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You may have been told never to talk politics or religion in polite company, but we here at Master’s Programs Guide have never shied away from the tough conversations. Not only should you talk religion, but also, we believe (pun intended), you should pursue an advanced degree in it!
Whether your goals are faith and ministry based, spiritual, or more comparative and cultural, a Religious Studies graduate degree can be an interesting and fulfilling pursuit. Just as there are many different faith traditions, there are many options within a religious studies degree. If ministry or direct service are your desire, you could seek a Master of Divinity (MDiv) or an MA in Theology or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Practice-based and usually requiring Field Education (Field Ed) and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in addition to coursework, these degrees can lead to work as a pastor, chaplain, youth minister, or faith-based counselor. Master of Arts in Comparative Religions or Religious Studies would be broader degrees that could serve to advance you academically or globally with possible professional careers in non-profit management, advocacy and activism, or education.
Particularly appealing, there are a wealth of reputable institutions offering their Religious Studies and similar degree online (and we’ve made note of the institutions and programs that are accredited through the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, which is the gold standard of theological accreditation), so there’s no need to uproot yourself and your family to earn your degree. And to help you on your journey, we’ve compiled our list of top-notch schools by utilizing our Master’s Programs Guide Core Methodology Criteria. So read on!
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: Providing a path both for the Biblically and/or theologically-educated student and the student with no previous academic experience in Bible studies, theology, or Church history, the Columbia International University MA in Theological Studies is achievable for either seasoned or nascent theologians. Housed in the Columbia Biblical Seminary (CBS) and provided entirely online through CIU Online, the 48-credit hour MA in Theological Studies degree offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with courses such as “Foundations of Spiritual Formation,” “Systematic Theology in Global Christianity,” and “Understanding Cultures and Worldviews.” Five concentration options allow students to focus on their chosen emphasis area—students choose from Bible Studies, Greek, Hebrew, Church History, or Theology. The online courses offered by CIU Online have won awards for their innovation, and students benefit not just from the artfully crafted virtual classes, but also from the CBS faculty members “who are practitioners of the subjects they teach and who can provide expert academic advising.”
When a local Sunday school teacher posed the dream to her prayer circle of a school to offer Bible classes for the resident mill workers in Columbia, South Carolina in 1918, that dream would grow to become Columbia International University. Opening in 1922 and officially established as Columbia Bible School in 1923, the institution changed to Columbia Bible College in 1929. Columbia International University since 1994, CIU is a Christian university currently enrolling over 1,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs and is regionally accredited Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#2. Iliff School of Theology
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: The interdisciplinary, two-year online MTS degree program at Iliff is crafted to provide students in pursuit of their doctoral degree with a solid theological and academic foundation, but the degree is also ideal for those who simply “would like to increase their personal understanding.” The flexible 72-credit hour program offers original and interesting class topics such as “Ethics of Neoliberalism and Globalization,” “Comparative Mysticism,” “Theological Anthropology,” and “Methods and Theories for Interpreting Biblical Texts,” and all students finish the MTS program with professional article-length thesis. All coursework is taught by the esteemed Iliff faculty, a group of professors who are diverse in religious backgrounds, country of origin, gender and race. The faculty’s wide-range of experiences and “extraordinary commitment to teaching and scholarship” shows through their dedication to nurturing and caring relationships with their students and the way they challenge “each student in ways textbooks and lectures cannot.” Individuals who are interested in an inclusive religious and rigorous academic experience, and who realize those two elements need not be exclusive, can read Iliff Stories for more information.
Established as part of Colorado Seminary (which would later become the University of Denver), Iliff School of Theology was founded in 1892. The Denver, Colorado seminary became incorporated as an independent theological institution in 1903 but has remained located next door to the University of Denver. One of thirteen United Methodist seminaries in the nation, Iliff has a current enrollment of over 300 students with many denominational backgrounds. A private graduate theological school, Iliff is accredited by American Association of Theological Schools and has regional accreditation from North Central Association of Colleges.
Program Details: The MA in Peace and Social Justice degree program at Claremont Lincoln University provides the trademarked Claremont Core® as well as a comprehensive Interfaith Action concentration. The 30-credit hour MA degree can be completed entirely online in just fifteen months, and in addition to the four core curriculum courses (Mindfulness, Dialogue, Collaboration, and Change), students participate in Interfaith classes such as “Power and Privilege in Self and Society,” “Interfaith Leadership in a Global Context,” and “Religion in the Public Sphere: Faith, Politics, & Rhetoric.” Boasting an incredibly diverse and accomplished faculty, with impressive credentials such as one faculty member serving as Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to the European Union and NATO and another being the “highest-ranking Muslim Chaplain in the United States Army,” CLU promises that students will be equipped with “the social, religious and political perspectives, collaborative engagement, and self-reflection skills . . . to become an interfaith ambassador.” Going beyond the degree, graduates of the program detail the success they have found professionally, as well as the continued support through the “long-lasting relationships” with CLU.
Claremont Lincoln University (CLU) is an online graduate school located in Claremont, California. Begun in 2008 when the Board of Claremont School of Theology envisioned a school in which members of diverse faiths could come together to study religion and its impact, and classes began three years later at the newly established institution. Offering multiple online master’s degrees in three disciplines (Organizational Leadership, Peace & Social Justice, and Social Impact), CLU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Online Master of Divinity
Program Details: The fully online MDiv degree program at Chicago Theological Seminary offers students a convenient, accessible program to meet their needs. By taking all classes online and completing Field Education and CPE requirements in the student’s home location, students can gain a degree taught by CTS’ “world-class faculty.” Mirroring the 75-credit hour on-campus MDiv program, the online MDiv is just as rigorous, with required classes like “Religion in North America,” “Systematic Theology,” and “Living into Our Commitments and Effecting Social Change.” Students can choose between four concentrations to customize their experience, with cutting edge focus area options in Chaplaincy Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Interreligious Engagement, and the Study of Black Faith & Life. The program is designed to be completed in three years, and equips students with the skills to provide “transformative religious leadership in the church and society.” In addition to the guidance of dedicated advisors, myCTS is an online resource that provides information and services to the CTS community, including all online students.
Holding an impressive array of institutional “firsts,” Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1855. The first theological school to require field education as part of its curriculum, to award a seminary degree to a woman, and to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a DDiv degree, among other notable firsts, CTS has long been at the forefront of social justice and theological education. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ, CTS joins ten other seminaries as a member of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools and is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools as well as the North Central Association.
