Best Online Master's in Theology Degrees

By Taneia Surles | Updated 8/19/2022
2020 Best Online Master's in Theology Badge

The 11 schools on this list are the best value options for obtaining an online master's program in theology based on alumni salaries and low tuition rates. Covenant Theological Seminary is ranked #1, offering a Master of Arts in Theological Studies for $14,175 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $76,900. In the #2 spot, Multnomah University offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies for only $11,160 per year, making it an affordable choice for distance learners who are looking for a high quality and affordable education.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Covenant Theological Seminary $14,175 $76,900
# 2 #2 Multnomah University $11,160 $71,900
# 3 #3 Regent University Online $7,500 $68,500
# 4 #4 Dallas Theological Seminary $5,310 $65,300
# 5 #5 Western Seminary $16,800 $68,200
# 6 #6 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary $9,085 $61,800
# 7 #7 Biola University $15,825 $64,200
# 8 #8 Liberty University $5,500 $58,300
# 9 #9 Luther Seminary $14,400 $59,600
# 10 #10 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary $17,552 $59,000
# 11 #11 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary $7,810 $51,300
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Theology Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Covenant Theological Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $14,175
  • Median Salary: $76,900
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Covenant Theological Seminary, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is founded on the teachings of the Presbyterian Church. The institution recently began offering a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS). The program requires 66 credit hours to complete. The courses are delivered entirely online, allowing working ministry professionals the flexibility to continue working full-time while completing their degrees. The program takes two to four years to finish and includes a capstone requirement and an optional thesis component. All students must pass a Bible Content Exam to meet graduation requirements. A Master of Arts in Theological Studies is also offered fully online. It is designed for those in church leadership positions or those who would like to gain a better understanding of their faith.

#2 Multnomah University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,160
  • Median Salary: $71,900
  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Multnomah University is a non-denominational Christian institution that is located in Portland, Oregon. The school strives to connect traditional biblical teachings with an arts and sciences curriculum. Individuals who seek professional positions within the ministry or careers in theological education may consider pursuing a Master of Arts in theological studies (MATS). This fully online program is a 48-credit, two-year commitment, though applicants who hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited Christian university may receive up to 12 transfer credits.

#3 Regent University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $7,500
  • Median Salary: $68,500
  • Locations: Virginia Beach (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Regent University Online provides a flexible option for working adults and parents who aspire to earn a master's degree in theology. Their online Master of Theology (Th.M), offered through Regent's School of Divinity, delivers a Christian-based curriculum that prepares individuals for positions in church leadership or more secular organizations. A Master of Arts in Practical Theology and a Master of Theological Studies are also available online. Regent University Online strives to combine a religious foundation through biblical doctrine with programs that focus on practical application. Classes are organized in eight-week and 15-week sessions and instructed by experienced practitioners in the field.

#4 Dallas Theological Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $5,310
  • Median Salary: $65,300
  • Locations: Dallas (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

An online Master of Biblical and Theological Studies (MBTS) is available through Dallas Theological Seminary's online campus. Distance education courses share the same instructors as on-campus courses. The fully online MBTS requires a total of 36 credit hours. Applicants are typically business professionals who aspire to serve in the workforce or church. Online students are welcome to attend on-campus intensives, where certain courses can be completed in three to five days. Students can select from a range of electives to customize their study.

#5 Western Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $16,800
  • Median Salary: $68,200
  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Western Seminary prepares its graduates to pursue leadership positions within the Christian church by providing a curriculum that balances academics with practical ministry. Students seeking a flexible online advanced degree may choose Western Seminary's Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. This 56-credit program focuses on biblical texts and Christian church history and can be completed in two years. Students will train to become ministry leaders and educators within the church or other Christian institutions. The program provides several specialization areas, including women's transformational leadership, chaplaincy, and biblical languages.

