Online Seminaries for Christians
Read about the characteristics of Christian seminaries, and explore the types of online programs offered. Discover some specific seminaries with online programs at several levels.
Seminaries offer master's degrees and doctorates, and many also have certificate programs. These programs are designed to train you to become a leader in the church, but also to conduct your life according to the Christian tradition. Many seminaries now offer programs that are accessible online. Find out more about these options below.
Are Online Programs at Seminaries Different Than On-Campus Programs?
For the most part, online programs at seminaries offer the same education as a physical school. In other words, the degree you earn (or the course you complete) through an online seminary program is equal to its on-campus counterpart. Classes can be delivered in a number of online formats at your convenience, or you may be able to watch live webinars of the on-campus classes. Many master's programs are fully online, while some doctoral programs might still contain some in-person requirements, thus making them hybrid or blended programs.
Which Seminaries Offer Online Master's Degrees and Graduate Certificates?
Seminaries offer degrees like Master of Divinity and Master of Theology. Some institutions also offer graduate certificates. Here are some seminaries with fully online programs:
- Dallas Theological Seminary has a Master of Arts in Christian Studies (MACS), a Master of Biblical and Theological Studies (MBTS) and a Certificate of Graduate Studies (CGS)
- Fuller Theological Seminary offers a Master of Arts in Theology And Ministry (MATM), a Master of Divinity (MDIV) and a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies degree (MAICS)
- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has a Master of Arts in Christian Education, a Master of Theological Studies and a Maestría en Estudios Teológicos for Spanish speakers
What Will I Learn in a Master's or Certificate Program at a Seminary?
Online master's programs cover topics like biblical scholarship, worship practices, evangelism and preaching. Leadership is a heavy focus, as are Christian ethics and how they fit into a global perspective. And, since parsing religious texts means understanding the language in which they were written, some programs include language learning. Most master's programs take between two and three years to complete. If you already hold a graduate degree and, because of time constraints or preference, wish to pursue a short, focused program online, graduate certificates are another option.
What Seminaries Have Doctoral Degrees Online?
Doctoral degrees in this field are designed to broaden a students' understanding of theological principles and help them become religious leaders. These seminaries offer online degrees at the doctoral level:
- Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary offers a host of degrees including a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical and Theological studies, a Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Counseling and a Doctor of Religious Studies in Christian Apologetics and Philosophy
- Colorado Theological Seminary has a Doctor of Theology in Christian Counseling, a Ph.D. in Clinical Pastoral Counseling, a Doctor of Biblical Studies and a Doctor of Ministry
- Liberty University has a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
What Will I Learn in a Doctoral Program?
Online doctoral programs at seminaries share many of the same topics as master's programs but may delve deeper into these topics. Many are also designed to produce graduates who can teach, research and offer counsel at universities, seminaries and other theological schools. Coursework may depend on the degree. A Doctor of Ministry might focus on marriage counseling and leadership, while a Doctor of Biblical Studies may focus on giving the student a profound understanding of the Bible. Online doctoral programs typically have a final project or dissertation. Some programs could require as little as two years to complete while others may take closer to four or five.
Do You Have to Be a Christian to Get into a Seminary?
Seminaries offer graduate degrees, so a bachelor's degree is required to apply. By and large, this bachelor's can be in any field, though some schools may prefer candidates who studied in programs related to the Christian faith. And that's where seminaries are different than other institutions when it comes to admissions. In order to pursue a graduate degree or certificate at any Christian seminary, you must first be a Christian. In most cases, this requirement can be partially completed by proving you are a church member. You may also need one or more pastoral recommendations from a non-relative member of the clergy who can attest to your Christian character. Some seminaries require a spiritual autobiography detailing the applicant's journey in the Christian religion.