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2022 Best Bachelor's in Theology Online Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 6/7/2022
2022 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Theology Badge

The list below highlights the best online bachelor’s degrees in theology based on alumni salary. Our methodology is designed to help students weigh their potential return on investment for attending specific programs.

Theology students learn to interpret the Bible according to the teachings of their chosen denomination. Graduates enter a variety of careers, becoming clergy members, teachers, community leaders, and nonprofit administrators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the most popular industry for theology graduates is the community and social services industry.

View our methodology for more details about rankings or learn more about OnlineU.

2022 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Theology Badge
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2022 Best Bachelor's in Theology Online Programs

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Nazarene Bible College 98 98 $39,270
# 2 #2 Multnomah University 93 $30,787
# 3 #3 Moody Bible Institute 92 $29,411
# 4 #4 Truett McConnell University 92 $29,337
# 5 #5 Regent University Online 90 $27,892
# 6 #6 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 90 $27,891
# 7 #7 Clarks Summit University 89 $26,861
# 8 #8 The Baptist College of Florida 88 $26,124

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Ranking Details

#1 Nazarene Bible College

  • Salary Score: 98
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,270
  • Locations: Colorado Springs (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Nazarene Bible College (NBC) is a private nonprofit offering a 120-credit-hour online Bachelor of Arts in Ministry, which has a bible and theology concentration. Students interested in pursuing ordination as an elder of the Church of Nazarene must take an additional 24 credit hours. Based on the college's affiliation with the Church of the Nazarene, faculty expect students to follow standards of conduct that align with church beliefs. Although, no denominational affiliation is required.

Through core courses, such as Biblical Interpretation, Pentateuch, and Global Evangelism, students develop an advanced understanding of biblical literature, strong exegetical skills, and a deep theological understanding applicable to contemporary ministry and social issues. Graduates are often prepared for work as pastors, deacons, ministers of church music, counselors, and educators.

#2 Multnomah University

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Median Starting Salary: $30,787
  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Multnomah University (MU) is a private nonprofit with a small student population that offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology. It requires 124 credit hours, which students typically complete in four years. This bachelor's program helps students develop critical thinking skills as they study historical and theological arguments and interpretations.

Students develop a deep understanding of the Bible and how its messages apply to contemporary life and thought. Core courses include Bible Study Methods; Text and Cannon; and Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. Upon graduating, students may feel prepared for positions as church leaders, teachers, counselors, evangelists, translators, social workers, and instructors. Additionally, students looking to continue their graduate studies upon the program's completion can do so.

#3 Moody Bible Institute

  • Salary Score: 92
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,411
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Moody Bible Institute (MBI) is a private, nonprofit, four-year institution offering bachelor's degrees in the following subjects: theological studies, biblical studies, and theology and cultural engagement. The theological and biblical studies program teaches students how to think theologically by engaging in reading assignments of biblical texts and examining scripture from past and present perspectives. On the other hand, students studying theology and cultural engagement take core courses, such as Theology and Culture and Theology in a Globalized World, while training to minister in multicultural, global contexts.

#4 Truett McConnell University

  • Salary Score: 92
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,337
  • Locations: Cleveland (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Truett McConnell University (TMU) is a private nonprofit offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies that students typically finish in four years. The rigorous academic environment of TMU allows students to mature in discipleship and scholarship, ultimately preparing them to serve their calling in life or pursue additional graduate or seminary education.

This online degree has the following concentration options: (1) Biblical and Theological Studies, (2) Missions, (3) Student Ministry, and (4) Women’s Studies. The most general concentration, Biblical and Theological Studies, focuses on biblical text, language skills, and practical ministry. It emphasizes ministry administration, Christian ethics, and special topics in Christian Studies. Common areas of study across concentrations include hermeneutics, old and new testament studies, history of Christianity, apologetics, world religions, and Biblical exposition.

#5 Regent University Online

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,892
  • Locations: Virginia Beach (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Regent University (RU) — a private, nonprofit, four-year institution — offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies requiring 120 credit hours. Courses occur in eight-week sessions. Through classes such as Principles of Hermeneutics & Theological Thinking, Study of the Prophets, and Acts of the Apostles, students develop a solid foundation in practical ministry, theology, and biblical studies as well as an appreciation for the history, context, and messages of the Bible.

At this Christian university, students develop their knowledge of the Bible and apply it to contemporary issues and other religions. Graduates can pursue careers in ministry roles, such as church administration, planting, teaching, pastoring, youth ministry, education, missions work, or human services. In addition, the curriculum aims to prepare students for pursuing further studies at seminary school if they wish.

