Online Bachelor’s in Theology

Students interested in attending theology schools online have many options. Online theology degrees offer numerous benefits, including flexibility and affordability. Theology students study religious beliefs and the nature of God. Majors related to theology include ministry, divinity, and biblical/religious studies, and theology encompasses them all. Students seeking an online theology degree learn about many different religions and topics in online theology courses. Learners discuss religion and the Bible, anthropology, history, and culture. They investigate topics to gain a deep understanding of religion and God.

Students seeking an online theology degree learn about many different religions and topics in online theology courses.

Graduates with online theology degrees can work in many roles, including pastor, military or hospital chaplain, and education director. On average, those with an accredited online theology degree earn salaries of about $45,000 each year. Professionals can increase their salary by advancing their education with a theology degree online. Theology schools online offer programs ranging from the associate to doctoral level.

Students enjoy many attractive benefits to online theology degrees. Online students can complete coursework from the comfort of their home without needing to attend class in person. Courses are often delivered asynchronously, so students can complete coursework at their own pace. Online programs are usually more affordable than traditional programs because students do not need to commute to campus or pay for any of the accommodations that come with being on campus. Christian colleges offer the same faith-based curriculum on campus and online. Many online programs offer special services such as online spiritual counseling and support and live streams of student worship services. If a program requires an internship, online programs arrange for the internship to be completed at a location near the student.

How Long Does it Take to Earn Your Theology Bachelor’s Degree Online?

Bachelor’s students pursuing a theology degree online can complete their degree slightly faster than a typical on-campus program. Not only is the program shorter, it also allows students to work at their own pace from the comfort of their own home. An online bachelor's in theology typically takes about three and a half years for students to complete. Within this timeframe, students must complete about 120 credits.

An online bachelor's in theology program covers many different topics involving religion's cultural and historical aspects. Students learn about Christianity and the Bible, Catholicism, spirituality, and sacraments. Understanding the foundations of Christianity and other religions prepares theology students for successful careers in ministry.

Example Courses

World Religions Students learn about the world's different major religions in comparison to Christianity. They study Hindu, Buddhism, Western religions, and the nature of all religions.
Pastoral Ministry Learners explore the theological foundations of pastoral ministry in regards to the mission and ministry of the Church. They focus on the history of pastoral ministry as well as the purpose and tasks involved.
The Sacraments Students learn about the seven holy sacraments. They study Christ as Sacrament of God and they study the Church as Sacrament of Christ.
New Testament Students learn about the historical, cultural, and religious elements of Christianity at the time it began and developed in its first century.
Old Testament Learners study the religious and historical background of the texts in the Old Testament. They read and interpret the books and significant passages of the Old Testament.

Some students seeking an online theology degree pursue a specialization, which allows them to tailor their degree to their personal interests and career goals. Specializations are often offered in areas that coincide with a field's different career opportunities. Courses that relate to specializations prepare students to enter their chosen career with the skills and knowledge to be successful. Listed below are some of the most common specialization options for theology students.

Many students with a bachelor’s degree in theology go on to pursue their master's in theology online, which opens many additional career opportunities. Professionals with a master’s degree also earn higher salaries. Master’s programs do not take as long for students to complete as bachelor’s programs. Learners can sometimes complete an online master’s program in one to two years. Because master’s students already have their bachelor’s degree, they can often work while continuing their education.

Graduates with their online theology degree can explore many different career opportunities. The higher the degree, the more job opportunities. Salary ranges also increase with higher degree levels, which is why many learners advance to accredited online Ph.D. programs in theology. Professionals in the field use religion and spirituality to help others, often through public speaking and counseling. Below, are jobs that bachelor's in theology graduates often pursue.

Occupations and Salary for Online Bachelor's in Theology Graduates
Occupation Minimum Degree Required Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Hospital Chaplain N/A N/A $24.05 $47,507
Senior Pastor Master's N/A $20.29 $57,370
Youth Pastor Bachelor's N/A $14.49 $36,466
Religious Activities and Education Directors N/A 21,430 $21.86 $45,470
Source: BLS, May 2017

Certain careers in the theology field require licensing and certification. To become a certified pastoral counselor, individuals need their master of divinity or a graduate or doctorate degree in biblical studies, theological studies, spiritual studies, or pastoral counseling. Individuals must also become ordained, which is different for each religious group. Being ordained allows individuals to conduct marriages, speak for the congregation, and hear confessions. Pastoral counselors must also receive certification, which requires them to have a certain amount of field experience. Though it is not required, many pastoral counselors seek licensure as a marriage and family therapist, clinical counselor, or social worker.

Two types of accreditation exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation is widely accepted by colleges, universities, and employers. More than 85% of U.S. colleges are regionally accredited. Credits and degrees from regionally accredited institutions are easily transferred to other institutions. Courses are usually led by an instructor, and students are granted a degree upon completion. Additionally, students who graduate from a regionally accredited institution are eligible for tuition reimbursement plans.

Two types of accreditation exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation is widely accepted by colleges, universities, and employers.

Credits earned from nationally accredited institutions do not often transfer as easily. Instead, these institutions are typically career oriented and grant certificates instead of degrees. Most coursework is self study instead of instructor led. Also, graduates from a nationally accredited institution are often excluded from tuition reimbursement plans.