#6 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $9,085
  • Median Salary: $61,800
  • Locations: Kansas City (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers an online Master of Theological Studies degree program that can be completed entirely online. The standard degree requirements will explore biblical and theological knowledge and spiritual discipline. Students can choose a concentration in the following areas: Biblical Counseling, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Discipleship Ministries, Mission, Preaching and Pastoral Ministry, and Women’s Ministry. Each program option requires a total of 45 credits, comprised of 33 foundational core hours and 12 hours devoted to the emphasis area. Students can participate in practicums to gain real-world ministry experience during their education. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions, allowing students to begin their studies from seven different start dates throughout the year. Full course loads are offered during spring, summer, and fall semesters. Course materials are accessed through the Canvas learning management system, and students have the option to connect face-to-face with professors and peers during symposiums hosted by the school several times a year. Online resources include the college library, a student writing center, and academic advising. To apply, students must submit official transcripts and complete an online application form.

#7 Biola University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,825
  • Median Salary: $64,200
  • Locations: La Mirada (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Biola University offers an online Master of Arts Degree in Theology through its Talbot School of Theology. Students can choose to complete either a Greek or Non-Greek track. Both Master’s in Theology programs focus on biblical interpretation and include foundation courses that examine the Old and New Testaments. The 49-credit program can be completed in as little as two years but must be completed within five years. The program requires all students to complete a capstone seminar, which will be based on the student’s preferred topic. The school delivers online courses through the Canvas learning platform. To be considered for admission, applicants need to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from an accredited college with a minimum GPA of 3.0. They should have completed an accredited course in Old Testament survey and New Testament survey. Prospective students will need to submit a written statement about how the degree will support their career objectives along with their application. Students have online access to support resources, including librarians, disability services, and an assigned Success Coach to help them throughout their course of study.

#8 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,500
  • Median Salary: $58,300
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University offers several online master’s programs for students looking to expand their careers through an online theology degree. The Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs offer specializations in Theology, Biblical Studies, Christian Apologetics, Church History, Religion, Global Studies, and Homiletics. All specializations require 75 credits and can be completed in two years. The school also offers a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling, which offers specializations in areas like Discipleship and Church Ministry, Marriage and Family, Crisis Response and Trauma, Addictions and Recovery, and more. This program can be completed in an average of one and a half years. Students can choose to take classes full- or part-time, but degrees must be completed within ten years of their initial start date. Online courses follow an eight-week schedule and are delivered asynchronously. Students have access to academic advising, a student advocate office, and technology services. All students applying to the online master’s in theology degree programs will need to submit transcripts proving a completed bachelor’s degree.

#9 Luther Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $14,400
  • Median Salary: $59,600
  • Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Luther Seminary hosts a Master of Arts with a specialization in Systematic Theology that can be completed entirely online. The master’s in theology degree program concentrates on exploring diverse biblical and theological perspectives. Students who take on a full-time course load can finish the program in two years, and part-time students must complete the degree within five years. All students will be required to complete a noncredit capstone project in either writing or ministry. The concentration in Systematic Theology requires 16 courses, including six core classes, four elective courses, and specialized courses. Online courses follow the same schedule as traditional classes. Prospective students must submit proof of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Technical assistance is available during regular school hours through the help desk. Students can also virtually access the full library catalog and the Student Resource Center for career development resources, academic advising, and writing center support.

#10 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $17,552
  • Median Salary: $59,000
  • Locations: Louisville (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree with concentrations available in Intercultural Leadership and Lay Leadership. Both programs can be completed entirely online. The degree requires 48 credits, and the core curriculum aims to prepare graduates for a variety of ministry leadership roles. The Lay Leadership program focuses on serving locally, while the Intercultural Leadership program prepares students to serve abroad. Online learners will use the Canvas platform to access course materials and discussion forums and to receive and submit assignments. Online courses are offered in six eight-week terms. Coursework is typically divided into sections with weekly deadlines so students can login whenever it is best for their personal schedules. All applicants must submit official transcripts as well as an official endorsement and letter of recommendation from the local church where they are a member. Virtual learners have access to the Center for Student Success throughout their course of study to help with degree planning, meeting graduation requirements, and general support.

