Best Online Master’s in Theology

Programs, Timelines and Job Outlooks for Theology Students

Earning an online master’s degree in theology is one way individuals can enhance their understandings of religious beliefs and theories and learn how to apply them in applicable careers such as pastors, ministers, directors of religious education and religion teachers. Students wishing to pursue a master’s degree in theology while also maintaining full- or part-time work may find that online programs are a good fit for them. Find more information on potential programs, timelines and possible career paths for master’s degree in theology graduates below.

Best Online Master’s in Theology Degrees: 2017

One way to begin the search for an online theology master’s degree is to compare some of the top-rated programs. The list below ranks programs based on a variety of important factors, such as tuition and fees, academic services offered and graduation and job placement rates.

RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioGrad RateRanking ScoreSchool DescriptionAdditional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
43%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
55%
Ranking SCORE 99.78
Read more

Established in 1859, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the oldest and largest seminary institutions in the Southern Baptist Convention. Master’s degrees are available in several different areas, including theology. The Master of Theology (ThM) degree offers a research or ministry track, both with the same core course requirements. The ministry track is designed for ministry preparation while the research track is geared towards students planning to move on to a PhD degree, and contains more concentrated areas of study along with a research and thesis component. Also available to qualifying master’s degree students is a modular ThM in Theological Studies degree.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
2Columbia International University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
92%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
69%
Ranking SCORE 99.45
Read more

Columbia International University’s MA in Theological Studies degree, which is available fully online, prepares graduates for missionary, ministry and marketplace work, teaching and scholarly research and writing projects. This master’s degree is available to both students with a background in theology, and for those coming in with unrelated undergraduate degrees. Program one is for students with no previous theology experience and has additional courses in bible and theology, with a program total of 48 credits, and program two is for those with at least 30 semester hours of bible, theology or church history credits, with a program total of 33 credits.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
3Moody Bible Institute Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
60%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
62%
Ranking SCORE 97.98
Read more

The master of arts in biblical exposition at Moody Bible Institute prepares students to serve their communities through preaching the Scripture. Graduates will be prepared to establish ministries, create sermons and communicate effectively. They may go on to professional positions or serve in a lay capacity. The program is unique because it delivers coursework at the master's level that is generally associated with doctorate-level theology. The program, which operates on a cohort-based framework, begins a new session three times a year. Upon graduation, students will be able to develop their own preaching philosophy based on the needs and makeup of their communities.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
4Lincoln Christian University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
91%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
45%
Ranking SCORE 96.58
Read more

The master of arts in Bible and theology degree gives graduates the tools needed to help others develop a Scriptural understanding. The program, which is delivered completely online, consists of courses that follow a seven-week format. Students take two courses back to back each term. Terms take place in the fall, spring and summer, and there is one-week break after classes end before they begin again. This enables students to finish the entire program in two years while focusing on just a single course at any given time. The program follows the cohort format, with new cohorts starting every spring and fall.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
5Cornerstone University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
45%
Ranking SCORE 96.28
Read more

Master of arts degrees are available at Cornerstone University in both ministry leadership and biblical study. Both graduate degrees are available completely online. The ministry leadership degree, which can be finished in two years, is designed for students who either work full time in the ministry or who intend to do so. Students receive advanced ministry training and instruction in both biblical studies and theology. The biblical studies MA is taught by published scholars who have lived and studied in Israel, and who are counted as experts in both testaments of the Bible.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
6Harvard University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
56%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
97%
Ranking SCORE 95.76
Read more

The Harvard Divinity School offers three degrees at the graduate level: master of divinity, master of theology and master of theological studies, which can be finished in three, one and two years, respectively. Divinity School programs have a higher percentage of international components than any other school at Harvard. The school hosts many renowned events and services, including the Religious Literacy in the Professions Initiative. The school maintains a database of article posts and tutorials showcasing the lives and careers of both former and current students and faculty, as well as resources describing the programs and their potential outcomes.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
7Dallas Baptist University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
86%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
54%
Ranking SCORE 95.70
Read more

Dallas Baptist University is a liberal arts university with a large variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, including those based on Christian faith. For students planning to study theology at the graduate level, a MA degree is offered in theological studies, with concentrations available in Christian scriptures, heritage and ministry. Also offered is a dual degree in theological studies and worship studies, and several accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degrees, including a BA in biblical study/MA in theological studies. The MA in theological studies degree is offered online or as a hybrid program with evening classes available to provide flexibility to those with outside obligations.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
8Lee University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
71%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
49%
Ranking SCORE 95.29
Read more

