Most Affordable Online Master’s in Theology Programs 2021

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A master’s in theology prepares graduates for work in ministry or academia. Many programs offer classes in biblical study, Christian history, apologetics, and spiritual formation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a $40,000 median annual salary for theology professionals. Master’s in theology graduates often make even more. Those working at postsecondary or professional institutions earn an annual mean wage of $56,120. 

This article covers theology master’s degree frequently asked questions, common courses, certifications, and scholarships. Keep reading to learn more about earning a degree in theology.

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Master's in Theology FAQ's

  • What is the difference between a master's in divinity and a master's in theology?

    Although the two programs may share common coursework, a master’s in divinity prepares graduates for ministry. A master’s in theology prepares graduates for an academic career.

  • What is the highest degree in theology?

    Similar to other academic arenas, a doctor of philosophy in theology is the highest degree in the field.

  • What can I do with a master's in theology?

    Many graduates of a master’s in theology establish careers in academia. They often qualify for other jobs, including counselors, community services coordinators, and missionaries.

  • How long does a master's in theology take?

    Full-time enrollees typically earn a theology master’s degree in two years. Part-time enrollment can prolong completion, while an online program may reduce it.

Why Get a Degree in Theology?

Many individuals pursue a master’s in theology for professional and personal reasons. A well-crafted theology curriculum includes classes providing an impetus for spiritual and professional growth, including the five described below.

Personal Growth
Master’s degree in theology students often enroll in classes that deepen their spiritual beliefs while expanding their knowledge in the field.
Career Advancement
Employers usually prefer master’s degree-holders for leadership positions because of the subject expertise and spiritual depth they develop during their degree.
Increase Earning Capacity
The BLS reports that master’s degree-holders earn more than workers with just a bachelor’s or associate degree. The different degree-holders earn weekly median salaries of $1,500, $1,250, and $890, respectively.
Job Security
Data from the BLS also shows that the unemployment rate for master’s degree-holders remains lower than bachelor’s- or associate-trained workers. They experience rates of 2%, 2.2%, and 2.7%, respectively.
Expand Professional Options
Although master’s in theology degree-holders often work in ministry or academia, they qualify for jobs in several other helping professions. These include counseling, rehabilitation specialists, and community program directors.

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Courses in Theology

A master’s degree in theology typically comprises 36-54 credits and takes two years of full-time enrollment to complete. Most students complete online programs quicker, especially those with multiple starting dates and accelerated delivery schedules.

Coursework covers foundational subjects such as social ethics, religious traditions, and biblical interpretation methods. Some programs offer specializations in pastoral ministry, church leadership, and biblical studies. The courses below represent a sample of classes theology programs commonly offer.

Students explore the Bible as a collection of literary works written across diverse cultural contexts and historical eras. The course guides enrollees through different biblical study methods and interpretations. Participants strive to uncover the meaning of the biblical texts at the time of their original writing and the implications for the modern world.

The course presents the rational foundations of Christian beliefs and examines the relationship between reason and faith. Learners study topics such as the notion and need for divine revelation, the religious experience, and faith as the response to revelation. The class covers the Magisterial teachings of the Church and the principles forming their basis.

The course gives students the chance to examine various fundamental concepts in moral theology, including conscience formation, natural law, Christian morality, and moral norms. Within a traditional Christian theological framework, students develop an understanding of freedom and responsibility, and morality’s relevance in a world of shifting values.

The course gives an overview of different pastoral fields and the specific pastoral needs associated with each one. These fields include youth groups, families, and young professionals. Topics covered include spiritual direction, church government, discipleship, and Canon law. The class requires enrollees to engage in supervised direct pastoral work with a specific group.

The course examines how recent scientific, technological, economic, and cultural developments shape the way the Church engages the modern world. Students explore emerging Christian movements and different spirituality types that challenge and support traditional Christian beliefs.

Certifications and Licensure for Theology

A master’s in theology qualifies degree-holders for various helping professions, including counseling, spiritual direction, and community or nonprofit program administration. Counseling jobs typically require some type of licensure, depending on the practitioner’s area of practice. A master’s in theology fulfills the educational requirement for many licensure or certification programs.

Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc.

BCCI certifies active chaplains as board certified chaplains or associate certified chaplains. The requirements for each certification vary but adhere to recognized national qualifications and an established code of ethics. Once certified, chaplains must complete annual requirements to keep the credential.

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Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor

The National Board for Certified Counselors administers the CCMHC credential. Applicants must show completion of 60 graduate-level counseling credits and nine semester hours of supervised field experience. Courses must cover at least three out of six recommended content areas including family or couples counseling, advanced clinical skills, and counseling for special populations.

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Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy Certification

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) administers this certification program for licensed or pre-licensure mental health professionals. ACPE welcomes applications from counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, and other similar practitioners. The certification involves a 30-hour continuing education curriculum.

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Scholarships for Theology Students

Master’s in theology students often receive financial assistance from their school via teaching or research fellowships. Large congregations and smaller faith-based organizations also support members in their pursuit of higher education. The three scholarships and grants below comprise a small sample of financial assistance programs earmarked for postgraduate theology students.

  • Forum for Theological Exploration Grants and Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: FTE welcomes applications from students pursuing postgraduate degrees in theology and related fields. Faith and church leaders involved in community and congregational ministerial work can apply to the grant program.

    Amount: Varies

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  • Marguerite Young Endowment Fund

    Who Can Apply: The Pittsburgh Foundation established the program to provide theology students financial assistance while preparing for full-time Protestant ministry. Applicants must show completion of one full year of their program with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    Amount: $1,500

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  • Champions for Christ Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Granting scholarships for over 25 years, the Champions for Christ Foundation offers financial assistance to students preparing for full-time Christian ministry. They aim to support individual planning to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

    Amount: Varies

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Most Affordable Online Master’s in Theology Programs 2021

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