Which colleges have the best online bachelor’s degrees in theology in the US? We rank the top schools for a degree in theology for Christians or Catholics.
Referring to faith-based critical thinking and reasoning, theology can be studied from different religious perspectives. For Christians, theology emphasizes biblical scripture, encompassing the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Online programs in theology gives students in-depth and valuable knowledge of Christian practices and concepts. They will be able to acquire relevant knowledge and skills to help them better understand their faith. Working professionals and adult learners will find online theology programs designed to allow them to pursue a bachelor’s degree without compromising their budding career.
An accredited online degree in theology will offer the same comprehensive curriculum and be taught by the same competent faculty as a traditional on-campus degree program. Typically, the program will require 120 to 128 credit hours to be completed. Those offered in asynchronous learning formats allow students to finish the degree at their own pace.
It is also important to note that those who want to pursue a rewarding and meaningful career in a Christian field, such as pastor or youth minister, may also find that a bachelor’s degree in theology can be a good way to build a solid foundation in preparation for graduate work.
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A private evangelical Christian Bible college located in Chicago, the Moody Bible Institute is one of the country’s oldest Bible colleges, having been established in 1886 by Dwight Lyman Moody, an evangelist and businessman. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across various disciplines, both in on-campus and online formats, and continues in its mission of affirming the authority of the Word of God and sharing the good news contained in the Gospel.
While the Moody Bible Institute follows a set of doctrinal qualifications and expects students, faculty, and staff to adhere to and support these, it accepts students from other theological traditions that fall under conservative evangelicalism.
Among its range of degree programs related to biblical and religious studies is its Bachelor of Science in Theological Studies program, which is designed to prepare students to become effective communicators of theology and theological literacy and to not only have a strong foundational knowledge of theology but also incorporate it into their religious traditions.
This bachelor’s degree program contains a total of 120 credit hours. Following a 2-term-per-year timeline, students can complete the degree in 5 years. Theology majors can choose between two concentration areas: Christian Thought or Spiritual Formation, and the program’s curriculum also has room for several open electives.
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DeSales University is a private, not-for-profit Catholic university located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community hosting the Lehigh Valley campus of Pennsylvania State University.
It was founded in 1964 and is affiliated with the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, one of the congregations belonging to the Catholic Church. DeSales University’s mission statement emphasizes transformative learning through liberal arts courses and professional studies that make excellent foundations for Christian leadership.
DeSales University offers an online bachelor degree in theology among its range of degree programs. Steeped in the Catholic tradition, this degree program prepares students to fully articulate theology’s scriptural, doctrinal, ethical, and historical aspects of world religions, specifically in the Christian Humanist tradition followed by St. Francis de Sales.
This program is offered completely online and in on-campus formats and contains a total of 120 credit hours. Up to 75 credit hours may also be transferred in, with the final number of credits depending on the number of credits that can be recognized or through prior learning assessment.
Major courses include Youth Ministry, Catholic Theology, The Gospels, Church and Sacraments, and more. DeSales University also offers a Certificate in Theology, which is offered both on-campus and online.
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Palm Beach Atlantic University, a private Christian university, currently holds an interdenominational Christian affiliation but did have its origin in the Baptist Church in 1968. Palm Beach Atlantic University strongly emphasizes the liberal arts and is dedicated to developing students’ moral character, enriching their spiritual lives, and fostering their growth as individuals under the guidance of Christian ideals.
It offers a range of undergraduate degrees from various fields, including the liberal arts and the physical sciences. Their Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies is an on-campus program, while the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies degree is online. This online degree program is designed to deepen understanding of Scripture and Christian thought, and as an online program, it is also primarily designed for non-traditional learners.
This online degree program contains a total of 120 credit hours, with 18 credits of core coursework. Courses are delivered asynchronously, and the curriculum is designed to emphasize critical thinking skills and the integration of real-life experience. Students also gain experience in ministry work through internships, practicum experiences, and field service activities with affiliated religious organizations.
In addition to their BA in Christian Studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Apologetics, a BA in Christian Community Development, and a BA in Biblical Studies with a Concentration in Biblical Languages.
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Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The Southwestern Assemblies of God University, also called SAGU, is in Waxahachie, Texas. It was established in 1927 and is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination.
It offers undergraduate & graduate degree programs in Bible & Church Ministries, Business, Education, Music, and Communication Arts, including a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology. It is designed to deepen students’ understanding of the Scriptures, inform them of its context and develop its applications.
The program contains 121 credit hours, with 48 credit hours of major coursework. Courses include Hermeneutics, History of Christianity, the Synoptic Gospels, and more. The program is offered both on-campus and online, but students can finish their degree faster online, with the option of two seven-week sessions in a traditional semester plus online courses in the summer.