Online Master of Arts in Global Leadership
Program Details: Through the Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, students can earn a Master or Global Leadership (MAGL) degree entirely or mostly online. Offered in the cohort format, students who begin the program in the spring can obtain the MAGL online with no residency requirements; fall cohort students are required to participate in two week-long, on-campus residencies. The 72-unit Fuller MAGL degree offers classes such as “Missional Engagement with Contemporary Culture,” “Lifelong Development,” and “Character, Community, & Leadership” to broaden their perspective and equip them with sound theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The MAGL degree is highly customizable—up to half of the degree units are comprised of the student’s choice of electives. Promising that students will be “stretched through theological teaching that is both scholastically rigorous and biblically grounded,” Fuller provides a cultivated, safe online environment that is a learning community replete with “honest dialogue and mutual care,” and the cohorts are guided by Fuller Theological Seminary Mentors who have both academic and international real-world experience.
Founded by radio evangelist Charles R. Fuller (and named after his father), Fuller Theological Seminary welcomed students in the fall of 1947 in Pasadena, California. In just over five years the enrollment grew from 39 seminarians to 250, and now three academic schools and a Center for Advanced Theological Studies serve 3,500 students. Marrying evangelism and intellectualism in its early years and through today, Fuller offers an unapologetically Christian and scholarly viewpoint. With accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), Fuller is also regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Theology
Program Details: Fuller’s online MA in Theology presents a convenient, flexible, entirely online theology degree program provided by “some of the world’s most influential scholar practitioners.” The “diverse learning community” is organized into cohorts and guided by the “world-class faculty.” The 80-unit MA in Theology degree (equivalent to 56-credit hours) requires coursework from three sections: “Integrative,” “Interpreting,” and “Theologizing.” Each student then chooses 28 units of electives to follow their own individualized academic interests or available cohorts constructed around fifteen possible focus areas, with dedicated emphasis choices like Biblical Justice, Islamic Studies, Global Arts and World Religions, or Youth, Family and Culture. The MAT degree at Fuller is developed to “nurture students’ spiritual, personal, and vocational formation,” as well as promoting “unmatched cultural, racial, and denominational diversity.” With digital library resources that number in the tens of thousands, students have access to the resources and research they need to pursue a doctoral degree if they so desire, and upon completion of the MAT degree will have built a strong “systematic theological framework while developing an understanding of the origin and growth of the Christian tradition.”
Enrolling 3,500 students from 90 different countries and over 100 denominations, Fuller Theological Seminary offers an evangelical and multidenominational approach to religious academia. Comprised of the Schools of Theology, Psychology, and Intercultural Studies, Fuller offers eighteen academic degree programs. Located in Pasadena, California and with additional campuses in California’s Orange County and the Bay area as well as Arizona, Texas, and Washington, Fuller has an alumni network of over 43,000. Fuller was established in 1947 and is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as well as ATS.
Online Master of Arts in Theology
Program Details: Offered online by Saint Leo WorldWide, the Master of Arts in Theology degree program at Saint Leo University provides an ecumenical landscape from the perspective of the Catholic religious tradition. A degree program that caters to students at any point in their career, the 36-credit hour Saint Leo MAT is presented through coursework and different virtual methods by the diverse, expert Saint Leo Department of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion faculty. Core classes are joined by the student’s choice of electives, with relevant topics such as “History of Catholic-Jewish Relations,” “Management/Human Resources for Ministry,” and “Spiritual Direction,” and all Saint Leo WorldWide online MAT students receive guidance and support from a dedicated Graduate Student Advisor for Theology. A collection of graduate testimonies provide prospective students with a glimpse of life after an online degree, and Saint Leo’s promise of providing “excellence in teaching and scholarly rigor in a student-centered manner” is evident in the many opportunities both during the pursuit of the degree and after graduation.
Saint Leo University, founded in 1889 as St. Leo’s College, is the oldest Roman Catholic institution of higher education in Florida. Just seven students enrolled at first, but now more than 16,000 students are enrolled at this private, coeducational liberal arts university. Main campus is in St. Leo, Florida, and over 50 academic degree programs are provided through three colleges. Saint Leo is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: George Fox University’s Portland Seminary provides an online MA in Theological Studies for students who know they will go on for further doctoral work. The 56-credit hour hybrid online George Fox MATS degree program starts with the new student orientation on-campus: WaterFront is a three-day immersive event that introduces students to one another and to the faculty who will serve as their educational guides. The learned and experienced Portland Seminary faculty are impressive, and offer courses ranging from “Interpreting the New Testament: Use and Abuse of the Bible” to “World Religions and Christian Thought” to “Knowing Self, Knowing God.” Four concentration tracks are offered: Biblical Studies, Christian History and Theology, Creation Care, and Intercultural Studies. Students will come to campus for intensive experiences each semester called BridgeWeek—on-campus residencies serve to build the bond among students and enrich the academic experience for online students. These relationships translate into success: prospective students can read of the journeys of past Portland Seminary students after graduation.
George Fox University was started by pioneering evangelical Quakers in the Chehalem Valley of Oregon in 1885. Originally the Friends Pacific Academy, the school transitioned to Pacific College in 1891. Renamed George Fox College in 1949 (after the founder of the Quaker movement), the institution became a university in 1996 when it merged with Western Evangelical Seminary, and this private Christian university located in Newberg, Oregon currently enrolls over 4,000 students. George Fox is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and the Portland Seminary is accredited by the ATS.
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: Through the Ann & Joe O. Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas, students can earn an MTS degree entirely online. The 37-credit hour program includes classes such as “Church History” and “Theological Reflection,” and students can opt for a concentration in Biblical Theology (electives are predetermined if this option is followed). Electives are either chosen from the Neuhoff School of Ministry’s selection of courses, or, with permission from the Dean, students can seek out courses offered by the College of Business of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts. The UD Neuhoff School of Ministry faculty have a long list of accomplishments and recognition in which they “have distinguished themselves through their ministerial practice and academic careers.” In addition to the support and guidance offered by the faculty, online graduate ministry students are assigned a personal faculty advisor to help them with “course and career development planning,” and past student testimonials attest that the faculty are both caring and engaged in each student’s personal and academic journey.
University of Dallas is a private Roman Catholic liberal arts institution located ten miles from downtown Dallas in Irving, Texas. Established in 1956 with an earlier charter, UD is comprised of four academic schools and colleges and currently enrolls over 3,000 coeducational students. With a dedication to “the pursuit of wisdom, of truth, and of virtue as the proper and primary ends of education,” University of Dallas has regional accreditation provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
#10. Hartford Seminary
Online Master of Arts in Religious Studies (with optional Islamic Chaplaincy Program)
Program Details: The MA in Religious Studies degree program at Hartford Seminary is a fully online, open, ecumenical offering for students “of all backgrounds to deepen and broaden their faith understandings” in a way that allows them to be applied to their professional and daily lives. Once admitted to the 48-credit hour program, all students are assigned a Hartford Seminary faculty advisor to help them devise their personalized Program of Study. In addition to the seven core areas of coursework, which cover Scripture, Theology, Ethics, Religion and Society, History, Arts of Ministry, and Spirituality, Liturgy, Worship, students choose from one of five focused areas of study in Biblical Studies, Islamic Studies/Christian-Muslim Relations, Spirituality, Theology and Ethics, or Religious Studies. Additionally, students can opt for the 72-credit hour Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary, which builds on the Religious Studies degree to further the focused study in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and is “recognized as a Master of Divinity equivalent by the Association of Theological Schools.”
