Top Affordable Online Degree Programs in Theology

Explore the top 30 schools with affordable online theology degree programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Find out how much these programs cost and how to get financial aid to pay for your program. Schools offering Ministry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Most Affordable Online Theology Degree Programs

In determining the top schools for an online theology degree program, it's important to review factors such as cost, accreditation, flexibility and program length. The top 30 schools with affordable theology degree programs online are listed below.

1. Moody Bible Institute

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Chicago, IL $13,056 92%

Moody Bible Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has also been accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation since 1951. The school offers several 100% online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, which consist of flexible 8-week courses. Online students have a tuition rate of $350 (undergraduate) or $445 (graduate) per credit hour and can choose from a wide range of programs:

  • Associate of Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in:
    • Integrated Ministry Studies
    • Ministry Leadership
    • Theological Studies
    • Biblical Studies
    • Theological and Cultural Engagement
  • Master of Divinity
  • Master of Arts in:
    • Global Ministry Design
    • Biblical Studies
    • Ministry Studies

2. Apex School of Theology

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Durham, NC $5,100 100%

Apex School of Theology has been accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission since 2000 and has a 99% overall graduation rate (as of 2018). Online students can earn one of several degrees completely online, including:

  • Associates of Christian Education
  • Bachelor of Theology
  • Master of Christian Education
  • Master of Arts in Christian Counseling
  • Master of Divinity

Undergraduate students have a tuition rate of $200 per credit hour while graduate students have a tuition rate of $233 per credit hour, making Apex's online programs some of the most affordable in the country.

3. Huntsville Bible College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Huntsville, AL $4,560 100%

Huntsville Bible College was originally founded in 1986 and is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation. This non-profit institution is committed to preparing students to become leaders who have strong biblical and spiritual foundations. Students of Huntsville Bible College can earn their degrees online and have a low per-credit tuition rate of $185 (undergraduate), $248 (master's degree) or $300 (doctoral). Program options include:

  • Associate of Arts in:
    • Mission & Evangelism
    • Pastoral Ministry
    • Christian Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in:
    • Mission & Evangelism
    • Pastoral Ministry
    • Christian Education
  • Master of Ministry (concentration in pastoral studies or biblical leadership)
  • Doctor of Ministry (concentration in biblical leadership)

4. The Baptist College of Florida

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Graceville, FL $11,400 90%

The Baptist College of Florida has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) since 1981. The school offers all of its programs online and emphasizes the Holy Trinity and transforming the world through faith. Online programs have a tuition rate of $360 per credit hour and include:

  • Associate of Divinity
  • Bachelor of Arts in:
    • Biblical Studies
    • Christian Studies
    • Ministry
    • Missions
    • Leadership/Christian Education
    • Ministry Studies (concentration in aviation)
  • Master of Arts in Christian Studies

5. Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Cromwell, CT $7,870 60%

Holy Apostles College and Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools as well as the New England Commission of Higher Education. HACS is a Cardinal Newman College that employs distinguished faculty, and is the only school to offer a master's degree in philosophy online (this degree offers a concentration in Christian Wisdom). Online students have a tuition rate of $360 per credit hour (for undergraduate and graduate students) and can choose from several programs:

  • Associate of Arts in Theology
  • Bachelor of Arts in:
    • Philosophy
    • Theology
  • Master of Arts in:
    • Pastoral Studies
    • Theology
    • Philosophy

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Hobe Sound Bible College Hobe Sound, FL $6,595 93%
7 Heritage Bible College Dunn, NC $8,328 100%
8 World Mission University Los Angeles, CA $6,200 100%
9 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL $13,200 97%
10 Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville, MS $3,596 99%
11 Amridge University Montgomery, AL $6,900 100%
12 South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary Deerfield Beach, FL $6,900 8%
13 Shasta Bible College and Graduate School Redding, CA $12,060 100%
14 Luther Rice College & Seminary Lithonia, GA $7,616 100%
15 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary New Orleans, LA $8,620 77%
16 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, NC $9,394 98%
17 Epic Bible College Sacramento, CA $9,684 100%
18 Grace School of Theology Conroe, TX $5,280 Not Available
19 God's Bible School and College Cincinnati, OH $7,040 93%
20 International Baptist College and Seminary Chandler, AZ $11,250 100%
21 Central Christian College of the Bible Moberly, MO $13,900 100%
22 Calvary University Kansas City, MO $11,164 89%
23 America Evangelical University Los Angeles, CA $5,500 100%
24 The King's University Southlake, TX $15,000 100%
25 Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Kansas City, MO $7,920 96%
26 Criswell College Dallas, TX $10,710 67%
27 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global Marion, IN $9,816 82%
28 SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary El Dorado Hills, CA $9,964 91%
29 New Hope Christian College-Eugene Eugene, OR $14,830 100%
30 Drury University-College of Continuing Professional Studies Springfield, MO $6,247 95%

