The Best Online Doctorate in Theology Degree Programs

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An online theology degree can open the door to deeper spiritual understanding and a greater recognition of the role of religion in society.

Most theology programs in the U.S. explore Christianity, though theology is an interdisciplinary field, drawing from subjects like history, philosophy, and anthropology in its attempt to understand religious practices and beliefs.

Earning a Ph.D. in theology can increase career opportunities, giving graduates the credentials they need to find rewarding and lucrative careers helping others. Theology students gain universal skills like compassion, critical thinking, communication, analysis, and leadership.

Doctorate in Theology Programs 2020

# Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
# Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK
# Pacific School of Religion Berkeley, CA
# Regent University Virginia Beach, VA

A Ph.D. in theology provides a solid foundation for many career paths, including in clergy, research, management, translation, and writing. Many theology graduates also pursue college-level teaching. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that postsecondary teachers earn a median annual salary of $78,470 and can anticipate faster than average job growth between 2018-2028.

This guide discusses reasons to earn a Ph.D. in theology online, what students can expect from an online theology program, and possible careers to pursue after graduation. Prospective theology students can consult our alphabetic list of the best online doctorate in theology programs when making a decision about where to go to school.

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This guide includes everything you need to know about Doctorate in Theology programs. Click on a topic to learn more.

Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

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Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

A Christian liberal arts university founded in 1978, Regent University offers more than 135 on-campus and online programs. Regent's School of Divinity offers a doctor of philosophy in renewal theology designed for pastors, educators, and missionaries.

The mostly online doctor of theology requires a two-week, in-person residency on Regent's Virginia Beach campus each semester. Residencies include professional and academic development, orientations, fellowship opportunities, and coursework. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate and can start the program in spring, winter, or fall.

The 60-credit curriculum explores church history, biblical studies, and renewal theology and prepares graduates for leadership roles in churches across the world. The curriculum includes coursework, exams, and a dissertation. Core courses include advanced cosmogony and anthropology, renewal theology, and advanced hermeneutics. Ph.D. candidates must complete their dissertations from a renewal perspective. The program offers concentrations in biblical studies, Christian theology, church history, and practical theology.

Admission requirements include a master's in divinity or its equivalent from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.5 GPA. Applicants must demonstrate high academic achievement, spiritual maturity, and integrity. Prospective students must agree with Regent's mission statement and statement of faith. The program requires an academic writing sample, unofficial transcripts, and a recommendation from a clergy member. Students graduate in 4-7 years.

Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
93%
👏

End of list, bravo!

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Online Doctorate in Theology Degree Program Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided. We also considered school awards and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Doctorate in Theology?

A doctorate in theology typically covers advanced philosophical issues in Christian religion and theology. Students explore the Bible, church history, theological scholarship, and Christian leadership.

What Type of Degree Is Theology?

Theology programs award the following titles: doctor of theology, doctor of philosophy, doctor of ministry, and doctor of practical theology.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Theology?

Most doctor of theology programs take 2-7 years to complete and require 30-60 credits.

What Is the Best Online Theology School?

Many schools offer excellent online theology degrees. The best choice varies by student, depending on individual interests, career goals, cost, program length, and faculty.

Can I Study Theology Online?

Yes. Students can find many hybrid or completely online theology degrees. See below for a list of the best online theology programs.

What Kind of Jobs Can I Get With a Theology Degree?

Graduates of theology programs can become clergy professionals, college professors, writers and authors, interpreters and translators, and social and community service managers.

Is There a Ph.D. in Theology?

Yes. Many colleges offer Ph.D. in theology programs.

What Is a Doctoral Degree in Theology?

A doctorate in theology uses an academic perspective to explore the nature of the divine, religious beliefs and practices, and the role of religion in society. Theology can explore spiritual traditions throughout the world, but most theology Ph.D. programs in the U.S. study Christianity and the Bible. Typical theology Ph.D. students include current and aspiring clergy, individuals seeking spiritual development, and students with an academic interest in theology.