Both the Department of Christian Ministries and the Department of Theology offer master's degrees for graduate students at Lee University. The former prepares students for entry-level work in the ministry, and the latter gives students the option of a pastoral studies emphasis or a pre-graduate studies emphasis. Graduates will be prepared to enter highly regarded universities and seminaries, to teach at the college level, serve in para-church ministries, serve as pastors in churches or embark on missions across the world. Advisors will work closely with students to ensure they meet all the requirements for graduation and choose the appropriate courses.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
9Jewish Theological Seminary of America Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
85%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
91%
Ranking SCORE 95.21
Read more

The Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America offers a master's degree in Jewish education. The program is designed for students who plan to serve as leaders in Jewish education. Master of arts candidates will receive immersive instruction in both Hebrew and Jewish education. Students can choose from two different tracks, but no matter which area of focus they choose, they will be able to supplement their education with instruction in educational technology or arts education. Students can also choose to pursue the exact same degree and coursework 100 percent online.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
10Clarks Summit University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
52%
Ranking SCORE 94.72
Read more

There are several theological degrees available at the graduate level, including master of arts degrees in church ministries biblical studies, biblical counseling, intercultural studies, and a master of divinity degree. The church ministry MA is a 36-hour professional degree. The biblical counseling and intercultural studies MAs are both 60-hour programs. The biblical studies degree is a 72-hour program and the master of divinity degree is a full 96 hours. All programs are run through the Baptist Bible Theological Seminary, which exists to train Christian students for life callings as pastors, missionaries, lay leaders, counselors and church staff.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
11Liberty University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
78%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
46%
Ranking SCORE 94.54
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
12Loyola University Chicago Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
93%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
70%
Ranking SCORE 94.51
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
13New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
8%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
14%
Ranking SCORE 94.37
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
14The College at Southeastern Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
44%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 94.34
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
15Heritage Christian University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 93.96
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
16Virginia Baptist College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 93.26
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
17Freed-Hardeman University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
54%
Ranking SCORE 93.23
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
18International Baptist College and Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
43%
Ranking SCORE 93.11
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
19Harding University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
91%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
61%
Ranking SCORE 93.07
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
20Houston Baptist University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
45%
Ranking SCORE 92.86
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
21Amridge University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 92.68
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
22Ave Maria University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
64%
Ranking SCORE 92.51
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
23Loyola University New Orleans Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
98%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
59%
Ranking SCORE 92.43
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
24Grace School of Theology Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 92.39
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
25Chaminade University of Honolulu Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
36%
Ranking SCORE 92.36
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
26Indiana Wesleyan University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
70%
Ranking SCORE 92.24
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
27Campbellsville University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
90%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
44%
Ranking SCORE 92.14
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
28SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 92.13
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
29Saint Johns University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
77%
Ranking SCORE 92.13
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
30Graceland University-Lamoni Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
50%
Ranking SCORE 92.12
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
31Piedmont International University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
84%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
32%
Ranking SCORE 92.06
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
32Virginia University of Lynchburg Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
44%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 92.04
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
33Gardner-Webb University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
45%
Ranking SCORE 91.75
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
34Johnson University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
87%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
62%
Ranking SCORE 91.74
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
35World Mission University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
17%
Ranking SCORE 91.66
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
36Union University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
88%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
67%
Ranking SCORE 91.53
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
37Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
12%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
44%
Ranking SCORE 91.49
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesNo Credit for ExperienceYes
38Southwestern Assemblies of God University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
73%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
38%
Ranking SCORE 91.35
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
39Baptist Bible College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
70%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
29%
Ranking SCORE 91.32
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
40Fordham University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
89%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
81%
Ranking SCORE 91.17
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
41Newman University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
43%
Ranking SCORE 91.14
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
42Northwest Nazarene University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
55%
Ranking SCORE 91.11
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
43Criswell College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
57%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
15%
Ranking SCORE 91.08
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesNo Credit for ExperienceNo
44University of Dubuque Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
93%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
36%
Ranking SCORE 91.05
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
45North Greenville University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
54%
Ranking SCORE 91.03
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
46South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
N/A
Ranking SCORE 91.03
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
47Crown College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
89%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
47%
Ranking SCORE 91.02
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
48Anderson University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
57%
Ranking SCORE 91.01
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
49Concordia University-Chicago Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
49%
Ranking SCORE 90.83
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
50Luther Rice University & Seminary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
67%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
25%
Ranking SCORE 90.79
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo

Find Online Master’s in Theology Programs

Prospective students may also need to consider their individual needs and goals in addition to factors that attribute to the rankings listed above. These individual needs often include elements like school size and population, geographic location and denomination. The search tool below is designed to help students locate a well-suited theology master’s degree program.

