The Best Schools for Studying the Bible

Looking for the right Bible college for you? Here are the best schools for studying the Bible.

Updated June 15, 2023

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A Bible college centers its curriculum on the Bible. You'll learn how to interpret the Bible and get a detailed understanding of its major books. You'll be able to earn your degree in 2-4 years. Bible colleges tend to be more cost-effective than other colleges. Students are required to align their values and actions to biblical faith.

While Bible colleges mainly prepare you for roles inside the church, such as a pastor, missionary or church director after graduation, you can also work in religious roles outside of the church setting. A chaplain, for instance, can work in prisons, hospitals, and the military.

Students can also study subjects like education, social work, and communications. They may go on to work in human services roles that are less religiously oriented, such as social work and counseling.

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The Best Bible Colleges

  1. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA

    Established in 1636, Harvard now enrolls more than 23,700 students on an annual basis. The university also provides free online courses through the HarvardX online platform.

    The Harvard Divinity School offers five degree programs, including the master of theological studies, master of divinity, master of theology, master of religion and public life, and doctor of philosophy. Students typically finish their master's degrees within one to three years, while doctorate students finish their courses within five to seven years.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts of records, three letters of recommendation, an updated resume, and a statement of purpose.

  2. Yale University

    New Haven, CT

    Since its founding in 1701, Yale blossomed into a large research university, recognized nationally and internationally. About 4,660 undergraduate students and 7,400 graduate students attend Yale every year.

    Yale Divinity School offers master's degrees in divinity, religion, and sacred theology, along with certificate programs in black church studies, educational leadership ministry, Lutheran studies, and united methodist studies. Yale allows students to cross enroll in courses and allows students the opportunity to complete dual degrees.

    Interested applicants must send over a completed application form, an academic writing sample, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts of records.

  3. University of Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    Founded in 1890, UChicago ranks among the top urban research universities in the country. UChicago offers 52 majors at the undergraduate level and six professional schools for graduate study.

    The University of Chicago Divinity School also offers areas of study in constructive studies, Buddhist studies, religion and the human sciences, Islamic studies, and religions in the Americas. UChicago's students take different classes across these areas of study and can pursue special courses.

    UChicago does not require domestic students to submit official academic records. However, all applicants must meet the minimum score requirements for the TOEFL and IELTS and submit letters of recommendation and a writing sample.

  4. Emory University

    Atlanta, GA

    Emory was founded in 1836 and now consists of two campuses in the city of Atlanta. The university enrolls more than 14,000 students in the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Emory's Graduate Division of Religion offers nine courses of study, including American religious cultures, ethics and society, Hebrew Bible, historical studies in theology and religion, person, community and religious life, and theological studies. All students participate in the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program as part of their study plan.

    Emory requires interested applicants to submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, an updated resume, and three letters of recommendation.

  5. Wheaton College

    Wheaton, IL

    Established in 1860, Wheaton now offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees and 18 graduate programs. Wheaton integrates a 10:1 student-faculty ratio and an average class size of 23 students.

    Wheaton's School of Biblical and Theological Studies provides students with degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Wheaton offers bachelor's degrees in biblical and theological studies and biblical archaeology, master's degrees in biblical exegesis, Christianity, and theology.

    Interested applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

  6. Saint Johns University

    Collegeville, MN

    With two campuses across the state of Minnesota, SJU offers more than 60 areas of study. All classes at SJU are taught by credentialed faculty members, as opposed to graduate assistants.

    The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at SJU offers a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and an advanced certificate in theology. SJU also provides students with the option to take an accelerated dual degree program and complete bachelor's and master's degrees in five years of full-time study.

    SJU requires all applicants to fill out the online application and submit all official transcripts of records from an accredited college or university.

  7. The University of the South

    Sewanee, TN

    Sewanee rolls out 38 majors, 44 minors, and 15 special programs in its academic line-up. The university also implements an excellent student-faculty ratio of 11:1, providing a welcoming environment for the teaching-learning process.

    Sewanee's School of Theology offers a major and a minor in religious studies. Students of this program learn intensive courses, including philosophy of religion, introduction to the Bible, introduction to Asian religions, gender and sex in the new testament, and methodologies in religious studies.

    All applicants must submit their official transcripts of records, two letters of recommendation, and a completed application form.

  8. Earlham College

    Richmond, IN

    Since its inception in 1847, Earlham consistently ranks among the best liberal arts institutions in the country. Earlham provides top-quality education through an excellent student-faculty ratio of 9:1.