Begun by ministers of the Congregational denominations in 1833, the Theological Institute of Connecticut would move from its original location to Hartford, Connecticut in 1865 and become Hartford Theological Seminary in 1885. In a bold move for the time, the school voted to allow women to enroll in 1889—thus making Hartford the first seminary in the nation to do so. Offering a non-denominational and multifaith environment, Hartford Seminary (the name of the institution since 1981) is a member of the Boston Theological Institute and dually accredited by the ATS and the New England Associations of Schools & Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Religious Studies
Program Details: The two-year, thesis track MA in Religious Studies degree program at Chicago Theological Seminary is a fully online scholarly program that prepares students for theological or ministerial service or further doctoral study. With a keen focus on “religious traditions, theology and ethics,” the 48-credit hour degree program requires courses such as “History of Christian Thought,” “Interpreting the Gospels,” and “Global Sensitivity in Ministry.” Students have up to five years to complete the degree, and a final Master’s Thesis culminates the program. The distinguished CTS faculty are diverse in their faith traditions as well as their experience, and provide thorough and relevant coursework to the MA students. Also ideal for those who “simply wish to study theology and religion without the aim of entering professional ministry,” the MA in Religious Studies degree enables students to choose ten electives in order to focus on their greatest theological interests. For prospective students who are searching for their particular path, a series of CTS Leaders For The Next Stories allows insight into the life work and journeys of current and past students.
A seminary of the United Church of Christ (but also offering specific coursework for students seeking ordination within the United Methodist or Metropolitan Community Churches), Chicago Theological Seminary is an inclusive, ecumenical Christian institution. Founded in 1855, CTS is the oldest institution of higher education in Chicago, Illinois and one of the eleven schools in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. CTS students can participate in classes at any of the other seminaries, as well as at the University of Chicago and its Divinity School. A private institution, CTS holds both institutional and regional accreditation.
Online Master of Jewish Studies
Program Details: The Messianic Jewish Theological Institute provides a 54-credit hour Master of Jewish Studies degree program for students of any background who desire “a broad exposure to Jewish Studies in a Messianic Jewish context.” Offered entirely online and very affordable, the MJS program can be completed in two years. The MJTI faculty bring impressive credentials and “decades of combined ministry and educational experience” to the virtual classroom with required core classes such as “Tanakh: The Beginnings of Judaism and the Jewish People,” “Toward a Messianic Jewish Communal Ethic,” and “Jewish-Christian Relations in Historical Context.” Students choose eighteen-credit hours of electives under the guidance of an advisor, and all electives fall within one of four categories: Scripture, Rabbinic Writings, Theology, and General electives. Two online MJTI Certificate Tracks allow for customization along with the MJS degree or individually—students can choose an Introduction to Messianic Jewish Studies Certificate or a Certificate in Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Both certificates tracks are comprised of three classes and can be completed in one year.
Established in 2002 by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) is located in San Diego, California. Offering online and distance education, MJTI seeks to serve several purposes and visions. Founded as a Messianic Jewish School, MJTI offers a Prophetic Sign as a center of both Vision and Dialogue and as an International Learning Community. Open to students of any faith, MJTI is “not accredited at this time but . . . exploring that process.”
#13. Graceland University
Online Master of Arts in Religion
Program Details: Graceland University’s Community of Christ Seminary offers an online MA in Religion degree program that prepares students for either ministry within the Christian faith tradition or further doctoral work. The 30-credit hour program requires a one-week face-to-face component on-campus each semester, with the remainder of courses entirely online. An inclusive, ecumenical community, students participate together in classes such as “Community of Christ History and Scripture,” “Contemporary Culture and Theologies,” and “History of Christian Thought.” Faculty are practitioners, scholars, and theologians, and are passionate about “guiding students into informed, open-ended encounters with texts from prophets, theologians, and mystics.” Creating scholars out of students, Community of Christ Seminary allows space for students to produce and display their scholarly work. Called Graceland’s Restoration Studies, the goal of the scholarly work promotes “universal and interfaith dialogue for the sake of greater understanding, restoration and healing of the world.”
Graceland College was the original name of Graceland University, and it was established in 1895 by the Community of Christ church. Located in Lamoni, Iowa, the school was coeducational from the beginning, and eighteen men and women enrolled initially. An additional campus in Independence, Missouri was added in 1910, and other satellite campuses have sprung up in both states. This private liberal arts institution gained university status in 2000, and now nearly 2,500 students are enrolled in more than 50 academic degree programs. The Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to Graceland University.
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: Offering a compact yet rigorous online degree experience, Southwestern’s fully online MTS program requires just 36-credit hours. Providing a foundational education in theology, Bible studies and church history, students participate in a “summative evaluation” to finish the program. One unique element of the Southwestern online MTS program is the opportunity to complete it entirely in Spanish, and for students who desire an additional focus in their studies, the Southwestern MTS with a concentration in Cross-cultural Missions (MTS + Missions). Students of the MTS + Missions program add an additional nine-credit hours to the MTS degree and take classes covering “world religions and cross-cultural ethics.” The MTS degree is housed within the School of Theology and offered online through Southwestern Online, and prospective students can examine resources provided by the school to determine their abilities to thrive as an online student. All coursework is taught by the “world-class faculty” in the Southwestern School of Theology, and students can learn from their expertise.
Founded on the campus of Baylor University in 1908 as a department of theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary found its permanent campus site in Fort Worth, Texas in 1910. Southwestern has eight academic schools that offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees either on-campus or online, and to date Southwestern Seminary has graduated just under 45,000 students and currently serves over 3,000 enrolled students. In 1925 the Southern Baptist Convention took over leadership, and accreditation comes from both the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Religious Studies
Program Details: Located in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and provided online through Athens State Online, Athens State’s online MA in Religious Studies program is “designed to promote learning, critical thinking, and research in an open and honest environment.” Students can guide the course of their education by choosing between a Thesis and a Non-Thesis track. The 36-credit hour degree program provides an academic study of major world religions in a nondenominational setting and is ideal for students who want to either pursue a doctoral degree (thesis track) or professional leadership in a faith-based organization or non-profit (non-thesis). For non-thesis students, the curriculum includes a Religion Project, twelve-credit hours towards a focus area, and three additional required courses (“Leading Change in Faith Communities and Other Non-Profits,” “Social Change and Transformational Leadership,” “Seminar in Leadership and Community Service”). Religious studies core courses cover topics like “Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha” and “Interpreting the Text,” and the three focus areas allow for degree customization (students can choose from Biblical Studies, History of Religions, and Theology).
