Best Online Master of Divinity (MDiv) Degree Programs

Explore details for MDiv programs including cost, length, common courses and more, plus get our ranking of the best MDiv programs in the country and read about some career options for graduates. Schools offering Chaplaincy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Divinity

Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree programs are commonly available in online and/or hybrid formats. Some of the best MDiv programs may offer additional areas of concentration, include hands-on learning experiences, and/or have other unique program features. Here we discuss some of the top online MDiv programs in more detail.

1. Apex School of Theology

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Durham, NC$4,500

The Apex School of Theology offers online classes that can lead to an MDiv degree that totals 90 credits. The school has a history rooted in African-American Christianity and a wealth of programs aimed at training new church leaders. The program does offer special admissions to students who do not meet criteria that takes into account life experience and other factors. In addition to common MDiv coursework, the program discusses topics in Black worship, women in ministry, and the relationship between the Bible, Africa, and African Americans.

2. Olivet Nazarene University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Bourbonnais, IL$11,980

Olivet Nazarene University has an online MDiv that is open to students of all denominations but is grounded in the traditions of the Church of the Nazarene. The program totals 72 credits, takes 3 years to complete, and includes a 1-week intensive. Students can choose from multiple start dates for flexibility, as well as from a range of concentration areas, like family ministry, Bible, pastoral leadership, urban ministry, and religious studies. Students also receive hands-on training through mentor ministry courses where they work closely with an experienced ministerial guide.

3. Faith International University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Tacoma, WA$7,650

Faith International University provides an MDiv program that can be completed fully online or in a hybrid format if students would like. The university is interdenominational and has over 40 denominations represented. The program totals 136 hours and students who are planning on later pursuing their Doctor of Ministry are encouraged to complete a master's thesis. Students who have been involved in military chaplaincy may be able to transfer in up to 28 hours of credit toward their degree.

4. World Mission University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Los Angeles, CA$5,060

World Mission University is recognized by the World Evangelical Mission Alliance (WEMA) for producing church leaders and missionaries, and the university has an online MDiv program that requires students to complete 1 course on campus. The program can be completed in 3 years, totals 88 hours, allows up to 44 hours to be transferred in, and includes 7 credit hours of field education. The curriculum is designed to be flexible and allow students to specialize in areas like church music, biblical preaching, church ministry, or Christian counseling. Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher and before graduation must complete a ministry project and pass a Bible exam.

