Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Updated November 11, 2022

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

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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.

The Best Online Theology Doctorate

#1 Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Grace College and Theological Seminary

  • Winona Lake, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online doctor of ministry in leadership program, offered by Grace College and Theological Seminary, ranks as a top program in the field. Degree-seekers benefit from flexible course options through the private institution. Doctoral students strengthen their research skills and present at academic conferences.

Learners complete doctoral coursework in the online theology program. After meeting coursework requirements, doctoral candidates conduct research and defend an original dissertation that contributes to the field. Professionals with a theology doctorate work in academia, research, and leadership roles.

Doctoral students qualify for several forms of financial aid at the accredited institution. Contact the ministry program to learn more about financial aid, enrollment options, and start dates.

Grace College and Theological Seminary at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 389

Online Master's Programs: 10

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,386

Average Tuition
In-state
$24,078
Out-of-state
$24,078
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
1,957
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online doctor of ministry in apologetics and theology program, offered by Liberty University, ranks as a top program in the field. The private university helps degree-seekers complete a doctorate in a flexible format. Doctoral students receive research support and participate in scholarly events.

In the online theology program, graduate learners complete advanced classes. The program also requires passing scores on a comprehensive examination and the successful defense of an original dissertation project. A doctorate in theology trains graduates for roles in research, academia, and leadership.

Doctoral students qualify for fellowships, scholarships, and federal financial aid programs at the accredited institution. Reach out to the theology program to learn more about transfer credit policies, research support, and admission requirements.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 78,511

Online Master's Programs: 67

Online Doctoral Programs: 9

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,980

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Oral Roberts University

  • Tulsa, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Ph.D. in theology program at Oral Roberts University offers a flexible route to a doctorate. At the private university, degree-seekers engage in online classes. Doctoral students strengthen their research skills and present in academic conferences.

In the online theology program, graduate learners complete advanced classes. After completing coursework, doctoral candidates conduct research for their dissertation or doctoral project. A doctorate in theology prepares graduates for careers in academia, research, and leadership.

Online doctoral students can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid. Reach out to the theology program to learn more about admission requirements.

Oral Roberts University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 622

Online Master's Programs: 3

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,960

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,998
Out-of-state
$28,998
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
4,160
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Pacific School of Religion

  • Berkeley, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The doctor of ministry program at Pacific School of Religion uses an online learning format. The private university provides flexible enrollment options to meet the needs of diverse degree-seekers. Doctoral students receive library access, research support, and career services.

In the online ministry program, learners take doctoral-level courses. After meeting coursework requirements, doctoral candidates pass a comprehensive examination and conduct research for an original dissertation or project. With a doctorate in theology, graduates pursue academic, research, and industry roles.

Online doctoral students at the accredited institution qualify for several forms of financial aid. Contact the ministry program to learn more about doctoral admission requirements.

Pacific School of Religion at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 45

Online Master's Programs: 1

Online Doctoral Programs: 1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $13,374

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
98
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools

#5 Best Online Doctorate in Theology Programs

Regent University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Ph.D. in renewal theology program at Regent University enrolls online learners. Degree-seekers benefit from the flexible enrollment options at the private university. Doctoral students participate in career advising and gain research skills.

In the online theology program, learners complete doctoral coursework and strengthen advanced skills. Doctoral candidates advance in the program by passing comprehensive exams and writing an original dissertation. As the terminal degree in theology, the program prepares graduates for academic, research, and industry positions.

Online doctoral students can pay for their degree with scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid. Contact the theology program for more information about financial aid and the admission process.

Regent University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,507

Online Master's Programs: 37

Online Doctoral Programs: 12

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 29-to-1

Graduate Tuition Rate: $15,552

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,220
Out-of-state
$17,220
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
10,365
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Best Online Doctorate

Online Theology Doctorate Ranking Guidelines

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

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, 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 AcademicInfluence.com, 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%

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Featured Online Theology Doctorates

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.

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 Salary: $78,470 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 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 Salary: $62,170 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 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.

Median Salary: $49,930 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 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.

Median Salary: $65,320 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 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 Salary: $48,990 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 8.2%

Frequently Asked Questions About Theology Doctorate Degrees

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.

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