#6 Southwestern Assemblies of God University

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,891
  • Locations: Waxahachie (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) — affiliated with the Assemblies of God — is a private, nonprofit, four-year institution offering online degree programs leading to either a bachelor's degree in theological studies or Bible and theology. SAGU requires that students are born-again Christians striving to live a Christian lifestyle.

The theological studies program focuses on research in scripture, philosophy, and theology to help students learn how to interpret the Bible. Alternatively, the Bible and theology program helps students explore topics related to biblical literature, apologetics, doctrine, Christian history, Christian ethics, and theology. Students in both programs learn Hebrew and Greek. Upon graduating, students may apply for any number of careers in Bible or church ministries.

#7 Clarks Summit University

  • Salary Score: 89
  • Median Starting Salary: $26,861
  • Locations: Clarks Summit (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Clarks Summit University (CSU) is a private nonprofit offering a 121-credit hour Bachelor of Science in Bible and Theology. The program takes four years to complete and teaches from a biblical worldview to prepare students for different leadership positions in the Baptist church. Students must be religiously affiliated with this denomination to achieve acceptance into the program.

World Religions, Elements of Greek I & II, and Theological Distinctives are among the program’s core courses. Graduates may go on to enter careers as church youth leaders, assistant pastors, and any number of other religious roles. Regardless of their subsequent professional or educational ambitions, CSU graduates are equipped to share scripture accurately and effectively in a variety of settings.

#8 The Baptist College of Florida

  • Salary Score: 88
  • Median Starting Salary: $26,124
  • Locations: Graceville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) is a private nonprofit offering a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Studies, both of which require 120 credit hours through online coursework.

The online program in Christian studies provides students with a solid theological foundation and a rich mix of doctrinal and practical coursework to prepare them for ministry vocations, including local church ministry and missions. BCF students in the ministry studies program learn everything from basic doctrine and biblical interpretation to local ministry principles through courses in missions, leadership, teaching, and preaching. Moreover, the online degree program offers five different academic and career concentrations: (1) Pastoral Ministry, (2) Biblical Studies, (3) Evangelism and Missions, (4) Church Staff Ministry, and (5) Student Ministry.

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Overview of Online Bachelor's Degrees in Theology

Bachelor's degrees in theology focus on exegesis, a critical reading and interpretation of the Bible. Students learn the history of the Bible's composition, the social and historical context behind biblical stories, and how to apply church teachings to their spiritual formation. Theology tends to be more focused than religious studies, which compares world religions and examines Christianity within its cultural and historical context.



Several private Christian colleges offer fully online degree programs in keeping with the increasing popularity of online education.

Undergraduates typically take 30-45 credit hours of general education and liberal arts courses alongside 75-90 credit hours of major classes and electives. Program faculty design most 120-credit bachelor's degrees to be completed in four years with a full-time schedule. Many programs culminate in a capstone or senior seminar that ties together everything the student has learned. Internships are uncommon for theology majors, but some schools require a period of community service for credit. For example, Manhattan Christian College students enroll in periodic Christian Service courses and must complete 16 hours each semester at an approved location.

Several private Christian colleges offer fully online degree programs in keeping with the increasing popularity of online education. Most of these programs feature asynchronous classes with no set meeting times, allowing students to complete coursework at any time during the week. Colleges deliver these courses over virtual learning management platforms, where students can interact in discussion forums, watch prerecorded lectures, and submit assignments digitally.

As a next step, students may be interested in learning about master's degrees in theology.

Common Courses

Despite differences among colleges and denominations, theology degrees often have several courses in common. These similarities stem from the desired learning outcomes for most bachelor's degrees in theology, which involves producing students who can critically read biblical texts and defend their positions on church doctrines. Depending on the school, theology majors may be able to choose a minor or concentration, such as Biblical languages, Christian leadership, or evangelism.

Below, we've listed some courses that students will likely encounter during their theology program.

Apologetics

Professors discuss how to defend theological arguments rhetorically. Enrollees read classic examples of Christian apologetics and learn to identify logical fallacies. Most classes require a final essay giving students an opportunity to defend a point of biblical interpretation.

Evangelism

This class describes Christian outreach around the world. Professors discuss biblical justifications for evangelism, global evangelical history, and current evangelical missions of the school's denomination. In addition, students learn about cultural sensitivity and the merits of a healthy debate when engaging in ministry.

Pauline Epistles

Many programs dedicate a whole course to the writings of St. Paul because they offer insight into early church history. Faculty may discuss the contested authorship of certain letters, Paul's recurring themes, and the social makeup of the intended audiences.

Scriptural Interpretation

This course helps theology students develop one of the discipline’s chief skills. They read key portions of the Old and New Testaments while learning the history of each part’s theological interpretation. Topics may include the social and cultural context of the stories, an analysis of themes across books, and current scriptural debates.