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Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a private, not-for-profit Catholic college in Standish. It was established in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious Catholic institute founded by women in Ireland. Aside from its Catholic affiliation, the college is a space-grant institution dedicated to research related to outer space.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers a Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies, an online degree program designed for those aiming to serve various roles within Catholic Church institutions, including parishes, diocesan agencies, spiritual centers, hospitals, and other social service agencies. Classes are offered fully online, with a total of 120 credit hours.
The program is designed with a spiritual and pastoral orientation in preparing students with a solid Catholic theological foundation. Undergraduate students can move right into the Master of Divinity or MA in Theology degree programs if desired.
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Houston Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Located in the vibrant city of Houston, Texas, Houston Christianity University boasts world-class higher education rooted in a Christian worldview. One of their academic programs is the Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies.
This degree in theology is ideal for those who want to understand the Christian theological tradition more deeply. Students will build upon their core knowledge of the Bible and theology. There is an emphasis on the depth and breadth of Christian theology from historical and contemporary perspectives.
To earn this online bachelor’s degree, 120 credit hours must be completed. Since it has an online learning format, students juggling their responsibilities while pursuing higher education will find this theology program convenient. Students are expected to continue the tradition of theologically robust engagement with the world.
The core courses in the curriculum include Hermeneutics, Old Testament Theology, History of Christianity, Systematic Theology, The Christian Vocation, and New Testament Theology, among many others.
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Franciscan University of Steubenville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The Franciscan University of Steubenville offers a 100% online bachelor’s degree in theology program with a liberal arts core curriculum and engaging courses in three fundamental areas of theology, including doctrine, morals, and Scripture. Students will get an enriching and empowering learning experience through relevant electives, ranging from Theology of the Body, Sexual and Medical Morality, and Christian Marriage.
This theology program is a good foundation for those who want to pursue studies at the graduate level. Some of their advanced degree choices include an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry, an MA in Theological Studies, and an MA in Catechetics and Evangelization, among others. Graduates of this program often pursue career paths such as Catholic youth ministers, priests, parish cathedral directors, and so much more.
This degree holds the distinction of going beyond just knowing the truth. It seeks to help students deepen their understanding and love of God while appreciating the beauty of his revelation. Graduates of this program can provide students with dynamic orthodoxy.
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Biola University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Established in 1952, Biola University has a rich heritage of training Christian leaders. Students who wish to be trained in seeing life from a biblical perspective may want to consider earning the university’s Bachelor of Science in Bible, Theology, and Apologetics. This bible and theology program helps students expand their understanding of the scriptures, allowing them to delve deep into theological questions.
One of the key advantages of choosing this program is learning about the Christian faith meaningfully. Part of the program expectations is reading and interpreting the Scriptures and understanding the landscape of theology. Students will also get to explore intellectual and cultural questions surrounding Christianity.
Designed for working professionals, this theology program can be completed at one’s own pace in as little as 24 months. This will largely depend, however, on one’s existing credits and chosen course schedule. The asynchronous learning format ensures students enrolled in the program can fit this degree into their busy schedules.
The West Coast Baptist College, founded in 1986, offers a Bachelor’s in Pastoral Theology Online. Available to men only, this degree program includes a thorough Bible curriculum with practical courses meant to prepare students for jobs in church ministry, homiletics, biblical languages, counseling, Baptist history, and computers. Students will be able to acquire skills and knowledge integral to the work of a pastor or an assistant role on a church staff.
Students must complete 130 credit hours to earn the online bachelor’s degree program. Most of them get to finish this program in four years or less. The practical aspects of the pastorate are broken down and shared with students. Some practical skills students will learn include restoring someone who needs restoration, organizing Sunday schools, and developing a staff team.
Online students will find this program useful as they can earn their degree while balancing work, ministry, and family. The bachelor’s in this pastoral degree in theology can maximize flexibility while providing students with opportunities for success.
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Regent University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
In Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University is one of the best-known higher education institutions for online learning. One of their academic programs includes the Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. This program gives students a solid foundation in theology, practical ministry, and biblical studies. Students will also better understand the history, context, and message of the Bible.
As part of the curriculum, students develop knowledge of God’s Word and how to apply it to contemporary issues. It is expected that students in this program can respond to common objections to Christianity with confidence. With 120 credit hours, this online degree prepares students for ministry roles.
Graduates will also be well-positioned to pursue graduate studies in various areas, including Church history, Bible, and theology.
Some of the courses in the curriculum include Principles of Hermeneutics & Theological Thinking, the Gospels, Church History, Pentateuch, Old Testament Historical Books, Psalms & Wisdom Literature, Study of the Prophets, and Acts of the Apostles, among many others.
Students will find opportunities for merit scholarships, loans, and honors college scholarships. One is the Freedom Scholarship, which offers up to $10,000 for assistance.
A bachelor’s degree in theology is centered on studying spirituality and the divine, the religious experience, and its associated historical, doctrinal, and philosophical underpinnings.
While most, if not all, of the world’s major religions, have their system of formalized study and education, the online theology degree programs in this list are primarily from the various strands of Christianity, which includes both Catholic and Protestant denominations.
