills and passions for theology while also gaining the academic girding they will need to take on pastoral or ministerial roles.

Online Doctorate Degree in Theology

A doctorate is the highest degree available to students of theology. A doctoral theology program often involves a more rigorous application process, and usually requires in-depth, independent research on a particular theological topic. In that case, a doctoral theology degree provides students with advanced training and is ideal for those who want to pursue a career in academia by teaching theology at a seminary or college. Additionally, a doctoral theology degree online gives graduates a competitive edge for careers in the clergy. Typically, doctoral programs take between three to five years to complete, and total tuition costs range from $20,000 to $35,000.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Christian Ministry and Culture, Christian Leadership, Christian Ethics, and Research Methods. Usually, students will also complete a dissertation, which involves in-depth, focused research on a particular theological topic or issue.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Doctor of education (with an emphasis in theology or religion), doctor of ministry, or doctor of philosophy (with an emphasis in theological studies).

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Theology professor, pastor, priest, director of religious activities and education, and more.

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $63,000 annually for postsecondary educators (college professors), $44,250 annually for members of the clergy, $38,780 annually for directors of religious activities and education.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    For 2014-2024, experts estimate a 9% increase for postsecondary educators (college professors), a 6% increase for members of the clergy, and a 4% increase for directors of religious activities and education. These increases are about average.

Online Theology Choose Your Career

Average Theology Salaries

$28,750
$38,780
$44,250

Religious Workers

Salary: $28,750
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 55,900 Bachelor's N/A

Religious workers generally fulfill support positions in a spiritual community. Examples of this profession include deacons, missionaries, or nuns. Religious workers embrace a variety of roles and generally support the work of the clergy or spiritual directors. They might help lead worship services or manage outreach programs. Religious workers should have a high emotional intelligence, be able to speak publicly, and exhibit a passion for social and spiritual service.

Directors; religious activities and education

Salary: $38,780
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
4% 131,900 Bachelor's N/A

The directors of religious activities and education manage religious education programs for specific spiritual groups. Additionally, these professionals might be required to provide counseling services related to health, relationship, or spiritual problems. Directors of religious education should be skilled in developing interpersonal relationships, speaking publicly, drafting work schedules, thinking creatively, managing educational structures and programs, and teaching both in group settings and one-on-one. Often, this occupation involves plenty of freedom and unstructured work time.

Clergy

Salary: $44,250
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
6% 244,200 Bachelor's N/A

Members of the clergy lead religious and spiritual worship services, provide religious and spiritual direction for individuals involved with religious communities, and often provide some form of moral or ethical guidance. Specific titles for clergy members include priest, pastor, minister, rabbi, and more. Usually, members of the clergy are skilled public speakers, excellent listeners, perceptive of the emotions of others, and devoted to social service.

Online Theology Degree in Action

Elaine Bayless Theology

Elaine Bayless is an empowerment coach, Reiki master, and writer in Raleigh, NC. In addition to her education and training in counseling, coaching, and spiritual development, she has personally dealt with anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression. As a recovering people pleaser and former perfectionist, she is passionate about helping others find freedom and joy in life.

Why did you pursue theology coursework online?

I researched several schools for my Masters of Divinity degree. I didn’t want to relocate to attend school and I was looking for a program that wouldn’t lock me into one particular Christian denomination. The online program I found satisfied all my needs. In addition, I did move unexpectedly, so being enrolled in an online degree program was very convenient! A final factor was my desire to continue working while attending school.

What were the biggest advantages to studying online?

The flexibility of online coursework is truly the biggest advantage. I did have weekly and some mid-week deadlines, but I was free to set my own schedule as to when I would study and research. Another great advantage was the diversity of the classes. I was interacting with students of different races, with different economic situations, from different time zones, and even several foreign students. I have attended three other universities in my life, and none of them had such a diverse student body.

What challenges or obstacles did you face when taking online coursework?

My degree required me to learn both ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew. Trying to learn how to read and write Greek without any in-person interaction was hugely challenging. It was so difficult, in fact, that I chose to take Hebrew at a local university and transfer my credits. Another challenge was interaction with other students. We used message boards for discussions, and while everyone had to post by the middle of the week, it was challenging to maintain several conversations asynchronously.

How did the online format help prepare you for your career?

Working online gave me a lot of experience expressing my thoughts in writing. It also trained me to deal with challenges and conflicts online through writing only. Working online also greatly improved my time management skills because I had no external structure forcing me to meet deadlines.