Writing and Research in Theology

Academic writing is a vital skill for theology students, and this course builds on skills learned in Apologetics and Scriptural Interpretation. Students practice formulating arguments and marshaling credible sources as support. They usually write at least three research papers per term.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Theology Degree

Accreditation is an important indication of a college's quality. Schools earn either regional or national accreditation by passing an independent organization’s series of reviews. Regional accreditation is necessary for students to receive federal financial aid, and regionally accredited schools usually only accept transfer credits from schools with the same credential.

Individual degree programs can also earn accreditation from special organizations in a particular discipline. The main accrediting body for theology is the Association of Theological Schools Commission on Accrediting. However, the ATS only accredits graduate programs. There is no programmatic accreditation available for bachelor's degree programs in theology, so undergraduates should just make sure their school is institutionally accredited. Those who want to pursue graduate studies after college should consider an ATS-accredited master's or doctoral degree. For graduate students, a degree from an accredited program might be advantageous during a job search and may be required for ordination in some denominations.

Are you unsure about pursuing a theology degree? Consider exploring other online bachelor's programs.

Cost of Online Theology Programs

Only private schools offer theology degrees, and these schools tend to be more expensive than public colleges. However, online degrees can sometimes be more affordable than campus-based programs, even at private schools.


We researched online tuition rates across bachelor's programs at 846 schools and discovered that the median annual tuition is $13,919. Although we don't have extensive data about theology programs specifically, the top 11 schools for theology have a median annual tuition rate of $14,124.

Tuition is only one portion of a degree's cost, so it's helpful to calculate all expenses by adding up tuition, fees, books, and supplies. The cost of fees varies by institution, but online students usually pay a technology or distance learning fee each term. However, not having to pay for institutional room and board can lead to considerable savings over the course of an online degree program.

Students should apply for as much financial aid as possible no matter what a school may cost. Scholarships and grants are their best options because they lower the total amount students owe and don't need to be repaid. Finding enough aid to cover all tuition and fees is challenging, but every dollar saved upfront leads to less student debt. Students must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and review their school's financial aid resources to discover options. The college's financial aid office can also be a helpful resource.

Applicants may be eager to find free degree options, but they should be wary of schools marketing themselves as completely free. These are typically unaccredited institutions that will limit a student's career outcomes. Prospective students should confirm a school's accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Keep in mind that OnlineU ranks schools by return on investment (ROI), which calculates both earnings and debt to help prospective students weigh a degree's worth. The cheapest degree isn’t necessarily the best investment over time and the most expensive degree doesn't guarantee the best outcomes.

Careers Options for Theological Studies Graduates

Many religious organizations hire graduates with a Christian education in theology. According to Burning Glass, a software analytics company, religious organizations posted 122,000 jobs in a 12-month period from 2020-2021. These employers include local churches and centralized church administrations, non-profit associations, lobbying firms, and parochial schools. An alumni's chosen denomination may influence an applicant’s ability to obtain certain jobs. For example, Baptist schools might prefer to hire administrators who share their faith.

Below, we've listed a few jobs that theology majors have secured. All salary and employment data comes from the BLS. Job outlook is through 2030.

Clergy Member
Median Annual Salary: $51,940
Job Growth Rate: 3%

Most Protestant denominations require clergy to earn a Master's in Divinity before they're ordained, and Catholic priests must attend several years of seminary training. However, some churches may ordain ministers who only hold bachelor's degrees. Prospective students should research the requirements for their denomination before committing to a theology degree program.

Fundraiser
Median Annual Salary: $58,360
Job Growth Rate: 16% growth, with 12,000 openings per year

Churches and Christian non-profits need persistent, resourceful fundraisers to stay in business. These employees spend their days finding and talking to donors, running social media campaigns, planning fundraising events, and updating budgets. Interested theology majors may want to spend some electives on courses in finance or accounting to make themselves more competitive.

Social and Community Service Manager
Median Annual Salary: $72,860
Job Growth Rate: 15% growth, with 18,300 openings per year

These administrators help create and oversee initiatives and programs for their employers. They can work for churches, non-profits, or companies with outreach and community service departments. Christian organizations may appreciate training in theology because it demonstrates dedication to the employer's values.

Teacher
Median Annual Salary: $33,030 (preschool), $47,250 (elementary school), $58,550 (high school)
Job Growth Rate: 18% (preschool), 7% (elementary school), 8% (middle and high school)

Like public-school educators, teachers at parochial schools help students learn a variety of subject matter. Unlike public-school teachers, they include religious discussion in their lessons at the preschool and elementary levels and may even become dedicated religion teachers at the middle and high school levels. Christian-school teachers don't have the same certification requirements as their public-school counterparts, but employers may require certifications from specialty organizations in their denomination.

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