If you feel called to serve others within the framework of the Christian church, an online bachelor's degree in theology can provide you with a foundation for long, rewarding career. Theology degree programs are academically rigorous, but the challenge can result in reliable compensation. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Fall 2015 Salary Survey, graduates of religious studies bachelor's programs averaged a median salary of $35,000 per year.
Online theology degree programs equip graduates for immediate employment within their churches as junior pastors, deacons, program directors, and administrators. If you're interested in pursuing postgraduate education at a later date, a master's degree in theology can open the door to lucrative and upwardly mobile roles within the church organization.
What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Theology Programs?
Shasta Bible College and Graduate School Redding, CA
ADMISSIONS RATE 73%
GRADUATION RATE 58%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 36%
RETENTION RATE 100%
DEFAULT RATE 0%
Shasta Bible College and Graduate School's online theology degree is a flexible, affordable, and high-quality option for prospective students. The program covers topics such as church history and an introduction to youth ministry. These courses can all be completed online in an asynchronous format, allowing students to earn their theology degree on their own schedule. Of the 128 units required for a bachelor's degree, a minimum of 32 must be taken at Shasta Bible College; the remaining balance can be transferred from another accredited institution. Prospective students must possess either a high school diploma or GED in order to be considered for admission.
Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
ADMISSIONS RATE 78%
GRADUATION RATE 58%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 57%
RETENTION RATE 86%
DEFAULT RATE 5%
For students looking to serve the needs of the Catholic Church, Saint Joseph's College of Maine offers an online bachelor of arts in theological studies. The program is available wholly online and is comprised of 36 credits of general education, 24 credits of theological studies core courses, and 12 credits of theological studies electives. Students can delve into a wide variety of subject areas, including the history of Black Catholics and an examination of Catholic moral theology. The admissions process is holistic, taking into account academic success and extracurricular activities. Standardized test scores are not required for admission into the online theology degree program. Interested students in the bachelor's program can apply to enter a fast track master of arts in theology program as well.
Clarks Summit University Clarks Summit, PA
ADMISSIONS RATE 61%
GRADUATION RATE 59%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 36%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 3%
The online bachelor's degree in theology at Clarks Summit University combines academic excellence and spiritual growth. All 123 credits required for this theology degree can be earned fully online. Courses include Principles of Bible study, Building a Biblical Lifestyle, and the Old Testament. Classes are eight weeks long and begin five times each year--perfect for students who want to pursue their degree in theology on their own terms. All of Clarks Summit University's programs are fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Students seeking admission are required to have a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA of 2.0.
Apex School of Theology Durham, NC
|GRADUATION RATE 95%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 79%||RETENTION RATE 97%||DEFAULT RATE 11%||
The Apex School of Theology specializes in Christian studies. The school does not set minimum academic thresholds for admissions Rather, their focus is on ensuring that all students possess a "Christian character" and have a "teachable spirit." This relatively open admissions policy means that a wide range of students have the opportunity to earn their theology degree online at Apex. Admitted students will need to complete 128 credit hours in general education and theology-specific coursework, meet all financial obligations, and adhere to the Statement of Faith.
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
ADMISSIONS RATE 22%
GRADUATION RATE 47%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 82%
RETENTION RATE 75%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
Liberty University's bachelor of science in religion, with a specialization in biblical and theological studies, is a top choice for students seeking an education rooted in the Christian faith. The program is available entirely online and consists of 120 credit hours. Up to 90 hours can be transferred from another accredited institution, though 50% (24 hours) of the major-specific coursework must be completed at Liberty. Preparing students for careers as clergy, religious educators, or social service administrators, this online theology degree covers topics including a methodical study of scripture and an introduction to contemporary moral issues. Prospective students must have earned a 2.0 GPA in order to be admitted at Liberty, though exceptions are made in individual cases.
DeSales University Center Valley, PA
ADMISSIONS RATE 78%
GRADUATION RATE 70%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14%
RETENTION RATE 78%
DEFAULT RATE 4%
DeSales University makes earning your online bachelor's degree in theology easy. All classes are online, though individual instructors choose whether they are synchronous, asynchronous, or a blend of both. The program requires 120 credits (15 general education courses and 16 courses in theology). Students can transfer in up to 75 credits from another college or university. Students may receive credit for professional and life experiences. While the admissions process does take into account past academic achievement, DeSales places a premium on future learning potential, and therefore does not have baseline requirements for GPA or test scores.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
ADMISSIONS RATE 28%
GRADUATION RATE 41%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 38%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 13%
Southwestern Assemblies of God University designed its bachelor of theology degree specifically for adult learners: in fact, students must be 22 years of age or older in order to enroll in the online program. Online students will receive a 15% tuition reduction on top of the already affordable rates offered by the university. Graduates of the bachelor's of theology degree are prepared for careers in ministry and service, including roles as a pastor, foreign or domestic missionary, spiritual care counselor, and youth director. In addition to meeting certain faith and lifestyle requirements, interested students must also have a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA of 2.0.