Athens State University has gone through many name changes, becoming a university in 1998. Begun as Athens Female Academy in 1822 and located in Athens, Alabama, Athens State became a public institution in 1974. Transitioning to coeducational status in 1931, Athens State houses three academic colleges and offers 33 advanced degrees. Over 3,500 students are currently enrolled in this senior college, and Athens State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Divinity
Program Details: Students of theology who want to either pastor a church or further their education with a doctoral degree have an online MDiv option through the Northwestern University College of Graduate, Online & Adult Learning. The 76-credit hour MDiv provides a solid academic foundation of Biblical Studies, Hermeneutics, and Theological Studies coupled with Practical Ministry coursework and a Field Experience. Students can round out their MDiv degree with electives or one of six emphasis areas: Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, Clinical Pastoral Education, Organizational Leadership, Human Services, or Educational Studies. Classes are comprehensive, and cover topics ranging from “Original Languages for Biblical Study” to “Ethics” to “Ministering Culturally and Globally.” The program is taught by professors who are “theologians and ministry practitioners themselves,” and many of whom have been called upon internationally as biblical experts. Online students can access a plethora of Northwestern Online Resources, such as Career Development Videos, and support continues when students graduate and become alums.
Established as the Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School in 1902, the University of Northwestern (UNW) first held classes at the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After growth and renovation, Northwestern moved to Roseville, Minnesota (located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul) in 1972. A private, Christian liberal arts university, Northwestern houses four colleges and four schools, and nearly 3,500 students are currently enrolled. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, UNW is a charter member of the Association of Christian Schools International.
Online Master of Arts
Program Details: Providing a mostly online experience, Bethany Seminary’s Master of Arts degree can be ideal for students who are “feeling the call to prepare for ministry or further study but are unable to relocate.” The 54-credit hour MA degree program requires six of the eighteen classes to be on-campus, but through Bethany’s online Bethany’s online MA Connections track students can plan how they incorporate their on-campus time within their online program. The MA degree curriculum prepares students either for further doctoral work or employment with faith-based organizations, and offers five areas of concentration to customize the program: students choose from a specialization in Biblical Studies, Brethren Studies, Historical Studies, Peace Studies, or Theological Studies. Based on the student’s choice of concentration, a final thesis or portfolio culminates the degree. As a peace church tradition seminary, the course offerings are diverse in their offerings: students have choices ranging from “Quaker Process” to “Anger, Shame, and Guilt” and “History of Friends Peace Witness” to “Images of God.” Taking care of the “entire Bethany student body,” Bethany provides a Student Services portal to address the needs of all students.
Founded as a Church of the Brethren institution of higher education, Bethany Theological Seminary started in 1905 as Bethany Bible School. The first classes were attended by twelve students in the home of one of the founders on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Gaining accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools in 1940, the school moved first to Oak Brook, Illinois in 1957 and then Richmond, Indiana in 1992. The move to Indiana created a stronger partnership with the Earlham School of Religion, a Quaker school. In addition to being ATS accredited, Bethany has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1971.
#18. Gonzaga University
Online Master of Arts in Theology & Leadership
Program Details: Offering a Jesuit education, with it’s whole-person focus, the Gonzaga MA in Theology and Leadership degree curriculum provides a well-rounded program with a “strong theology core” as well as a focus on Ignatian spirituality. Eleven courses are accessible entirely online (with core coursework and electives such as “Leadership and Diversity” and “Listen, Discern, Decide” available), and two summer on-campus immersions serve to enhance the Gonzaga experience. All coursework is provided by the renowned Gonzaga faculty members, and personal stories from current and past students reinforce the passion and dedication that the program exudes. The program is “ecumenical and inclusive” and not just for students professing a Catholic Christian faith—formatted as a cohort program, students work together in groups of 20 to 24 and provide support to one another. Gonzaga MA in Theology & Leadership Info Session Webinars are offered periodically to provide information and guidance for prospective students, and admitted students can expect continued guidance and assistance through specific online student services.
Joseph Cataldo, a Jesuit priest, established Gonzaga University (originally Gonzaga College) in Spokane, Washington in 1881. The institution was founded to train men to become priests and named for Jesuit saint Aloysius de Gonzaga. The first classes would begin in 1887 with eighteen students, and by 1912 university status was achieved. Gonzaga currently enrolls more than 7,500 coeducational students in seven schools and colleges, offering more than 100 academic degrees. One of the 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education in the US, Gonzaga is a private Catholic university regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online Master of Divinity
Program Details: The Online MDiv at Iliff School of Theology is provided in a hybrid online format through JOURNEY at Iliff. Students are part of a cohort together—coursework is mostly online, with occasion on-campus Gathering Days to provide connection and in-person classes. The Iliff MDiv is a three-year program that can lead students to careers in ministry, non-profit leadership and advocacy, or academia. A diverse 52-credit hour curriculum offers six core areas (Comparative Religious Traditions, Sacred Texts, Social/Contextual Analysis, Historical Development/Exploration of Religious Traditions, Constructive Theology, and Theology and Religious Practices) from which to choose the majority of the coursework, and classes such as “Media, Religion, and Culture,” “Feminist Theology,” and “Ancient and Emerging Practices.” Students can enroll full or part-time, and the JOURNEY program has accreditation through the Association of Theological Schools. Prospective students can read through JOURNEY student success stories to hear the diversity or their journeys, as well as the common benefits they all found in the MDiv program at Iliff.
Founded in 1892 with a donation from Elizabeth Iliff Warren in honor of her late husband, the Iliff School of Theology was established as a theological school in association with the University of Denver. The School was located in Denver, Colorado just adjacent to the University, and even though Iliff gained institutional independence in 1903, it has remained at the original site. Guided by core values that align with the strong relationship Iliff shares with the United Methodist Church, Iliff is an inclusive and diverse institution dedicated to peace and equality. Iliff is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges.
