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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Theology

By the OnlineU team | Updated 12/2/2022
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Students interested in spiritual growth may pursue an affordable online master's degree in theology to increase their biblical and theological knowledge. In addition to self-enrichment, students in a graduate theology degree program can develop advanced skills for vocations — such as religious administration, ministry, Christian education, and missionary service — or work to fulfill doctoral degree requirements. Similarly, our list of affordable online master's degrees in religious studies may interest students who want to attend a faith-based institution but have a different calling for spiritual work. 

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our complete list of the most affordable online degrees for more inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Belhaven University Jackson (MS) $4,086
# 2 #2 Campbellsville University Campbellsville (KY) $4,485
# 3 #3 Liberty University Lynchburg (VA) $5,500
# 4 #4 Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary Jacksonville (TX) $5,730
# 5 #5 Veritas Baptist College Lawrenceburg (IN) $5,922
# 6 #6 Eastern University Saint Davids (PA) $6,120
# 7 #7 Ohio Christian University Circleville (OH) $7,200
# 8 #8 Holy Apostles Cromwell (CT) $7,215
# 9 #9 Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Elkhart (IN) $7,400
# 10 #10 Newman University Wichita (KS) $7,485
#1
#1

Belhaven University

Jackson (MS)
Annual Tuition: $4,086
Annual Tuition: $4,086
Annual Tuition: $4,086

Belhaven University (BU) is a private, nonprofit institution rooted in the teachings of the Presbyterian church, offering an online Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. Full-time students generally complete the required 36 credit hours in two years. BU has a diverse student body and accepts 50% of applicants. Among those who are enrolled at BU, 45% end up graduating with degrees.

BU uses Canvas to deliver course content and instruction securely to online students. Those in the theological studies program enroll in classes such as Hermeneutics, The Old Testament: Prophetic Books, The New Testament: Hebrews to Revelation, and Systematic Theology: Jesus Christ. Course curriculum helps prepare students for missionary, pastoral ministry, and Christian education work.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 426
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,405
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#2
#2

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville (KY)
Annual Tuition: $4,485
Annual Tuition: $4,485
Annual Tuition: $4,485

Campbellsville University (CU) is a private, nonprofit, Baptist institution offering an online Master of Theology, with concentrations in biblical studies, pastoral leadership, and theological studies. It generally takes full-time students two years to complete the required 30 credit hours, 18 of which are in the chosen concentration. CU has a 78% acceptance rate and a 39% graduation rate.

CU delivers online instruction and coursework through the Moodle learning management system (LMS). Theology students may enroll in core classes such as Poetry and Wisdom in the Old Testament, Ministry of Proclamation and Worship, Reformation and Post-Reformation History of the Church, and Ethics of the Christian Faith. Program alumni often work in education, ministry, and Christian counseling.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 913
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 944
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#3
#3

Liberty University

Lynchburg (VA)
Annual Tuition: $5,500
Annual Tuition: $5,500
Annual Tuition: $5,500

Liberty University (LU) is a private, nonprofit, Evangelical institution offering an online Master of Arts in Theological Studies. This program requires students to complete 36 credit hours, which is designed to take full-time students at least 1.5 years. Similar online degree programs offered by LU include a Master of Religion Education and a Master of Arts in Religion. Overall, LU accepts exactly half of its applicants, and among enrolled students, 34% graduate.

LU Online uses Canvas for instruction and coursework delivery. Online theological studies students sign up for classes through the LMS, including Introduction to Apologetics; Intercultural Communication; Survey of the History of Christianity; and Research, Writing and Ministry Preparation. Graduates may pursue careers as archeologists, biblical historians, Christian authors, and pastors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 1040 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 34,092
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 36,337
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $5,730
Annual Tuition: $5,730
Annual Tuition: $5,730

Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary (BMATS) is a private, nonprofit institution with values steeped in the Baptist faith and offering an online Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology. This 36-credit-hour program takes full-time students approximately two years to complete courses in advanced theology and biblical studies. BMATS accepts 44% of students, and 34% earn their degrees.