    Earlham's School of Religion offers master's programs in divinity and ministry, religion, theopoetics and writing, and peace and social transformation. Earlham also offers certificate programs in spiritual exploration and formation, writing as a ministry, entrepreneurial ministry, and bi-vocational ministry.

    Interested applicants must complete the online application form, submit official post-secondary transcripts, and complete the essay within the Slate application system.

  9. Erskine College

    Due West, SC

    For over 180 years, Erskine developed a reputation as a first-rate Christian academic community. Erskine provides students with academic success resources, including supplemental instruction, writing services, and information technology support.

    Erskine's Bible and Religion program offers the Christian education track and the biblical and theological track. For students planning to continue their studies in the seminary, Erskine also offers the Accelerated Ministry Program.

    Erskine requires all applicants to fill out the online application and submit all official academic transcripts of records.

  10. Saint Vincent College

    Latrobe, PA

    Located in a 200-acre picturesque campus in Laurel Highlands, Saint Vincent enrolls more than 1,800 students every year. Saint Vincent offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, along with an 11:1 student-faculty ratio.

    The Theology Department at Saint Vincent offers a bachelor of arts degree in technology, along with more than 40 majors and minors. Graduates of Saint Vincent's theology program now work in the youth ministry, campus ministry, parish ministry, military chaplaincy, or teach as high school theology teachers.

    All applicants must complete a signed application form, submit official high school transcripts and SAT and/or ACT scores, and pay a $25 application fee.

What Is the Difference Between Bible Colleges vs. Christian Schools?

Christian colleges share some similarities with Bible colleges. Christian colleges center teaching from a Christian worldview, and Bible colleges heavily focus on a particular denomination's teachings. For this reason, all Bible colleges can be considered Christian schools.

But Bible colleges differ from Christian Schools in a few key ways. The main distinction between the two is that Bible colleges prepare you to do work in the religious sector, while Christian colleges provide an education that can apply outside of religious institutions.

While all Christian schools have at least some emphasis on religion and the Bible, some may only require one or two religiously oriented courses. Christian colleges can offer a wider range of courses — students may be able to find coursework in the sciences, mathematics, history, and philosophy.

Bible schools prepare people for ministry roles or other religiously-oriented jobs. They go in-depth on the Bible's teachings and more heavily incorporate them into the curriculum. Coursework includes topics on the Bible, missions, ministry, and theology.

Bible school curriculums also include areas at the intersection of faith and the professions. For example, degree offerings may also include areas like biblical counseling or music ministry. If you know you want a religiously oriented career path, Bible schools are a great option to prepare you.

How Much Does Bible College Cost?

The cost of Bible college depends on a number of factors, including whether you're an in-state or out-of-state student or live on or off campus. Bible colleges are also private institutions, which are generally more expensive than public colleges.

You can offset the cost of Bible college through scholarships, grants, and loans. You can also get denominational funding and informal church donations. While faith-based organizations and communities may not have enough cash to pay off all your debts, they might be more generous given that their money would go to you devoting yourself to your faith.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bible Colleges

Is Bible college a real degree?

Degrees from accredited colleges meet a third-party standard. A degree from any accredited Bible college is a real degree. With that said, there are some Bible colleges that don't have accreditation.

What's the difference between Bible College and Seminary?

While both Bible colleges and seminaries will prepare you for religious-based roles, they have some key differences. Bible colleges are undergraduate, while seminaries are graduate-level. Students can attend either Bible college or seminary school, but they can also attend both for a more immersive experience.

How long does it take to get a degree in Bible college?

Bible college degrees can take two to four years to complete, depending on if you pursue an Associate degree or Bachelor. There are also some accelerated programs. Other schools also offer 4+1 tracks, where you can earn your master's in Bible studies with just one additional year of study.

Can you get a job with a Bible degree?

You can get a job with a Bible degree. You can work in faith-based organizations or serve in faith-based roles at prisons, the military, and hospitals. A Bible degree demonstrates a level of devotion and ethics that is welcome in a wide range of careers.

Do you have to go to Bible College to be a pastor?

You do not necessarily need to go to Bible College to be a pastor, but some churches may require this. Keep in mind that throughout history, many religious leaders didn't even have the option to do so. Formal education can prepare you to be a pastor, but it is not the only avenue.

Page last reviewed June 14, 2023. All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the TBS Rankings Team.

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