Theology doctoral programs vary in length, but most students graduate in 2-7 years.

Admission requirements for doctor of theology programs vary by school. Common requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some programs also require a master's degree in divinity or its equivalent from a regionally accredited university. A liberal arts bachelor's or master's degree with a focus on history or philosophy provides a strong foundation for studying theology at the doctoral level.

Some programs require applicants to submit GRE or MAT scores. Other admission requirements may include letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a resume, or proof of moral or spiritual character.

Theology doctoral programs vary in length, but most students graduate in 2-7 years. Common courses include reading advanced scriptural research, advanced hermeneutics, the history of Christian doctrine, and global trends in spirit-empowered Christianity. Some programs offer concentrations in areas like biblical studies, practical theology, and church history. Doctorates in theology develop communication, interpersonal, research, and leadership skills.

Theology Careers

A theology degree can provide a strong foundation for a variety of jobs, not just the ones listed below. Theology graduates gain critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills that are relevant to many fields.

The list below provides a selection of potential theology-related careers, including a few that might not immediately come to mind, like college professor, writer/author, and interpreter/translator. Some of the careers below require further study in other academic programs or certifications.

College Professors

College professors teach a variety of subjects at postsecondary institutions like universities, community colleges, and technical schools. They also conduct research, publish papers and books, develop instructional plans, assess student progress, and stay informed about changes in the field. Full-time, tenured professors typically devote more time to their research, while part-time or adjunct professors spend most of their time teaching students.

Most postsecondary teachers need a Ph.D. in their field, and many specialize in a subfield. Some colleges prefer professors with relevant work experience in their field of expertise. College professors typically need excellent critical thinking, writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills.

Median Annual Salary

$78,470

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

11%

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors create content for different types of media, like books, movies, blogs, websites, and magazines. They conduct research, write, revise, and work with editors. Writers and authors often specialize as content writers, biographers, bloggers, novelists, or copywriters.

Writers typically have at least a bachelor's degree. Many writers gain experience through both paid and unpaid internships or on-the-job training. They advance in their careers by building a reputation and publishing work. Many writers work for themselves. Important qualities include creativity, critical thinking, adaptability, and writing skills.

Median Annual Salary

$62,170

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

0%

Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and translators translate information from one language to another. Interpreters deal with spoken or sign language, while translators work with written language. These professionals need to speak, write, and read at least two languages fluently; in the United States, one of those languages is usually English. Interpreters and translators also use their cultural knowledge to ensure the accurate interpretation of the original message.

Professional interpreters and translators need at least a bachelor's degree and may need to earn an additional license or certification. These professionals can expect a strong job outlook because of increasing diversity and globalization.

Median Annual Salary

$49,930

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

19%

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee community organizations and social service programs. They also manage workers who provide these services. Duties vary by organization, but social and community service managers identify necessary services, analyze data, plan outreach activities, and write proposals for funding.

Social and community service managers usually need at least a bachelor's degree and relevant experience. Some positions require a master's degree. Important qualities for social and community service managers include communication, time-management, and problem-solving skills. An increasing elderly population and growing demand for mental health services and substance abuse treatment should drive job growth in this field.

Median Annual Salary

$65,320

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

13%

Clergy

Clergy professionals perform spiritual activities and conduct worship services for members of a religious denomination or faith. Job titles vary by religion; a few examples include rabbi, minister, priest, imam, and pastor. Clergy work for religious organizations, hospitals, home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, and schools, guiding and assisting members on moral and spiritual matters. Typical job duties include performing religious ceremonies, leading worship, offering counsel, and promoting spirituality.

Clergy professionals typically need at least a master's degree in a field like theology, but each religion establishes its own educational and training requirements. Clergy must be compassionate and skilled at communication, interpersonal relationships, and problem-solving.

Median Annual Salary

$48,990

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

8.2%

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