The Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs In Theology 2020

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Theology is the study of God and religious beliefs. While most graduates who seek a theology degree go on to serve as clergy and directors of religious activities, others find meaningful work as community service managers or substance abuse and mental health counselors. Continue reading to learn more about affordable theology degrees, including top online bachelor’s degrees, career outcomes, and financial aid options.

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Theology

Rank School Location
1 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL
2 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
3 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
4 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
5 St. Thomas University Miami Gardens, FL
6 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
7 Montreat College Montreat, NC
8 Calvary University Kansas City, MO
9 Warner University Lake Wales, FL
10 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK
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The Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Theology for 2020

Keeping each student’s individual needs in mind (e.g., tuition, flexibility, career outcomes), these are the top schools for earning an online bachelor’s degree in theology.

A good theology program holds regional or national accreditation, shows a high five-year graduation right, charges reasonable tuition, and makes courses available online. By identifying schools that meet these criteria, prospective students narrow their choices and can select a college or university that best meets their personal and professional expectations.

  1. The Baptist College of Florida
    Location

    Graceville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Baptist College of Florida offers an online bachelor of arts in biblical studies for students who aspire to ministry positions or want to pursue graduate study in biblical literature. The program delivers all coursework entirely online in an asynchronous format.

    BCF's theology bachelor's degree takes four years to complete. The 120-credit curriculum includes a three-credit student success course, 33 general education credits, 12 biblical and theological foundation credits, six credits of general electives, and 66 major credits. Major courses include biblical backgrounds, biblical hermeneutics, the doctrine of creation, and Old Testament theology.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities.

    BCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
    Location

    Standish, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Saint Joseph's College of Maine offers an online bachelor of arts in theological studies grounded in Roman Catholic theology and ministry. The program prepares students to serve the needs of the Catholic community. Graduates can pursue pastoral ministry or further study in theology. SJC also provides a fast-track option to its master of arts in theology or master of divinity programs.

    SJC's online bachelor's degree in theology requires 128 credits, including 42 general education credits, 24 major core credits, and 15 theological studies elective credits, among other coursework. Core courses include Catholic doctrine and theology, foundations of Catholic spirituality, introduction to Catholic social teaching, and theology of the body.

    Applicants must have a high school or GED diploma. ACT or SAT scores are required for homeschooled students and recommended for all other applicants.

    SJC is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  3. Lincoln Christian University
    Location

    Lincoln, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Lincoln Christian University offers an online bachelor of arts in Christian ministry for students who want to work in vocational ministry positions, such as associate pastor, administrative pastor, or small groups leader. This program prepares students to deliver a sermon, teach a Sunday school class, and develop a personal philosophy of ministry.

    LCU's BA in Christian ministry provides students with an understanding of ministry contexts, including the pulpit, classroom, and mission fields. Core courses include foundations of Christian ministry, church administration, pastoral care, and global cultural intelligence.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. The application also requires a written essay and a Christian character reference. The Christian character reference form should be completed by someone who is a leader at a Christian church or organization with a close relationship to the applicant.

    LCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. DeSales University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    DeSales University offers an online bachelor's degree in theology grounded in the tradition of Christian humanism. The program provides students with a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church's spiritual and ethical tradition. Graduates qualify for pastoral positions and further graduate study in ministry. The university's theology program is available in an accelerated online format.

    DeSales' bachelor's degree in theology requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Core courses include Catholic theology, the Old Testament, the church, Jesus Christ, and faith and reason. DeSales accepts up to 75 transfer credits for previous coursework or prior learning assessments. All students must complete at least 15 courses (45 credits) through DeSales.

    Applicants must have a high school or GED diploma. Transfer students must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities.

    DeSales is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  5. St. Thomas University
    Location

    Miami Gardens, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Saint Thomas University offers an online bachelor of arts in religious studies that prepares students for leadership positions in religious institutions or further graduate education. The program serves learners who already have an associate degree and want to complete a bachelor's degree in religious studies.

    Core courses include Catholicism, world religions, surveys of the New Testament, and Christian moral decision-making. Program professors have degrees in theology, practical theology, and ministerial studies. Freshman applicants must have a high school or GED diploma, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and a 960 SAT or 18 ACT score. Transfer applicants must have completed some college-level coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    STU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Palm Beach Atlantic University
    Location

    West Palm Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Palm Beach Atlantic University offers an online bachelor of arts in Christian studies for learners who aspire to provide Christian discipleship and service. Courses are available entirely online or on campus in the evenings to accommodate working professionals.