5. Moody Bible Institute

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Chicago, IL$8,390

Moody Bible Institute offers an online or hybrid MDiv program that is taught by faculty with numerous publications in the field. The program has 5 different emphasis areas, including one in pastoral studies that is available online. Students are also required to take 2 internships to gain practical hands-on experience. The MDiv in pastoral studies program totals 87 credits and can be completed in 4 years.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Southwestern Assemblies of God UniversityWaxahachie, TX$11,490
7Bob Jones UniversityGreenville, SC$9,911
8Bethel College-IndianaMishawaka, IN$8,040
9Lee UniversityCleveland, TN$12,860
10Grace College of DivinityFayetteville, NC$5,140
11University of Northwestern-St PaulSaint Paul, MN$8,982
12Heritage Christian UniversityFlorence, AL$5,112
13Dallas Baptist UniversityDallas, TX$18,262
14Freed-Hardeman UniversityHenderson, TN$10,620
15Northwest Nazarene UniversityNampa, ID$10,320
16Loyola University New OrleansNew Orleans, LA$16,190
17Maranatha Baptist UniversityWatertown, WI$7,920
18Grace School of TheologyConroe, TX$4,000
19New Orleans Baptist Theological SeminaryNew Orleans, LA$6,288
20Southeastern Baptist Theological SeminaryWake Forest, NC$5,830
21Cornerstone UniversityGrand Rapids, MI$13,990
22Huntington UniversityHuntington, IN$11,208
23Grace College and Theological SeminaryWinona Lake, IN$7,860
24Charlotte Christian College and Theological SeminaryCharlotte, NC$7,988
25Shasta Bible College and Graduate SchoolRedding, CA$7,160
26Nyack CollegeNyack, NY$10,880
27Lubbock Christian UniversityLubbock, TX$8,370
28Huntsville Bible CollegeHuntsville, AL$4,580
29Mid-America Christian UniversityOklahoma City, OK$11,480
30America Evangelical UniversityLos Angeles, CA$5,650
31Amridge UniversityMontgomery, AL$13,000
32Rochester CollegeRochester Hills, MI$11,862
33Johnson UniversityKnoxville, TN$9,930
34Oral Roberts UniversityTulsa, OK$13,988
35Harding UniversitySearcy, AR$18,260
36Abilene Christian UniversityAbilene, TX$21,492
37The Southern Baptist Theological SeminaryLouisville, KY$17,338
38Southern California SeminaryEl Cajon, CA$16,380
39SUM Bible College and Theological SeminaryEl Dorado Hills, CA$6,464
40Anderson UniversityAnderson, IN$12,138
41Anderson UniversityAnderson, SC$9,309
42Bethesda UniversityAnaheim, CA$7,851
43Beulah Heights UniversityAtlanta, GA$10,660
44Trevecca Nazarene UniversityNashville, TN$10,004
45Faulkner UniversityMontgomery, AL$11,160
46Criswell CollegeDallas, TX$8,940
47Virginia University of LynchburgLynchburg, VA$7,200
48University of DubuqueDubuque, IA$12,600
49Multnomah UniversityPortland, OR$13,690
50Clarks Summit UniversitySouth Abington Township, PA$7,800

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Master of Divinity Programs

Online MDiv degree programs may require between 70 to 130 credits, depending on the school. Many of these programs can be completed fully online, but some programs may also give students the option of a hybrid format with some coursework on campus. Some programs may require one course or a 1-week intensive to be completed on campus.

Several of these degree programs offer multiple start dates for flexibility. Depending on the school, students may also be able to transfer in credits towards their degree, with some programs allowing students to transfer up to half of the required number of credits.

Some MDiv programs allow students to further focus their studies in a particular area of the field through concentrations or emphasis areas. Certain concentrations may require additional credits, depending on the program. Some of these available concentrations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pastoral studies
  • Church music
  • Christian counseling
  • Biblical preaching
  • Missional multiplication
  • Urban ministry
  • Theology
  • Family ministry
  • Biblical languages
  • Healthcare chaplaincy

Below, we explore other aspects of online MDiv programs in more detail.

Length of Program

Typically, students who are enrolled in MDiv programs full-time can complete the degree program in 3 years. However, some of these programs may be designed to take as little as 2 years, while others may take 4 years. Some schools might allow up to as many as 6 years for degree completion.

Accreditation

Many institutions that offer online MDiv degree programs are accredited by regional accreditation bodies, which means that the school has met specific academic standards set to ensure that students are receiving a quality education. Some accreditation groups that may accredit schools with an MDiv program include the Higher Learning Commission and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges & Schools (TRACS).

Some schools may pursue specialized accreditation for a particular program to ensure it meets high-quality academic standards. For example, the Moody Bible Institute's MDiv program is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and its Commission on Accrediting. These programmatic accreditations are sometimes necessary to receive certifications or licenses.

Common Courses

Below are a handful of examples of common course topics for online MDiv programs:

  • Systematic Theology- Students may examine various Christian doctrines and how these influence the actions and beliefs of churches and Christian individuals. Specific topics may include historical development, Person of Christ, creation, salvation, and the church.
  • Christian History- These courses may be divided into various timeframes, but all examine the history of the church and the influence of various theologians. Students may examine the Reformation, the Enlightenment, political figures, and major thinkers like Martin Luther and John Calvin.
  • Leadership and Ministry- Courses in Christian leadership typically base their methods and techniques off of examples found in the Bible. Students then apply these principles to their lives and/or to a career in ministry. Some of these courses may include a practicum or field experience with supervised ministry hours.
  • Pastoral/Ministry Theology- These courses explore the theological foundation for pastoral leadership. Students may discuss topics in the responsibilities of ministers, ecclesiology, and models for ministry.
  • Ethics- Courses in ethics focus on Christian ethics and the biblical basis for these standards. These courses also explore ethical issues that may be unique to ministers, as well as other topics in personal morality and self-care. Some courses may also discuss ethical issues at the national and international levels and explore different case scenarios.

