Students who are aiming for professions related to the clergy may be interested in pursuing degrees from online Bible schools. This guide covers important aspects of earning a theology degree such as choosing the type of program and a curriculum focus. Also included is advice for prospective online learners from a Christian ministry student. Armed with this information, students can select the online clergy school and degree that best meets their needs and lifestyle.
Top 10 Online Bible & Clergy Programs & Majors
|#1||Virginia Baptist College Fredericksburg, VA|
|#2||Clarks Summit University South Abington Township, PA|
|#3||Heritage Christian University Florence, AL|
|#4||Piedmont International University Winston-Salem, NC|
|#5||Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO|
|#6||Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL|
|#7||Belhaven University Jackson, MS|
|#8||Manhattan Christian College Manhattan, KS|
|#9||Grace School of Theology The Woodlands, TX|
|#10||Summit Christian College Gering, NE|
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Online Bible Study Degrees
Distance learning programs are an effective option for students who are juggling personal and professional responsibilities. In most cases, classes are asynchronous, meaning that students can download and view course requirements at their convenience. While some disciplines require interaction with instructors, peers and others, students of online Bible and clergy schools frequently schedule phone and Skype appointments on their own time. On the occasion that students need to participate in real-time observation and interaction, they can work with churches and other organizations to set up visits.
In addition to the telephone and Skype, many online Bible study schools use online discussion boards and content management systems, such as Blackboard. Additional technologies may include Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Connect, which allow students to view lectures and communicate with instructors. In addition, Bible study and clergy degree programs often require numerous reading and reflection assignments. The organization of an online program allows students extra time and flexibility to complete their readings and studies.
Best Online Bible Schools & Programs
Earning an online degree in bible study is a way to begin or further a career in ministry with the flexibility and autonomy available in online learning. It's important to find a quality program; one that offers the history and connection that's needed to be successful in Christian ministry. We've compiled a list of some of the best schools for Bible study and provided them here for you so you can make the best decision possible about where you earn your degree.
- Accredited at the institutional level
- Private nonprofit or public school
- Minimum of 1 online bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Number and variety of program offerings
- Student-teacher ratios
- Graduation rates
- Placement and support services offered
- Academic/Career counseling services
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- Loan default rates
Virginia Baptist College is a Christian school located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bible focused minors are in music, church office management and youth ministries. Adults who feel called to serve in ministry at the local church and vocational ministry levels can enroll in the Bachelor of Ministry program. Bible is one of the concentrations in the program. Church ministries, pastoral studies and church business are other concentrations. Graduate Bible studies are delivered through the Master of Ministry, the Master of Biblical Studies and the Master of Christian Education programs. These are online degree programs that take four to five years to complete.
Clarks Summit University specializes in undergraduate and graduate seminary instruction. Many of the programs are fully online. Flexible schedules make it easier for working adults to take the classes. Educational material is delivered via lectures, reading materials, research and class discussions that are pushed out via the university's website. Course curriculums generally cover areas like the New Testament, multicultural church planting and theology. If students enroll in the Master of Divinity, they must complete a one year internship before they graduate. The Master of Theology requires the completion of a 12 week residency.
Heritage Christian University is committed to preparing students to serve God in the field and in the church. Instructors at the school have been educating adults for more than 40 years. The Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies is a 128 hour degree program where courses like psychology, the New Testament, the Torah, elementary Greek and ministry in the local church are taught. Students enrolled in the Master of Divinity program do so through the Ezell Institute of Biblical Research. Focus of the Master of Arts and the Master of Science programs are Christian scriptures, languages, theology and biblical texts. It takes approximately 36 hours to graduate with a master's degree.
Piedmont International University is a faith based postsecondary school that awards undergraduate and graduate degrees in biblical studies. The Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry degree has a double minor. It also offers an accelerated bachelor's and master's option. Key areas of the 130 hour degree include general ministry, biblical languages, church education and counseling. At Piedmont International University, the Master of Arts in Biblical Apologetics and the Master of Ministry degrees are taught entirely online. Students can also participate in Project Jerusalem initiatives and help establish churches in urban communities.
Lakewood, Colorado is home to Colorado Christian University. Founded in 1914, the university is based in grace and truth. More than 6,000 students attend the school. Among the school's 50 majors and minors are the Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. Classes are taught in subjects like theology, social service, missions and the Gospels. The bachelor's degree is a 120 credit hour program, while the master's degree is a 39 credit hour program. Residencies are completed at the school's Lakewood campus. Both on campus and distance education options can be selected.