#11 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

  • Annual Tuition: $7,810
  • Median Salary: $51,300
  • Locations: New Orleans (LA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offers three options for students looking to expand their knowledge with an advanced education in theology. The 52-credit Master of Arts in Theology is ideal for students looking to serve as teachers, researchers, or writers in various fields within theological studies. It is also meant to prepare students to pursue a doctoral degree in biblical studies. The 44-credit Master of Theological Studies is available in both the English and Spanish languages. This program is designed for students looking to serve in ministry positions at local churches or organizations. The school offers both synchronous and asynchronous course schedules. Students can access materials, discussion boards, and assignments through the Blackboard learning platform. These advanced online theology degrees require students to have a bachelor's degree in religion or philosophy or significant coursework in these areas. Cumulative GPA and GRE scores will be used to determine admission eligibility.

Overview of a Master’s in Theology

An online master’s degree in theology may be an excellent fit for prospective students who have a passion for learning about religion. This program helps develop a student’s leadership, public speaking, critical thinking, and creativity skills.



Theology is a more academic approach to religion, as students will study different gods, deities, and religions based on a wide variety of belief systems. A master of theology online is designed for students who may be interested in pursuing a doctorate in the future

In addition, graduates with a master’s degree in theology online can have successful careers and make a decent living in this specialty. Some potential professions for a graduate of a theology master’s program include clergy, philosophy or religion professor, and even director of religious and educational activities.

Continue reading to learn more about this online graduate degree and whether a theology master's program is the right fit for you.

Can You Get an Online Degree in Theology?


Yes, you can obtain an online master's degree in theology. However, it’s recommended that you pursue an accredited institution. Accreditation refers to a higher education institution exceeding or meeting the minimum requirements and quality standards to deliver a postsecondary program. All of the programs listed across our site are accredited. However, you can always verify accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education using their search tool.

A bachelor’s degree, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, an essay, and official transcripts are typically the admission requirements to apply for a theology master's.

How Long Does a Masters in Theology Take?


As with most master's programs, prospective students can expect to complete an online master's theology program within two years. The programs typically require 36 credit hours, or 60 credit hours if the institution uses the quarter system. However, these reflect full-time credit hours, so it may take longer for part-time students to complete a master's of theology online program.

Check out our article about how to graduate college early if you're looking for an accelerated learning path.

Is Divinity the Same as Theology?


No, these terms vary slightly. Though, many often confuse the two fields of study. Divinity focuses on practicing ministry work and references only one God. On the other hand, theology is a more academic approach to religion, as students will study different gods, deities, and religions based on a wide variety of belief systems. A master of theology online is designed for students who may be interested in pursuing a doctorate in the future, while divinity students are striving for pastoral positions after graduation. However, it is important to note that theology master's students often pursue pastoral careers as well, though it’s more popular for divinity students to do so.

Common Courses for a Theology Master’s

Online theology master's programs provide a solid foundation to improve students' knowledge and expertise of various religions. Prospective students can expect to take courses that cover a range of cultural beliefs unless they choose a program with a Christian-based curriculum.

The following are a few examples of core classes required in most theology master's programs:

Introduction to Theology

This course dives into the topic of theology at a foundational level and how religions are embedded in all human cultures throughout the world. Prospective students can expect to explore various concepts of theology, including the diverse and complex roles that religion has played throughout history.

Hermeneutics

This coursework helps students better understand biblical scripture through literature, history, and scripture. At its completion, students should be able to identify principles and concepts within biblical scripture in order to understand and interpret its meaning.

Islam

The Quran continues to be an influential text across the world, as it's considered the most important and sacred text among those who practice Islam. You'll learn about the diversity of interpretations of Quranic texts in contemporary Muslim society.

Old Testament

In the course, students will explore the Old Testament. The historical, theological, and literary concepts of this religious scripture will be thoroughly examined. The books covered in this course include Daniel, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Genesis, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

Hinduism

In this course, faculty will assign readings of Hindu sacred texts, which may include hymns, narratives, and philosophical thought. You'll learn how to academically analyze these ancient scriptures in order to provide thoughtful interpretations and insights.

Faculty may also require students to complete a research methods course and undertake a research project. Often at the master's level, students are expected to write a thesis as well.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Theology?

There are a variety of career paths for a graduate of an online master's in theology program. Whether you take the academic route or become a clergy member in the ministry, theology master's programs help students pursue those opportunities.