#20. Fordham University
Online Master of Arts Christian Spirituality
Program Details: Located in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE), the Fordham University online MA in Christian Spirituality degree program is available entirely online. A foundational degree that can lead to a career in ministry or teaching, the online MA in Christian Spirituality offers three degree concentrations to help customize the student’s experience. Students can choose to focus in Spiritual Direction, Research, or pursue a Generalist degree. For students who desire a life of ministry, the Spiritual Direction track offers coursework such as “Methods in Christian Spirituality” and “Discernment in Christian Tradition” to help prepare them to serve in a church or faith-based setting. The Research track requires classes focusing on Christology and Languages, as well as the completion of a final Master’s thesis. The Generalist track allows a broader approach and requires a final comprehensive exam (as does the Spiritual Direction track). Fordham GRE student resources, as well as the expert faculty members, provide support and services to help students thrive.
Established as St. John’s College in 1841, Fordham University is located in New York, New York. Considered a “daring and dangerous undertaking,” the school was founded by John Hughes, the future Archbishop of New York. Five years after it was founded, the school was sold to the Jesuits and is now known as “The Jesuit University of New York.” With nine academic schools and a student enrollment of more than 16,000 across five campuses and online, Fordham is a private Jesuit research university with regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Arts in Islamic Studies and Leadership
Program Details: The two-year, 48-unit MA in Islamic Studies and Leadership program at Bayan Claremont provides a unique and comprehensive degree in a mostly-online format. Students participate in on-campus residencies each semester and engage in a rigorous program that will equip them “with a firm grounding in Islamic thought.” Classes cover topics such as “Abrahamic Faiths in Conversation,” “The Quran: Composition, Collection, and Teachings,” and “Muslim Spirituality Among the Religions of the World,” and all students finish the program with a final thesis or culminating project. The impressive Bayan Claremont faculty come from a variety of backgrounds and have extensive experience both studying and practicing Islam and impart to their students the knowledge and skills to become professional religious leaders, governmental consultants, and grassroots organizers. For students who are not sure if they desire a master’s degree, there are Bayan Certificates in either Islamic Education or Islamic Studies and Leadership. Both certificates are twelve-units, and depending upon the choices in courses, can be completed entirely online.
A graduate school at the Claremont School of Theology, Bayan Claremont opened in 2011 in Claremont, California. Offering “graduate masters and doctorate level degrees in various fields of Islamic religious sciences,” Bayan enjoys a healthy relationship with other theological schools nearby—particularly the Claremont School of Theology, the University of the West (a Buddhist school), and the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. Institutionally part of the Claremont School of Theology, Bayan is fully accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Online Master of Divinity in Islamic Chaplaincy
Program Details: For students who want to become chaplains within the context of their Islamic faith, Bayan Claremont offers a new online MDIv in Islamic Chaplaincy in partnership with Chicago Theological Seminary. Graduates of the program will be guided to cultivate “practical skills in spiritual care, cultural sensitivity, religious leadership, and chaplaincy” and can go on to work in a variety of chaplaincy settings. The 75-unit MDiv program can be completed in three years—students engage in classes mostly online, with one two-week residency required each semester. As with most MDiv program, Bayan students must complete Clinical Pastoral Education and a Field Education placement, and classes range from “Interreligious Dialogue & Leadership” to “History of Islam” and “Facilitating Life Cycle Rituals” and “Race, Culture and Identity Among Muslim Americans.” In addition to the partnership with Chicago Theological Seminary, students can also take classes from the Academy for Jewish Religion California, University of the West, and Claremont Graduate University. Since Bayan Claremont is the Islamic graduate school within the Claremont School of Theology, all students have access to the extensive Career Services offered.
Bayan Claremont is an Islamic graduate school offering three master’s level degrees as well as certificate programs. “Bayan” is an Arabic word that means “to elucidate,” and the institution of higher education strives to instill clarity of speech and eloquence in the students who attend. Jihad Turk established the school as a division of Claremont School of Theology in 2011, and he currently serves as Bayan’s president. Providing higher education to men and women who serve within and as part of the Muslim faith tradition, Bayan envisions a “world that understands Islamic values in a modern context.”
#23. Liberty University
Online Master of Arts in Global Studies
Program Details: Liberty University provides an entirely online MA in Global Studies degree program that equips students with the skills to “communicate effectively across cultures and cultivate healthy intercultural relationships” in order to successfully navigate a professional life in a multi-cultural or international setting. The 36-credit hour program can be completed in just a year and a half, and though it is fully online, students can participate in optional on-campus intensives. Located in Liberty’s Rawlings School of Divinity, the online MA in Global Studies degree offers students coursework in topics like “Intercultural Communication,” “History & Theory of Global Engagement,” and “World Religions Survey” to provide “a biblical and theological basis for worldwide involvement.” Possible job titles for someone who earns this degree from Liberty include Faith-Based International Development and Aid Worker, Church Based Global Mobilizer & Leader, and Cross-Cultural Worker, and past Liberty Online MA in Global Studies student testimonials give high praise to the “ specific training online in areas that my church lacked resources.”
Originally founded as Lynchburg Baptist College, Liberty University was started by religious-right magnate Jerry Falwell in the early 1970s. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty fulfilled Falwell’s desire to shape “the moral and ethical course of America” and is today the largest Christian University worldwide. A university since 1985, Liberty houses seventeen academic schools and colleges and offers a thriving online presence with over 110,000 online students enrolled. An additional 15,000 residential students are enrolled, and the school provides more than 600 academic programs. Regional accreditation is through Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: The fully online Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) degree program offered by Northwestern is provided online by the College of Graduate, Online & Adult Learning and can be completed in less than two years. Ideal for students who want to go on to teach, the program is led by the “internationally recognized” Northwestern Department of Biblical & Theological Studies faculty members. The dual academic and professional 36-credit hour MATS degree offers both a biblical and theological education, and students participate in required courses such as “Spiritual Foundation for Leadership,” “Contemporary Issues in Theology,” and “Bible in Its World.” Small online classes (with a ratio of fourteen to one) allow students to be both educated and theologically nurtured by their professors and classmate peers. For students who want less than a graduate degree, the Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies is available, and for students who want to further their education beyond the MATS, Northwestern allows the 36-credit hour degree to count towards the Theological Studies portion of the 76-credit hour MDiv program.
Founded by pastor and evangelist William Bell Riley, UNW started out with only seven students when it opened in 1902. After a brief period of closure, the school reopened in 1972 on the current St. Paul, Minnesota campus (official address is Roseville, Minneapolis). With a mission “to provide Christ-centered higher education,” Northwestern is comprised of eight schools and colleges and serves almost 3,500 students currently with more than 70 academic areas of study. Northwestern is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals and has regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
#25. Bethel University
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: Bethel’s MA in Theological Studies can be pursued in several formats, one of which is entirely online. Three start dates a year are presented for the online option, and the 51-credit hour program can be completed in just three years. Offering a “holistic approach,” the Theological Studies degree program focuses on the Bible “in its original context and what it implies for the 21st century.” Located in Bethel Seminary, the degree is taught by the Bethel Seminary Faculty, who serve as both “mentors and role models” for their students. The classes are both scholarly and practice-based, covering wide-range topics such as “Faith and Public Life,” “History of Christian Thought: The Early Church to Scholasticism,” “World Religions,” and “Eschatology and Hope.” Additionally, Bethel recognizes the unique needs of adult students and provides Bethel Student Success resources and services to help make the academic journey a successful one. With academic and support services, a dedicated Student Advisory Council, and other resources, Bethel helps make sure the student graduates with “the confidence of one who handles God’s Word with care and applies its truth to contemporary life with relevance.”
