The Best Schools for Studying the Bible

by TBS Staff

Updated September 7, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Bible College and Seminary Schools Are Increasing

Bible colleges are many and mixed, over 1000 strong and counting. With Christian colleges and universities added in, the number of schools for studying the Bible expands still further. Steering through such a huge field stof schools to find the right one for studying the Bible can be formidable. Below are 25 outstanding schools (and some honorable mentions) that deserve consideration for prospective students interested in studying the Bible.

The Best Schools for Bible Study

  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.

Best Programs

Bible Study Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Bible Study Programs

Bible Schools vs. Christian Schools

This list includes Bible schools as well as other schools with strong Bible programs. All the Bible schools on this list are also Christian schools, but not all Christian schools here are Bible schools. These two overlap a lot, but there are some important differences between them.

"Bible schools" are essentially specialty training schools in Bible. Meanwhile, liberal arts Christian schools like Biola, Liberty, or Regent, devote considerable time and energy towards a well-rounded education including science, math, history, literature, art, and so on. Christian schools can have great programs in Bible, but they just aren't as narrowly focused on Bible like Bible schools are. Students can graduate from liberal arts program with a degree outside of Bible or ministry, perhaps taking only one or two core classes in Bible. Liberal arts schools also tend to incorporate a lot of non-biblical influences from philosophy, science, literature, and culture studies. In some ways this variety can explore biblical implications and applications and can even enlighten one's reading of the biblical text.

Bible schools, on the other hand,  focus their curriculum on studying and understanding the Bible itself. These schools are not, generally, liberal arts schools (with the exception of Cedarville University), they are specialty schools. So, they lack a measure of breadth but they make up for it in depth, with more Bible classes, more Bible-centered study, and more institutional focus on the Bible. Students at these schools are required to take core Bible classes, even if they pick the most peripheral "non-biblical" major. Bible schools also tend to identify with a denomination or theological tradition. The result is that Bible colleges reserve the time and focus to dive deep and explore their school of thought. Bible schools, like Moody, Baptist Bible College, and Emmaus, identify most or all their degree programs within some field of Bible, missions, or ministry training.

Collectively, Christian schools and Bible schools serve a vital role in faith and learning in America, and many Christian colleges are expanding their reach with online degree programs. Historically, many Christian schools grew out of the spiritual morass left behind when traditionally Christian colleges—like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and William and Mary—veered a secular direction away from their Christian roots. And the Bible school movement specifically can be traced back largely to Dwight L. Moody and Moody Bible Institute. Christian and Bible schools gradually grew in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Today we find Christian and Bible schools steadily emerging as a counter-cultural trend empowering Bible-focused training in higher education.

Header Image Credit: SDI Productions | Getty Images

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