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A master’s in theology equips graduates with the necessary competencies for work in nonprofit administration, church leadership, education, religious counseling, doctoral programs, and mission work. Program attendees engage in coursework covering various religious topics; common subjects include biblical interpretation, the history of Christianity, and how faith and science intersect. While most interested candidates already possess a solid spiritual foundation, students of all faith-related backgrounds are welcome to apply.

The average tuition for an online master’s in theology is $15,500, and coursework takes two to three years to complete if attending full-time. Your length of study largely depends on the program’s credit requirements, ranging from 30 to 50 credit hours. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, students who complete the program qualify for church leadership roles and earn an average salary of $60,180. Graduates are also eligible for roles as postsecondary educators at the community college level, making more than $80,000.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Theology Program

Choose your area of study

Interested attendees may select a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Theology (Th.M). Institutions may have slightly different naming conventions, but the content and career preparation are consistent. A Master of Arts in Theology is best for those interested in theological practice and application. A Master of Theology aligns more with those pursuing a doctoral track.

Online master’s in theology degrees feature a combination of core coursework and an area of concentration. Example concentrations include biblical studies, moral theology, and world religions. Institutions offer different specializations, so choose your area of study before embarking on your program research.

Research schools and programs

First, confirm that the institution meets the accreditation standards of a nationally-recognized accreditation agency. From there, research whether the specific master’s in theology is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). ATS accreditation ensures the program is committed to accepted standards for high-quality theological education.

There are other specific program factors to consider as well:

  • How will you attend class? Online theology coursework has two distinct delivery formats: asynchronous and synchronous. Asynchronous coursework has no scheduled class time; participants learn at their own pace. This method conforms well to working adults desiring a more flexible program of study. Synchronous learning has dedicated online classroom environments and faculty interaction. Certain programs feature both delivery methods.
  • Will online students have access to student support services? Your selected master’s in theology degree should feature additional benefits for online students. Seek programs with options for free online tutoring, career coaching, 24/7 tech support, and disability accommodations.
  • How close is the campus? Some online graduate programs offer in-person opportunities like open houses or hands-on practice. Moreover, smaller programs may only provide specific specialty courses in person. The ability to commute to campus will provide you with more academic options.

Most of this information is available through each program’s website. You can also use online orientations, information sessions, or class trials to learn more.

Prepare for tests and applications

Successful applicants for graduate degrees in theology are excellent academic writers and communicators. Some programs require candidates to submit GRE scores to ascertain their verbal and written skills. However, most online master’s in theology programs do not mandate standardized test scores as part of the application process.

Prepare your subsequent application materials well in advance of the submission deadline. Compiling recommendation letters, undergraduate transcripts, and personal essay components takes several weeks. Don’t wait until the last minute, or you may have to wait until the following semester.

Select your program

It’s important to finalize your program selection. To decide, consider each program’s affordability and opportunities for online students. Does the program offer the coursework and faculty for your specific area of concentration? While many programs might meet your personal and career goals, most schools require a deposit to hold your spot; you’ll want to narrow your options to just one choice.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Online master’s in theology degrees cost an average of $15,500. Graduate-level scholarships and funding opportunities are limited, but some schools offer needs-based assistance. All interested attendees should complete the FAFSA, which will outline what federal grants and loans they qualify for.

From there, to determine your best options, speak with the school’s academic and financial aid offices. You may be eligible for tuition assistance programs (such as those for veterans) or qualify for credit through previous educational or career experiences.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Theology Programs

Best Online Master's in Theology Degree Programs

Columbia International University

Lincoln Christian University

Biola University

Fordham University

University of Dallas

World Mission University

Creighton University

Concordia University Irvine

Covenant Theological Seminary

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Bethel University

Dallas Theological Seminary

Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Belhaven University

Moody Bible Institute

Campbellsville University

Luther Rice College and Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

United Theological Seminary

Regent University

Saint Leo University

Ohio Christian University

Gonzaga University

Harding School of Theology

Multnomah University

Wesley Biblical Seminary

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Newman University

Payne Theological Seminary

Western Seminary

Northwest University

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Dallas Baptist University

Nazarene Theological Seminary

University of the Cumberlands

Luther Seminary

Calvin Theological Seminary

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

ILIFF School of Theology

Hope International University

University of Notre Dame

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How We Rank Schools

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 entirely or primarily online. For programs 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, we calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each program. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Theology Program?

Individuals enrolled in an online master’s in theology excel in research and religious studies — coursework centers around Christian scholarship and real-world application of biblical teachings. Assignments emphasize academic writing, research, and philosophical discussion. Students prepare to serve their communities as public servants, filling positions in religious institutions, schools, medical facilities, and nonprofit organizations.

Typical programs mandate between 30 and 50 credit hours, corresponding to two to three years, to finish (if attending full-time). Online master’s in theology programs are often entirely remote but feature a final evaluation, often as a comprehensive exam, independent research paper, or capstone project.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in theology program

  • History of Christianity I. Participants study the foundations of Christianity, including the early development of doctrine and the church as an institution.
  • Biblical Exegesis. Using faith-based critical analysis, students interpret the Old and New Testaments. Coursework emphasizes the practical application of Christian teaching.
  • Faith and Science. Students investigate the relationship between Christianity and modern science. From the perspective of their faith, participants discuss cosmology and evolutionary biology.
  • Christian Prayer. This course focuses on the philosophy and application of prayer as a concept. Students review the history and evolution of prayer, noting its development from the Middle Ages to modern-day practice.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Theology?

