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What Is Theology?

Theology involves thorough study of one or more religions. Read on to find out more about what theology is, how you can gain an education in theology and what the common topics of study are in degree programs.

Theology in Practice

Theology is the study of religion. Those who practice theology, often known as theologians, study religious traditions, morals and practices. Theologians question and interpret the texts, beliefs and histories of religious groups. Theology also involves the exploration of why people hold certain spiritual beliefs. Typically, theologians study major religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other world religions. Some theologians pursue work as teachers, ministers or volunteers at churches and religious organizations.

Important Facts About Theology Studies

Online Availability Online educational opportunities available
Educational Options Certificate, Associate of Arts (AA), Bachelor's of Arts (BA), Master's of Arts (MA), Master of Divinity (MDiv, for those entering ministry), Master of Theology Studies (MTS), Doctor of Ministry (DMin, for those entering ministry), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Prerequisites Undergraduate degrees require a high school diploma or equivalent and SAT/ACT scores
Graduate studies require a bachelor's degree
Possible Careers Include professors, clergy, counselors, social workers, religious education teachers and more
Median Salary (2020)$45,110 (Directors, religious activities and education)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)3% (Directors, religious activities and education)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Degree Programs

Some aspiring theologians choose to earn a theology degree at a college or university, and schools may even have an academic department and a library devoted to theology. Many private, faith-based schools offer theology degrees as well. Programs may be available online. Theology degree programs often bring together students of various faiths and cultures.

Theology bachelor's degree programs often focus on religious rituals, teachings and beliefs. While some theology students focus on the practices of one particular religious faith, many programs include the study of various faiths. Many theology bachelor's degree programs require students to spend time attending and observing religious services. Many students also work as interns, volunteer at non-profit organizations or serve within congregations while attending school.

Also, many graduate degree programs are available, like the Master of Theological Studies and Doctor of Theology. Master's degree programs in theology are most commonly available. Additionally, dual degree programs are available, combining theology with business, law, public health, social work or bioethics.

Typical Coursework

Theology majors often study a foreign language, such as Latin, Hebrew or Greek. Typical courses in a theology degree program include the following:

  • World religions
  • Churches throughout the ages
  • History of Christianity
  • Biblical interpretation
  • American theology
  • Ethics
  • Pastoral care
  • Church reform
  • Propagation of religious traditions
  • Current religious issues
  • Biblical languages