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 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.

Choosing the Right School for an Online Theology Degree Program

With so many schools offering online theology degree programs, it's important to carefully review several characteristics of each before making your selection.

Programs Available

As you review school candidates, see what options they have for the programs that you are interested in. Some schools may offer additional concentrations within programs that can help you better prepare for your career goals. Others may only offer certain programs on-campus.

Admissions Requirements

Review the admissions requirements for each of your candidate schools, as some require incoming students to submit a statement of faith and have active roles in their churches and communities. You may need to provide recommendations from religious and academic leaders in addition to the typical admissions requirements, like test scores, transcripts and applications.

Faculty

Review the faculty credentials at the program pages for your school choices; a faculty with a depth of knowledge can be extremely beneficial. In addition, ask your admissions counselors what the standard response time is for emails: do faculty respond the same day or within several days? Having well-trained, readily available teachers can make all the difference in your educational experience.

Overview of Online Theology Degree Programs

Online theology degree programs are available for undergraduate and graduate students. Students can earn degrees in theology and related fields, as highlighted in the sections below.

Degrees Available

Depending on the previous education of students, they may be able to earn an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree or even a doctoral degree. The table below summarizes the admissions requirements as well as the estimated credit hours and length of the different theology degree programs.

Program Admissions Requirements Credit Hours Program Length
Associate's Degree *High school diploma or GED 60-70 2 years
Bachelor's Degree *High school diploma or GED 120-130 4 Years
Master's Degree *Bachelor's degree 30-90 (depending on undergraduate coursework) 2-4 years
Doctoral Degree *Master's degree Varies 3 years

Focus Areas

There are several types of theology degree programs that integrate theology into the curriculum; some of these programs are listed below.

  • Divinity - Within divinity programs, students review theology, leadership, religious history and pastoral responsibilities in preparation for roles as pastors.
  • Biblical Studies - These programs integrate scripture and theology and prepare students to apply biblical principles to problems faced in both ministry and the outside world.
  • Christian Education - Christian education programs include courses in theology, leadership and education and are well-suited for leaders within churches.
  • Ministry - These programs prepare students for leadership roles and ministry and can include courses in biblical studies, theology and pastoral studies.
  • Ministry Studies - Ministry studies programs are more concentrated than ministry programs, allowing students to focus their studies on specific areas of ministry, such as preaching or missions.

Online Experience

Online theology degree programs typically consist of asynchronous learning, which allows students to complete assignments at their convenience. Some schools and courses might require students to log in at certain times for synchronous (scheduled) components, such as virtual class discussions. Students are usually expected to submit assignments each week, which can consist of things like written reports and class discussions on their course web portals.

Common Courses

  • Old Testament - Students explore the people and events of the Old Testament and their significance to religious beliefs and practice.
  • New Testament - This course covers New Testament events and people, and analyzes the importance of each in religion today.
  • Sociology - In this course, students learn the basic fundamentals of social processes and structure and may closely review social implications in religious institutions.
  • Church History - Students learn more about the structure and history of the church and what effects it has on religion and ministry.
  • Theology - This class analyzes the main types of theology, biblical, philosophical, historical and systematic, and how they relate to one another as well as their effects on religion today.
  • Hermeneutics - In this class, students learn different practices for examining the Bible as well as key tools for analyzing research of the Bible.
  • Theology in Practice - Students explore theology in preaching and other religious practice by reviewing theology concepts as they apply to ministry and preaching.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Theology Degree Programs

Accreditation is recognition of a specific set of quality standards met by a school. Accreditation is necessary for students interested in financial aid and can increase the chance of student success. Schools can be accredited through a regional accrediting body or a national accrediting body, several of which exist for both types of accrediting organizations.

