When it comes to undergraduate theology degrees online, there are many schools from which to choose. Most people pursuing careers related to theology degrees aren’t concerned about how much they’ll be making. Spiritual return on investment is more of a concern for them than monetary return on investment. But devoting your life to ministry or academia can be much more difficult when mired in debt. It’s worth it to consider the value of an online theology degree, especially if your plan is to earn advanced degrees. In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online theology degrees. We ranked the following degrees according to each school’s tuition, graduation rate, and average 20-year net return on investment. Of course there are many more factors to consider, but it’s our hope that this information will help you make an informed decision about where to earn your theology degree online.
Best Online Theology Degree Offerings
#1. Concordia University-Wisconsin
Bachelor’s Degree Online in Theological Studies
The online bachelor’s in theological studies is designed for students seeking to become a pastor, lay minister, or theologian. The theological studies degree online lays the groundwork necessary to pursue any of these three careers, however each will require different graduate work. Students will take courses like heritage of faith, classical Greece and Rome, religious education of youth and adults, Christian ethics, Old Testament, and New Testament.
Graduation Rate: 58%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $314,000
#2. LeTourneau University
Online B.S. or B.A. in Theological Studies
LeTourneau University’s online B.S. in theological studies provides students with more flexibility than the B.A. by providing significantly more electives. The B.A. has fewer electives because the general education courses require both elementary Greek and Hebrew. This makes the B.A. a more attractive option for students pursuing theological or religious study at the graduate level.
Graduation Rate: 53%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $427,000
#3. Indiana Wesleyan University
B.S. in Biblical Studies Online
The online bachelor’s in biblical studies degree offered by Indiana Wesleyan University has study of theology built into it. Students who want to study theology in depth will have many electives from which to choose. Some of the courses available in the program are basic Christian doctrine, Christian theology II: salvation/holiness, wisdom literature, survey of church history, and advanced inductive Bible study.
Graduation Rate: 49%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $229,000
#4. Dallas Baptist University
Online Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
Students in the biblical studies online degree at Dallas Baptist can choose to enter a dual-level program and earn their M.A. in theological studies at the same time. The program offers courses like spiritual formation for Christian ministry, introduction to philosophy, Christianity in a pluralistic world, principles of biblical interpretation, history of Christianity, and American church history.
Graduation Rate: 59%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $343,000
#5. Bethel University
Bachelor of Christian Ministries Online
Bethel University offers an online Christian ministries degree completion program geared toward adult students. The program is 48 credits (other credits will have to be transferred in) and can be completed in just 18-20 months. Courses available in the program include biblical interpretation for ministry, significance of the Old Testament, significance of the New Testament, and research writing for Christian ministry.
Graduation Rate: 76%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $203,000
#6. Moody Bible Institute
Online Bachelor of Science in Theological Studies
Moody’s online theology degree offers concentrations in Christian thought and spiritual formation. The Christian thought concentration includes classes like introduction to philosophy, philosophy and theology, theological thought, and doing theology in the church. The spiritual formation concentration features classes like theology and practice in the early church through the Reformation, theology and practice in the modern world, and theological ethics and the Christian life.
Graduation Rate: 61%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $58,900
#7. Southwestern Adventist University
Online Theology Bachelor’s
Graduates from this online theology degree often take positions as pastors in Adventist churches, while others attend graduate school or seminary and become chaplains, counselors, and teachers. Students will take courses like Christian witnessing, homiletics, New Testament Greek, biblical Hebrew, life and teachings of Jesus, and research in religion.
Graduation Rate: 47%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $189,000
#8. Montreat College
Online Bachelor’s in Bible and Ministry
Graduates from this online bachelor’s in Bible and ministry often go on to become pastors, scholars, authors, missionaries, chaplains, or professors. The program includes courses like Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, Christian doctrine, biblical interpretation, New Testament Greek, philosophy of religion and apologetics, world religions, and Greek exegesis.
Graduation Rate: 36%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $153,000
#9. Lee University
Online Bible and Theology Bachelor’s
Lee University allows students in the online Bible and theology program to create their own specialization by choosing 36 credits of optional courses. These courses include theology of the Old Testament, theology of the New Testament, doctrine of Christ, history of Christian doctrine, contemporary Protestant theology, Acts, Hebrews, minor prophets, and Romans and Galatians.
Graduation Rate: 50%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $59,600
#10. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Bachelor’s in Theology Online
This degree program is geared toward people who seek to serve the needs of the Roman Catholic Church and society. Students can take advantage of a fast-track program to an MA in theology. Saint Joseph’s bachelor’s in theology online features courses like Catholic doctrine and theology, introduction to the New Testament, church history, and the fundamentals of Catholic moral theology.
Graduation Rate: 54%
20yr. Net Return on Investment: $175,000
Why is value so important for a theology degree?
The study and communication of theology is more of a calling than a career for most. It’s common, even among people seeking to become pastors, priests, or ministers, for graduates with a theology degree to pursue graduate study. Pastors might stop after earning a master’s degree, but those who wish to work in academia will have to earn a Ph.D. in order to secure a stable position. Most positions available, even to those with a Ph.D., don’t pay very much compared to many other professions. So if you want to devote your life to full-time ministry, or to studying and teaching religion in an academic setting, it’s a good idea to take value into account when choosing a program.
What careers are available to me with a degree in theology?
Options for students with only an undergraduate degree tend to be limited. One might find employment as a teacher at a Christian school, or perhaps an associate pastor or youth pastor position with a congregation. For anything beyond that further study will be necessary. For those who wish to serve as a full pastor, minister, or priest of a congregation, generally a master of divinity (M.Div.) or master of theology (Th.M.) is required. For those who aim to teach at the university level, a Ph.D. is generally required (though some adjunct or associate professor positions might be available for those who are working on their Ph.D.).
Should I plan on going to graduate school?
As stated above, if you plan on using your theology degree, generally at least a master’s is required, often a doctorate. What kind of degree you earn will depend on what you want to do. You can pursue a master’s in counseling, master of divinity, master of theology, Ph.D. in religion, religious history, or philosophy of religion. But the bottom line is that on its own, an undergraduate degree in theology doesn’t give you too many options.
How can I prepare for an undergraduate degree in theology?
Theology degrees often require students to take biblical Greek and Hebrew, so ambitious students might choose to develop a working knowledge of those languages before starting college. Reading philosophy and theology (which often developed together and influence each other over the centuries) is another good idea. Many of the greatest theological works throughout history are available for affordable prices in ebook format. Different institutions will offer different takes on theology. For instance Roman Catholic schools and evangelical Christian schools will have radically different beliefs and approaches to the same subjects. So make sure you pick an online theology degree where their methods of study, priorities, and values line up with your own.
Points were awarded in three different categories according to the system provided below.
20 yr net ROI
- $50,000=1 Point
- $100,000=2 Points
- $150,000=3 Points
- $200,000=4 Points
- $250,000=5 Points
- $300,000=6 Points
- $350,000=7 Points
- $400,000=8 Points
- $500,000=9 Points
- 50%=1 Point
- 55%=2 Points
- 60%=3 Points
- 65%=4 Points
- 70%=5 Points
- 75%=6 Points
- 80%=7 Points
- 85%=8 Points
- 90%=9 Points
- Under $5,000=7
- Under $10,000=6
- Under $15,000=5
- Under $20,000=4
- Under $25,000=3
- Under $30,000=2
- Under $35,000=1
Tuition information was sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator
Information on each school’s 20 year net return on investment was sourced from PayScale.com.
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