There may be no higher calling than to follow in the footsteps of Mother Theresa or Billy Graham. People often think of serving God as sending them far away. While traveling long distances may be the case for some, most with a master's in theology serve their local community, working in neighborhoods they already know. With more wars, refugees, human trafficking, terrorism, and natural disasters than ever recorded, people want answers. A degree in theology or divinity will never be out of date.
According to Payscale.com, average salaries for people with a master of divinity range between $44,750-$87,946. According to studentsreview.com, those who study religious studies and related fields have an unemployment rate of 2.3 percent. Potential occupations include pastors, counselors, missionaries, chaplains, professor, and professional speakers.
While there are some remarkable universities with an online master of divinity and theology programs, this list focuses on seminaries and gives recognition to a few prominent universities. Other considerations for rankings are if the program can be taken entirely on-line, the reputation of the program, cost of tuition, program accreditations, and unique features or opportunities that students have in the program. Please note that the cost noted is the most current information available for online classes, but may not include fees or other associated costs.
Many may wonder the difference between a master of divinity and a master of theology. An MDiv develops leadership and administrative skills while focusing on Biblical teaching. It includes ethical studies and the development of Christian organizations over time. A master of theology is typically a shorter program with less electives and a bigger focus on ancient languages.
Students at Iliff School of Theology connect with other online learners in their program, Journey Mdiv. Iliff offers several types of online masters in Biblical studies including a Master of Divinity (Mdiv), Master of Theological Studies (MTS) and an MA in Pastoral & Spiritual Care (MAPSC). While students earn these masters almost entirely online, they need to arrange to spend two week-long sessions on campus each semester. Upon graduation, students are prepared to minister in churches and the marketplace. This program is made up of 72-quarter hours, consisting of theology, biblical studies, ethics, philosophy, and social change. This program of study may interest you if you would like to assist churches and organization in working towards social and justice causes. For graduate students who wish to complete the program more quickly, Iliff offers an accelerated format.
Calvin Theological Seminary is recognized worldwide, and its students represent many countries. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) approves the degree. You may study either a master’s in theology or divinity. The program does require that students come to the campus for one-week each semester. After graduation from Calvin, students are prepared to serve in the church and the world, with classes in the Bible, theology, and how to engage with world religions.
To avoid isolation and to stay in touch, students organize into cohorts. The school also utilizes Google Hangouts; this platform allows students to ask each other questions, debate, and even form bonds across thousands of miles. It takes 57 semester credit hours to graduate. Students can plan on completing this best master of divinity or the master of theology program in three years. Their distance learning programs are open to Canadian students as well.
This distinctive program offers online-based learned and Distributed Learning. Distributed Learning refers to following the same students in a cohort and taking online classes combined with two weeks of on-campus classes per semester.
Types of masters offered at Luther include:
- M.Div. Accelerated
- M.A. (Concentrations in Bible, History of Christianity, Justice and Reconciliation and Lutheran Ministries)
The online classes are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses, cost the same as on-campus courses, and are available to local students as well. As part of the application, Luther has a particular candidacy process applicants must follow. One of the big advantages of this best online theological seminary is that after completing three years of coursework, students also complete a year-long internship so that upon graduation they feel more prepared to take on their new roles. Students need to take 30 classes to graduate, including clinical pastoral education, cross-cultural education, and the practicum.
If you are already working in ministry and wish to pursue a master’s of divinity, this top seminary allows you to transfer up to 30 credit hours from approved graduate courses to fulfill the 76 credit hour requirement. Also, if you are a member of the Church of Nazarene, you receive a tuition discount. Students take classes at their pace via video conference, self-study, or practicums. Core coursework includes studying the scriptures, church history, theology, philosophy, ministry, and electives. Students will need to stay at one of the campuses to complete some of the classes, but they only need to stay for one-week intervals.