It is important when choosing theology schools online to pick one that is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Students interested in continuing their education need an undergraduate degree that is accredited by the ATS. The accrediting agency is regulated, and employers and higher education institutions know what to expect of students who have completed a program at an institution accredited by the association.

Many universities offer free open courses in theology-related studies. Major universities such as Yale, Notre Dame, and New York University offer these courses, which are delivered in different formats depending on the university. Some universities offer free online courses through iTunes or other sources, while others offer on-campus courses. Topics include concepts in theology, the Old Testament and New Testament, and other foundational topics. Some of the more specific free courses focus on culture and religion, Scripture and tradition, and anthropology of religion.

  • New York University Cultures and contexts at New York University’s Open Education program teaches students about ancient Israel. Students learn about the creation of the Jewish Bible. The course includes 19 lessons and teaches students to write like a prophet.
  • University of Notre Dame Jesus in scripture and tradition: biblical and historical at the University of Notre Dame teaches students the religious aspects of Christianity from the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • Yale University Introduction to the New Testament, history, and literature at Yale University teaches students about the history and literature behind the New Testament and how it is relevant today.
  • Dallas Theological Seminary Introduction to theology at Dallas Theological Seminary comprises 60 15-minute lectures. Students learn to use the Bible as a main text to research concepts of theology.

Joining a professional organization as a Christian counselor brings many benefits. Organizations provide training and educational resources for counselors to advance their knowledge and skills. Organizations also host a variety of events that provide networking opportunities.

National Association of Christian Counselors

The National Association of Christian Counselors is a Christian ministry that trains biblical teachers and counselors to help local churches meet their needs. They work to connect faith and life to grow each individual’s faith.

Association of Biblical Counselors

The Association of Biblical Counselors supports individuals interested in living and counseling the gospel through encouragement. They promote Scripture and seek additional resources for biblical counselors to use.

Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation promotes Christ within counseling in the church and encourages counselors to think biblically about individuals’ issues to help the church best counsel them.

International Association of Christian Counseling Professionals

The International Association of Christian Counseling Professionals is comprised of Christian counselors, social workers, nurses, behavioral health professionals, psychologists, and all other Christians in the helping professions.

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors provides training and encouragement to biblical counselors. They offer certification to counselors and host conferences.

National Biblical Counseling Association

The National Biblical Counseling Association promotes the highest quality of biblical counseling. The organization provides training, research opportunities, and educational resources.

There are several different scholarships available to theology students, each with its own set of criteria.

Online Bachelor's in Theology Scholarships

St. Paul's Scholarship $750-$1,000

Who Can Apply: St Paul’s Scholarship is available to members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Candidates must be pursuing their postsecondary education at an accredited college or university with the intention of beginning a career in Christian education or religious music. View Scholarship

Fran and Stan Richardson Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Fran and Stan Richardson Scholarship is available to members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church who are enrolled in a college or university pursuing their postsecondary education. View Scholarship

West End Church of Christ’s Christian Education Scholarship Fund Varies

Who Can Apply: The West End Church of Christ’s Christian Education Scholarship Fund is awarded to members of the West End Church of Christ who are attending or accepted to a higher learning institution affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 2.5. View Scholarship

Christian Missionary Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The Christian Missionary Scholarship is awarded to students attending Calvin College, Dordt College, Hope College, Kuyper College, Trinity Christian College, or Wheaton College. Candidates must be children of missionaries who are currently on or recently returned from the mission field. View Scholarship

Young Christian Leaders Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Young Christian Leaders Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors or college students who are active members of their local church; have a minimum 3.0 GPA; and are permanent residents of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. View Scholarship

The Foundation for College Christian Leaders Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The Foundation for College Christian Leaders Scholarship is available to undergraduate students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who give a Christian testimony and can verify their Christian leadership. Candidates must live in California, Oregon, or Washington. View Scholarship

Disciples Home Missions Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: The Disciples Home Missions Scholarships are awarded to undergraduates who are members of the Christian church and preparing for ministry careers. View Scholarship

Dora Maclellan Brown Seminary Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The Dora Maclellan Brown Seminary Scholarship is awarded to students seeking a theology degree. Candidates must provide a testimony of faith and come from the greater Chattanooga area. View Scholarship

Interfaith Spirituality Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The Interfaith Spirituality Scholarship is awarded to students interested in integrating interfaith understanding into their ministry and are committed to helping others with their spirituality. View Scholarship

Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarships $3,500

Who Can Apply: The Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate and graduate students preparing to preach the Christian religion. Candidates must have a 2.75 minimum GPA. View Scholarship
  • Theology Blogs to Follow See our list of the best blogs for theology-related news, events, and support.
  • University of Portland Faith-Based Leader Program The University of Portland's Faith-Based Leader Program allows students in their junior year to learn about the different challenges church leaders face and how to overcome them.
  • The Center for Practical Theology at Boston University The Center for Practical Theology at Boston University is a place where students can use scholarly resources to explore questions about theology.
  • Society of Biblical Literature The Society of Biblical Literature is an international organization that allows members to investigate the Bible from different academic disciplines in order to grow intellectually and develop professionally.
  • Evangelical Theological Society The Evangelical Theological Society is a professional academic organization whose members are theological and biblical scholars, pastors, and students interested in sharing ideas and concepts to best serve the community and Jesus Christ.
  • BiblIndex BiblIndex is a free online forum that allows students and professionals to search for references to specific texts in the Bible.
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