Best Online Master’s in Theology Degree Programs

The theology field is not just for pastoral students. In fact, anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the use of theology to effectively address today’s challenging spiritual needs will find this degree beneficial. A master’s of theology online opens doors for career opportunities in lay ministry, church leadership, missions, or pastoring.

Usually structured as an academic research degree, a master’s in theology involves an average of one to two years of in-depth scholarly work in theology and apologetics. However, not all theology programs are alike, so be sure to carefully compare choices. For instance, they may or may not require a thesis track, and many programs allow students to focus on a specific area of ministry that interests them.

Many excellent schools offer an online master’s of theology degree program, giving adults who work an opportunity to take classes when their schedules permit. Online courses not only allow flexibility but are often less expensive than classes at a brick-and-mortar institution.

To make your search easier, we have compared and ranked the colleges and universities that offer an online theology master’s. Below you will find the top 25 ranking of online theology master’s programs for 2016.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1

Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas
  • annually: $14,250
3909 Swiss Ave
Dallas, TX 75204
(214) 887-5000

Dallas Theological Seminary describes its Master's of Theology degree as, "Designed to produce competent Bible expositors who are qualified to serve God actively as pastors, missionaries,
or leaders in other areas of vocational Christian ministry."

The DTS program offers 30% more Bible, theology and language training than most Master's of Divinity degrees. Students can choose from 30 specific areas of emphasis offered in the field of theology or they may custom design an emphasis for their theology degree.

It is the philosophy of DTS that field service is vital to link theory with practice. The program therefore supports learning within the local community, giving student ministers the option of completing either a three-credit-hour Servant Leadership Internship or a twelve-credit-hour Ministry Residency Internship.

There are no special computer requirements to take online courses through Dallas Theological Seminary except a high-speed internet connection capable of live video streaming and the current version of Macromedia Flash. Their online education player will work on Windows, Mac, or Linux and on most web browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Opera, etc.). Every master’s student at DTS receives a copy of Logos Bible Software.

2

Calvin Theological Seminary

Grand Rapids
  • annually: $14,619
3233 Burton St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4387
(616) 957-6036

Calvin Theological Seminary has been designed to fit into a busy student’s family and work life. They understand most online students can only take three courses or ten credits per semester, so the projected completion for a theology master's online is three years.

Online courses will require two trips each year (one in mid-October and the other in late-February or early-March) to Calvin’s campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These eight-day "intensives" are designed to allow students to meet the other members of their cohort. Following this on-site "intensive," the remainder of the courses will be completed online.

Although students take courses online, Calvin considers holistic ministry preparation to be a key part of its theological program. Instead of meeting in a classroom, students use social media like Google hangouts and discussion boards to connect with their program cohorts. Students also take part in online mentoring groups where cohorts will support each other in prayer and discussion. Calvin also encourages participation in internship opportunities.

Additional information is available on Calvin’s FAQs page.

3

Columbia International University

Columbia
  • annually: $19,480
7435 Monticello Rd
Columbia, SC 29203-1513
(803) 754-4100

All Columbia International University (CIU) online courses are designed to be completed entirely online. No trips to a physical campus are necessary. Online courses are exactly the same as on-campus courses, and all faculty are experts with experience in the theology field.

CIU offers its online M.A. in Theological Studies in two formats, one for graduates who have no experience in prior Bible or theology courses and one for college graduates who have a minimum of 30 semesters of Bible, church history or theology.

The Columbia International University department of distance education has been awarded two national awards for their innovative online courses. In 2011, ACCESS awarded CIU the "Course-of-the-Year Award" for its graduate-level course "Foundations of Spiritual Formation." The recognition was based on the innovative blending of face-to-face teaching with online technologies. Its "Apologetics" undergraduate-level online course was recognized for its content, its "motivational format of instruction" and its combined media and hybrid teaching methods.

Visit CIU’s FAQs page for additional information.