Founded as Baptist Union Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois in order to train clergy to minster to the Swedish Baptist immigrants who had come to the States to escape religious intolerance and persecution, Bethel University was begun by Pastor John Edgren in 1871. When the Baptist General Conference took over in 1914, the school was moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Becoming Bethel University in 2004, the institution is comprised of four academic schools and colleges, including Bethel Seminary, and currently enrolls over 6,000 students. A private Christian university, Bethel is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and by ATS.
Online Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies
Program Details: For students who want to develop a better “intercultural understanding in an ever-changing, diverse world,” CIU Online offers an entirely online MA in Intercultural Studies. The 45-credit hour program is provided by a faculty who are multilingual, have multicultural experience, and have “lived internationally, doing the very work they’re teaching.” Possible careers with this degree are diverse—students can go into governmental work, military, mission or church service, academia, or non-profit work. Courses include topics in “Hermeneutics: Interpreting and Applying the Bible,” “Doing Theology in Context,” and “Systematic Theology.” Housed within the College of Intercultural Studies at CIU, the MA in Intercultural Studies degree program makes sure all students have the support they need both academically and spiritually. CIU promises an online learning environment in which students grow in knowledge as well as character due to “conversation and study, through reflection and hard work.” All CIU students, whether on-campus or online, also have access to a selection of student resources, such as an Academic Success Center, to help them as the earn their degree.
Started as an idea for a local Bible school in 1918, classes for Columbia International University (originally Columbia Bible School) began in rented space at the Colonia Hotel and at the YMCA in 1922. Officially founded in 1923 in Columbia, South Carolina, CIU quickly began offering graduate courses. Moving to the current location in 1960, CIU now serves over 1,000 men and women. An evangelical, nondenominational Christian institution of higher education, CIU is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing
Program Details: Along with fellow Peace Church tradition (Church of the Brethren) seminary Bethany, the Quaker seminary ESR provides an entirely online Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing (MATW) degree program. With a curriculum made up of ESR’s Ministry of Writing Program and Bethany’s Theopoetics and Theological Imagination Certificate, the 36-credit hour MATW program is crafted to equip students with the abilities to “write and think at the intersection of creativity, faith, and meaning.” Available online through Access, ESR’s online delivery method, students participate in classes such as “Hebrew Bible Theopoetics,” “Writing for God and God’s People,” “Preaching, Poetry, and Prophetic Imagination,” and “Peace of the City and Quest for Public Theology.” A final Integration Course and MA Summative Exercise culminates the degree program, and graduates will be able to artfully “bring spirituality into public conversation with the whole of life.” Once an alumni of the MATW program, students can engage in any of the offered ESR Events to enrich their ministry and/or professional life.
Earlham School of Religion is a Quaker seminary that began as a program of Earlham College in 1960. Located in Richmond, Indiana, ESR is the oldest graduate-level institution of higher education within the Quaker faith tradition. Approximately 100 students currently engage in study at ESR, and this private seminary has been accredited since 1969 by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and is regionally accredited (through Earlham College) by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Religion
Program Details: Earlham School of Religion offers the scholarly, terminal MA in Religion degree online through ESR Access. The 48-credit hour degree program requires two-week residency intensives on-campus with the majority of coursework provided online. Offering four concentration options in Biblical Studies, Christian Theology, Quaker Studies, and Peace and Justice Studies, the MA in Religion program at ESR allows students to customize the degree to meet their academic and career goals. A final thesis culminates the degree, and students prepare by taking classes in languages, advanced theology, historical studies, and advanced biblical studies. Course topics vary and allow for student preferences, with options such as “Bible, Violence, and Non-Violence,” “Quaker History and Literature,” and “Spiritual Formation & Personal Practice.” Guided by the ESR faculty, who are accomplished writers, theologians, and practitioners, the ESR MA in Religion equips students as “skilled researchers and effective scholarly writers” in order to go on for careers as teachers or to further their studies through doctoral pursuits.
Quaker graduate school Earlham School of Religion is an ecumenical community offering on-campus and distance education programs in theology, ministry, and leadership. With a mission of being rooted in the “Christian Quaker tradition of contemplation,” ESR “unites spiritual formation, academic study, social engagement, and vital ministry.” Founded in 1960 and located in conjunction with Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, ESR is fully accredited by both the ATS and the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: The Jesuit School of Theology (JST) at Santa Clara University provides an MTS degree program entirely online. The Jesuit School Online MTS degree requires a total of 48-credit hours culminating in a final master paper, and students engage in 39-credits of general theology and nine-credits of electives. Focusing on Biblical Studies, Historical and Systematic Theology, Spirituality and Pastoral Theology, and Ethics, Religion and Society, the degree program imparts to students a “broad theological foundation.” Students can pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time basis, potentially completing the program in two years. Jesuit School student services, as well as JST Student Testimonials, serve to help current and prospective students navigate their theological journey at SCU, and the distinguished, expert faculty provide guidance and mentorship as well. Jesuit School of Theology admission events are offered periodically, and for those who are interested in what life after the JST MST degree program looks like, a collection of Alumni in the News reports are showcased on the school’s website.
Owning the distinction of being California’s oldest currently-operating institution of higher education, Santa Clara University began as Santa Clara College in 1851. Located in Santa Clara, which historically was land that belonged to the native Ohlone people, the school quickly grew from a male preparatory school to a university in 1912. Another distinction, Santa Clara began admitting women in 1961, making it the first Catholic coeducational university in the state. Now over 9,000 students attend this private Jesuit institution, and Santa Clara University (renamed such in 1985) is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as well as ATS.
#30. Harvard University
Online Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies: Religion
Program Details: The prestige of a scholarly master’s degree in religion from Harvard is possible online through the Harvard Extension School. The Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Religion degree is a twelve-course, mostly online program in which students can choose a thesis or capstone track. At least three courses (twelve credits) must be taken on-campus to provide students with a “Harvard campus experience,” but students need not be deterred—they can engage in several on-campus options that meet their scheduling needs (such as three-week sessions in the winter or summer, courses that are online with a weekend intensive component, etc.). Students have up to five years to complete the degree and can choose to construct their course selections to add on a graduate certificate in Religions of the World, Religious Studies and Education, or Social Justice. Each certificate requires specific coursework, with topics ranging from “Bodies and Sexualities in the Medieval Middle East: Medical, Cultural, and Religious Views” to “Religion, Education, and Democracy” to “Readings in Black Radicalism.”