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Acceptance Rate Student Population School Type Online Master's Programs

Timeline to an Online Theology Master’s Degree

The time it takes to earn an online master’s degree in theology depends on several factors like whether an individual studies full-time or part-time or if he or she will need to take time off to attend to employment requirements or family obligations. The timeframe to complete a master’s degree may also be dependent on the requirements of a specific school or program. Many programs, however, are designed to be completed in two years, given the applicant attends full-time. The sample timeline below offers a look at what a student may expect to encounter in a typical two-year degree program from application to graduation.

Application Process

The application processes for most online master’s degree in theology programs are similar. However, some admissions requirements can vary from program to program due to the unique and personal nature of the major subject. Below is a list of some important elements to consider when applying to an online theology master’s program.

Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is typically required for admission into a theology master’s program. Most schools express a preference for a theology undergraduate degree, but may admit students with a bachelor’s degree in another major as long as that student has completed a specified number of undergraduate courses in theology or philosophy and expresses a sincere interest in the study of theology.

Undergraduate GPA

Student undergraduate grade point averages are normally considered by master’s admissions committees. However, minimum GPA scores vary significantly from program to program, with many schools making exceptions for students with lower GPAs if they can demonstrate a reason for the exception, such as taking honors courses.

GRE Scores

The GRE is often a staple requirement for most master’s degrees, but this may not be necessary for a master’s in theology program. Be sure to check the admissions requirements carefully for all theology programs under consideration. If required, a student may need to make accommodations to prepare for and take his or her GRE in time to receive the results to meet application deadlines.

Letters of Recommendation

Submission of one or more letters of recommendation is a common application requirement. In the case of a master’s in theology degree program, some schools place restrictions on who may write a letter. For example, some programs mandate that a letter of recommendation be written by an undergraduate theology professor or clergy member. Be sure to review a specific application’s ” for all programs under consideration.

Personal Statement

Most programs will require an applicant to submit a written personal statement describing his or her purposes and goals for earning a master’s degree in theology. This personal statement may be referred to by various terms such as “statement of purpose,” “statement of intent,” “statement of calling” or “religious autobiography.”

Declaration of Religious Affiliation

A declaration of religious affiliation may be, but is rarely, required. Most master’s in theology programs welcome students of all denominations.

Year One Milestones

Depending on the specific program, earning a master’s in theology may or may not require the completion of a thesis. Whether a thesis is mandated or not, first-year students will typically focus primarily on a schedule of core courses.

Core Curriculum

Theology master’s programs generally require students to successfully complete a set of core classes, regardless of their chosen area of specialization. Subject matter for these classes varies substantially depending on a specific program’s goals and denomination, but in most cases, the focus is on interdisciplinary study that introduces the student to basic terminology, research skills, and principles and issues of theology, laying a foundation for the more advanced coursework to come.

Concentration or Specialization

In almost all cases, online theology master’s students will be required to pick a topic of specialized study, which will often entail the completion of an additional set of courses on that topic. Choosing a specialization or concentration is commonly done early in the student’s first year of study.

Thesis, Capstone Project or Essay

Online master’s degree programs in theology often require completion of a thesis, capstone project or master’s essay. While these projects are usually completed and presented in the second year of study, it is common for students in their first year to attend counseling, a seminar or classes to research and select a thesis, capstone project or master’s essay topic.

Year 2 Milestones

Students in their second year of study will often find themselves busy with more coursework as well as completing their thesis, other culmination project, internships and final exams.

Advanced and Specialized Coursework

Students will typically shift their focus from core classes to required courses in their area of specialization. Additionally, some programs allow students to complete a number of elective courses.

Internships or Field Experience

Some schools offer internships and/or field experience projects, either as a degree requirement or as an option. Internship and field experience options depend heavily on a program’s religious affiliation and community interaction policies. Additionally, work associated with a student’s internship or field experience may or may not be applicable to his or her thesis, capstone project or master’s essay.

Foreign Language

A surprising number of theology master’s programs often feature a foreign language component. Students usually will either need to demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language, like German, French or Spanish, or complete coursework to achieve proficiency in order to graduate. A particular language may be specified in the requirements for a particular school, degree program or specialization.