BMATS delivers online class instruction and assignments via Moodle. Distance learners in the Pastoral Theology program engage in classes such as Church Administration, Theology of Worship, Biographical History of Missions, and Advanced Christian Psychology. Once they graduate, alums may choose to work as pastors, church administrators, and Christian and lay educators.

  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 49
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 42
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#5
#5

Veritas Baptist College

Lawrenceburg (IN)
Annual Tuition: $5,922
Annual Tuition: $5,922
Annual Tuition: $5,922

Veritas Baptist College (VBC) is a private, nonprofit Baptist institution offering an online Master of Ministry - Bible and Theology, which requires completing 30 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students interested in obtaining this advanced biblical knowledge typically finish this program in two years. VBC has a 68% acceptance rate and a 37% graduation rate.

VBC's online students use the Canvas LMS to access lectures and coursework. For example, students in the bible and theology program may choose from classes such as Principles of Biblical Counseling, Advanced Sermon Development, Organization and Administration of Church Ministries, and cross-Cultural Church Planting. Graduates may go on to work as pastors, church administrators, or Christian counselors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 59%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 191
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 34
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: TRACS
#6
#6

Eastern University

Saint Davids (PA)
Annual Tuition: $6,120
Annual Tuition: $6,120
Annual Tuition: $6,120

Eastern University is a private, nonprofit American Baptist institution offering an online Master of Practical Theology. This 36-credit program takes an average of three years to complete. While courses are delivered online, students may opt to attend integrative seminars on campus. EU accepts 64% of students, 62% of which graduate with degrees. Eastern also offers an online Master of Arts in Theological and Cultural Anthropology and an online Master of Theological Studies in Latino/a Ministries to their diverse student body.

Eastern provides the LMS Brightspace to its online student body for curriculum delivery. Practical theology students complete core courses such as Koinonia: Leading and Building Community, Kerygma: Communicating the Gospel, Diakonia: Missional Service, and Paideia: Spiritual Formation. Eastern’s master's programs prepare students for careers and vocations within the church and abroad doing missionary work.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1230
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 238
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 707
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
#7
#7

Ohio Christian University

Circleville (OH)
Annual Tuition: $7,200
Annual Tuition: $7,200
Annual Tuition: $7,200

Ohio Christian University (OCU) is a private, nonprofit institution rooted in the Wesleyan-Arminian faith, and it offers an online Master of Arts in Ministry - Practical Theology. Distance learning classes in this 36-credit program last five weeks and are self-paced, enabling full-time students to complete the program in two years or less. OCU accepts all those who apply and has a 29% graduation rate.

OCU uses Brightspace as its secure online learning delivery platform. Students in the practical theology program engage in courses such as Biblical Preaching, Mission in the Western World, and Worship in the Church. Completing a capstone project is also required to graduate. The curriculum generally helps students develop the advanced skills necessary to serve the church and society effectively and compassionately.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,264
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 246
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#8
#8

Holy Apostles

Cromwell (CT)
Annual Tuition: $7,215
Annual Tuition: $7,215
Annual Tuition: $7,215

Holy Apostles College and Seminary is a private, nonprofit Catholic institution offering an online Master of Arts in Theology, which generally takes full-time students two years to finish. Students can choose from one of eight concentrations in his 36-credit program, including (1) General Studies, (2) Moral Theology, (3) Church History, (4) Thomistic Studies, (5) Bioethics, (6) Bioethics with a certificate from the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), (7) Dogmatic Theology, and (8) Sacred Scripture. Holy Apostles has a 100% acceptance rate and a 55% graduation rate.

Remote students at Holy Apostles access instruction and coursework on Populi, where they enroll in classes, such as Nature and Grace, Prophetic Literature, Ecclesiology and Ecumenism, and Bioethics and the Law. Completing a comprehensive exam and written paper is required to graduate. This program may appeal to healthcare professionals, Catholic educators, youth ministers, and spiritual directors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 50%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 156
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 344
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $7,400
Annual Tuition: $7,400
Annual Tuition: $7,400

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) is a private, nonprofit institution with a curriculum grounded in the teachings of the Anabaptist Mennonite faith. It offers an online Master of Arts in Theology and Global Anabaptism, which generally takes full-time students two to three years to complete the required 46 credit hours of coursework.

