The Best Online Master’s in Theology Programs

| TBS Staff

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1. Clarks Summit University

South Abington Township, Pennsylvania

A private Bible college based just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Clarks Summit University offers Christ-centered undergraduate and graduate programs. These offerings include a master’s in theology online that runs on a blended learning model, combining limited on-campus courses with asynchronous distance learning coursework.

The program’s 32-credit curriculum includes coursework in exegesis, hermeneutics, and teaching methods, and all students complete a practicum and a thesis. Students also choose an emphasis in a theological area. Online courses last either eight or 12 weeks.

Students can earn admission to the program by applying to the university’s Ph.D. program in theology. Applicants must submit evidence of a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous master’s-level coursework for admission. Once admitted, students can complete the program in three semesters, or one calendar year.

Accreditation

Clarks Summit University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

2. University of Northwestern - St. Paul

Saint Paul, Minnesota

A private, evangelical school in Roseville, Minnesota, the University of Northwestern - St. Paul maintains a focus on adult and continuing education. The school offers its master of theology online program without any on-campus requirements. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and allows students to finish with a graduate certificate after five courses. Local students may opt for on-campus courses for four hours every Tuesday night.

The program’s 36-credit curriculum typically takes 18–22 months to complete. The curriculum includes studies in key theological fields, such as apologetics, spiritual formation, the history of Christianity, and biblical hermeneutics. The program’s faculty includes world-renowned experts in areas such as the Old and New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Accreditation

UNWSP is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

3. Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, California

Based out of the Bay Area in the eponymous city of Santa Clara, California, SCU is a private university maintaining a Jesuit affiliation. The school garners nationwide renown for its high concentration of Rhodes and Fulbright scholars. The university hosts a Jesuit School of Theology, which offers an online master’s degree in theology that competes with the nation’s best.

Students who enroll in online programs at the Jesuit School of Theology enjoy numerous options. They can pursue a master of theology, master of theological studies, master of divinity, or a combined MA/M.Div. program. Delivery methods vary by program, with some programs delivering all coursework asynchronously and some using blended learning. Santa Clara holds membership in the Graduate Theological Union, which allows students access to many online courses.

Accreditation

Santa Clara University is regionally accredited from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

4. College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University

St. Joseph, Minnesota

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University operate as two separate schools, with CSB only accepting women, and SJU only accepting men. Located near St. Cloud, Minnesota, both schools share a curriculum and offer online courses, including an online master’s in theology. The program’s goal is to prepare graduates for Ph.D. programs in theology.

Students in the master’s program can choose between synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid courses. The program’s curriculum consists of 24 credits, including a research seminar, thesis, and foreign language reading requirement. All applicants must already hold a theology-related master’s degree, such as a master of divinity or a master of arts in a relevant field. Applicants must submit GRE scores and a list of relevant scholarly articles and books read in the last three years.

Accreditation

CSBSJU is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commision.

5. Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln, Illinois

Based in the titular city of Lincoln, Illinois, Lincoln Christian University extends its reach through satellite campuses across the Midwest, a regional center in Las Vegas, and several online programs, including a master’s of theology online. Awarding an MA in the Bible and theology, the program caters to students who want to gain theological knowledge without committing to a seminary degree or needing to study Greek or Hebrew.

The program’s 12-course curriculum delivers coursework asynchronously without any on-campus requirements. The curriculum’s capstone course requires students to complete a field project or a 35–45-page research paper. Students also complete courses in typical theological fields, such as the Old Testament, the New Testament, Christian worldviews, and interpreting the Bible.

Accreditation

Lincoln Christian University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

6. Columbia International University

Columbia, South Carolina

Located in the eponymous city of Columbia, South Carolina, CIU originally opened as a Bible school that offered two-year degrees to local mill workers. The university since changed its name to reflect the school’s new mission to form the next generation of global Christian and service leaders.

CIU’s online theology degree earns a place among the school’s strongest programs and the nation’s best online graduate theology programs. The program typically takes 18–24 months to complete and offers two tracks: one for students with 30 previous credits in theology-related areas and one for students with a limited theological background. In both cases, students complete coursework on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the foundations of spiritual formation. Graduates pursue further theological study, missionary work, and church or ministry work.