Graduation Requirements

Graduation requirements often vary from program to program, but several factors are usually found in many online theology master’s programs. Students are advised to familiarize themselves with all degree components of their particular program at the beginning of their academic careers to ensure compliance with a specific program’s requirements.

Minimum GPA

Most programs require students to maintain and complete their coursework with a stated minimum cumulative grade point average. That minimum score differs by program, but normally falls between of 2.5 to 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. A typical minimum GPA is 3.0, but may be higher for those students continuing on to a PhD program.

Examinations

Depending on the specific program, passing one or a number of comprehensive examinations may or may not be a required. Comprehensive exams are more commonly a feature of non-thesis track programs and are almost always mandated for programs without any form of culmination project component.

Thesis, Capstone Project or Essay Submission and Acceptance

Students will need to finish and then submit their completed thesis or other culmination project to the appropriate faculty committee, who will in turn review the student’s work and either accept or reject it. Submission of one’s thesis may or may not be followed by an in-person defense of the work before the faculty committee.

Residency

A few online programs feature a campus residency component to their theology master’s programs. This residency requirement is typically short in duration and may take one of several forms, such as a summer residence or a specified number of days within the semester or term. Prerequisite coursework may be necessary.

Master’s in Theology Career Possibilities

Online master’s in theology graduates may find a limited number of job titles available to them, but those jobs are spread throughout a variety of religious groups and denominations as well as in private schools and college campuses, both religiously affiliated and secular. Employment prospects and salary potential may vary depending on the particular job title and denomination.

Browse Master’s in Theology Careers
Clergy

Clergy, also referred to with titles like pastors, ministers or priests, typically conduct religious worship in churches, mosques, temples and other locations. Additionally, they often perform other spiritual functions and rituals associated with their particular religious faith. Clergy often attend to the spiritual and moral needs of their congregation, providing guidance and counseling.

Mean Annual Wage

$44,250

Growth Potential

6%

Directors of Religious Activities and Education

Religious activities and education directors typically coordinate and direct programs for congregation groups and individual members. In addition, they often provide guidance and counseling to congregation members on faith, spiritual topics and related issues concerning marriage, family, health and finances.

Mean Annual Wage

$38,780

Growth Potential

4%

Postsecondary Philosophy and Religion Teachers

Philosophy and religion teachers on the postsecondary level generally teach courses in philosophy, religion and theology on college, university and seminary campuses, both public and private. They often conduct research projects in combination with their teaching duties.

Mean Annual Wage

$66,380

Growth Potential

12%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; CareerOneStop.org

Core Principles and Skills Learned in an Online Theology Program

Master’s in Theology

  • Theological Knowledge

    Upon graduation, online theology students should typically possess a solid understanding of the multi-denominational field in general and an advanced knowledge in a specific discipline. In other words, students should graduate with a strong foundation in the theories, terms, methods and paradigms within one or more theological disciplines.

  • Critical Thinking and Communication

    Graduates should generally be able to articulate, both verbally and in writing, basic theological history, concepts, methodology, factual information, statistics and data. Students should typically possess the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to apply theological knowledge into several appropriate forms, such as class lessons, sermons, academic articles and dialogues.

  • Research and Analysis

    Online master’s in theology graduates often possess solid skills in both research and analysis. Specifically, students should be able to formulate questions and hypotheses, conduct academically sound investigations and research, and present findings in a form that can be properly reviewed and successfully defended.

  • Application of Knowledge and Skills

    Graduates should generally be able to effectively apply theological knowledge and skills into a variety of real world situations and tasks as spiritual counselors, educators and advocates for social change. Graduates often possess the ability to address problems and issues to both religious groups and the community at large.

2016’s Best Online Master’s in Theology Degrees

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Baptist Bible College & Seminary of Pennsylvania 99.84 97% 4 9:1 52%

There are several theological degrees available at the graduate level, including master of arts degrees in church ministries biblical studies, biblical counseling, intercultural studies, and a master of divinity degree. The church ministry MA is a 36-hour professional degree. The biblical counseling and intercultural studies MAs are both 60-hour programs. The biblical studies degree is a 72-hour program and the master of divinity degree is a full 96 hours. All programs are run through the Baptist Bible Theological Seminary, which exists to train Christian students for life callings as pastors, missionaries, lay leaders, counselors and church staff.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate86%
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2 Lincoln Christian University 99.67 93% 7 14:1 45%