Ivy League Harvard University was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The oldest institution of higher education in the nation, Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and offers distance education through the Harvard Extension School. More than 36,000 students are enrolled on-campus and online, and this prestigious, private university has regional accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
#31. Trevecca University
Online Master of Arts in Religion
Program Details: Provided entirely online through Trevecca Online, the online MA in Religion degree program at Trevecca Nazarene University is an affordable, flexible program that can be completed in as few as eighteen months. A 33-credit hour program, students can choose from two concentrations: Biblical and Theological Studies or Pastoral Counseling. Shared core coursework includes classes such as “Biblical Methods & Contextualization” and “Christian Doctrine and the 21st Century Church,” and all students complete a Capstone Core Course as well. Each concentration provides four specialization classes that are unique to the focus area, with topics like “The Theology of John Wesley and His Theological Forbearers” and “Church, Society, and Christian Ethics” forming part of the coursework for the Biblical and Theological Studies concentration and “Pastoral Intervention in Crisis” and “Human Sexuality and Pastoral Counseling” making up the curriculum for the Pastoral Counseling concentration. Offered in the cohort model, the online MA in Religion at Trevecca is “committed to fostering an environment of Christian fellowship and community,” and students are supported by their peers, professors, and caring staff.
In 1901 the Literary and Bible Training School for Christian Workers was founded in Nashville, Tennessee. Begun as a school to train Christian workers, the scope broadened and the name was changed to Trevecca College. Over the next decade the school officially became a Church of the Nazarene institution. Moving in 1935 to its present location, the school made its final name change in 1995 to Trevecca Nazarene University. Now more than 3,000 students are enrolled in over 120 academic degree programs. Regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Theology
Program Details: Students who desire a “solid theological foundation, grounded in solid Catholic doctrine” will find the online MA in Theology at Saint Joseph’s College an enriching program. Ideal for Catholic Christians as well as students from other faith traditions, the SJC Online Theology program presents the historic Catholic doctrine without a liberal or conservative bent for an educationally unbiased experience. Three specializations are offered: Pastoral Theology and Sacred Theology both require 36-credit hours, and the Advanced Diaconal Studies specialization requires 30-credit hours. All three specializations share some common core courses, such as “Catholic Moral Theology” and “Ecclesiology,” and all allow for students to choose two electives from a wide selection of subjects (some options include “Catholic Bioethics,” “Church Management and Leadership,” “Ministry with the Aging, Sick, and Dying,” and “Ministry in the Intercultural Church of America”). Online student resources at Saint Joseph’s College are plentiful, with dedicated academic advisors, online tutoring, IT services, and Student Support Specialists available to make the “challenges that adult learners face” manageable and easy to overcome.
Saint Joseph’s College (SJC or “Saint Joseph’s”) was founded by the Portland Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in 1912 in Portland, Maine. In 1915 the Maine Legislature established the school’s charter, and it operated as a women’s college. In 1956 the school moved to its current campus location in Standish, Maine, and in 1970 this private, Catholic institution became coeducational. Having offered distance learning programs since 1976, SJU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: Through CCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies a completely online MA in Theological Studies degree program is offered in order to provide to students an exploration “through Biblical, systematic, historical, and dogmatic theological lenses.” The 39-credit hour CCU Theological Studies degree presents a curriculum that can be completed in two to four years, with classes such as “Major Approaches to Theology,” “Christian History,” and “Theological Aesthetics.” Provided with a Biblical and evangelical approach, the MA in Theological Studies degree can help graduates to “minister effectively in the church, parachurch organizations, workplace, or an academic setting.” The College of Adult and Graduate Studies also offers the online 39-credit hour CCU MA in Biblical Studies “for those who have diverse callings and are interested in an integrative biblical studies education grounded in the truth of the Scriptures.” As with the Theological Studies degree, students can transfer in up to nine-credit hour and complete the program in as little as seventeen months.
Colorado Christian University (CCU) was founded originally as Denver Bible Institute in 1914. The institution has moved locations and changed names as it has grown, settling into a permanent campus location in 1967 in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver. In 1989 the school officially became CCU and this interdenominational school houses two academic colleges and provides more than 100 academic degree programs to over 7,000 students. Regional accreditation is granted by the Higher Learning Commission.
#34. Gateway Seminary
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: Through Gateway Online, students can pursue Gateway Seminary’s 49-credit hour MTS degree program. A two-year program, the online MTS at Gateway is “designed to meet basic theological needs for effective service,” and students are given the opportunity to choose up to ten hours of electives to customize the degree for their particular interests and goals. The curriculum is comprised of courses in Leadership Discernment, Biblical Foundations, Theological Foundations, and Leadership Skill Formation, and in addition students are provided with academic, spiritual, financial, and emotional support. Claiming student success as “one the highest priorities at Gateway Seminary,” students can be assured that they will be provided with a whole array of resources and services to help support them in their journey. Gateway’s Theological Field Education (TFE) ministry practicum is offered to MTS students as an elective option rather than as a requirement, and through the course of the experience students will “develop the core competencies needed for ministry, growth in their understanding of self, and increased spiritual vitality.”
With a history rooted in the 1859 founding of the short-lived San Rafael Baptist Institute, Gateway Seminary began as the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1944 in San Francisco, California. Moving to a larger campus in Mill Valley, California 1959, there are now five campus locations in the western part of the United States. Renamed Gateway Seminary and moving to a new main campus in Ontario, California in 2016, the institution has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention since 1950. Accreditation comes from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ATS.
#35. Regent University
Online Master of Arts in Practical Theology
Program Details: Regent University offers a MA in Practical Theology degree entirely online through their ATS-accredited (Association of Theological Schools) School of Divinity. Five concentration options in Church & Ministry, Worship & Media, Interdisciplinary Studies, Marketplace Ministry, and Missiology allow for customization within the 48-credit hour program. Students can begin the eight-week terms at eight different start dates a year for convenience, and required core classes are common between all concentration options, including topics such as “Leadership in Church & Ministry,” “Christian Theology,” and “Foundations for Biblical Mission.” Twelve credit hours are devoted to the chosen concentration, and vary based on the focus area. Regent’s MA in Practical Theology – Worship & Media degree offers specialization classes like “Technology & Media in Ministry,” “Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs,” and “Models of Worship,” whereas the MA in Practical Theology – Marketplace Ministry degree provides an exploration of topics like “Managing Not-for-Profit & Faith-Based Organizations, “Organizational Communication, Conflict Resolution & Negotiation,” and “Innovation & Technological Success.”
