2022 Best Online Masters in Theology Programs [Guide]

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An online masters in theology can help equip you for a career in ministry or the church.

Best Online Masters in Theology Programs

In a theology graduate program, you can receive advanced training in how to analyze scripture and how to understand its historical context.

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You can also learn how to relate this knowledge to modern audiences and help people see its applications to their own daily lives. Read on to learn more about what you can expect when pursuing an online theology masters degree.

Online Master’s in Theology Programs

Online Master's in Theology Programs

Earning a master of theological studies online could be useful if you want to pursue a career as a pastor, church leader, missionary, or postsecondary teacher. Degree programs in theology are often open both to students who are new to the field and to those who have a previous educational background in religious studies.

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Many graduates of masters degree in theology online programs go on to earn their doctorate in theology. Some choose on-campus programs, but a growing number of universities also offer PhD in Theology online programs as well. In some cases, you may be able to count course credits from your master’s degree toward a doctoral degree.

Graduate degree programs in theology are research-oriented and usually require the completion of a thesis. This type of degree can help prepare you to create scholarly, publishable works.

Here are some subjects you might study while earning a masters in theology online:

  • Church history
  • Preaching methods
  • Homiletics
  • Biblical exegesis

Studying these subjects can help you learn how to understand, interpret, and effectively explain scripture. Some theology degree programs also require students to complete an internship. If you are enrolled in an entirely online theological degree program, your university would likely arrange for you to complete an internship at a church or organization that is local to you.

Common Masters Degree in Theology Specializations

Masters Degree in Theology Specializations

Many master’s degree programs in theology allow you to choose a specialization within the field. This enables you to customize your education to best suit your career goals and personal interests. Here are some common theology specializations:

  • Biblical and Historical Studies. In this specialization, you can further study religious history and the historical context of the Bible.
  • Religion and Science. This specialization explores the relationship between scientific thought and spirituality.
  • Global Studies. In this specialization, you can learn about the religious beliefs of different cultures and the variation of Christian beliefs and practices across cultures.
  • Greek. In this specialization, you can receive extensive instruction in Ancient Greek so you can read and interpret significant religious and historical texts in their original language.
  • Catechetics and Evangelism. This specialization emphasizes how to reach others with the gospel and how to explain the basics of Christian theology to newcomers to the faith.

Any of these specializations could be helpful as you grow your faith and learn to minister to others. Your ultimate career goal can help you determine which specialization is the right fit for you.

Divinity and Theology Careers & Salaries

Divinity and Theology Careers & Salaries

Some of the most common careers for people with graduate degrees in divinity and theology include postsecondary teachers, clergy, and religious activities and education directors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some occupations related to graduate studies in divinity and theology.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers $76,160
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Writers and Authors $67,120
Historians $63,100
High School Teachers $62,870
Clergy $51,940
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660
Community and Social Service Specialists $46,770
Religious Activities and Education Directors $45,110
Religious Workers $33,530

Earning your master’s degree in theology could enable you to serve your community in a variety of positions. A graduate degree can help you qualify for management or leadership positions as well. Some professionals use their advanced training to conduct academic research as historians, to become writers or authors, or to work in nonprofit or community and social service organizations.

Masters in Theology Curriculum & Courses

Masters in Theology Curriculum

Here are examples of courses you might take while earning your master’s degree in theology:

  • Fundamental Theology: In this course, you’ll study the basics of Christian theology.
  • Moral Theology: In this course, you’ll learn about moral norms in various cultures and in Christianity.
  • Hermeneutics: In this course, you’ll learn about different methods for studying and interpreting the Bible.
  • Pastoral Issues: In this course, you’ll learn about the responsibilities of working as a church pastor and about various approaches to solving problems that pastors might encounter in their work.
  • Church History: In this course, you’ll learn about the history of Christianity, from the early church to the present day.
  • The Church in the Modern World: In this course, you’ll learn about the applications of Christian belief and practices in the present day and how the church relates to contemporary society.
  • Spiritual Formation: In this course, you’ll learn about how to grow in your relationship with God through different Christian practices, such as prayer.
  • Intercultural Studies: In this course, you’ll study the cultures of different groups of people around the world, and you’ll explore how to respectfully interact and have meaningful conversations with them.
  • Old Testament Application: In this course, you’ll learn how to relate the teachings of the Old Testament to daily life.
  • New Testament Application: In this course, you’ll learn how to relate the teachings of the New Testament to daily life.

Exact course titles and requirements will vary from one university to another.

Admissions Requirements

Theology Masters Programs Admissions

Here are some common admissions requirements for masters degree programs in theology:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, on average
  • Personal statement or essay describing your goals
  • Letter of recommendation from an instructor or mentor

Many theology graduate programs welcome students of all religious affiliations, so being a member of a specific organization is not usually a requirement for acceptance.

Theology Masters Programs Accreditation

Theology Masters Programs Accreditation

Colleges and universities can be awarded regional accreditation after being evaluated and found to meet certain academic standards by an outside organization. This process helps ensure that you receive a quality education.