The master of arts in Bible and theology degree gives graduates the tools needed to help others develop a Scriptural understanding. The program, which is delivered completely online, consists of courses that follow a seven-week format. Students take two courses back to back each term. Terms take place in the fall, spring and summer, and there is one-week break after classes end before they begin again. This enables students to finish the entire program in two years while focusing on just a single course at any given time. The program follows the cohort format, with new cohorts starting every spring and fall.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth11
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate48%
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3 Heritage Christian University 99.71 100% 2 6:1 N/A

For students who are already engaged in the ministry, the master of ministry degree offers graduates the ability to leave the program with enhanced service capabilities and skills. Specialized tracks include ministerial counseling, biblical Studies, history of biblical interpretation and theology, homiletics, ministerial care and history of biblical interpretation and theology. Students must complete 36 hours throughout six major divisions. Most classes are recorded beforehand. Students will download the lectures in conjunction with supplementary materials such as slideshows and video presentations. Students access all assignments, grades and tests through the learning management system.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate100%
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4 Virginia University of Lynchburg 99.65 100% 1 10:1 N/A

The University of Lynchburg's master of divinity degree program is designed to train and educate currently serving teachers, ministers and missionaries to further their careers in churches and mission fields. In 2010, the university won a 10-year reaccreditation status from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). The university imparts its lifelong learning philosophy into distance learning programs, just as it does through all traditional coursework. There are several ways to earn supplemental and past-learning credits, including through military service, technical training, professional certificates, documentation showing previous college credit or the completion of national examinations.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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5 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 99.35 87% 3 16:1 38%

Southwestern Assemblies of God University and all of its master's degrees is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Distance learners are afforded full access to all on-campus facilities and resources. This includes the bookstore, dining facilities, counseling and career services, learning centers, the wellness center and the Hagee Center. Students pursuing the master's degree in Bible and theology have two available courses of study: a thesis option and a non-thesis option. Students should only elect the thesis option if they plan to pursue a doctoral degree after they graduate.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate33%
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6 University of Valley Forge 99.29 77% 1 12:1 47%

Before they graduate, students in the master of arts in theology program will write theological and biblical academic research geared toward the faith community and the concerns the community harbors. Participants in the program will also analyze theological and empirical concepts as they apply to multicultural populations, and then use the results to develop theological frameworks to empower those populations. Other coursework includes an examination of the origins of philosophical and theological principles, and how they were influenced by society. Finally, students will describe several schools of theological thought and articulate their connection to the Scriptures.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate93%
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7 University of Dubuque 99.30 98% 2 13:1 36%

The master of divinity degree has been available through the university in a completely online format since 2007. Both the faculty and curriculum are exactly the same between the online program and its residential counterpart. Students and instructors will exchange emails, talk on the phone and chat on discussion boards. Each semester starts with a two-week intensive at the university, so students can get to know fellow classmates and instructors. From there, all classes can be completed online. Graduates, who must complete three divisions of core courses, will leave the program prepared to be effective pastors.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate78%
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8 North Greenville University 99.33 91% 1 14:1 54%

Students planning to serve in a church or move on to a divinity or seminary school have four tracks to choose from in their pursuit of a master's degree at North Greenville University: ministry, theology, youth ministry and biblical studies. All faculty members have doctoral degrees in the fields they teach, and many have served in congregations and published books or articles. Graduates will leave the program able to articulate and defend the Christian worldview while serving a ministry. They may go on to serve as church planters, missionaries, nonprofit leads, pastors, elders or deacons.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate59%
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9 Freed-Hardeman University 99.30 94% 3 14:1 54%

Students can pursue any number of Bible-based graduate degrees, including a master of arts in ministry, master of arts in the New Testament, master of arts in the Old Testament, master of arts in pastoral care and counseling, and master of divinity. All degrees are designed for church leaders, preachers, Bible teachers or ordinary Christians seeking to supplement their understanding of Scripture. When research projects tested their "extensive knowledge of the biblical text," 90 percent of students met or beat expectations. All courses are delivered through web-conferencing, and are taught simultaneously live to on-campus students and distance learners.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate93%
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10 Liberty University 99.17 84% 6 18:1 46%