4

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

New Orleans
  • annually: $6,660
3939 Gentilly Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70126
(504) 282-4455

The Master's of Theological Studies (MTS) at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offers a format for every type of student. The course may be completed entirely online, mixed with some on-campus classes at either an extension center or the main campus or as semester-length, hybrid and week-long workshop style classes.

Following the completion of 49 required course hours for the master's of theology online, students must take the MTS Summative Assessment. Students approaching graduation must register for the exam (course MTSA6100 Summative Assessment) and pay a fee like any other course.

NOBTS uses the Blackboard platform for online instruction. New online students will be eligible to register for classes as soon as they have completed the orientation. Be sure to check with the registrar’s office and the Gatekeeper for further instructions.

5

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

Springfield
  • : $0
1435 N Glenstone Ave
Springfield, MO 65802-2131
(417) 268-1000

Beginning in the fall of 2015, all 48 hours of coursework required to earn an online Master of Arts in Theological Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary will be available online. The advantage of these new online degrees is that adults already engaged in ministry leadership can finish their coursework in just two years without having to relocate their families.

The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary is committed to the Pentacostal Christian worldview, which is openly made an integral part of degree programs and courses and is a shared belief amongst administrators and faculty. Aspects emphasized include servant leadership, which they describe as being "dangerously authentic with each other and radically dependent on the Spirit."

The AGTS philosophy is that God has not called us to be second best and they will "Trash anything that isn’t cutting it. We will get places together -- or not at all."

For more information on this new MATS format, contact Randy Walls by phone at 1-800-467-AGTS or by email at rwalls@agts.edu.

6

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Kansas City
  • annually: $5,760
5001 N. Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64118-4697
(816) 414-3700

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s OnlineYou offers a challenging, research-based online educational system designed specifically for students engaged in full-time ministry. In addition to a graduate degree, OnlineYou was designed to teach students skills for continuous lifelong learning and Biblical application. Midwestern strives to remain at the forefront of online technology and uses the current version of Blackboard to deliver its classes.

Offering six terms each year, a new class is only a few weeks away. The full load of its eight-week theology master's online courses are offered each term. The Midwestern Master's of Theological Studies consists of 45 required credit hours.

The MBTS M.Th is offered completely online and is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

Students will need Microsoft 2003 or later, Blackboard 9.1 SP6 and a reliable high-speed internet connection. Please review the technical requirements to be sure your computer equipment will work with MBTS online courses.

7

Iliff School of Theology

Denver
  • annually: $18,576
2201 S University Blvd
Denver, CO 80210-4798
(303) 744-1287

Iliff School of Technology, based in Denver, offers a Master's of Theology degree in either a completely online classroom or in a hybrid format, both of which offer a great deal of flexibility while meeting every student's individual needs. Iliff's master's of theology online is designed to help those who just want to increase their personal understanding, to add depth and understanding to an already existing pastoral career or to prepare students planning to begin a doctoral degree.

Iliff offers customization to its already flexible course of study. Its MTS degree requires 72 credit hours and qualifies students for either interdisciplinary studies or as a pre-doctoral program. The MTS program culminates in an interdisciplinary thesis.

Online courses follow a ten-week calendar and students are expected to keep up with the course requirements as stated in the course syllabus. Online students should contact Taylor Library for information on how to obtain privileges at a library close to home. Be sure to review Iliff’s technology requirements before enrolling in online classes.

8

Nazarene Theological Seminary

Kansas City
  • annually: $11,765
1700 E Meyer Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64131-1246
(816) 268-5400

The Master's of Arts in Theological Studies at Nazarene Theological Seminary is offered in three tracks, all requiring 48 hours of coursework. Students may choose the general academic track, the research track in Biblical studies or the research track in Christian Thought and History.

Nazarene Theological Seminary offers its Master's of Arts in Theological Studies as a completely online course, by videoconference and/or through one-week module courses at any of the seminary’s multi-campus locations.

Moodle is the delivery platform chosen by NTS to bring online students together with instructors and fellow classmates.