AMBS courses are delivered to online students via Moodle. Classes within the online theology program include Strange New World of the Bible, Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture, God’s Shalom and the Church’s Witness, and Christian Leadership in the 21st Century. The knowledge students can gain through this program can help develop their Anabaptist biblical, theological, and historical knowledge, which can deepen their spiritual work.

  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 28
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#10
#10

Newman University

Wichita (KS)
Annual Tuition: $7,485
Annual Tuition: $7,485
Annual Tuition: $7,485

Newman University (NU) is a private, nonprofit, Roman Catholic institution offering an online Master of Arts in Theology, which helps prepare students for a PhD. Students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework, and this typically takes full-time students at least two years. Similarly, NU offers an online Master of Theological Studies that may suit students who are uninterested in a doctoral degree. NU accepts 83% of applicants and has a 58% graduation rate.

NU’s online theology master's program allows students to participate in class and receive the curriculum via Canvas. Students may enroll in online courses such as Foundations of Moral Theology, The Four-Fold Gospel, Newman, and the New Evangelization, and Controversies in Church History. Students must also complete a thesis to graduate and progress to NU’s PhD program.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Average SATs: 985 -1190
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 121
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 135
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Overview of Affordable Online Theology Master's Programs

A master's degree in theology is for those seeking to understand the nature of divinity from a scholarly perspective, which can be applied to either religious or secular pursuits. A graduate program in this subject grounds students in a particular faith tradition while teaching them how religion is expressed through real-world cultural conventions.

Some graduate theology programs focus specifically on the Christian ministry and faith, and others explore different religious traditions. Students can pursue specializations in various subjects, such as Biblical studies, theology and culture, practical theology, or pastoral care. According to Data USA — an initiative that gathers and presents U.S. government data — 50% of all theology degrees awarded in 2019 were master's programs. This data also showed that theology graduates increased in the workforce by 5.9% between 2018 and 2019.

Students enrolled in an online theology graduate program can choose between either full-time or part-time study. While full-time, students usually complete their degree in two years. Part-time students can take between three and six years to graduate.


How Much Will My Online Master's Degree in Theology Cost?


The median annual tuition for an online theology master's is $10,710, based on our analysis of 36 schools. By comparison, the median cost of an online master's degree across subjects is $14,278. However, some affordable online theology programs are much cheaper, starting at $3,582 a year.


In addition to tuition rates, it's important to consider incidental costs that may be incurred while pursuing an online theology program. Even though online students are saving on expenses related to transportation to and from campus, student housing, student healthcare plans, and relocation, they still need to factor in application and enrollment fees, textbook purchases, and the cost of accessing high-speed internet. Many theology programs also include biblical language exams that require supplementary fees that are excluded from the cost of tuition. While these fees vary widely, they can cost up to $250.

Even still, an online master's degree in theology may be a more affordable option than its on-campus counterpart. For example, while nonresident online students sometimes pay out-of-state tuition, some programs charge them an in-state rate, which is cheaper than an out-of-state student on campus.


Funding an Online Master's in Theology Program

To receive financial aid, students must first complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Most states and colleges use this form to determine a student’s eligibility for various types of funding. The best financial aid options for online master's students in theology don't have to be repaid, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and fellowships. Although federal or private loans may provide valuable funding options, they eventually need to be repaid with interest.

Importantly, theology students may be ineligible for some federal or state financial aid depending on where they enroll.

Importantly, theology students may be ineligible for some federal or state financial aid depending on where they enroll. Some states, such as Florida, do not allow their programs to fund theology or divinity degrees because it may be construed as the government advocating for a religious point of view. Other colleges don't accept federal money or allow students access to federal aid because they would be required to adopt the government's Title IX regulations, guaranteeing equal treatment for all students regardless of gender and sexuality. Some institutions have been granted exemptions to certain Title IX regulations; check with your graduate school's financial aid office and your state's department of higher education to determine your eligibility for government aid.