Masters in Biblical Studies online at NTS include:
- MA Transformational Leadership (MATL)
- Master of Divinity (MDiv)
- MA in Theological Studies (MATS)
Fuller Seminary has one of the best online theological seminaries offering flexibility and deep theological studies rooted in the Bible. Their School of Theology offers:
- Master of Divinity (MDiv)
- MA in Theology (MAT)
- MA in Theology and Ministry (MATM)
The master’s in theology is an 80 quarter-hour program that prepares students for further study or leadership roles within the church. Students study theology, biblical studies, ministry, and have a practicum in their area of interest. Students come to campus for one week for six of the required classes; attendees can take two of the required classes simultaneously, and coordinate to come to school for both classes during the same week. You can specialize in many ministry areas and select a practicum in that field such as:
- church planting
- Christian ethics
- theology and the arts
- youth, family and culture
If you would like to specialize in serving African-American communities and attend a true one-of-a-kind seminary, this may be the place for you. Payne is accredited by the ATS, is one of only six historically black seminaries in the United States, and 80 percent of coursework can be completed online. Students study biblical studies, historical studies, ministry studies, and practical ministry. Before graduating, students complete a one-year practicum in both a church setting as well a non-church setting. This master of divinity program is longer than most, requiring 90 credit hours, which usually takes three to five years to finish. Upon graduation, students are prepared to work as pastors, chaplains, educators, community advocates, and pastoral counselors.
Gordon-Con has been educating people of faith for over 100 years and attracts students from 40 different countries. Students study Bible, theology, church history, missions and spiritual formation. You may elect to specialize in leadership or counseling. You can complete most of the coursework online, but a few of the classes require the student to visit the campus for a week during the semester. This top seminary utilizes a platform called Sakai; it assists peers to engage with one another and professors and students can ask questions and connect. Most students complete this best theology masters program in two years.
Gordon-Conwell represents 85 denominations in over 50 countries. It offers an MDiv, ThM. and and MA with 11 different concentrations.
If you are looking for a flexible seminary rooted in Wesleyan tradition, this may be the program for you. The Association of Theological Schools approves this program. WBS offers an MDiv and an MA with concentrations in:
- Biblical Literature
- Christian Studies
This Seminary offers 100% online students the option to take classes at the same time as on-campus students, linking them into the classroom via video conferencing. By utilizing this platform, on-campus students benefit from learning from students who may be next door, or in another country. You also have the option of completing classwork and logging into class discussions at any time, as long as you follow the syllabus and complete coursework on time.
Most classes have the flexible option to login in whenever it’s convenient, other than language courses such as Hebrew and Greek, which require more instructor feedback. Almost all of the coursework can be completed online other than the research component. Most students finish this best theology masters program on a part-time basis, attending year-round for three years.
If you have a Roman-Catholic background, are interested in exploring questions of faith, and showing a congregation how to read the Bible and deal with struggles, this may be the program to check-out. Sr. Leo is one of the oldest Catholic universities for higher education.
This online degree in theology at a catholic school prepares students for pastoral roles in and outside of the church. This online masters degree in theology consists of a total of 36 credit hours. Students take nine required classes and three electives in specialization areas.
Graduates of St. Leo university with an online masters of theology have gone on to such jobs as:
- Director of Religious Education
- Hospital Chaplain
- High School Teacher
- Social Worker
This Catholic masters of theology program will prepare graduates to serve their church as a chaplain, minister or catechist. It will also deepen student's understanding of the Bible and their faith. The Master of Theology offers three specializations including:
- Pastoral Theology
- Sacred Theology
- Advanced Diaconal Studies
This online masters in theological studies provides a rich Catholic background where graduates will strengthen their faith and go on to serve their churches and communities.
Students can earn their master’s in Practical T heology totally online, taking one class at a time, interacting with on-campus students and outstanding faculty. Students build relationships with one another by taking classes in a cohort and moving through the program together. Also, there are no required times that students must log in, so this program is ideal for students who work or have a family. The master’s of theology prepares students for pastoral positions and is made up of eight required classes, including Bible, theology, and church history. Students may choose a specialization in theology, pastoral care, or counseling.
OCU is an accredited, affordable masters option for students who want flexibility and a quality education.