9

Bethany Theological Seminary

Richmond
  • annually: $12,420
615 National Rd W
Richmond, IN 47374-4019
(765) 983-18001808

Bethany Theological Seminary was founded in 1905 as the graduate school of the Church of the Brethren for those interested in a theology degree. The Brethren church, founded on anabaptism and piety, follows a blend of spirituality and practicality. Emphasis is placed on helping others, living a simple lifestyle and the importance of coexisting in faith with their fellow brethren. They teach peacemaking and reconciliation, and they are opposed to war for any reason.

All of Bethany Theological Seminary’s Master's of Arts programs celebrate the passion of the heart and mind. All of their MA students must complete a research thesis on a topic with passionate academic interest. The goal of the master's in theology online program is to develop the growth of mind, body and spirit.

Once a two-year on-campus program, Bethany is now offering its complete MA program through its distance learning program, the MA Connections track. The program requires participation in the Research Seminar, involving interaction with other online master’s students.

10

Luther Rice University & Seminary

Lithonia
  • annually: $6,080
3038 Evans Mill Rd
Lithonia, GA 30038-9869
(770) 484-1204

The online master's in theology from Luther Rice College and Seminary is fully accredited. Students may elect to take either campus-based or online classes. The theology master's online degree program is 36 credit hours, and students may transfer up to 6 credits from other schools. Alumni report a 96% rate of satisfaction with their educational experience at LRCS. Tuition at Luther Rice is ranked in the bottom 10% of all private, non-profit, four-year colleges according to the U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center.

Luther Rice offers state-of-the-art technology and support to enable student success in the master's in theology online program. The array of technology available to on-campus students includes an on-campus computer lab, wireless high-speed connections on campus, electronic library manuals and tutorials, video content and student orientation. Online students can take advantage of online library orientations and hundreds of thousands of electronic library resources. Both on-campus and online students have full access to all resources available in the library.

Blackboard is the campus technology platform. Students can learn more about Blackboard, login and the Luther Rice webmail system on the Information Technology FAQ.

11

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas
  • annually: $23,650
3000 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75211-9299
(214) 333-7100

Dallas Baptist has two fully online master's in theology courses, one specializing in Christian Ministry, the other in Christian Scriptures. Scripture courses require students to take several advanced courses on New and Old Testament readings, focused on particular book of the Bible, such as the Psalms and the Epistles. Required ministry courses include "Foundations of the Christian Ministry" and "Shepherding in the 21st Century." Core courses shared between the two online programs cover topics like hermeneutics, Christian history, the values of Christian leadership and Biblical interpretation.

DBU online courses are not just correspondence classes. Students interact with each other and excellent instructors several times a week. Courses are presented in "sessions." At the beginning of each, new material is made available for students to read, study and complete assignments. While students generally set their schedules, some instructors require participation in live or time-sensitive discussions to deepen understanding of course materials and to create dynamic, collaborative learning opportunities. The course materials covered in every class are available for review until semester's end.

Review the DBU online technology team recommended computer specifications for online students.

12

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago
  • annually: $37,412
1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000

Loyola University’s Master's of Arts in Theological Studies requires 30 credit hours of concentration in theological investigation. Areas of specialization in the master's include Biblical studies (Old and New Testament), systematic and/or historical theology and Christian ethics. A second graduate program majoring in theology and minoring in education is also offered.

Loyola uses Sakai as its electronic platform for online teaching. Sakai can be used to post course materials online, establish online message boards for students and administer tests and quizzes remotely.

Adobe Connect Meeting is used when students and instructors need to communicate online in real-time through a "virtual meeting." This technology is generally used when everyone in a class is required to meet at a particular date and time. Logging in from locations around the world, instructors and students can hold video or audio conferences, text, chat and share files and presentations.