Evangelist Pat Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network University in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1977, and this institution would be renamed Regent University in 1990. Over 50 students were in attendance when classes began in 1978, and now nearly 9,000 students are enrolled in this private Christian university. Offering over 125 academic degree programs through eight schools, Regent’s regional accreditation is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
#36. Regent University
Online Master of Theological Studies
Program Details: Regent’s MTS degree program is available completely online and accredited by The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools. A 48-credit hour program, the Regent MTS degree provides five focus areas from which students can choose to concentrate: Biblical Languages, Biblical Studies, Christian Theology, Church History, and Cosmogony. The diverse concentration offerings give students the chance to pursue their particular professional goals with twelve hours devoted to the specialization. The Regent online MTS in Cosmogony degree, for instance, is designed to give students the skills to speak with authority on both matters of science and matters of theology and offers elective choices like “Origins of the Cosmos” and “Science Leadership & Communication,” as well as required courses like “Philosophy of Science” and “Foundations of Scientific Inquiry.” Provided by the Regent University School of Divinity “distinguished faculty and talented staff,” the online MTS degree program assures the success of the online student because of the care and guidance of the professors who are scholar-practitioners and who are geared to preparing students to lead a “multi-ethnic, multicultural and multigenerational ministry.”
Conservative spokesperson Pat Robertson’s Regent University, originally called Christian Broadcasting Network University, was founded in order to produce “capable men and women for the challenge of representing Christ in their professions.” The Virginia Beach campus was not fully constructed the first year, so classes were held nearby in rented classrooms. The name became Regent in 1990 to acknowledge the university status and to reflect that the students serve as regents in this world to their professed Christ. Comprised of eight schools. regional accreditation is granted through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Biblical and Theological Studies
Program Details: The 36-credit hour Master of Biblical and Theological Studies (MBTS) degree program offered at Dallas Theological Seminary provides students an entirely online degree with a great deal of customization options. Required courses such as “Theological Method and Bibliology” and “The Story of Scripture: Genesis to Revelation” and a Summative Research Project are enhanced by the student’s choice of thirteen hours of electives. Options include classes such as “Ministry to Children at Risk”, “A Christian View of Art, God and Evil,” and “Theology & World Religions,” which touch on the school’s view of the inerrancy of the Christian Bible. The online MBTS degree at DTS is ideal for students who want to “enhance their biblical and theological foundation for lay ministry in professional contexts,” and the program allows up to twelve credit hours of coursework to be transferred in. In addition to offering the program entirely in Chinese as well, DTS also makes available free online classes to enrich the theological lives of pastors, lay leaders, and interested students.
Founded in 1924, Dallas Theological Seminary began with thirteen students. Originally named the Evangelical Theological College, the Dallas, Texas seminary currently enrolls nearly 2,500 students at various on-campus locations and online. Known for being a leader in promoting a modern Dispensational interpretation of the Christian Bible, DTS has more than 15,000 alumni the world over. A nondenominational, evangelical institution, DTS is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and also accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.
Online Master of Arts in Theology
Program Details: Through the ACU College of Biblical Studies, an entirely online MA in Theology is housed within the Graduate School of Theology. The 36-credit hour program is ideal for students “who wish to deepen their theological foundation and gain greater competence” in the arena of the Christian religion. The program requires a final thesis and can be completed in just two years, and students participate in classes such as “Philosophy of Religion,” “Biblical Exegesis,” and “History of Christianity: Early to Medieval.” Along with an advisor, students choose a focus based on their interests and the electives offered by the Graduate School of Theology (or, with program director approval, any class offered by ACU Online). Through the University, many Centers and services are provided not just to students, but to churches and other institutions, and online students reap the benefits of these as well. As a resource for prospective students, ACU Online Open House Webinars provide a connection to the online MA in Theology program advisors, professors and current students.
Abilene Christian University is a private Christian institution of higher education located in Abilene, Texas. Twenty-five students enrolled when the school was established in 1906 as the Childers Classical Institute, and now ACU currently enrolls over 5,000 students in more than 100 academic degree programs offered in ten schools and colleges. With Churches of Christ affiliation, ACU is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and is accredited both by ATS and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Theology
Program Details: Campbellsville University’s online Master of Theology degree program gives students three concentration options to customize the degree. The 30-credit hour program allows students to choose from an emphasis in Biblical Studies, Pastoral Leadership, or Theological Studies, and rather than a core set of classes that are shared by all the concentrations, students participate in their chosen focus area courses and choose two from each of the other concentrations. The courses are therefore specific to the concentration, and range from “Pastoral Letters, Pastoral Leadership,” “Innovations in the Contemporary Church,” and “Ethics of the Christian Faith.” Students can finish the degree within two years, and students who choose the Theological Studies focus area will come away with a firm foundation of a “combination of church history and contemporary theological discussion.” Recognizing that not all students who pursue the Campbellsville online Master of Theology want to necessarily become ministers, a resource collection of other potential careers is made available through the Program Resources page.
Campbellsville University is a private Christian institution in Campbellsville, Kentucky that was founded as Russell Creek Academy in 1906. Originally a school for boys, Campbellsville gained university status in 1996 and now has additional campus locations. The school currently educates over 4,300 coeducational students, and even though official ties with the Kentucky Baptist Convention were severed in 2014, Campbellsville still upholds the Baptist ideals. Regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.
#40. Liberty University
Online Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Program Details: Liberty University’s fully online Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) degree program is housed within the Rawlings School of Divinity and presented for students who want to strengthen their knowledge to use in their local church or begin on a religious studies career course. Students take courses such as “Introduction to Apologetics,” “Intercultural Communication,” and “Survey of the History of Christianity,” and this 36-credit hour program can be completed online in less than two years. For students who decide to pursue further education, the online MATS program can be used as a foundational degree that can provide access to the Liberty Online MA in Religion degree or the MDiv degree. All online students at Liberty are provided with services and resources, but for online students who want to feel more of a community connection with their student peers and professors, the Instructional Media Team at Liberty has created “helpful instructional media tools and opportunities for scholastic interactions.” These webinars are held throughout the year and offer “interactive web-based seminars” to enrich each student’s Liberty experience.
Founded by Jerry Falwell and his congregation in 1971, Liberty University has grown to be one of the leaders in online education. With over 600 academic degree programs and more than 100,000 students enrolled through Liberty Online, the institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia has a reach that spans the globe. University status was granted to the mountainous school in 1985—that was also the year distance education was first offered. Now over 125,000 students are enrolled in the 600-plus academic degree programs, and regional accreditation has been provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.