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2023 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Theology Online

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/28/2023
2023 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.

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Theology Badge
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Online Theology Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Theology Online

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Nazarene Bible College 96 96 $39,270
# 2 #2 Multnomah University 73 $30,787
# 3 #3 Moody Bible Institute 66 $29,411
# 4 #4 Truett McConnell University 66 $29,337
# 5 #5 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 59 $27,891
# 6 #6 Regent University Online 59 $27,892
# 7 #7 Clarks Summit University 53 $26,861
# 8 #8 The Baptist College of Florida 50 $26,124

#1 Nazarene Bible College

  • Locations: Colorado Springs (CO)
  • Annual Tuition: $10,080
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: 88%
  • Salary Score: 96
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $39,270
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 696 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: N/A
  • Certificate Online: 257 enrolled

#2 Multnomah University

  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Annual Tuition: $27,050
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $11,460
  • Repayment Rate: 96%
  • Salary Score: 73
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $30,787
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Retention Rate: 52%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 69 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 71 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A

#3 Moody Bible Institute

  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Annual Tuition: $13,290
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $10,664
  • Repayment Rate: 100%
  • Salary Score: 66
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $29,411
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 674 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 389 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 19 enrolled

#4 Truett McConnell University

  • Locations: Cleveland (GA)
  • Annual Tuition: $21,122
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $14,165
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 66
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $29,337
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,278 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 29 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 1,068 enrolled

#5 Southwestern Assemblies of God University

  • Locations: Waxahachie (TX)
  • Annual Tuition: $19,834
  • Acceptance Rate: 28%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,924
  • Repayment Rate: 88%
  • Salary Score: 59
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $27,891
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 739 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 338 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 38 enrolled

#6 Regent University Online

  • Locations: Virginia Beach (VA)
  • Annual Tuition: $18,620
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $13,744
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • Salary Score: 59
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $27,892
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Recommend Rate: 35%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 3,146 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 5,092 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 284 enrolled

#7 Clarks Summit University

  • Locations: Clarks Summit (PA)
  • Annual Tuition: $26,082
  • Acceptance Rate: 55%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $15,496
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 53
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $26,861
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 238 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 235 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 20 enrolled

#8 The Baptist College of Florida

  • Locations: Graceville (FL)
  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%

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.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $7,642
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • Salary Score: 50
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $26,124
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 280 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 11 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 122 enrolled
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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 development. Theology tends to be more focused than religious studies, which compares world religions and examines Christianity within its cultural and historical context.

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 120-credit bachelor's degrees to take four years to finish with a full-time schedule. Many programs end with 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.

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 so that students can 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.

Common Theology Courses

Theology degrees often have several courses in common despite differences among colleges and denominations. This is because faculty want to produce 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 you might find in a theology bachelor's program:


Apologetics are defenses of theological arguments. Enrollees in this course read classic examples of Christian apologetics and learn to identify logical problems. Most classes require a final essay giving students an opportunity to defend a point of biblical interpretation.


This class describes Christian outreach around the world. Professors discuss biblical justifications for evangelism, global evangelical history, and the current evangelical missions of the school's denomination. Students also learn about cultural sensitivity and how to have respectful debates when evangelizing.

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 his audiences.

Scriptural Interpretation

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

Writing and Research in Theology

Academic writing is a vital skill for theology students. Students practice shaping arguments and gathering credible sources as support. They usually write at least three research papers per term.

Cost of Online Theology Programs

Only private schools offer theology degrees. These schools tend to be more expensive than public colleges. But online degrees can sometimes be more affordable than campus-based programs, even at private schools. 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. It's helpful to calculate all expenses by adding up tuition, fees, books, and supplies. The cost of fees differs by school but you'll usually pay a technology or distance learning fee each term as an online student. However, you may save a considerable amount by not needing to pay for institutional room and board.

You should apply for as much financial aid as possible no matter what a school costs. Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs are the best options because they lower the total amount you owe and don't need to be repaid. Finding enough aid to cover all tuition and fees is challenging. But every dollar you save upfront leads to less student loan debt in the future. 