Cost of Program

The cost of an online MDiv program varies by institution and students should be sure to do their research when calculating the total price tag of a program. Some programs may charge between $200 per credit hour up to around $450 per credit hour. Most may also have additional fees that students need to consider, such as technology fees, graduation fees, distance education fees and more.

Many schools may offer a range of ways for students to help reduce the overall cost of a degree program. Schools may accept veteran benefits and/or offer credit to those who have served in the military. Most schools also accept a range of federal and private loans and grants. Students may also pursue school-based or outside scholarships.

All students should look into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will detail which grants, aid and loans they might qualify for. Schools may also have their own applications for aid. It's important to touch base with your school's financial aid office to make sure you're getting all the financial help you can.

Job Options for Graduates with a Master of Divinity

Some graduates of MDiv programs may go on to pursue a doctoral degree in ministry or a related field, but many graduates pursue careers in the field of ministry. Outside of ministry, graduates may pursue careers in areas like:

  • Nonprofit groups
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Social justice agencies
  • Religious organizations

Another fairly common field for graduates with their MDiv to work in is education. These graduates may work for private schools and/or churches with job titles like a Sunday school administrator, a Christian teacher, or a curriculum director.

Students who choose to go into ministry may work a variety of jobs for churches of different denominations and/or other organizations. Some of these ministry job titles may include:

  • Missionary
  • Hospital chaplain
  • Corporate chaplain
  • Pastor
  • Military chaplain
  • Campus ministry leader

Clergy

Pastors, ministers, priests, and other religious leaders fall into the category of clergy, who according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2018, made a median salary of $48,990. The BLS also reported a job outlook for clergy of 6% from 2018 to 2028, which is as fast as average. Most clergy need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some on-the-job training.

Clergy are responsible for assisting members of a specific faith and/or church spiritually and morally. They may teach about beliefs and religious practices, as well as offer life advice. Depending on their role, some of these leaders may teach from religious texts, oversee religious services, and/or help prepare religious programming. Clergy will also assist with many kinds to members of their church and may be involved in solving conflicts between members, and/or counseling members.

Religious Directors

Directors of religious activities and education may include job titles like youth director, Christian education director, religious education director, and more. In 2018, the BLS reported that these directors made a median salary of $40,810 and had a job outlook of 5% from 2018 to 2028, which is also as fast as average. These directors typically need at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience.

Depending on their job title, directors may be responsible for planning, coordinating, and/or overseeing religious activities and/or education for a specific church or religious organization. This may require them to lead a program and/or schedule events. Religious directors usually need to recruit volunteers, train their staff, prepare appropriate curriculum for various audiences, and get the word out about their event/program. Some of these directors may also give people suggestions about religious, financial, and other issues.

High School Teachers

According to the BLS, high school teachers made a median salary of $60,320 as of 2018 and had a job outlook of 4%, which is as fast as average. High school teachers with an MDiv are more likely to work at a private, Christian school, which may not require a state teaching license. However, most teachers need to have at least a bachelor's degree with a major in a specific subject area.

High school teachers usually teach students in grades 9 through 12 and help prepare them for college and/or a career after graduation. They must create lesson plans, assignments, and exams to help teach and assess particular skills in their subject area. They are also responsible for setting and enforcing classroom rules, adapting lesson plans as needed, and meeting educational standards set by the state. Many of these teachers have additional responsibilities, such as supervising kids outside of normal class time, contacting parents as needed, and/or helping individual students with the material.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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