13

United Theological Seminary

Dayton
  • annually: $12,420
4501 Denlinger Rd.
Dayton, OH 45426-2308
(937) 529-22013200

United Theological Seminary’s Master's of Theological Studies degree requires 48 semester hours of coursework: the Online Student Orientation, 21 semester hours of basic theological studies, 18 semester hours devoted to the student’s concentration and project, 3 semester hours of M.T.S. Colloquy and 6 semester hours of electives. This degree can be completed fully online or in a combination of online and on-campus courses.

A master's in theology online from United Theological Seminary makes a high-quality seminary education available to students who live in regions where an on-campus theological education is not available. These flexible programs allow students to continue serving in a local ministry position while completing their degree. Students can choose from several three-year or four-year degree options and then customize the class format to fit their busy schedules.

Visit the Online Learning Checklist for computer requirements needed to attend United Theological Seminary online.

14

Pentecostal Theological Seminary

Cleveland
  • annually: $11,472
900 Walker St NE
Cleveland, TN 37320-3330
(423) 478-7037

The Pentecostal Theological Seminary offers a Master's of Theological Studies with an emphasis on Pentecostal hermeneutics and Christian Scripture. The online master's in theology degree requires 60 credit hours of study and is designed to prepare students for post-graduate Biblical studies.

Now in its 40th year, the seminary has launched a new platform to serve both its online and campus classes. Populi provides the platform to deliver online courses, handle administrative and financial tasks and meet communication needs.

One unique type of course being offered by PTS are "Sync" courses. Eighteen classes are currently being offered via Sync delivery, and the Seminary is looking for ways to expand the number of Sync courses being offered. Sync courses offer an opportunity for students all over the world to meet the faculty in a variety of subjects. These courses also allow campus students to learn from fellow students in a variety of locations and contexts.

15

Liberty University

Lynchburg
  • annually: $21,000
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(434) 582-2000

The Liberty University Master's of Arts in Theological Studies program is designed for individuals who want an introductory graduate degree in theology to increase their effectiveness in a supportive role in their local church. Courses provide students with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of the Bible, Christianity, Christian theology and the Christian church. This program is beneficial for lay pastors, Christian educators, church lay leadership and their wives.

All students in the MATS program must select a specialization. All courses may be completed 100% online as well as on-campus or through intensives. 36 credit hours are required for graduation with a MATS degree, and six credits may be transferred from other accredited schools.

Detailed information regarding computer specs and advice on taking online courses can be found at Liberty University Online Tutorials.

16

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln
  • annually: $16,050
100 Campus View Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656-2111
(217) 732-3168

Lincoln Christian University’s Master's of Arts in Bible and Theology is designed to prepare Christians to show others how to dig deeper and find a better understanding of the Scripture. The program is available 100% online. All courses last seven weeks, and there is a one-week break between classes. Students take one course at a time and can complete the program in two years following this schedule.

The Master's of Arts in Bible and Theology is a 36-credit-hour course, 18 of which may be transferred from other accredited institutions.

For more information on computer requirements, visit the computer requirements page.

17

University of Dallas

Irving
  • annually: $34,430
1845 E Northgate Drive
Irving, TX 75062-4736
(972) 721-5000

The University of Dallas offers a Master's of Theological Studies degree with two concentrations: Biblical Studies and Catholic Secondary Education Training.

The Master's of Theological Studies program enables students with the knowledge needed to properly discern the practical application of Scripture. Combine a core curriculum with elective courses to concentrate on a particular topic of interest or a broad variety of subjects.

Students may use their elective courses to pursue any theological or ministerial area that interests them or to survey courses in a number of areas.

The M.T.S. can be completed entirely online. If students have questions regarding what computer to buy, visit the "Buying a Computer" page for detailed suggestions.

18

Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Cromwell
  • annually: $10,870
33 Prospect Hill Road
Cromwell, CT 06416-2005
(860) 632-3010

Holy Apostles College and Seminary offers a Master's of Arts (M.A.) in Theology, either on-campus or via online coursework.