Career outlook

An online master’s degree in theology equips individuals with deep knowledge of religious traditions, ethics, and philosophical thought, opening doors to meaningful careers in religious leadership, education, counseling, and social services. Salaries vary greatly for those with this degree. At the high end, clergy members who work for civic and social organizations make a median salary of $89,010.

Career paths

From pastoral roles and academic pursuits to advocacy and community engagement, there are a range of opportunities available to those who earn an online master’s in theology. As cultural and interfaith dialogues increase in importance, the need for theologians who can engage in meaningful discussions across belief systems is on the rise. An online master’s in theology provides a platform for individuals to contribute meaningfully to these dialogues and address complex societal issues.

An online master’s degree in theology offers a versatile foundation for a variety of impactful careers. Here are some potential career paths to consider:

  • Nonprofit program director — manage religious or faith-based nonprofit organizations, overseeing initiatives that address social issues, humanitarian aid, and community development
  • Marriage and family therapist — integrate theological and psychological insights to provide counseling and support to couples and families
  • Academic researcher — conduct scholarly research, contribute to theological literature, and participate in academic discourse within universities or research institutions
  • Social justice advocate — apply theological principles to advocate for social change, human rights, and ethical considerations in policy and public discourse
  • Campus minister — provide spiritual support and guidance for students on college campuses

Pastor or Spiritual Leader

Earning Potential: $40,000-$90,500 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in theology or divinity

A pastor serves as a spiritual leader within a religious community, guiding and nurturing the faith, well-being, and moral growth of congregants. They lead worship services, deliver sermons, and offer pastoral care, including counseling and support for those dealing with challenges. Pastors provide religious instruction, facilitate community engagement, and foster a sense of fellowship. They often officiate at ceremonies such as weddings and funerals and also engage in community outreach and social initiatives. Pastors play a central role in fostering spiritual connections, providing guidance in ethical matters, and promoting a sense of unity and purpose among their congregation.

Religious Educator

Earning Potential: $47,660-$100,410 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in theology, religious studies, or a related field

A religious educator shares knowledge and insights about faith traditions, spirituality, and ethical principles to learners of all ages. They design and deliver educational programs, teach religious texts, and facilitate discussions on theological concepts. Religious educators promote a deeper understanding of religious beliefs, rituals, and values, fostering spiritual growth and cultural awareness. They engage students in critical thinking, encourage exploration of diverse perspectives, and empower individuals to make informed decisions about their spiritual journey. Whether in formal classrooms, religious institutions, or community settings, religious educators inspire a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, compassion, and meaningful connections to faith.


Earning Potential: $44,630-$61,880 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in theology, divinity, or counseling

A counselor with a master’s degree in theology combines psychological insights with spiritual principles to provide holistic counseling services. They offer emotional support, guidance, and therapy that integrates faith and spirituality into the therapeutic process. Counselors address mental, emotional, and relational challenges while considering clients’ spiritual beliefs and values. They help individuals navigate life’s complexities, offering insights grounded in both psychological understanding and theological perspectives. By fostering healing, personal growth, and a sense of purpose, counselors with a theology background contribute to clients’ overall well-being, promoting a deeper understanding of themselves and their spiritual journey.

Online Master’s in Theology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in theology degree program?

You can find the specific application instructions on each program’s website. Graduate applications require a processing fee, and most schools mandate a minimum undergraduate GPA to qualify. For questions or concerns, contact an admissions counselor. They may be able to waive the application fee. A typical application for an online master’s in theology degree requests the following materials:

  • A completed application form
  • Official transcripts indicating an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay (often related to your relationship with Christianity)
  • An academic writing assessment

International students will have additional steps, including proof of English language competency and visa requirements.

How much does an online master's in theology degree cost?

The average tuition for an online master’s in theology can be as little as $6,000 or well over $20,000. Your residency status affects the overall cost; in-state applicants pay significantly less than out-of-students, even though you’re attending remotely. Moreover, the length of the program dictates price; 30-credit-hour curricula cost less than a 48-credit degree.

Students will also need to factor in the cost of books and technology. To successfully participate in an online master’s program, participants require reliable computer hardware and internet access.

How long does it take to earn an online master's in theology degree?

Most online master’s in theology programs can be completed in two years if students attend full-time. However, some graduate degrees are just 30 credit hours, requiring a one-year commitment. Part-time attendees may need up to three years or more.

Is an online master's in theology worth it?

An online master’s in theology equips individuals with a deep understanding of religious and ethical principles, promoting critical thinking, empathy, and interfaith dialogue. Positions are available in a variety of non-profit organizations, from senior living facilities to megachurches. According to, the median salary for a pastor is $105,466.

The key benefits of earning a master’s in theology include the potential for personal and spiritual growth as well as the opportunity to contribute to the spiritual well-being and moral development of individuals and communities. Graduates of theology programs often find their work to be deeply fulfilling and aligned with their values.

An online master’s in theology also prepares individuals to engage in meaningful conversations on matters of faith, ethics, and social justice and apply theological principles to real-world challenges. Through coursework and discussions, graduates develop skills in critical analysis, compassionate communication, and community engagement.

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