Accreditation

Columbia International University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7. Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, Indiana

Based in Marion, IWU is a private, evangelical Christian-affiliated liberal arts school. The school opened its Wesley Theological Seminary in 2009. Wesley teaches evangelical theology and maintains an affiliation with IWU and the Wesleyan Church. Wesley offers several online programs, including a theology degree online.

The online theology program at Wesley awards a master of practical theology, which serves as a bridge degree for students who want to pursue a Ph.D. in theology or ministry online. The program only accepts students who already hold at least 30 relevant credits in divinity or theology, helping them obtain M.Div. equivalence (defined as 72 credits in relevant fields).

The 36-credit program includes 18 credits in Wesley Seminary’s integrated M.Div. program and 18 credits in ministry, Christian history, theology, or the Bible. Wesley delivers online coursework asynchronously and does not require any on-campus visits.

Accreditation

Indiana Wesleyan University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

8. St. Joseph’s College of Maine

Standish, Maine

A private, Catholic-affiliated liberal arts school based in Standish, SJCME originally opened as a women’s college on the site of a convent. The school became coeducational in 1970 and offered its first distance learning degree in 1976. The school’s master’s in theology online earns a place among the nation’s best.

SJCME’s theology program focuses on Roman Catholic doctrine, serving future Christian leaders who want to work in parishes, hospitals, diocesan agencies, and other spiritual settings. The program’s 30-credit curriculum delivers all coursework asynchronously without on-campus requirements and requires students to choose one of three specializations: pastoral theology, sacred theology, or advanced diaconal studies. Students who enroll in online undergraduate courses at SJCME can enroll in a fast-track version of the program.

Accreditation

SJCME is regionally accredited from the New England Commission on Higher Education.

9. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Louisville, Kentucky

Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is among the oldest members of the Southern Baptist Convention. It originally opened on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, before the Civil War. The seminary now offers several online programs, including multiple online master’s in theology options.

The theology program at SBTS allows students to choose between generalist, intercultural leadership, and lay leadership concentrations. In every case, the program’s curriculum consists of 48 credits and includes studies in systematic theology, church history, and the Old and New Testaments. Each online course lasts for eight weeks, and SBTS delivers all coursework asynchronously without on-campus requirements. Student members of a Southern Baptist-affiliated church benefit from a 50% tuition discount.

Accreditation

SBTS is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10. Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio

Based in the titular city of Steubenville, Ohio, Franciscan University is a Roman Catholic-affiliated school that offers popular programs in philosophy, theology, and catechetics. The school offers additional degrees, including counseling, business, and education.

Franciscan’s online master’s in theology earns a place among the best in the nation. The program enrolled its first student in 1980. Beginning in 1989, the program requires all faculty members to take an oath of fidelity to the Roman Catholic magisterium. The program’s curriculum typically takes two years to complete, although students may take up to seven if necessary. All students choose a specialization in catechetics, research, or canon law. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and does not include a residency requirement.

Accreditation

Franciscan University of Steubenville is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

11. Saint Leo University Online

Saint Leo, Florida

A private, Roman Catholic-affiliated university, Saint Leo University owes its name to Pope Leo the Great and Pope Leo XII, who ruled the Vatican when the school opened at the turn of the 20th century. Saint Leo earns a place among the top Catholic universities in the nation, largely due to its slate of distance learning programs, including a master’s in theology.

The master’s program in theology at Saint Leo provides entirely online and blended learning options. Online courses generally deliver coursework synchronously through video conferencing, although courses also use tools such as discussion forums. The program’s 36-credit curriculum includes courses such as Christian ethics, philosophical foundations of theology, and the history of Christianity.

Accreditation

Saint Leo University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

12. Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie, Texas

Located in the suburb of Waxahachie, SAGU maintains an affiliation with the Assemblies of God and focuses on Bible study, church ministry, and liberal arts. The university offers several online programs, including an online master’s degree in theology.

The program awards a master’s in Bible and theology, offering thesis and nonthesis tracks. The program generally limits admission to the thesis track to students who plan to study theology at the doctoral level. SAGU provides flexibility and individualized attention in its online programs. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and does not include a residency requirement. It also maintains a small student-faculty ratio and gives students access to resources such as counseling, wellness services, and career centers.