A university’s website will usually indicate its accreditation status as well as the accrediting agency that performed the evaluation. To learn more about regional accreditation, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

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Sometimes, specific degree fields within a university receive programmatic accreditation. For instance, masters degree programs in theology can receive programmatic accreditation from the Association of Biblical Higher Education or from the Association of Theological Schools.

Theology Licensure and Certifications

Theology Licensure and Certifications

Here are some available credentials that can be complementary to a theology degree, depending on your career goals and area of specialization:

  • Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor. This certification can expand your career options by qualifying you to provide counseling services. There are some licensure-track degree programs available in the field of theology.
  • Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy Certification. This certification can be earned through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. It requires the completion of a continuing education curriculum that covers the applications of spiritual teachings and practices in mental health professions.
  • Board of Chaplaincy Certification. It’s possible to become an associate or board certified chaplain through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification. The requirements for different chaplaincy certifications vary, but you often complete continuing education requirements to receive and maintain your certification.

Earning one of these certifications could help expand your job opportunities as a theology graduate.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Theology Masters Programs financial aid

If you would like to continue your education but are concerned about how you will pay for it, there are many financial aid options that are available to qualifying students.

Financial aid options can include state or federal aid, grants, scholarships from your university or outside organizations, and employer programs. There are also a variety of religious organizations—such as the Forum for Theological Exploration and the Champions for Christ Foundation—that offer scholarships specifically for students of theology.

To apply for federal financial aid, you can fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Is an MTh Degree?

Master of Theology degree

A Master of Theology (MTh, ThM, or MTheol) degree is a graduate-level program in which you study religious topics such as church history and biblical interpretation.

This type of degree program can prepare you to teach and minister to others while working in academia or for a religious or nonprofit organization. An MTh is usually offered by universities, seminaries, and divinity schools. A Master of Theology can be earned either as an entrance into a doctoral program or as a stand-alone degree, depending on your personal goals and the school you are attending.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Theology?

Masters in Theology careers

Many professionals who hold a masters in theology work for churches or religious organizations. Others enter the world of academics, teaching others and conducting research.

Some Master of Theology programs also enable you to pursue licensure to become a professional counselor. Other MTh graduates work for or lead community service organizations. Careers in this field have their challenges, but they can also be very personally rewarding, providing many opportunities to assist and guide others.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MA in Theology Online?

Most master programs take 1 to 2 years to complete. If a program only requires 36 credit hours, it can potentially be completed in as little as 1 year with a full-time, year-round course load.

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You may need more time to finish your degree if you choose to take classes part-time or if your program requires the completion of a thesis. You can contact your prospective school to find out how long it usually takes students to complete their particular program.

How Much Does a Master’s in Theology Cost?

Costs can vary significantly from one university to another, but you can typically expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $700 per credit hour. This estimate does not include the cost of textbooks and other fees and expenses.

There are often various types of financial aid packages available to help you pay for upfront costs. Earning your degree online can potentially save you money by comparison to traditional schooling since online students do not need to commute or pay for on-campus fees.

What’s the Difference Between an Online Masters in Theology vs. Religious Studies?

Here are some key differences between a masters in theology and a masters in religious studies.

Theology Program Religious Studies Program
  • Usually affiliated with a specific denomination or religious organization
  • Focuses on the teachings and practices of its affiliated religion
  • Attempts to understand God
  • Usually studies a variety of world religions from an outside viewpoint
  • Attempts to understand human thought and behavior within a religious context

Either type of degree could help you expand your knowledge and advance your critical thinking skills.

What’s the Difference Between a Masters in Biblical Studies vs. Theological Studies?

Biblical Studies vs. Theological Studies

Here are some key differences between the fields of biblical studies and theological studies.

  • Biblical Studies: A program in biblical studies focuses primarily on understanding the Bible.
  • Theological Studies: A program in theological studies usually includes the study of the Bible along with other aspects of religion. You will likely study topics such as church traditions or historical records outside of the Bible.

Because theological studies usually includes the study of the Bible, there is some overlap between these two types of degrees. Theological studies is broader than biblical studies.

Is a Master Degree in Theology Worth It?

Yes, a master degree in theology is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently projects that employment of postsecondary teachers will grow by 12% over the next decade. Meanwhile, employment of social and community service managers is expected to grow by 15%.

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A degree in theology can help prepare you for careers in education or social and community service. Theology could also be a valuable degree if you want to work for a church or religious organization.

Universities Offering Online Masters of Theology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Belhaven University

Belhaven University

Belhaven University offers a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. The program is offered completely online and requires students to complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Those that don’t meet this requirement may submit 2 letters of recommendation to be considered for conditional admittance.

Belhaven University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Biola University

Biola University

Biola University offers an online Master of Arts in Theology program. Students in the program can choose to take either the Greek or Non-Greek track. Students must complete 49 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, 2 references, and 2 admissions essays.

BU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University offers an online Master of Theology. The program’s classes are each 8 weeks long, and students are required to complete 30 credit hours to graduate. Students may add a concentration in Biblical Studies, Pastoral Leadership, or Theological Studies. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or satisfactory GRE or MAT scores.