This theology program is very flexible and designed to prepare students for ministry, teaching religion or theology or going on to higher education in Pastoral ministries. Students are allowed to choose a concentration from the following: Bioethics, Apologetics, Dogmatic Theology, Church History, Sacred Scripture or Moral Theology; it should be noted that the Apologetics concentration is only offered to online student.

Students must earn a GPA of 3.0 or better in 36 credit hours of graduate coursework to complete the degree plan. If students plan to pursue more advanced degrees, they may write an M.A. Thesis. To complete the M.A. in Theology, students must pass a summative evaluation (a thesis or comprehensive exams) and complete all degree requirements within six years from the date they began the program.

Holy Apostles uses Populi as their communications platform. Please refer to the Holy Apostles’ FAQs for detailed information on equipment requirements.

19

World Mission University

  • annually: $5,140

, CA
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World Mission University’s Master's of Art in Theology (MAT) is a two-year graduate theological program. Theology students study key doctrines, church history, ethics and apologetics.

Most students in the MAT program wish to enhance their overall understanding of theological matters, either in preparation for moving on to more advanced degrees or for personal edification, including being better prepared to serve or teach in their local church.

Successful completion of the Master's of Art in Theology from WMU requires 64 semester credits. Up to 32 credits of graduate work may be transferred from another accredited institution.

Moodle is the instructional platform in use at WMU, and they have a tutorial posted on their website for new students. They have also posted the technical requirements needed for computers to work successfully with their online classes.

20

Regent University

Virginia Beach
  • annually: $16,478
1000 Regent University Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
(757) 352-4127

The Regent University online Master's of Theological Studies (MTS) is a graduate-level course covering theological research, writing and training to teach theology. After completion of the MTS, students are prepared for advanced graduate study or to serve in their local churches, missions and other related fields.

Each of the eight-week courses may be completed online. Students typically complete this 48-credit-hour degree in two and a half to four years. The program must be completed within five years. Regent offers six different start times to choose from: August, October, January, March, May or June.

21

The King's University - Van Nuys

Southlake
  • annually: $12,390
2121 E. Southlake Boulevard
Southlake, CA 76092
(817) 552-3700

King’s University offers a Master's of Practical Theology with a concentration in Messianic Jewish Studies. This unique ministry program is designed to train believers for practical ministry in the local church or other ministry settings. In keeping with the program’s purpose of teaching maturity and decision making, King’s University offers students a significant amount of flexibility to design their own programs according to their ministry calling.

MPT students will gain an understanding of Jewish ministry skills that enable them to witness, train and pastor Jewish and multi-cultural fellowships of believers.

The chosen learning platform of King’s University is Blackboard, which is web-based and accessible via most online-ready computers. All browsers work with the Blackboard platform. The only software required of students is a Microsoft Word-compatible word processor.

22

Faith Evangelical College & Seminary

Tacoma
  • annually: $7,885
3504 N Pearl St
Tacoma, WA 98407-0186
(253) 752-2020

The Faith Evangelical Master's of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) is a 72 credit-hour program designed for those who wish to serve a church-related ministry. Students may choose a concentration (a minimum of 28 credit hours) in either New Testament or Apologetics.

Faith offers courses in three formats. Resident-Hybrid courses involve one week of resident instruction plus some online and webinar coursework. Weekly-Resident classes meet in residence one session per week, either daytime or evening. Online classes, which may include some pre-recorded lectures on DVD.

The technology platform used by Faith Evangelical College and Seminary is the Populi platform.

23

Anderson University - Indiana

Anderson
  • annually: $26,850
1100 E 5th St
Anderson, IN 46012-3495
(765) 649-9071

Anderson University offers an academic Master's of Theological Studies degree (MTS) that may be pursued on-campus or online.

Anderson does not recommend the MTS for anyone planning to go into a professional ministry placement. Ministry students are encouraged to enroll in the MDiv degree. The MTS is designed for students wishing to teach Bible and theology courses, whether in the local church or in a higher education setting.

The non-thesis MTS track will prepare students to serve as lay leaders within the local church or other ministries.