Accreditation

SAGU is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

13. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Based in Point Breeze, Pennsylvania, RPTS is among the oldest seminaries in the nation, maintaining affiliation with the titular Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America since the early 19th century. Today, RPTS excels in distance learning and offers a master’s in theology online [PDF].

RPTS’s master’s in theology program typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. The program’s curriculum consists of 90 quarter hours and includes courses such as theological research and writing, modern church history, apologetics, and gospels.

All students in the program complete an integrative seminar as a capstone course. Students also choose a concentration in doctrinal and historical studies, systemic theology and church history, New Testament studies, Old Testament studies, or biblical counseling. RPTS delivers online coursework asynchronously through Moodle, and never requires students to visit campus.

Accreditation

RPTS is nationally accredited from the Association of Theological Schools.

14. St. John’s University

Queens, New York

One of New York City’s flagship universities, St. John’s operates its central campus in Queens, in addition to satellite centers in Paris and Ireland. The Roman Catholic-affiliated school offers several distance learning programs, including an online master’s degree in theology.

To earn admission to the master of arts program, all applicants must submit evidence of a bachelor’s degree with at least 24 credits in theology or a relevant field and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must also submit GRE scores.

Once admitted, students can complete coursework at their convenience. The theology program delivers all coursework asynchronously through Blackboard and never requires students to visit campus. Graduates of the program work in education, ministry, and other fields in locations as diverse as North America, Europe, South America, and Haiti.

Accreditation

St. John’s University is regionally accredited from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

15. The King’s University

Southlake, Texas

Originally founded in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, The King’s University opened its current campus in Southlake, Texas, in 2012 thanks to sponsorship from Gateway Church. The school focuses almost exclusively on Christianity-related degrees. TKU offers several programs online, including an online master’s in theology.

TKU delivers all program coursework asynchronously without any on-campus requirements. The program’s 48-credit curriculum divides coursework into three areas: theology/history, practical ministry studies, and biblical studies. Sample courses include Old and New Testament theology, ministry management, and the spirit-formed leader. The curriculum also includes a field project as a capstone experience.

Accreditation

The King’s University is nationally accredited from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

16. Whitworth University

Spokane, Washington

A private, Presbyterian-affiliated liberal arts school based out of Spokane, Washington, Whitworth began offering programs before World War I. The school now offers several of its strongest programs through distance learning, including a master’s in theology online.

Whitworth’s theology degree requires students to complete 36 credits, a process that usually takes 18–24 months. The 36 credits include 18 credits of core courses—including studies in Christian history, Christian spirituality, and New and Old Testament theology -- and 18 elective credits. The program runs on a cohort blended learning model, combining online, asynchronous coursework with a monthly on-campus residency in Spokane. The program offers four start dates throughout the academic year.

Accreditation

Whitworth University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

17. Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Founded by Christian media mogul Pat Robertson in the 1970s, Regent University is an evangelical school based in Virginia Beach. The school offers programs across several disciplines and enrolls many students in distance learning degrees, including an online master’s degree in theology.

Students who enroll in the online theology program at Regent choose between two tracks: biblical studies and Christian theology. In either case, students must complete a 48-credit curriculum, which usually takes 18–24 months to complete. Core courses include studies in biblical hermeneutics, church history, and the New and Old Testaments. All students write a master’s thesis as a capstone experience. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and never requires online students to visit campus.

Accreditation

Regent University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

18. Southeastern University

Lakeland, Florida

A private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Assemblies of God and based in Lakeland, Florida, Southeastern University originally opened as a Bible school. Southeastern now offers degrees in a variety of disciplines housed within six different colleges. Southeastern expanded its distance learning presence in recent years and offers a master’s in theology online.

The theology program requires students to complete 48 credits, including a three-credit thesis course. The curriculum also includes coursework in foundational theological areas such as philosophy and the Christian faith, New Testament literature, and homiletics. The program takes 2–4 years to complete, depending on how many courses students take per semester. For admission, students must submit evidence of a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and complete two prerequisite Greek courses.

Accreditation

Southeastern University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

19. University of Dallas

Irving, Texas

Known for its orthodoxy and praised by conservatives throughout history, the University of Dallas is a Catholic-affiliated school based in Irving that offers programs in the liberal arts, ministry, and business. The university offers distance learning in all three areas, including an online master’s degree in theology.