SAGU offers a best master of divinity in theology that is available entirely on-line. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits this school. If you are looking to serve in a particular area of ministry, this college may be for you. They offer eight specializations including:
- biblical languages
- biblical studies
- family ministry
- intercultural studies
- pastoral studies
- theological studies
SAGU also places students in practicums before graduation, to help them get more experience and find positions. Students may complete a thesis if they wish. At the time of print, SAGU is providing an incredible opportunity to students: those accepted into the Master’s of Divinity Theology program, and some related programs, can receive a 20% tuition grant for up to $1,000 each semester. This award is renewable for as long as a student is working towards his degree.
The United Theological Seminary offers a Master of Theological Studies fully online and a Master of Divinity mostly online with some classes onsite. This online program consists of 48 semester hours and focuses on biblical studies, the history of Christianity, systematic theology, and Wesleyan-Methodist studies. Most students complete this top seminary program on a full-time basis in two to three years. Although you can complete all classes online, the program offers a week of intensive classes four times throughout the year at the Dayton, OH campus.
UTS understands that undertaking an online masters degree isn’t for everyone; they have an online readiness quiz on their website for anyone who might be considering applying to an online program, so that you can assess your ability to work independently and if you might be a good candidate for the online platform.
Apex offers a unique program with a focus on serving African-American populations. You can study a master in divinity degree entirely online here, and for much less than at most institutions. This affordable master of divinity program prepares students to minister to the specific needs of the African-American community and providing biblical, historical and culturally sensitive answers.
ASOT prepares clergy and laity for ministry in churches and the community. It is a diverse online masters of divinity program.
If you would like the option of completing a master in theology degree completely online or a hybrid option of online and on-campus, you may want to look into this seminary. This program is designed for students planning to pursue higher education, or those looking to increase their general theology knowledge so that they can take on support roles within the church. If you aren’t sure about pursuing a master's in theology but would like to take a class to check it out, non-degree seeking students are welcome. NOBTS strives to ensure that their courses are transferable.
NOBTS offers various types of online theology degrees including:
- Master of Divinity
- Master of Theological Studies
- MA Biblical Studies
- MA Theology
- MA Apologetics
- MA Christian Education
- MA Discipleship
- MA Missiology
- MA Pastoral Ministry
- Spanish-Language Master of Theology
Students from a wide range of Christian denominations are welcome to study a Master of Biblical and Theological Studies. Because the seminary understands the importance of online students integrating with on-campus students, some online courses have an option for students to join the class remotely by video. If you are concerned about not having a chance to participate in classroom discussion, this could be the program to check out.
There are a total of 36 semester credits required to graduate, consisting of eight core classes, and four electives. All students complete a summer research project. Enrollees can plan to graduate in two years; if you have significant related work experience before starting the graduate program, you can request to have your experience count towards up to twelve credit hours. This best theological online masters trains students to work in churches and the mission field, but is not intended to train pastors.
This master of divinity program has flexibility, affordability, and national accreditation. The program requires 90 credit hours, taken in Bible, church history, theology, preaching, pastoral ministries, counseling, and missions. The program is flexible so that students may specialize in Hebrew or Greek. For attendees with previous graduate credits, they can request to transfer up to 45 hours of credits. Graduates of this best theology masters program are prepared for positions as pastors, chaplains, church administrators, and as missionaries.
Luther Rice has offered affordable online degree programs for over 15 years. Because of it is 100% online, students from all over the world can benefit from this theological degree program.
This seminary has a longer program than most, with more stringent requirements. The program is new, established in 2013. To be considered, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as religious studies. Students interact with instructors and each other by utilizing videos, email threads, and open posting forums. The seminary prides itself on keeping classes small, and that online students get the same assistance and attention as campus-based students. Professors, not teaching assistants, teach all online theology classes. Usually, students can complete the program in just over two years; it is comprised of 49 credits.
Types of theology degrees in their online masters program include Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies.