The thesis track MTS degree serves as the first stop on the path to academic success. Students in this track are introduced to Bible, theology, church history, biblical languages and academic research, culminating in a thesis.

24

Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion
  • annually: $24,102
4201 S Washington St
Marion, IN 46953-4974
(765) 674-6901

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a unique Master's of Practical Theology (MPTh) degree. The program is designed to assist those who do not have the proper undergraduate credits to pursue a Doctorate of Ministry. Students who have at least 30 graduate credits in theology can pursue the MPTh to complete the equivalency requirements needed to enter a doctoral course.

The online master's in theology requires 72 credit hours in the areas of biblical studies, theology or ministry studies in order to qualify for further doctoral work. The MPTh requires 18 credits from the Master's of Divinity program at Wesley Seminary and 18 credits in church history, ministry, biblical studies and theology.

25

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie
  • annually: $18,580
1200 Sycamore
Waxahachie, TX 75165
(888) 937-7248

Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a Master's in Practical Theology, introducing students to pastoral care, theology, spiritual dynamics, church administration, church growth, evangelism, nurturing ministries and preaching with purpose.

Students in Southwestern’s Practical Theology program may elect either the non-thesis or thesis option; however, the thesis option is reserved for students planning to pursue a Ph.D.

Courses are available online and also conducted on-campus during both the day and the evening in order to meet the busy schedules of the student body. Most master's degrees are available online, and both campus and online students have access to all of on-campus support, resources and facilities.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees.

Further Educational Opportunities

A master’s in theology is usually the first step toward a doctor of divinity degree. Upon completion of a divinity doctorate, graduates may choose to go on to complete a doctoral program in theology in order to better serve their congregations.

In a similar vein, some academics consider a master’s of divinity to be a precursor to a master’s in theology, especially for those looking to actively serve as the leader of a ministry. The basic distinction is that a divinity degree is what practicing ministers, priests and pastors are expected to hold if they do hold an advanced degree, whereas a theology master’s is more scholastic and research-intensive in nature and could be pursued by someone who solely intends to stay an academic conducting research and publishing their work. To better understand common differences, refer to this explanation by Gordon Conwell Seminary.

For students looking for more nuance and guidance regarding the proper graduate path, consult with the Association of Theological Schools, the body responsible for accrediting virtually all legitimate theology and divinity programs in the U.S.

Career Prospects

While the master of divinity is likely the degree needed to become the head of a congregation, there are a number of alternate and equally rewarding careers to pursue with a master’s in theology in hand; popular paths include work as a church retreat coordinator, as a church or charity administrator, as a director of church or faith-run activities or as the head of a student ministry.

If teaching is your passion, a degree in theology is usually the minimum requirement to work within the theology department of an accredited postsecondary institution. Outside of teaching is intensive research work, which almost always is overseen by a college or university as well. But regardless of whether it’s teaching or research that drives someone with a Master of Theology to stay in school post-degree, most institutions expect their master’s grads that stay on to work towards a doctorate, in this case, either in theology, divinity or religious studies, and often on a strictly set, multi-year timeline.

Salary Expectations

Considering how varied the positions available to a master’s in theology graduate are, it is no surprise that income and prospects for positions also tend to vary. Using data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we’ve identified several popular careers theology grads qualify for, a few of the industries the BLS identifies for each position and every position’s average annual wage for May of 2014:

  • Clergy – $47,730 – Industries employing clergy include religious orgs, medical and surgical hospitals, home health care services, nursing care facilities and state government.
  • Directors, Religious Activities and Education – $38,480 – Industries employing religious directors include religious orgs, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and professional schools and the “Federal Executive Branch” of the government.
  • Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary – $63,630 – Industries employing religion teachers include colleges, universities and professional schools and junior colleges.
  • Religious Workers, All Others – $29,620 – Industries employing all other religious workers include religious orgs, home health care services, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and professional schools and medical and surgical hospitals.

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