Moody Bible Institute is widely known for its biblical training programs. At the undergraduate level, the institute confers a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies. Up to 75 credits from other accredited schools can be transferred into the 121 credit hour program. Outcomes of the program are to prepare students to understand and teach the bible and to serve in various communities. At the graduate level, Moody Bible Institute awards master's degrees in applied biblical studies and biblical exposition. The master's biblical studies program teaches about the bible. The biblical exposition program prepares students to preach.
Belhaven University's Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies program equips students to understand the bible. Aim of the curriculum is also to prepare students for Christian service. Research and current readings about the bible are covered early in the curriculum. Specific course descriptions concentrate on topics like Old Testament and New Testament history, biblical interpretation and the life and teachings of Jesus. In addition to being taught online, the bachelor's biblical studies curriculum is taught at the university's Houston campus. After graduating from the program, adults can work as youth ministers, pastors, counselors, missionaries or teachers.
Classes in biblical studies at the Manhattan Christian College run on an eight week schedule. Each class requires a 14 to 15 hour commitment on a weekly basis. Students enrolled in online options generally only have to log into class at set times to participate in scheduled class discussions. The college operates on a semester schedule. It is possible to transfer credits earned at another school into the degree programs. Traditional and dual degrees awarded at the college are the Bachelor of Science in Bible and Leadership, the Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Leadership and the Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Leadership.
On campus and virtual forms of instruction are delivered at Grace School of Theology. Aim of each degree at the school is to prepare adults to deliver biblical lessons and truths to the world. Schedules are flexible to allow adults with busy lives the chance to obtain biblical studies degrees. The undergraduate degree is the Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Post-baccalaureate degrees are the Master of Ministry, Master of Theology and the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. Students should expect to complete 60 hours in the master's program and 120 hours in the bachelor's program.
Fellowships, mission trips and bible related recreational activities are hosted by Summit Christian College. When the school was founded in 1951, it was called Platte Valley Bible College. It took on its current name in 2005. Bible majors can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Studies or a Bachelor of Science in Bible Studies. Both degrees require a minimum of 128 credit hours. It takes about four years to complete all of the classes. Students are encouraged to participate in Individual meditations, ministry opportunities and group devotions.
Overview of Traditional & Online Bible Study Degrees
Many denominations require clergy members to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in theology or a closely related area. An associate degree can provide a background in church history, missions, evangelism and how to live according to Biblical principles. In a bachelor’s program, students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Bible and biblical languages. Graduates have a deeper comprehension of scriptures and the will and purpose of God for the individual. Students pursuing graduate degrees examine spirituality and historical studies of religions, and learn how to lead others on their journey with God.
Program Highlight: Online Bible School — Bachelor's Degree
Designed to prepare graduates to provide Christian counseling, teach scriptures and explore the history of the church, many online Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies degree programs require 120 credit hours to complete. Motivation is key to success, as it takes a great deal of discipline and time management to balance an online clergy school along with professional and personal obligations.
During an online Bible degree program, students typically explore biblical applications in ministry, frameworks for Christian service, specific scriptures and pastoral counseling. Examples of courses may include the history of Christianity, Israel’s early history, psychology, spiritual formation, studying the Bible, Pauline literature, theology, biblical studies and Christine doctrine. Cross training is provided through general education and elective courses, such as research writing, oral communication and philosophy. Some online programs require students to complete apprenticeships or mentoring before graduating. Combined with specialized programs, such as Christian counseling or pastoral ministry, many online clergy degree programs could be used to prepare students to sit for ministry licensing exams.
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Ministry
Associate Online Bible Study and Clergy Degree
An associate degree in Bible study and clergy can provide servant-leaders with a solid theological base, preparing them to lead, teach and minister a congregation. Many students complete the degree within two years, although part-time students may take longer to graduate. The first year of online Bible study school provides students with tools to master general education, biblical foundations and biblical doctrines. In the second year, students learn more about the history of the church as well as the reliability of the Bible. Below is a list of just a few possible courses in a Bible study or clergy associate degree program.
