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What is Theology?
Theology is the area of study that studies various religious texts, artifacts, resources, and other materials in order to better understand God and religion. Individuals in this field typically pursue this degree as part of their seminary work prior to becoming a priest, pastor, or other religious leader within a church or community. Theology programs also tend to offer comparison of religions and stories in order to identify the origins of such tales in historical contexts and to better understand their purpose and morphology.
Types of Theology Degrees
There are a number of college degrees available to students and practitioners today in theology. In fact, the choices increase markedly with the proliferation of online theology programs across the country. Online college degree programs are also known as distance learning programs and are the fastest growing type of degree option for several years running.
Online theology programs can come in two different modalities that you need to be cognizant about: synchronous learning and asynchronous learning. The easiest way to think about the difference is to remember that synch means to bring things together. As such, synchronous learning happens through online college degree programs when everyone in a class is required to be present at the same time, reviewing the same material simultaneously. Instead of being physically present in a classroom, you will be present remotely via the internet and participate accordingly. On the other hand, asynchronous learning does not require students to be logged in at the same time but are self-directed as you work on material at your pace.
If you are considering a college degree in theology, online or offline, the list below is intended to help you make the best choice for your future with the options available.
Associate Degree in Theology
An associate degree in theology is a 2-year program and seen as the entry point into various religious organizations and church groups. Online associate degrees in theology will often be an AA or Associate of Arts degree with a defined area of emphasis. Three of the most popular AA programs in the theology degree concentration include:
- Associate of Arts in Christian Counseling (AA)
- Associate of Arts in Christian Leadership (AA)
- Associate of Arts in Religion (AA)
All three Associate degree tracks include a mix of liberal arts courses and core theology curriculum. The combination of both types of classes provide students with a well-rounded education and help students think differently about the world around them. Career options for theology majors earning an associate’s degree include: clergy, chaplaincy, social services, business, communications, education, missions, religious communities, and health ministries.
Bachelor Degree in Theology
A bachelor’s degree in theology is a 4-year program designed to provide students with substantive exposure to general education courses and theology studies in a particular area of concentration. The most popular online bachelor degree programs include the following Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) programs:
- Bachelor’s in Media Ministry (BA)
- Bachelor’s in Ministry (BA)
- Pastoral Leadership (BS)
- Bachelor’s in Biblical & Studies (BS)
- Music & Worship Studies (BS)
- Bachelor’s in Youth Ministry (BA)
- Bachelor’s in Philosophy & Religion (BA)
- Bachelor’s in Global Outreach (BS)
- Christian Leadership & Church Ministries (BS)
- Christian Worship (BS)
- Theology and Apologetics (BS)
Master Degree in Theology
Earning a master’s degree in theology is a 1-2 year program of full-time work after successfully completing all requisite lower-level classes. Master’s degree programs provide a higher degree of focus on core concentrations with little to no general education courses. Students graduating from an accredited college or university with a master’s degree in theology are equipped to launch a career in a wide variety of fields from urban ministry to school teacher. A list of popular online master degree programs in theology include the following:
- Christian Apologetics (MACA)
- Christian Ministries (MACM)
- Divinity (MDiv)
- Biblical Languages (MDiv)
- Marriage and Family Counseling (MA)
- Crisis Response and Trauma (MA)
- Christian Counseling (MA)
- Theology (MA)
- Biblical Studies (MDiv)
- Homiletics (MA)
- Religion (MAR)
- Healthcare Chaplaincy (MDiv)
- Worship Studies (MA)
- Christian Leadership & Church Ministries (MDiv)
- Pastoral Counseling (MA)
- Evangelism and Church Planting (MAR)
A degree in theology asks students to explore religious systems in a variety of contexts. Individuals studying in a theology program will explore the history of religion, examining documents and books relevant to the religion. In addition, students will be asked to compare religions, examining the similarities and differences in doctrine. In the United States theology programs were often at the core of private institutions, many of which were founded with religious leanings. Currently the program is often offered at seminaries or liberal arts colleges, resulting in degrees at the bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Some programs may require the learning of an ancient language, such as Aramaic, Ancient Greek, Latin or Hebrew, in order to read texts in their original or near original form.
A theology program curriculum may include:
- Prophetic Literature
- Historical Books Survey
- Poetic Literature
- History of Christianity
- Biblical Theology
What Schools Offer Theology Programs?
There are dozens and dozens of accredited colleges and universities that offer theology programs. From a local college in your state to an online master’s degree in divinity from a large university, you have more choice today than ever. To learn more about colleges and universities offering theology programs, you can simply visit any number of programs below or sort by state on this resource page. You can also utilize our proprietary college matching tool for online programs and traditional degrees to collect information from different schools from around the country to best fit your goals. The key is to start learning today and determine which schools best fit your career objectives and vocational aspirations.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Individuals pursuing a career with a theology degree will find that the most prominent jobs available are in the clergy. As many seminaries offer educations in theology, it is the goal of such institutions to prepare individuals to do God's work in whichever branch of Christianity they pursue. Entering into the clergy allows individuals to pursue further theological studies with the context of organized religion while disseminating the traditions and values to their congregation.
Other positions available to individuals involve educational opportunities, particularly college level teaching positions typically requiring a master's degree. University positions, including research positions, generally require a doctoral degree or extensive experience. Individuals may also end up in research and advisory positions, often employed by the government to evaluate and understand religious motivations of the populace and to promote sensitivity to their beliefs.
Salary and Related Fields
The average starting salary for a theology major is approximately $35,000 per year, with the average overall salary being $52,000 per year. Salaries in theology will vary wildly based on position, rank, experience and education, individuals who pursue higher level degrees will be more likely to be promoted.