Below are some common theology jobs for master's of theology graduates:

Clergy Member

Annual Median Salary: $49,720
Job Growth Rate: 1-5%

A clergy member conducts and implements some form of religious worship and can perform other religious behaviors associated with a specific denomination or faith. In addition, they may be responsible for providing moral and spiritual support to their church members. They may work outside of regular hours to host religious communities and educational events.

Director of Religious Activities and Education

Annual Median Salary: $46,980
Job Growth Rate: 1-5%

Directors of religious activities and education help plan, design, and implement educational events for a specific faith or denomination. Some of their responsibilities include recruiting volunteers for events, developing programs, and marketing their activities to the public. Those in this profession should have strong public speaking, outreach, and management skills. A major drawback with this profession is that only a bachelor’s degree is required most of the time. However, a master’s degree in theology may set you apart from other candidates.

Philosophy and Religion Teachers

Annual Median Salary: $77,610
Job Growth Rate: 10-15%

Becoming a philosophy and religion teacher in postsecondary education may be a good fit for those interested in a teaching career. These professions teach courses covering religion, theology, and philosophy. Creativity, training, and teaching are some of the skills needed to excel in this profession.

Historian

Annual Median Salary: $63,940
Job Growth Rate: 5%

Historians are experts who analyze, research, interpret, and write about history by reviewing historical documents and sources. These professionals often examine historical periods, geographical regions, or social occurrences. People interested in this career can expect to travel frequently to conduct research.

Can I Go to Seminary Without a Degree?

It depends. Some seminaries allow those without a degree to attend, while others require at least a bachelor’s degree. Although you may have some ministry experience, not having the academic credentials to match may hinder your ability to get into a seminary. Make sure that you look at each school’s admission requirements to determine whether a bachelor’s degree is required.

Is a Theology Degree Right For Me?

A master's in theology online is an excellent way to explore religious belief systems through an academic lens. However, as with any degree, before applying to a theology master's program, it’s essential to weigh the possible pros and cons that can ultimately help you decide if this program is right for you.

Potential Benefits

Fosters critical thinking, creativity, and cultural sensitivity
For those wanting to enhance their creativity and critical thinking skills, an online master’s in theology can help develop this skill set. Much of the coursework in a theology master’s program encourages students to be innovative thinkers when interpreting religions. In addition, prospective students can expect to increase their analytical and problem-solving skills as well as their cultural awareness during the program.

An excellent foundation for a doctorate in theology or divinity
Those who obtain a master's in theology degree may go on to pursue a doctorate. For example, a Doctorate in Divinity is often required to pursue a career as a pastor. With a master’s in theology, you’ll get a more in-depth understanding of religions, such as Christianity's scripture and history.

Potential Drawbacks

Lower-paying career paths
If you’re looking to make a six-figure salary with a theology master’s, this program may not be the best fit for you. For example, clergy — a popular career choice for theology graduates — earn an average salary of $49,720, according to the BLS. To earn a higher annual salary with a master’s degree in theology, you may need to obtain a doctorate degree.

Underrepresentation of women
For degrees and careers in theology, there is a major gender gap. In 2019, 64.8% of master’s degrees in theology were obtained by men, as compared to 35.2% obtained by women. There are more men in theology and divinity-related professions than women. Furthermore, in many Catholic churches, women are often not placed in authoritative positions.

Possible financial strain
If you don’t have any savings, grants, or scholarships to support your higher education, an online theology degree may become a financial hardship. While the yearly tuition for a master’s degree in theology online is much cheaper than other areas, it can still be pricey for many students. So be sure to apply for as much “free money” and financial aid as you can before taking out student loans.

Bottom Line

An online master's degree in theology may be a satisfactory path for those who want to investigate religions, or one religion in particular, on a deeper level. Prospective students can expect to take a range of courses that explore the historical concepts and literature of the Bible, and gain a better understanding of the interpretation and study of world religions. At the end of the program, students are expected to leave with enhanced knowledge and skills that allow them to excel in a theology career working in the ministry, at schools, or for research organizations.

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