Lee University Cleveland, TN
ADMISSIONS RATE 85%
GRADUATION RATE 52%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 13%
RETENTION RATE 79%
DEFAULT RATE 12%
Students of Lee University's online degree in theology gain a knowledge of biblical and theological principles while developing critical research skills. The program's course of study, typically lasting about four years, includes 18 credit hours of religious coursework and 42 hours of general education coursework in the humanities, communications, and the natural and social sciences. Lee University provides a discounted rate to undergraduate students pursuing their studies online. All of the university's offerings, both online and on-campus, are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southwestern Adventist University Keene, TX
ADMISSIONS RATE 49%
GRADUATION RATE 45%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 6%
RETENTION RATE 73%
DEFAULT RATE 13%
Earning a theology degree online at Southwestern Adventist University opens doors to careers in counseling, medicine, and teaching, as well as more traditional religious roles as a chaplain or missionary. Classes include prophetic studies, homiletics, history of Christianity, field evangelism, hospital ministry, and Christian witnessing. Applicants are expected to have earned a high school diploma or GED with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Early admission students must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher.
Brescia University Owensboro, KY
ADMISSIONS RATE 48%
GRADUATION RATE 30%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 58%
RETENTION RATE 59%
DEFAULT RATE 14%
Brescia University's bachelor of arts in theology with an emphasis in pastoral studies provides students with a path to new career opportunities and personal fulfillment. The program requires 128 total credit hours and can be completed in as few as two years by qualified students. All of the classes, including Christian marriage and the family and the basics of catechetical and youth ministry, can be completed online, though some do require synchronous participation in class discussions or meetings. Up to 86 credit hours can be transferred from another accredited college or university. Brescia University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
What Will I Learn in an Online Theology Program?
Every school develops its own program curriculum independently. In religious disciplines, it's important to remember that course offerings always reflect each school's theological doctrine. Though there may be variations in content because of this, most accredited online theology degree programs offer core courses similar to the ones we've listed here.
Introduction to the Old Testament
This course provides a comprehensive survey of the Old Testament. Students examine the Scripture through the lenses of creation, transgression, and redemption. Class discussions emphasize narrative, poetic, and prophetic genres, the eschatological covenants, the dissection of significant passages.
Introduction to the New Testament
An exploration of the historical and cultural influences that impacted Christianity in its first century, this course covers the entire New Testament, emphasizing the four Gospels and the Letters of Paul. The course begins with the incarnation of Jesus Christ and follows the story of the early church.
An examination of the personal and social dimensions of sin, the nature of Scripture, the Trinity, theological prolegomena, and other Christian theological doctrines. Emphasizing theological vocabulary, research methodology, and theological analysis, students explore the practical application of doctrines for the church and individuals.
This course provides an overview of major extant worldviews and an examination of challenges to the Christian faith. Topics covered include Biblical inaccuracy, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the existence of God. Students will explore apologetic methods, biblical support, and the connection between reason and faith.
What can I do with an Online Theology Degree?
An online bachelor's degree in theology prepares its graduates for immediate entry-level pastoral positions within their churches. If you're called to serve, you can put your theology degree to work right away. Below, we've listed some of the jobs that graduates of online theology degree programs may find appealing.
Median Salary: $37,095
Median Salary: $48,302
Median Salary: $48,260
Median Salary: $37,245
Median Salary: $33,248
Job Outlook and Salary
Religious organizations comprise a stable, in-demand, and growing field and the BLS anticipates this trend to continue. As the table below demonstrates, the BLS projects job availability in this field to grow by 8% over the next decade. While churches and other faith-based institutions focus on spiritual support instead of a product or service, they still function as organizations within an industry. Hiring managers know that employees with an online theology degree are prepared to support their organizations in all facets of pastoral care.
|Employment, 2014||Projected Employment, 2024|
Salary Growth by Experience
For most career paths, longevity is rewarded with higher salaries. If you hold an online bachelor's degree in theology, you can expect this to hold true. As the chart below demonstrates, late career salaries for bachelor-prepared pastors and chaplains steadily increase with each year of experience.
*Data unavailable for Children's Pastor salaries after 5-10 years of experience
To determine the best online Bachelor's in Theology programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online Bachelor's in Theology programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.