    PBA's BA in Christian studies requires 120 credits, including 45 general education credits, three technology credits, 18 major core credits, 27 major elective credits, and 27 elective credits. Core courses include spiritual foundations, principles of Christian leadership, exploring the Old Testament, and exploring the New Testament.

    Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students must submit all previous college-level transcripts. PBA accepts up to 67 transfer credits from two-year colleges and up to 88 transfer credits from four-year colleges and universities.

    PBA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Montreat College
    Location

    Montreat, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Montreat College offers an online bachelor of science in Bible and religion that prepares students for careers in ministry. This program adheres to the Billy Graham Evalgelistic Association's training curriculum.

    The program requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. The curriculum consists of 53 general education credits, 40 major core credits, 12 general elective credits, and 23 major elective credits. Core courses include Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, Christian doctrine, biblical interpretation, and biblical preaching and communication.

    Applicants must have a high school or GED diploma. Freshman applicants with less than 12 credits of college coursework must submit their high school transcripts. Transfer applicants must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities. All transfer applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. All students must complete at least 32 credits through Montreat College.

    Montreat College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  8. Calvary University
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Calvary University offers an online bachelor of science in Bible and theology for students interested in cultivating a deeper understanding of biblical studies and Christian ministry. The university also provides a five-year bachelor's-to-master's program in either pastoral ministry or divinity.

    Calvary's theology program requires 126 credits, including 30 biblical education credits, 36 general education credits, 60 major credits. Major courses include advanced hermeneutics, teaching the Bible, ethics, apologetics, and contemporary theology.

    Applicants must have a high school or GED diploma. Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants must submit transcripts for all previous college-level coursework. All prospective students must submit two pastoral references from religious and educational leaders in their community. Military members and their dependents receive a tuition discount.

    Calvary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Warner University
    Location

    Lake Wales, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Warner University offers an online bachelor of science in Christian ministry for learners currently serving in ministry positions who wish to start or finish a bachelor's degree. This program prepares graduates for Christian ministry in local churches, nonprofit outreach, and community-based ministry.

    WU's ministry degree requires 36 major credits in Church ministry, including courses like perspective in Christian missions, communicating the gospel, pastoral care, and congregational leadership and polity.

    Freshman applicants must have graduated from high school in the upper half of their graduating class, have a minimum 2.25 GPA, and earn a minimum composite score of 18 on the ACT or 940 on the SAT. Transfer applicants must have completed 24 credits of college-level coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    WU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. Oral Roberts University
    Location

    Tulsa, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Oral Roberts University offers an online bachelor of arts in historical and philosophical theology that prepares students to become professionals in ministry organizations, serving in positions such as church staff, ministry worker, or apologetics instructor. This program is available entirely online, and courses take place over accelerated seven-week terms.

    ORU's theology degree requires 124 credits and takes 3.5 years to complete. Core courses include systematic theology, history of Christianity in America, introduction to philosophy, philosophy of religion, and Christian apologetics. Students must also complete an intercultural field experience and a senior paper.

    Freshman applicants must submit their high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants must have completed 15 or more college-level credits and submit all transcripts from previous colleges and universities. Military students receive a tuition discount.

    ORU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

How Much Can You Make in a Theology Career?

The salary you earn with a degree in theology depends on experience, position, industry, and location. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that clergy who work for religious organizations earn an annual mean wage of $51,700, while theology graduates who work in elementary and secondary schools earn $49,000. Moreover, California pays clergy an annual mean salary of $67,000, while Alabama pays about $47,000.

Not all theology graduates become clergy. Other common career outcomes include directors of religious education, social and community service managers, and mental health counselors.

JOB TITLEMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY
Clergy$48,990
Directors, Religious Activities and Education$40,810
Social and Community Service Managers$65,320
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors$44,630
Other Religious Workers$29,820
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a theology degree?

A theology degree focuses on a specific faith or religion, and it leads graduates to careers as clergy, counselors, and community service managers. A bachelor’s in theology is a four-year degree.

Will employers consider an online theology degree credible?

In general, employers care about whether students earn degrees from accredited institutions. An online theology degree from a respected institution should hold the same weight as a theology degree earned on campus.