The theology program’s 37-credit curriculum includes 22 credits of core courses and 15 elective credits. Core courses include a graduate proseminar, systematic theology, moral theology, church history, and the Old and New Testaments. Students complete an annotated bibliography of texts they read during their core coursework as a cumulative/capstone experience. Students may pursue an optional concentration in biblical theology. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and never requires online students to visit campus.

Accreditation

The University of Dallas is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

20. Faith International University

Tacoma, Washington

Operating its central campus in Tacoma, Washington, Faith Seminary maintains a global reach, performing missionary work in Tonga and maintaining Korean and Chinese divisions. The school also extends its influence through distance learning and offers an online master’s degree in theology.

Students in Faith Seminary’s theology program choose one of three concentrations: interdisciplinary studies, New Testament, or apologetics. In each case, the curriculum consists of 72 credits. Students must complete 28 credits in their chosen concentration. Core courses include theological writing and terminology and introduction to biblical interpretation.

Faith Seminary delivers some courses entirely online through Canvas. In some cases, Faith uses pre-recorded lectures on DVDs or blended learning to deliver course materials. All applicants must submit evidence of a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7 and agree to Faith’s doctrinal statement, biblical conduct policy, and drug and alcohol policy.

Accreditation

Faith Seminary is nationally accredited from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

21. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

New Orleans, Louisiana

Focusing primarily on evangelism and missionary work, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is the first school created by the Southern Baptist Convention. The seminary’s reach extends beyond the Big Easy, as NOBTS operates undergraduate, graduate, and research centers in five different states.

The seminary also offers several online theology courses. Online students at NOBTS can pursue a master’s in theology, which prepares them for doctoral studies, or a master’s in theological studies, which provides them with a wide base of general theological knowledge. Students may also pursue master’s degrees in apologetics or divinity at NOBTS. In all cases, students can opt for entirely online, asynchronous coursework or a blended learning model.

Accreditation

NOBTS is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

22. Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Cromwell, Connecticut

A Roman Catholic-affiliated seminary based in Cromwell, Connecticut, Holy Apostles originally opened as an all-male school dedicated to training future Roman Catholic priests. The school since expanded its scope, admitting women and nonseminary students for the first time in the 1970s. The school offers several programs through distance learning, including an online master’s in theology.

The online theology program at Holy Apostles offers a lot of flexibility in terms of its curriculum and delivery method. The program does not include a residency requirement and delivers all online coursework asynchronously. Students benefit from numerous concentration options, including bioethics, apologetics, church history, general studies, dogmatic theory, moral theology, thomistic studies, and sacred scripture.

No matter their concentration, all students complete core courses in Christology and fundamental moral theology. Students complete a summative evaluation at the end of their studies, an assessment in the form of a thesis or comprehensive exam.

Accreditation

Holy Apostles is regionally accredited from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

23. St. Mary’s University

San Antonio, Texas

Originally founded by the Marianists in the mid-19th century, St. Mary’s University is the oldest Catholic-affiliated university in Texas. Operating its central campus in San Antonio, St. Mary’s reaches students around the nation through distance learning offerings, which include an online master’s degree in theology.

The theology program at St. Mary’s distinguishes itself in two primary ways: delivery method and course content. St. Mary’s delivers online courses synchronously through video conferencing, a rarity among distance learning programs. As such, prospective theology students looking for increased structure and accountability may find a good fit at St. Mary’s.

Additionally, the curriculum requires scripture courses that focus on close readings of specific sections of the Bible. Examples include courses in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke and the Acts. The program’s curriculum consists of 36 credits. All students must pass a comprehensive examination and complete a capstone, which can take the form of a thesis.

Accreditation

St. Mary’s University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

24. Multnomah University

Portland, Oregon

A nondenominational, Christian-affiliated school based in Portland, Oregon, Multnomah University also maintains a satellite center in Reno, Nevada. A group of ministers founded Multnomah in the 1930s on the basis that the Pacific Northwest needed a Bible college. Multnomah excels in distance learning and offers several of its strongest programs online, including an online master’s degree in theology.

Multnomah’s online theology program delivers all coursework asynchronously through Canvas and never requires students to visit campus. The program’s curriculum consists of 36 credits, although students who attended an accredited Christian university or Bible college can get up to 12 of those credits waived.