This best master of divinity program is designed to prepare students to become pastors and to teach God’s word clearly and effectively to today’s congregations. The ATS accredits the program. Moody employs some of the best, most experienced professors. Students take vigorous coursework in Hebrew and Greek, Bible courses, how to preach, theology, leadership, and church history. You may be able to graduate faster by transferring up to seven graduate courses you have taken previously. Moody requires all students pursuing a master of divinity to get hands-on experience before graduating with two internships; the first practicum must directly correlate to the area that you will work in after graduation.
Moody offers both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies online.
If you have dreamed of planting a church in another country or ministering to people in distant lands, this program may be for you. Designed with Baptist students in mind, students can complete either a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or Masters in Biblical and Theological Studies. Students can choose from many specialty areas, including ethics, and church planning abroad. If becoming a missionary or international pastor is in your plan, you may be interested in their cross-cultural exchange program, which provides students with the skills they need to lead churches and ministries in other countries. Being a member of the Baptist Church will cut the cost of your tuition in half. This best online theological seminary will challenge and prepare students for whatever ministry is ahead.
If you’re looking to complete your master of theology degree on a part-time basis and wish to do so entirely online, this program may be the one for you. The program is fully accredited and has the same degree options as the on-campus program. Students can progress through this best masters in theology program at their pace while following the syllabus of each course. You learn with other online students and get to know one another through online forums, video conferencing, and group projects.
Covenant offers a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), a Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) and a Master of Divinity (MDiv) for their online biblical studies programs. The program consists of 48 credit hours, and it may take around four years to complete on a part-time basis. This seminary offers an exclusive class about the last days, called Spirit, Church, and Last Things. As part of the application process, all students must attempt to pass the Bible Content Exam; students must pass this exam before graduation.
This course of study prepares students to study a doctorate in divinity or for support roles within churches and other ministries. Students take classes in the Old and New Testament, church history, as well as in theology. Students can complete this program entirely on-line or both on-line and on-campus. The application process includes a recommendation from the student’s pastor. If you work and have family commitments, this program might be perfect, as there are no required log-in times, and you have access to class at any time. You may opt to write a thesis and can select from specialization tracks, including Biblical Studies, Church History, Global Studies, Theology, and Homiletics. To graduate, students must complete 30 semester hours. Liberty offers an online Master of Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.). It offers various other online degrees in Biblical studies.
This seminary offers a master of theology (M. A. Theological Studies) completely online, and students may study on either a full or part-time basis. The theology department estimates that online students will need to dedicate about 15-20 hours per week to continue to progress through the program. Completing this course of study prepares students to become missionaries, teachers, writers, and professors of theology. Graduates will be able to interpret and apply the Bible correctly and teach it in a way that engages yet challenges the marketplace. Bethel faculty is distinguished, having taught internationally. This best online theology masters program consists of 51 credits, usually completed over three years.
If you are concerned about the cost of education or want to attend a seminary with an Evangelical background, this may be the school for you. BMATS created their online education format so that students could continue serving overseas or in their local communities while pursuing higher education and furthering their careers in the ministry. BMATS has received recognition for being the most affordable online Christian school and the most affordable masters in religious studies and theology.
Online classes typically consist of short videos, reading, and interacting with professors and other students. Some classes also provide the option to attend via video conferencing.You learn from each other by responding to questions that the instructor posts on a blackboard thread. The responses encourage debate and discussions. BMATS estimates that students will spend about nine hours preparing for each three-hour class. This best online theological seminary requires 36 credit hours, including coursework in the Old and New Testaments, theology, and Survey of Baptist Heritage.
If you are searching for an online, fully accredited master’s degree in theology with a Baptist tradition that does not require prior theological studies, and would like to graduate as soon as possible, this school may be the one for you. SBTS requires 36 semester hours to graduate, all of which may be completed online in two years. To build a solid basis for church work within local communities, students take classes in biblical hermeneutics, Christian apologetics and both the Old and New Testaments. You are encouraged to work and go to school so that you to put into practice what you are learning.
A truly exceptional feature of this program is that classes are also offered in Spanish, allowing Latinos and those who wish to work with Spanish-speaking communities to grow in their knowledge and strengthen their neighborhoods. This best theology masters program is by far one of the most affordable programs, and students are allowed to make monthly installments payments.