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Students in the program take one class at a time, and each class is 5 weeks long. The program requires the completion of 39 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts from a bachelor’s degree program in which they have earned a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia International University

Columbia International University

Columbia International University offers a Master’s in Theological Studies. The program requires the completion of 36 semester hours and can typically be completed in 2 years. Those interested in the program must have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher and must submit an application essay, official transcripts, and a Church leader reference.

CIU is accredited by the: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Concordia University – Irvine

Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University—Irvine offers an online Master of Arts in Theology program. Students must add an emphasis in Christian Education Leadership, Director of Christian Education, Research in Theology, Servant Leadership, or Theology Culture.

The program requires the completion of 32 credits to graduate. Applicants need to submit their transcripts from an undergraduate program, a statement of intent, and 2 professional references.

Concordia University – Irvine is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Franciscan University of Steubenville offers a Master of Arts in Theology and Christian Ministry. Students must add a concentration in Sacred Scripture, Historical Theology, Theology of the Body, Mariology, Moral Theology, or Systematic Theology.

The program requires the completion of 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit official transcripts from a bachelor’s program and 3 letters of recommendation when applying.

The Franciscan University of Steubenville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University offers an online program for a Master of Theology. The program offers courses that are 8 weeks long, and it can typically be completed in one year. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. Those interested in the program must submit official transcripts from a bachelor’s degree in which they earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Theology. The program can be completed online and only requires students to complete 10-12 classes to graduate. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website with an admissions essay and 2 character references.

Lincoln Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Multnomah University

Multnomah University

Multnomah University offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Students are required to complete 48 semester hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to graduate. The program can typically be completed in 2 years. Interested applicants must submit an academic or professional reference, a Christian character reference, and official transcripts from any schools attended.

Multnomah University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Newman University

Newman University

Newman University offers both a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Theology. Both programs require students to complete 30 credit hours to graduate. Only the Master of Arts program requires a thesis. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and submit a letter of recommendation and a personal essay.

Newman University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwest University

Northwest University

Northwest University offers an online Master of Arts in Bible and Theology program. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Up to 18 qualifying credit hours can be transferred into the program. Those interested in the program must have a bachelor’s degree and submit official transcripts, a personal essay, and a reference.

Northwest University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Regent University

Regent University

Regent University offers a Master of Theological Studies. The online program requires students to complete 48 credit hours to graduate.

There are concentrations in Biblical Languages, Biblical Studies, Christian Theology, and Church History. Applicants must submit an official admissions questionnaire, college transcripts, and a copy of their government-issued ID.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Saint Josephs College of Maine

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers a Master of Arts in Theology. The program offers three specializations: Pastoral Theology, Sacred Theology, or Advanced Diaconal Studies. Each program requires 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher and official transcripts.

Saint Joseph’s College is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education, Inc.

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University offers an online Master’s in Theology program. It requires students to complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have transcripts from a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a professional recommendation, and a statement of professional goals.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Dallas

University of Dallas

The University of Dallas offers a Master of Theology Studies. To graduate, students must complete 37 credit hours, including a theological studies capstone project. A concentration in Biblical Theology may be added to the degree. Applicants must submit 2 letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, an academic writing sample, and GRE test scores.

The University of Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Northwestern – St. Paul

University of Northwestern St Paul

The University of Northwestern—St. Paul offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Students must complete 36 online credit hours to graduate and may add a concentration in Biblical Studies, Cultural Engagement, or Ministry Leadership. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher from a bachelor’s degree program and must submit 2 references and a current resume.

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame offers a Master of Arts in Theology. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours. The program’s hybrid online track allows students to study mostly online except for a visit to campus in June. Applicants need to submit transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of intent to the school.

The University of Notre Dame is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Valley Forge

University of Valley Forge

The University of Valley Forge offers an online Master of Arts in Theology program. It requires the completion of 36 credit hours which can be obtained from 7 week or 15 week long classes. Those interested in the program can apply online through the school’s website. Admissions counselors can be contacted to assist with the application process.

The University of Valley Forge is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Westminster Theological Seminary

Westminster Theological Seminary

Westminster Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Students must complete 36 credit hours from 12 classes to graduate. The program can typically be completed in 1.5 to 3 years. Applicants that are interested in the program must apply online through the school’s website. The school’s admissions team can be contacted for assistance when applying.

Westminster Theological Seminary is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Getting Your Master of Theology Online

Master of Theology Online

There are many online options for earning your Master of Theology degree. These programs often offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate working adults. At many universities, online courses are taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses.

Earning an MTh can challenge you academically, help you advance your knowledge of scripture and history, and offer opportunities for spiritual growth. This degree could also help you on the way to a rewarding career of teaching and serving others.

You can start your educational journey today by exploring accredited universities.

Ready to start your journey?
Amy Wilson
WRITTEN BY
Amy Wilson
Amy attended the University of Georgia, enrolling in both online and on-campus classes. Her research and writing focuses on how differing education methodologies can affect student outcomes, as well as making education accessible to more students.