Online Master’s Degree in Theology

Theology is the study of God, religion, religious belief, and the sacred texts that are central to major belief systems. Christian theology is the focus of many graduate programs in theology, with the primary text being the Bible. A masters degree in theology is a good fit for individuals who want to enter the ministry or who seek a position in church leadership. Earning a masters degree is also a common stepping stone to pursuing a doctoral degree in theology for those who seek academic careers and wish to teach at the university level.

Increasingly, universities are offering accredited online masters degree programs in theology to meet the needs of working adults. An online masters degree in theology may be completed entirely online, or may require occasional campus visits, depending on the program. Programs can be completed in as little as one year of full-time study, but part-time students typically take longer to complete a program. Program length also depends on the required number of credit hours, whether the student takes any breaks, and if a student transfers in any relevant graduate credits to apply toward the credit requirements.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Theology

The courses you take in an online masters degree in theology will differ depending on the concentration. For instance, a student specializing in biblical studies will take different classes than a student specializing in Bible exposition. Overall, however, courses focus on religious doctrines and their origins in scripture, taking into account the theological perspectives of significant Christian thinkers such as Augustine and Jonathan Edwards. Students learn how belief systems and doctrines are built using principles of systematic theology. A few courses you may encounter in such programs include:

  • Biblical Hermeneutics
  • Systematic Theology
  • Contemporary Issues in Theology
  • Comparing Theological Systems
  • Reading and Interpreting Early Patristic Literature

Most theology programs require students to conduct extensive language study in Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek so that they can more effectively study the Old and New Testament in their original languages. Assignments in such classes typically entail significant amounts of translation. Research papers where students critically examine passages of scripture are also common. Often, a master degree in theology will conclude with a master’s thesis or a research project similar in weight in which students investigate a theological topic in depth.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Theology

The most common careers for those with master’s degrees in theology are in ministry and teaching. Common job titles in ministry include senior/lead pastor, assistant pastor, small group pastor, youth/children’s pastor, and worship/music pastor. Careers in ministry do not necessarily require a masters degree in theology, though individuals often pursue advanced study to prepare themselves to teach the scriptures effectively in churches.

Graduates of theology master’s degree may also go on to pursue college-level teaching careers and become professors of religion and theology. The minimum degree requirement for postsecondary teachers is a master’s degree, but most university positions require a Ph.D, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected at 17% between 2010 and 2020, though the BLS notes that greater growth is expected in high-demand teaching specialties like nursing and engineering, as opposed to areas in the humanities, such as theology.


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