In general, regional accreditation is more highly regarded because it requires schools to meet higher quality criteria than national accreditation. Because of the higher standards, schools with regional accreditation can have stricter admissions requirements and higher tuition rates. Students who are interested in returning to school later in life may prefer a regionally accredited school because credits earned at a regionally accredited school can transfer to any accredited school, but credits earned at a nationally accredited school can only transfer to other nationally accredited schools.

How Much Do Online Theology Degree Programs Cost?

The largest cost of online theology degree programs is tuition, which is usually charged per credit hour. Tuition varies by school and can be charged one rate for all students or have lower rates for undergraduate programs and higher rates for graduate programs. In addition to tuition, online programs usually have a handful of fees, such as registration fees and distance learning fees. These itemized fees can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a program. To put the cost of tuition into perspective, the table below shows example program tuition totals based on tuition rates of the schools discussed above.

Program Cost Per Credit Credits Needed Total Program Tuition
Associate's Degree $200 to $350 60 $12,000 to $21,000
Bachelor's Degree $200 to $350 120 $24,000 to $42,000
Master's Degree $230 to $445 30 to 90 $6,900 to $40,050

Financial Aid for Online Theology Degree Programs

Students of online theology degree programs can qualify for several types of financial aid, including scholarships, loans and work-study programs. Students interested in funding their program with financial aid should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA shows some of the types of aid that students can qualify for. In addition, students can find other aid through a number of resources, including their colleges, state education websites and the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Student Loans

Student loans are available through private and government lenders. Government loans typically have better interest rates and repayment options than loans offered from private lenders, such as banks and private lenders.

Loan Forgiveness

Individuals who work in qualifying public-service roles after graduation can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if they have made 120 regular payments (10 years), which forgives the remaining balance of eligible loans.

Work-Study

Work-study programs allow students of college programs to pay for part, or all, of their program by working part-time while in school. Students may qualify to participate in the federal work-study program or directly through a school's program.

Scholarships

Scholarships are available from hundreds of sources, including schools, private organizations and government agencies. Students can qualify for loans based on various factors, such as program of study, income and academic performance. Some of the loans that are available to students of online theology programs are listed below.

  • Marguerite Young Endowment Fund - $1,500 is awarded to students pursuing a theology program full time.
  • Mary E. Bivins Foundation Scholarships - Students enrolled in programs that prepare them for preaching in the Christian faith can qualify for this $3,500 scholarship.
  • Gordon and Eleanor Spykman Memorial Scholarship - Students in their final two years of a religious studies program can qualify for this $2,000 scholarship.
  • Rev. and Mrs. A.K. Jizmejian Educational Fund - $500 and $1,500 scholarships are available for up to four years for qualifying students enrolled in theology programs.
  • CSF Graduate Fellowship - Students who are members of the Church of Christ and are pursuing a program to teach religious subjects in higher education can qualify for $2,000 or $10,000 awards.
  • The Virtuous Prom Peace Scholarship - $250 is awarded to female students pursuing a program in theology or a related field who have financial need.
  • Calihan Academic Grants - These grants, for $500, $1,000 and $3,000, are awarded to graduate students enrolled in theology and other qualifying fields of study.

What Can You Do with an Online Theology Degree?

There are several careers that graduates of online theology programs can pursue, both in and outside of religious organizations. Some of the careers that online theology degree graduates may enter are discussed below.

  • Clergy - Clergy is responsible for leading worship services and other church events, as well as providing guidance and counsel to church members. Specific titles of clergy include priest, pastor, children's minister and rabbi.
  • Directors, Religious Activities and Education - Religious activities and education directors plan and direct religious activities and/or education services in different organizations. These might include youth ministry director, religious education coordinator and Christian education director.
  • Postsecondary Teachers - Postsecondary teachers provide instruction to students in college, university and other higher education institutions. Graduates of theology programs may be qualified for these positions if they have a master's degree (for community college roles) or a doctoral degree (for university roles).

Job Title Typical Education Needed Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Clergy Bachelor's degree $48,990 6%
Directors, Religious Activities and Education Bachelor's degree $40,810 5%
Postsecondary Teachers, Philosophy and Religion Master's degree or doctoral degree $71,890 10%

Salary and career data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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