Why This Matters

  • THERE ARE 2.18 BILLION CHRISTIANS GLOBALLY

    According to the Pew Forum, nearly one-third of the world’s population is Christian, with members of the religion spread out among all inhabited continents on Earth.

  • DEMAND FOR CLERGY TO INCREASE 6% BY 2028

    The employment of clergy of all religious affiliations is expected to continue rising at an average pace, with an additional 29,200 jobs available in the U.S. within the next decade.

  • 3K NEW RELIGION PROFESSOR JOBS ANTICIPATED

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of college philosophy and religion professors will increase by 10%, faster than the average for other jobs.

Our Research

We focused this list on master’s programs in theology and related areas. The most common degrees in this area are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Theological Studies (MTS).

This list includes schools that have either regional or national accreditation. Many schools have accreditation through the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), or the Association of Theological Schools’ Commission on Accrediting. Degrees from regionally accredited schools are generally more transferable and widely recognized than those from nationally accredited institutions.

We sought programs that are delivered completely or primarily online. For programs that are offered both online and on-campus, students may have the option to complete their degree through a combination of in-person classes and distance learning.

We evaluated the programs based on their faculty, cost, flexibility, outcomes, and reputation, then calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each program. Our top picks for the best online master’s in theology are affordable and highly respected. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 64 hours to write this article
  • 132 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 287 education programs we compared

The Top 35 Best Online Master’s in Theology Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

There are a few different types of institutions where you can complete a master’s in theology. These include traditional four-year universities, which may or may not have a religious affiliation; Bible colleges, which use the Bible as the focal point of education, and seminaries, which focus on graduate-level education for those interested in pursuing ministry leadership roles. You can also choose a school based on its denomination, including Catholic, Baptist, or Jesuit.

Before selecting a school, consider what religious affiliation and type of institution most closely aligns with your interests and career goals.

Individuals typically pursue a master’s degree in theology as preparation for a career as a ministry leader in their respective faith. As such, students should have a desire to work with people, be comfortable with public speaking, and have strong organizational and leadership skills. Consider your natural aptitudes when deciding if a career in ministry is right for you.

Another career option is teaching at the postsecondary level. While a master’s may qualify you for some postsecondary teaching positions, others may require a doctorate degree. You may also wish to pursue a doctorate if you are planning on focus on scholarship and research. Thinking about your long-term plans can help you now as you select a master’s program and budget for your continued education.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Theology programs:

  • Does this program offer the specialization that I want? Depending on your personal interests and career goals, you may want to pursue a specialization as part of your degree. Popular specializations within theology include pastoral counseling, scripture, religious education, and more. If there is an area in which you would like to focus your studies, be sure to select a program that gives you that option.
  • Are there any in-person requirements? Even if a program offers all coursework online, they may still require in-person attendance for residencies or experiential learning components. Before enrolling in a program, be sure to review the curriculum carefully to find out if you will be expected to visit campus or participate in in-person experiences at any point during the program so you can plan to accommodate them in your schedule or budget.

During the research process, you should also gather your application materials, and start thinking about how you will fund your master’s degree. Financial aid resources include student loans, scholarships, assistantships, grants, and tuition assistance benefits from your employer, if you are currently working.