Does a bachelor’s in theology qualify me for ordination as a pastor?

Every church creates its own criteria for ordaining new pastors. Many states and religions prefer or require a bachelor’s degree in theology; some may prefer a master of divinity. If you want to become a pastor, you should plan on completing at least a bachelor’s degree.

Find the Best Online Theology Program for You

Common Courses Taken for an Online Theology Degree

Each affordable online theology degree sets its own course requirements, but most of them cover similar subjects. These are common courses for an online bachelor’s in theology:

New Testament Survey

This course explores themes, narratives, and genres in the New Testament. It also contextualizes the books’ teachings within the time and place in which they were written.

Hebrew Prophets

This course looks at prophets in the Old Testament. Students study these prophets with respect to the social, political, and religious standards of the time and place.

Hermeneutics

This course provides an overview of the history of the Bible, including different translations and interpretations, and terms used when discussing the Bible at an academic level.

Church History

If students plan on becoming professionally involved in a church, they must first learn the church’s history. Subject matter will depend on the school’s denomination. Some schools offer an overview of multiple church histories to draw comparisons.

Christian Ethics

Christian ethics covers the biblical and theological foundations for ethical standards set by Christian communities. Themes may include personal morality and community ethics. Heavy research and writing are generally required.

Internships in Theology

While not required for all online bachelor’s degrees in theology, internships — which usually take place during a student’s senior year — develop skills for various careers. Programs that require students to partake in an internship usually help connect students with opportunities. Schools with optional internships may be receptive to an available internship in your area.

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Attending Online vs. On Campus

Prospective theology students may be wondering whether earning a degree online is worth it, especially when they can choose from many on-campus programs. As long as students select accredited schools, the quality of the online and on-campus programs are equal.

One difference between online and on-campus courses is flexibility. Online students avoid commuting to campus, and many online programs allow for asynchronous studying, meaning students can complete courses when they want, within a given timeline.

Online degrees often use a different tuition structure than on-campus programs, and some online schools extend in-state tuition to all students regardless of where they live. Online students also save money on transportation, housing costs, and various fees applied to on-campus students. With proper planning, students can make earning an online degree more affordable than an on-campus degree.

While online degrees are not for everyone, many students benefit from the lower costs and added flexibility. Anyone interested in learning more about attending school online can learn more with this useful guide.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Theology

Online theology students secure financial aid the same way on-campus students do: by applying for the FAFSA, finding grants or scholarships, and using loans to cover additional costs.

First, students should apply for FAFSA, a federal financial aid program that helps students earn various forms of financial aid. Next, students should research scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants are essentially free money that students apply toward their education. Some scholarships and grants exist only for theology students.

Finally, students can cover the remaining cost with student loans. Some loans have lower interest rates and offer more flexibility. Research various loans to find the right fit for your situation.

Scholarships for Theology Students

Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarship goes to students who plan to become Christian ministers. Applicants must be a junior or senior in college and be studying toward a degree that leads to a ministry position.

Amount: $5,000

Richard S. Smith Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Created for graduating high school seniors who identify as a racial-ethnic minority, this scholarship goes to applicants to have at least one year of active membership within the United Methodist Church. Applicants must be seeking a church-related career.

Amount: $1,000

Bethesda Auxiliary Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Current college juniors or seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree that prepares them for a career of serving and supporting others may apply for this scholarship. Students must also be a member of the Lutheran congregation and hold a 3.0 GPA.

Amount: $3,000

Hub Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Only students studying toward a degree with a focus on Islam or Muslim communities may apply. Specific degree options include religious studies, Islamic studies, and sociology.

Amount: $2,500-$20,000

Cameron Impact Scholarship

Who Can Apply: High school students who demonstrate leadership and community service can win this scholarship that covers the entire cost of earning a bachelor’s degree. Applicants should aspire to be a positive force for change.

Amount: Full Cost of Education

After Graduation: Options for Theology

Advancing Your Theology Degree

While a bachelor’s degree in theology is an excellent way to begin a career, many ministry leaders and educators continue their education. Graduate-level theology degrees teach advanced skills that help theology professionals connect further and in different ways with their congregations and clients.

One option theology professionals might consider is a Ph.D. in theology. These programs take 3-5 years to complete for full-time students and generally lead to high-paying leadership and/or university-level teaching positions. Learn more about earning an online Ph.D. in theology.

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