A theology degree might seem like a specialization for people who are looking to build a stronger spiritual life, but it also offers unseen opportunities for those who are willing to think outside the box. While a profession in the cloth may seem the obvious choice for someone looking to study theology online, there are a variety of positions which call for this degree.
If you are looking to aid or perhaps even lead a charitable, religious organization, this may be an excellent program for you. Also, many instructors and world-class historians hold theological degrees since so much of the world’s history is wrapped up in or written by religious authorities. Some of the universities on this list also offer correspondence course—the first distance learning—and hybrid courses which allow you to take classes on campus or online.
20. Southeastern University
Southeastern University regularly makes it onto lists for the best religious universities. A little less than half the students are online, and it has a diverse student body from different backgrounds. Its top-ranked degree is Theology. SU also offers numerous sports, but no fraternities. It has a student to teacher ratio of 19:1 with only about 63 percent of courses with 20 students or fewer—however, online courses are capped at a maximum of 25 students. It has a moderately selective acceptance rate of 44 percent. Its freshman retention rate is a bit low at 66 percent, but 42 percent of students graduate within six years and a 31 percent rate within four years. Theology is the top major at the University with 23 percent. Tuition is about $22,800, and room and board . However close to $9,100.
19. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University is another school that specializes in training people to minister. GCU even offers four different specialties related to this field. They are the pastoral ministry, youth ministry, urban ministry, and Christian leadership. Moreover, a majority, 73 percent, of their students are distance learners. They have a challenging acceptance rate of about 55 percent. Their freshmen retention rate is a bit low at 59 percent, but their 6-year graduation rate is a low 31 percent while their 4-year graduation rate is a dismal 18 percent. They also have one of the highest students to teacher ratios on this list at 19:1. However, the tuition is a manageable $17,000 while room and board is just over $8,500.
18. Nazarene Bible College
The Nazarene Bible college specializes in teaching students to minister and evangelize. However, it has a bit of a rocky reputation as it is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education rather than a regional accreditation system. They admit 100 percent of applicants. Even more impressive is that 87 percent of the students are distance learners. The student to teacher ratio is a decent 10:1. The freshman retention rate is 67 percent, however their graduation rates are dismal with 2 percent graduating in 4 years, only 17 percent graduating in 6 years, and still only 25 percent graduating in 8 years. Tuition is a low $11,00 though.
17. Moody Bible Institute
The Moody Bible Institute, as the name suggests, specializes in religious and biblical studies. In fact, the only online programs offered are Biblical Studies and Ministry Leadership. MBI also offers either 8-week term of 16-week semester courses. It has received 14 different awards and has one of the best ranked Bible Studies programs on the list. Its freshman retention rate is a solid 78 percent. But one of the bigger numbers is its eye-popping 84 percent graduation rate—though whether this is in 4 or 6 years is unknown. While the student to teacher ratio is 17:1, the Institute states that the average class is 12 students with 20 being the cap. Tuition is an incredibly cheap $11,356 while room and board will run you about $9,600.
16. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers some excellent prior learning options giving credit for dual courses, AP exams, and life experience. It has received 12 different awards and has a highly ranked Religious Education program. There is no Greek life, but SAGU does have an impressive music and drama culture. SAGU also has an incredibly impressive acceptance rate of just under 34 percent. The student to faculty ratio is 16:1, but the average class size is about 11 students. Their freshman retention rate is a tad low at 66 percent while their 6-year graduation rate is 36 percent and their 4-year graduation rate is only 19 percent. The tuition is manageable at just under $19,200 while room and board comes in at just under $7,000.
15. Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University was created specifically to serve the Church of the Nazarene’s higher education needs. An impressive 82 percent of TNU’s faculty hold their doctorate. It has earned 8 awards, though most of the students are on campus. Theology is its second largest program, but there is no Greek life. However, it does have a conventional arts program for both writing and music. This school is not challenging to get into with a 73 percent acceptance rate. The student to teacher ratio is a modest 18:1, but almost 68 percent of the courses are enrolled with 20 students or fewer. It has a decent 74 percent freshman retention rate with an impressive 51 percent graduating within six years and a just as impressive 39 percent within four years. Tuition is around $23,700 while room and board is $8,300.
14. Bethesda University
Bethesda University is somewhat limited in academic offerings but specializes in theological studies. Moreover, their mission is specifical to engage with Millennials and instill a Christian foundation of values in their lives. BU has won 8 awards, and a little over half of its students are distance learners.
Bethesda is a subtle university with an astounding student to teacher ratio of 6:1. It has a moderately decent 67 percent acceptance rate with a high graduation rate of 69 percent in 6 years. It is one of the few schools on this list where male dominate the student body comprising 61 percent. Also, 100 percent of their faculty are full-time. Its tuition is also an incredibly low $9,120 and an equally low room and board of $5,800.