You first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and review your school's financial aid resources to find opportunities. The college's financial aid office can also be a helpful resource.

You might be eager to find a free college degree, but be wary of schools marketing themselves as completely free. These are typically unaccredited institutions that will limit your career possibilities. 

You can review our list of the most affordable online Christian colleges to find low-cost degrees in theology or related majors.

Careers Options for Theological Studies Graduates

Many religious organizations hire graduates with a Christian education in theology. According to the analytics company Lightcast, 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth rates are projections for the 2021-2031 period.

Clergy Member

Median Annual Salary: $49,720
Job Growth: 4-7%

The clergy lead religious communities in prayer and worship. Most Protestant denominations require clergy to earn a Master of Divinity degree before they're ordained, and Catholic priests must attend several years of seminary training. But some churches might ordain ministers who only hold bachelor's degrees. Research the requirements for your denomination before committing to a theology degree program.


Median Annual Salary: $60,660
Job Growth: 11%

Churches and Christian charities need 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. You may want to spend some electives on courses in finance or accounting to make yourself more competitive for these roles.

Social and Community Service Manager

Median Annual Salary: $74,000
Job Growth: 12%

Social and community service managers help create and oversee initiatives and programs for their employers. They can work for churches, nonprofits, or companies with outreach and community service departments. Christian organizations may appreciate training in theology because it shows dedication to the employer's values.


Median Annual Salary: $61,350 (elementary), $61,320 (middle), and $61,820 (high)
Job Growth: 4% (elementary), 4% (middle), and 5% (high)

Like public-school educators, teachers at parochial schools help students learn a variety of subject matter. But they also include religious discussion in their lessons at the elementary school level and may even become dedicated religion teachers at the middle school 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.

Instead of immediately entering the workforce, you may be interested in one of the best online master's degrees in theology or the most affordable online master's degrees in theology as a next step. We also publish similar lists of the most affordable online master's degrees in religious studies and most affordable online master's degrees in Christian counseling.

What Else Should You Consider?

There's a lot to learn and think about when you're applying to college. Use the questions below to figure out what you're looking for so you can compare variables across degree programs.

Is this college accredited?

It's important to answer this question first because employers really only respect accredited institutions. Accreditation involves a thorough review of a school's faculty, curricula, and services. This makes it the best indication you have of a college's quality. You can find college accreditation statuses using the Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

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. But the ATS only accredits graduate programs. There is no programmatic accreditation available for bachelor's degree programs in theology, so you should just make sure your school is institutionally accredited.

Do I want to study online?

The answer depends on both your circumstances and your personality. You may prefer the flexibility of online learning to help balance school with work and other responsibilities. But not everyone learns well in isolation without the structure of campus visits and interaction of live classes.

What would my dream college offer?

Make a list of every variable you haven't already covered. You can then assign weights to each one and compare schools by how well they meet your needs. For example, you might want a college that offers a certain amount of financial aid, features a disability services office that works with online learners, and has a Biblical Greek concentration in its theology program.

FAQs About Theology Degrees

What Can You Do With a Theology Degree?

You can work a number of jobs in schools, businesses, churches, and nonprofit groups if you have a bachelor's degree in theology. Faith-based organizations might appreciate your devotion to religious education even if the degree doesn't contain much coursework on business administration. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Theology Degree?

Most colleges claim that their bachelor's degree programs take four years for full-time students to finish. But only 44% of college students finish in four years and another 20% graduate within a further two years. 

Is a Theology Degree Hard?

All college education is hard to some degree. A theology degree could require you to write critical analyses of difficult texts, learn dormant languages, or perform volunteer service in uncomfortable conditions. Some of these things may come easily but some might not.

Do You Need a Theology Degree to Be a Pastor?

Churches commonly require their clergy to hold either a bachelor's or master's degree in theology, divinity, or a related major. But church organizations are all different and some are larger and more bureaucratic than others. It's possible that some religions accept pastors without degrees in religious subjects.

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