Several universities in the country offer online programs in theology based on the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Theology degree programs celebrate the word of God as manifested in Scripture and Christ’s great act of saving humanity from sin.
Bachelor’s degrees in theology typically contain coursework that prepares students with the foundational knowledge of the doctrines and philosophies of a particular religious tradition and denomination, and Catholic and Protestant churches have some significant differences.
These degree programs are also designed with an emphasis on/orientation toward service to others tempered by spirituality, in keeping with the selfless actions of Jesus Christ, who is at the heart of all Christian traditions. Regarding social service, theology degrees distinguish themselves from other disciplines by anchoring their core content on the moral precepts manifested in Scripture and spiritual tradition.
In addition to a service-oriented emphasis, some degree programs may also be designed with an evangelical/ministerial emphasis, in keeping with one of the core missions of Christianity of spreading the word of God to all corners of the Earth.
These bachelor’s degree programs are often considered preparatory courses for those intending to serve in ministerial/pastoral roles or within the priesthood. However, some degree programs have a wide enough targeted scope to include those in more varied roles within church-affiliated institutions, like spiritual/retreat centers, social service institutions belonging to the church, and even hospitals.
A bachelor’s degree in theology is often considered a preparatory degree for becoming a priest, for the Catholic tradition, or pastor/minister in one of the many Protestant Christian churches and denominations. A bachelor’s degree in theology can also lead to careers that serve the various administrative functions of churches and religious groups.
A bachelor’s degree in theology can also be taken further by earning equivalent graduate degrees, often a master’s in theology or divinity. Colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s in theology programs also typically offer the equivalent master’s degrees. They may also integrate the two programs into an accelerated fast-track sequence.
Online theology programs are typically treated as belonging to the liberal arts, philosophy, history, literature, and the other social sciences. These fields of study often have overlapping content, and both major and foundational courses in many online theology bachelor’s degree programs integrate approaches and components from the other liberal arts, such as history and philosophy.
As with most bachelor’s degree programs, online theology programs typically take 4 to 5-year to complete, as these programs include a general education component on top of major/core coursework, electives, and any included field experience/internship requirements. Some degree programs, however, especially those offered online, can be completed faster or are designed as accelerated programs.
Numerous universities and colleges in the country offer online theology programs. However, not all higher learning institutions are created equally. It is important to conduct thorough research first before choosing a school to enroll in.
Many factors are at play when picking a theology school, such as accreditation status. This essential consideration for prospective students means that the accredited university has been reviewed extensively by agencies recognized by the US Department of Education.
The accreditation of a particular university can affect its credit transferability and students’ eligibility for financial aid. Students should ensure the school has a national and regional accreditation.
Other factors are admission requirements, faculty credentials, and graduation rates. Each school has different admission requirements. Some selective institutions may require students to meet a certain GPA or submit test scores.
Determining whether the program is offered fully online or in a hybrid format is also an important factor to look at. Students may take a look at the flexibility it affords. Some online programs are asynchronous, allowing students to complete the coursework at their own pace.
Bottom Line: All of the online degree programs in our ranking are regionally or nationally accredited. This is particularly important to ensure that you receive a quality online education.
If you are interested in continuing on with a graduate degree program in theology, take a look at the Best Online Master’s in Theology Degree Programs.
Fortunately, it is now possible for students to fully earn their degree online. The bachelor’s in theology programs are one of them.
Students, especially adult learners and working professionals, will want to consider completing their degree in theology online. They can work full-time or part-time but still pursue top-quality theological education at their own pace. Some schools offer accelerated programs as well.
An added perk of pursuing an online degree in theology is that students save on commuting and living expenses. It is important to note that in-state tuition tends to be more affordable than the tuition rate for those out-of-state. However, the cost of an online degree in theology varies based on many factors, including location.
An affordable online degree program in theology is possible if you are able to take advantage of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and loans.
Check out the Federal Student Aid website for more information on the financial aid options available to students in theology.
Scholarships and grants are also available to many students. These are awards that do not need to be paid back by the student. There are many sources of scholarships and grants available online and in your local community.
Bottom Line: An affordable online degree program in theology is possible when you take into account factors like in-state tuition, financial aid, grants, and scholarships.
While a degree in theology often leads to a career in academia, this program opens many work opportunities in various settings.
Some of the career paths include:
A typical career path is for graduates to become a pastor of a church, but one can also be a pastor in other settings, such as health facilities. Some of the tasks of a pastor in healthcare facilities include meeting with patients regularly and offering prayer, comfort, positivity, and motivation when needed.
Assisting directors and other leaders of non-profit organizations, non-profit coordinators can respond to media and donor inquiries. It is also part of their job to arrange events and maintain databases.
Theology graduates can become missionaries who provide services and share their religious faith with people from different cultures. They are expected to lead religious activities and help the community.