Most students enroll in the program part time, earning their degrees in three years by taking courses during the fall and spring semesters. Program highlights include a colloquium and courses in contemporary theologies and spiritual formation. Applicants must submit evidence of a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA.

Accreditation

Multnomah University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

25. Newman University

Wichita, Kansas

Originally founded by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in the 1930s, Newman University maintains a Roman Catholic affiliation to this day. The Wichita, Kansas, liberal arts school reaches students throughout the nation through distance learning. Newman offers several undergraduate and graduate programs online, including an online master’s degree in theology.

The theology master’s program prepares graduates for the workforce as opposed to doctoral education. Graduates can work as teachers in Catholic high schools, chaplains in hospitals, or church employees in diocesan offices or parishes. The program consists of 30 credits, with each course lasting eight weeks and online students taking two courses per term. The program includes optional on-campus intensives at the beginning of the term and delivers all coursework asynchronously through Blackboard. Coursework includes studies in moral theology, the Old Testament, and catechesis.

Accreditation

Newman University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

26. Moravian College

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Founded in the mid-18th century by the titular Moravians, Moravian College is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. The school was one of the first to accept women and teach courses to Native Americans in native languages. Today, the school focuses primarily on the liberal arts and offers a strong online master’s in theology program.

The theology program at Moravian runs on a blended learning model. Students must complete at least one-third of the 54 required credits on campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Most full-time students finish the program in two years. The curriculum includes courses such as Christian ethics, introduction to spiritual formation, and world religions. All students must write a master’s thesis to graduate. Some courses in the program are asynchronous, while others use a hybrid format that includes in-person sessions.

Accreditation

Moravian College is regionally accredited from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

27. Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, Colorado

Originally opened as the Denver Bible Institute, CCU since rebranded as an interdenominational Christian-affiliated liberal arts university. The school offers several degrees through distance learning, including an online master’s in theology.

CCU’s online theology program requires students to complete 39 credits, with each course lasting for five weeks. Students typically finish their degrees in two years of full-time study, although transfer students, who may transfer up to nine credits, can finish faster.

The program focuses on small class sizes, promoting close interaction between peers in asynchronous courses through tools such as discussion boards. Program courses include studies in apologetics, systematic theology, Christian history, and spiritual formation. Students complete a research project as a capstone experience and may complete an optional internship. All applicants to the program must possess an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5.

Accreditation

CCU is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

28. Northwest University

Kirkland, Washington

Located in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University originally opened in the 1930s as a Bible institute affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Northwest maintains that affiliation to this day, but also offers a wider variety of programs, including degrees in nursing, education, and business. The school offers several programs through distance learning, including an online master’s degree in theology.

Northwest’s theology curriculum consists of 39 credits, including courses such as Deuteronomy, entering the biblical narrative, pastoral care and human development, and spiritual formation. Most students finish the degree in two years of full-time study. The program does not include a thesis or capstone requirement. The program aims for flexibility, delivering all coursework asynchronously with no on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

Northwest University is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

29. Campbellsville University

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Located in the eponymous city of Campbellsville, Kentucky, Campbellsville University ended its original agreement with the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 2014, but still adheres to Baptist ideals. The university operates schools in art, education, and music, and offers several degrees through distance learning, including a master’s in theology online.

The program’s curriculum consists of 30 credits, or 10 courses. All students must choose a concentration in theological studies, biblical studies, or pastoral leadership and complete 18 credits in that field. The program delivers coursework asynchronously without on-campus requirements. Each course lasts for eight weeks, allowing students to graduate within two years of full-time study. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA do not need to submit GRE or MAT scores.

Accreditation

Campbellsville University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

30. Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary

Kansas City, Missouri

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Calvary University houses Calvary Theological Seminary, which offers master of arts and master of divinity degrees. The seminary offers three of its programs through distance learning, including an online master’s degree in theology.

Awarding an MA in Bible and theology, the theology master’s program requires students to earn 36 credits. Calvary delivers all online coursework asynchronously without any on-campus requirements. The program’s curriculum includes studies in systematic theology, the Old and New Testaments, and research methods. The program does not include a thesis or a capstone requirement. Students who graduated from a school with a doctrinal position similar to Calvary’s may apply to waive up to 15 required credits.

Accreditation

Calvary University and Calvary Theological Seminary are regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission.

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