Why This Matters

  • THERE ARE 2.3 BILLION CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD

    According to the Pew Research Center, 2.3 billion people across the globe proclaim to be Christian. Many of these people want a Christian religious leader for their church or congregation.

  • CLERGY JOBS ARE INCREASING BY OVER 7%

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects clergy positions will grow by more than 7.5% between through 2026. Additionally, 48% of current clergy members are at least 55 years old and nearing retirement age.

  • WORK IN OVER A HALF-DOZEN INDUSTRIES

    Earning a master’s of theology doesn’t mean you have to work in a church, synagogue, or mosque. Clergy also work for health care organizations, community relief organizations, grant-making services, and even the federal government.

Our Research

We reviewed many master’s in theology programs, including Master of Theological Studies (MTS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. These programs include online, on-campus, and hybrid options in order to offer many choices to meet students’ diverse needs.

All of the programs listed are regionally accredited, and most have accreditation through a programmatic accrediting body. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) are the two main accreditors for graduate schools with religious degrees.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Master’s in Theology Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 56 hours to write this article
  • 156 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 273 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Theology Degree Programs

Best Master's in Theology Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Secular schools, Bible colleges, and seminaries all offer master’s degrees in theology. Secular schools have no religious affiliation, while Bible colleges and seminaries do. Bible colleges may offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, while seminaries award graduate degrees. Some Bible colleges and seminaries have denominational affiliations, while others are more broadly Christian or religious. Before selecting a master’s in theology program, make sure the school aligns with your personal religious beliefs.

Master of Theological Studies and Master of Arts degree programs are shorter than Master of Divinity (MDiv) programs. MDiv degrees are considered the professional degree for clergy, and an MA or MTS might not qualify for ordination in some denominations. Enroll in an MA or MTS program only if your denomination accepts it for ordination or you intend to pursue a non-ordained career path.

The coursework for many online programs can be completed remotely, but these programs might have an in-person component. For example, you might have to attend an orientation or seminar on campus. Most MA and MTS programs don’t have an in-person internship requirement, which is common among MDiv programs.

What’s Next?

Here are a couple of questions to consider as you evaluate master’s in theology programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most master’s of theology degrees require students to have a bachelor’s degree, but the undergraduate degree can usually be in any major. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you might be able to enroll based on substantial life experience and earn a diploma (as opposed to a degree).
  • What tests are required for this online degree? The majority of these programs don’t require a GRE score or other entrance exam, although a few programs might. You will likely have to provide a statement explaining your religious story.

Once you identify a potential program, research the application process. Check which application materials are required and verify the deadline to submit them. You can find this information on the program’s website or by contacting the program directly.

Also give thought to how you’ll pay tuition. Ask admissions officers about available scholarships or financial aid. You might also get tuition assistance from a religious community or employer.