The Rawlings School of Divinity offers a master of theology program that prepares graduates for full-time careers in Christian ministry. Students will conduct logical analysis, and complete writing and reading assignments related to contemporary issues facing the Christian faith. There are six different possible areas of concentration. Just one, Christian Apologetics, offers both a thesis and non-thesis option. The rest, which are non-thesis only, include homiletics, biblical studies, church history, theology and global studies. Graduates may pursue careers as college professors, ministry workers, cross-cultural missionaries, denominational leaders or pastors. All degrees require 30 credit-hours to complete.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth10
  • # Online Programs5
  • Acceptance Rate22%
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11 Regent University 99.17 84% 3 32:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate80%
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12 Northwest University 99.10 84% 1 13:1 48%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate96%
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13 Olivet Nazarene University 99.08 94% 8 16:1 57%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate74%
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14 Union University 99.00 76% 2 10:1 67%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth10
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate69%
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15 Virginia Baptist College 98.95 22% 2 6:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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16 Indiana Wesleyan University 98.95 55% 4 16:1 70%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate95%
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17 Wayland Baptist University 98.93 56% 1 10:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate98%
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18 Cornerstone University 98.87 86% 7 20:1 45%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate69%
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19 Concordia University-Chicago 98.85 90% 2 17:1 49%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate54%
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20 Chaminade University of Honolulu 98.81 84% 2 11:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate86%
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21 Graceland University-Lamoni 98.65 84% 2 13:1 50%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate50%
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22 Northpoint Bible College 98.62 63% 1 17:1 55%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth1
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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23 Dominican University 98.61 76% 1 11:1 66%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate61%
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24 Southeastern University 98.58 76% 1 18:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate44%
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25 Grace College and Theological Seminary 98.56 76% 3 26:1 58%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate80%
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26 Loyola University Chicago 98.56 84% 6 14:1 70%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate63%
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27 Saint Leo University 98.50 64% 1 15:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth2
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate72%
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28 Campbellsville University 98.43 60% 2 13:1 44%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate73%
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29 Felician College 98.34 79% 1 14:1 42%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate84%
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30 Missouri Baptist University 98.32 40% 1 20:1 38%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate60%
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31 Fordham University 98.32 79% 3 14:1 81%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth4
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate48%
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32 Newman University 98.24 41% 1 14:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate53%
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33 World Mission University 97.37 92% 3 7:1 17%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate78%
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34 Apex School of Theology 96.96 94% 2 17:1 100%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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35 Amridge University 96.90 86% 3 10:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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36 South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary 96.76 70% 4 8:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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37 Shasta Bible College and Graduate School 96.70 87% 2 5:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate100%
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38 Spring Arbor University 96.55 90% 1 12:1 52%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate67%
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39 King's University 96.55 65% 2 9:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate100%
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40 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 96.44 61% 5 17:1 44%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesNo
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate76%
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41 Ohio Christian University 96.41 62% 2 10:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate65%
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42 Crown College 96.39 82% 4 18:1 47%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth10
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate28%
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43 Laurel University 96.37 28% 2 13:1 18%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate83%
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44 Barclay College 96.34 81% 1 10:1 53%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate54%
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45 Faith Evangelical College & Seminary 96.32 7% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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46 Holy Apostles College and Seminary 96.25 19% 4 4:1 25%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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47 Southwestern College 96.12 60% 2 8:1 51%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth6
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate88%
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48 Hope International University 96.04 87% 3 14:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate31%
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Additional Resources

For more information, data and advice on finding and earning an online master’s degree in theology, on career opportunities or on the field of theology in general, check out the following online resources:

American Academy of Religion (AAR)

The AAR is a professional association of approximately 9,000 teachers and scholars working at colleges, universities, seminaries and other schools throughout the U.S. and abroad. Its website offers access to information on conferences, meetings, publications, programs and other membership services.

Association for Theological Field Education (ATFE)

Representing over 100 theological schools in the U.S. and Canada, the ATFE was founded to cultivate the education of the theological field. Its website offers access to research and publications, conferences and meetings, and other recourses for theological field educators and others.

Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

The ATS is a professional organization representing more than 270 graduate schools in theology in the U.S. and Canada. Its Commission on Accrediting accredits postsecondary institutions and the programs they offer. It provides additional support, including research and programs, for its faulty and administrator members.

Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)

The ETS professional association consists of biblical teachers, scholars, pastors, students and others involved in evangelical scholarship. It sponsors a number of resources including the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Society for Hindu-Christian Studies

Founded in 1994, the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies is dedicated to the study of Hinduism and Christianity and the interrelationships between the two religions. It sponsors annual meetings and publishes the Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, which features peer-reviewed articles, book reviews and other items related to the Hindu-Christian field.