13. St. Joseph’s College of Maine
This university made it onto the list because it has placed a focus on online instruction. It gets excellent marks for alumni engagement following graduation. It also provides financial aid awards 100 percent of the time for first-time, full-time students. It has won 3 awards with half of its students being distance learners. Its acceptance rate is acceptable at just under 78 percent. It has a decent student to teacher ratio of 11:1. Its freshman retention rate is on par at 72 percent, and it has an excellent 6-year graduation rate of 56 percent with a 4-year graduation rate of 45 percent. It has one of the highest female student body ratios at 71 percent. Unfortunately, it is one of the pricier colleges on this list with tuition at almost $32,000 and room and board adding approximately another $12,000.
12. Brescia University
Brescia is an excellent university those explicitly looking to go into pastoral ministry. Brescia has won 8 awards, and 52 percent of their students are distance learners. There is no Greek life, but their music department is decent for choral and vocal programs. Brescia also offers some sports for both men and women. They have an impressive 13:1 student to teacher ratio which allows 89 percent of their courses to have 20 or fewer students enrolled in them and 0 percent of the courses with 50 or more. It can be moderately selective with a 49 percent acceptance rate. Brescia’s retention rate falters a bit with only 61 percent as do its graduation numbers of 26 percent in 6 years and a paltry 11 percent in 4 years. A close to a whopping 74 percent of the student body is female. The tuition is $19,000 while room and board is $9,500.
11. Oklahoma Wesleyan University
OKWU is nice in that its online courses are asynchronous which allows the students to set their own schedule rather than having to be online at any particular time. It has won 4 awards, but only 28 percent of its students are distance learners—so it may not be as integrated as some other options. Its arts options are limited, and there is no Greek life, but it does offer a solid number of sports. Also, theology is one of the top-3 majors at OWU, so the religious culture is strong. This school offers a nice student to teacher ratio of 15:1 with 74 percent of the courses enrolling 20 students or fewer. It is not an exceedingly difficult school to get into with an acceptance rate of almost 63 percent. Though it has a relatively low freshmen retention rate of 59 percent and only 39 percent graduate within 6 years with 27 percent in 4 years. Tuition is $24,100 with room and board at roughly $7,800.
10. Cornerstone University
Cornerstone University has only recently become a full university in 1999. It has also been named one of the 50 most affordable colleges in the US by Christian Universities Online. CU has won 6 awards, but just under a quarter of the students are distance learners. However, theology is one of the top-5 most popular majors. There is no Greek life, but the arts department is adequate and numerous sports are offered. They have a low student to teacher ratio of 11:1 with almost 59 percent of classes enrolling 20 students or fewer. They have moderately acceptable acceptance rate of approximately 69 percent. The freshman retention rate of 74 percent is solid while 6-year graduation rates are 47 percent though 4 year rates are only 25 percent. Tuition is a bit steep at $26,000 while room and board is just over $8,500.
9. Lee University
Lee University offer a wide variety of religiously themed bachelors programs from Bible and Theology to Christian Studies to Ministry Leadership. It has won 18 awards and Pastoral Counseling and Specialized Ministries is its highest ranked major. It also boasts a rich arts program and even allows Greek life. Moreover, it has one of the most diverse sports programs on this list. The offers an acceptable student to teacher ratio of 17:1, but only 55 percent of the courses have 20 students or fewer. However, it has an almost embarrassing acceptance rate of 89 percent. Still, it has a decent freshman retention rate of 75 percent with 54 percent graduating in 6 years and 39 percent in 4 years. However, tuition is a very modest $15,000 with room and board a still reasonable at close to $7,000.
8. Crown College
Crown College does not necessarily check many of the quantifiable boxes on the list, but it regularly appears on lists of the best online theology programs. It is noted for an extensive student library that can be accessed online as well as off. It also offers and accelerated master’s program that only takes a single year. Biblical Studies is its highest rated program with 34 percent of the students majoring in it, and CC has won 4 awards. It has a well-rounded arts program but few sports and no Greek life. It has a fairly stringent 55 percent acceptance rate. The freshman retention rate is poor though at 50 percent, but it has an acceptable 6-year graduation rate of 51 percent and a 4-year graduation rate of 45 percent. The student to teacher ratio is also fairly high at 18:1. Tuition is just under $23,200 while room and board is almost $7,900.
7. Apex School of Theology
The Apex School of Theology is not a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), but it was founded on a premise of focusing on “African-American Culture.” It also offers a specialization for those who are looking to teach theology after graduation. It is unique in that theology is the only program offered, and it has won 4 awards. Exclusively a distance learning school, there are no sports, Greek life, and only a paper for arts programs. Unfortunately, it is not very exclusive and has a 100 percent admission rate. Moreover, only 7 percent graduate within 4 years, but they seem to have a dedicated student body as 93 percent graduate within 6 years and an improbable 100 percent graduate within 8 years. Its student to teacher ratio is relatively high at 17:1, but 100 percent of the teachers are full-time. AST is also the cheapest school on the list with a tuition of only $5,000.
6. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University uses an asynchronous online schedule so students can work at their own pace. IWU also puts a cap on their online courses so students receive the attention they need. It is also the fastest growing university in Indiana in the last 2 years. IWU has won an impressive 34 awards and almost 60 percent of its students are distance learners. Theology is also its 4th most popular major. There is no Greek Life, but IWU has a rich artistic program with music, writing, and drama as well as a large sports culture as well. The have an adequate student to teacher ratio of 14:1 with 64 percent of their courses enrolled with 20 students or less. Unfortunately, if you sign your name you can probably get in with a 95.7 percent acceptance rate. However, freshman retention rate is 77 percent while 6-year graduation rates are a great 64 percent with 4 year rates at an equally impressive 52 percent. Tuition is just over $24,700 while room and board is just under $8,000.
5. Regent University
Regent has regularly makes it onto numerous lists from U.S. News and World Reports Best Colleges. RU has won 21 awards and 83 percent of its students are distance learners. Regent does no offer Greek life, but it has a moderate art scene—though little in literary offerings. Also, there are no real sports to mention—beyond intramural basketball for women. Roughly 60 percent of the classes have 20 students of fewer and none have more than 50. However, the administration seems to manage the student to teacher ratio well without being spectacular as it sits at 18:1. Regent is not an especially difficult school to get into with an acceptance rate of 80 percent. The freshman retention rate sits at 76.5 percent, though the 4-year graduation rate is only 29 percent. Also, 15 percent of the students study divinity or ministry making it the 3rd most popular major, so it has a relatively good-sized religious culture. Graduates leave with an average of $36,500 in debt from the $16,600 per year tuition and $8,250 per year room and board.
4. Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University is a Catholic university and is known for educating U.S. military personnel. It is also the oldest Catholic higher educational institution in Florida. It has won an astounding 54 awards and 85 percent of its students are distance learners. There is a robust sports community and it even offers some fraternities and sororities. It has a decent student to teacher ratio of 15:1, but less than half of the courses, at 49 percent, have 20 students or fewer. It has a liberal acceptance rate of 72 percent. It freshman retention rate is an acceptable 69 percent while 42 percent graduate within 6 years but only 28 percent within 4 years. Tuition is $20,800 while room and board is just under $10,000.
3. Dallas Baptist University
This entry should be no surprise to anyone who has done their research as it at various points among numerous lists. DBU has won 16 awards and its Religious Studies program is its highest rated and 4th most popular cementing a strong theological culture. About 20 percent of the students are involved in Greek life and it has a decent arts program. Though its sports are definitely geared toward women as men only have baseball and basketball. The school has a classroom of 20 students or fewer for 67 percent of the courses offered and only 2 percent of the courses have 50 students or more. However, the student to faculty ratio is a low 13:1. It can be moderately difficult to get into the school with a rejection rate of 46 percent. It retains 72 percent of its freshmen, 55 percent of whom graduate within 6 years—though only 38 percent graduate in 4 years. The student to teacher ratio may be explained somewhat with the $24,900 tuition and $7,300 room and board cost.
2. Liberty University
Liberty University is steeped in religion as its founder is Jerry Falwell, the famed evangelical preacher. It was one of the earliest adopters of online education and has over 90,000 online students. LU has won 67 awards and 85 percent of its students are distance learners. Though it has no Greek life, there is a good-sized art program, and it is one of the few schools on this list to offer Football. However, online courses are capped at 25 students to prevent overcrowding. Still, the student to teacher ratio still sits at a reasonable 18:1. It is a fairly selective school only admitting 20 percent of applicants. Still, most of those do fill up as only 32 percent of the classes contain 20 of fewer students. Liberty retains 77 percent of its freshmen with 52 percent graduating within 6 years but only 29 percent graduating within 4 years. Oddly enough, only 8 percent of the students major in religious studies. Tuition is $22,00 while room and board is almost $8,800.
1. King University
King University is a Presbyterian University. It has been rated as one of the best regional universities in the south by U.S. News and World Report for over 22 years. It has won 12 awards and 47 percent of its students are distance learners. There is no Greek life, but a decent arts program exists as well as one of the largest sports programs out of the schools on this list. KU has a low student to teacher ratio of 11:1 with 81 percent of its courses with 20 students or less. It has a good acceptance rate of just under 58 percent. Its freshman retention rate is 72 percent with an excellent 55 percent graduation rate for 6 years and a good 39 percent 4-year graduation rate. KU is also one the only school on this list with a female dominant faculty of about 58 percent. Tuition is a bit pricey at just under $26,500 while room and board is just under $8,200.
King University’s consistent record of success is part of the reason it is the most highly rated. Moreover, its excellent graduation rate despite a stringent acceptance policy is another mark of a solid education experience. It does not hurt that the classroom size and student to teacher ratio is also among the best.