|Life, Ministry and Teachings of Jesus||Studies the Judeo-Christianity of the Apostolic Period and interprets Gospels through verse-by-verse analysis.|
|Acts and the Writings of Paul||Explores early church history, focusing on the ministry of Apostle Paul.|
|Principles of Christian Living||Discusses the purpose of human life, focusing on life choices, interpersonal relationships, health-related values and more.|
|Old Testament Survey||Emphasizes the Hebrew Scriptures to give students a background in the New Testament.|
|Introduction to Biblical Doctrine||Provides a broad understanding of the church’s beliefs on topics such as the Holy Bible, God, the Gospel, salvation, holy days and festivals, the Sabbath and more.|
Online Bible Study and Clergy Degree — Bachelor's
Classifications of a bachelor’s degree in Bible study varies from school to school. For example, some colleges grant Bachelor of Arts degrees, while others award Bachelor of Science degrees. However, the coursework and outcomes are fairly consistent. A bachelor’s degree in Bible study and clergy gives students a more advanced understanding of the church and its beliefs than two-year options in the same field. Full-time students can potentially complete the program in four years. This more in-depth, advanced curriculum of an online Bible study degree program includes some of the following classes.
|Old Testament Survey II||Explores the Prophets, including the background, content, teachings and meaning of each book.|
|Christian Leadership||Focuses on foundations of leadership skills, challenges and case studies.|
|Introduction to Biblical Languages||Provides an introduction to Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, with an emphasis on the original languages.|
|Introduction to Church History||Looks at the history of the church of God from apostolic times to present day.|
|Biblical Text||Emphasizes translations of the Bible while discussing the authority, inspiration, canonization and criticism of the text.|
|Epistles of Paul||Focuses on the Apostle Paul’s life and writings.|
|General Epistles and Revelation||Teaches students to analyze, read, understand, explain and expound on biblical writings.|
|History of Christianity||Discusses the history of Christianity from the first century to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.|
Online Bible and Clergy Degree — Master's Level
A master’s degree in Bible study and clergy can prepare the graduate for a leadership role in a church or ministry program. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree usually complete the program in two years. Several types of programs are available to meet various personal and professional goals. In general, students who want to continue their education with a doctorate degree choose to enter a research-based master’s program, while those looking to enter the workforce pick a non-thesis program that requires them to pass a comprehensive assessment to graduate.
An enrollment counselor or academic advisor can assist new students in choosing a particular track or concentration. Most master’s programs are personalized to meet each student’s interests and goals. The list below represents just one possible combination of classes a master’s program might entail.
|MASTER’S PROGRAM CORE COURSES||OVERVIEW|
|Interpretation of the Old Testament||Students learn about the Pentateuch and Former Prophets as well as the history and cultural context of ancient Israel. They also learn about the Latter Prophets and poetic literature.|
|Interpretation of the New Testament||Explores and interprets the New Testament writings, with emphasis on the historical, literary and theological dimensions of the biblical books.|
|Christian Ethics||Explains the nature and foundation of Christian ethics and how they relate to social issues.|
|The Church and Public Policy||Focuses on lobbying skills and advocacy.|
|Non-Profit Leadership and Management||Designed for students who plan to work in non-profit agencies and social service organizations.|
|Church and Community Leadership||Teaches about church-community partnerships and visits various sites of people in need.|
|Nonviolent Strategies of Social Change||Analyzes strategies to impact empowerment of the local church, organizations and individuals.|
|Community Ministries and Religious Education||Seminar-style course discusses educational beliefs and the challenges of a holistic approach to religious education.|
Online Bible and Clergy Degree — Ph.D. Level
A doctorate in Bible study and clergy or a similar field gives practicing church and community leaders advanced skills to further their careers and professional activities. As the most advanced level of learning in the field, Bible doctorate programs are designed for experienced practitioners who already hold a master’s degree. Students frequently complete a PhD program in about three years, and may be required to make several on-campus visits throughout the course sequence.
PhD programs are similar to master’s programs in that doctorate students usually take a number of master’s classes to fulfill graduation requirements and can customize their curriculum to meet their individual goals and interests. Those specializing in Christian education focus on the history and methodology of teaching religious studies, while others may concentrate on the more research-based track of religious history. The primary difference between master’s and doctorate programs is the amount and depth of research required for each class.
What Can You Do With Online Bible and Clergy Degrees?
A degree in religious studies can be applied in many diverse career paths. Graduates of theology programs may choose to work as a minister or other church leader, youth educator, religious professor or counselor, or in a public service role. Theology graduates generally share a desire to help others and strengthen their communities.
Bible and clergy program graduates may wish to transition into the careers below, though these typically involve some additional training:
The careers listed above are only a few that those with a theology degree can pursue. Clergy and bible study is an ever-changing field, adapting to the needs of those in the community.