School websites are the best sources of financial aid information for theology students. Some colleges even offer institutional scholarships that may be endowed by alumni or a school's affiliated church. Below are some examples of scholarships specific to master's students in theology.

Calihan Academic Grant

The Acton Institute awards $500 to graduate students whose scholarly focus centers around the relationship between theology and the human world. Applicants must demonstrate an excellent academic record, and they may apply regardless of their citizenship, gender, age, or religious affiliation.

The General Board of Higher Education (GBHEM) General Scholarship

The GBHEM awards graduate students pursuing religious studies $500-$2,000 every year. Students must be GBHEM members for at least one year and have at least a 2.5 GPA.

Dora Maclellan Brown Ministry Scholarship

This scholarship is granted yearly by The Generosity Trust, and the award amounts vary. Applicants must work in vocational Christian services. It's intended for theologically and biblically conservative graduate students from the greater Chattanooga area who are pursuing master's degrees at a theological seminary, Bible College, or related graduate program.

For additional information about college affordability, students can check out our resources about paying for a college degree, which include details about financial mistakes to avoid, the popular college savings plans, and more.


Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process where a third party evaluates a school or university’s faculty, facilities, and resources to determine whether it meets national education standards. In other words, accreditation ensures that a college or university is offering a quality education. Schools can have multiple accreditations that they receive from both national and regional accreditation bodies. Furthermore, only students enrolled in accredited institutions are eligible for financial aid. For those seeking to transfer credits, it's often required that the credits come from an accredited institution.

These accreditation bodies may also evaluate specific online degree programs to ensure their educational quality. For instance, an online master's in theology can receive programmatic accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools. Theology programs may also be accredited by faith-based organizations, such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education, as long as institutions of Biblical Higher Education offer them.


Common Online Courses in Theology Master’s Programs

Master's in theology programs often vary depending on a university's denomination and the program's goal. Some programs prepare students for a leadership role in the ministry, while others focus on studying the Bible from an academic, spiritual, and historical lens. Students in graduate theology programs gain an in-depth understanding of biblical texts, examining them through a systematic theological lens. Below are some of the standard courses and electives that students can expect when pursuing this degree.

  • History of the Christian Church: This course covers the history of Christianity through the 21st century from the perspective of the church’s development. Students learn about the foundations of the Christian religion, the Protestant Reformation, the westward spread of Christianity from Rome, and other major historical events that shaped contemporary Christianity.
  • Hermeneutics: The formal study of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics. This course explores the Bible through a historical and grammatical perspective, using the text's original meaning as a framework for modern-day interpretations. Students learn established practices, theories, and methodologies behind interpreting scripture.
  • New Testament History and Interpretation: Most theology programs include multiple classes on the New Testament. Introductory courses often explore the four gospels, the life of Jesus, and biblical interpretation. Additional courses may cover the Book of Revelation, Book of Acts, or historical context surrounding the New Testament and Christianity’s spread.
  • Old Testament History and Interpretation: Most programs also break up Old Testament studies into multiple courses. Students usually start with the Pentateuch and other historical books before moving on to the poetic and prophetic books. The coursework aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of these religious texts from a theological perspective.
  • Systematic Theology: This course introduces theology and the organized study and analysis of biblical doctrines. Course topics may include God's nature and attributes, the eternal plan, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, revelation and scripture, and salvation.

Is an Online Master's in Theology Worth It?

Most people pursue theology because they're passionate about their chosen field of study and the opportunity to explore religious studies in greater depth. In this sense, it may be worth the investment of time and money even without a clear financial or professional payoff after graduation. Whether the online degree program will be worth it in the long run ultimately depends on your interests, career goals, finances, and other factors.

Interestingly, the top-employing career for theology graduates is postsecondary teachers that concentrate in health specialties, and 74% of those in this position have an advanced degree.

Interestingly, the top-employing career for theology graduates is postsecondary teachers that concentrate in health specialties, and 74% of those in this position have an advanced degree.

Students may benefit from pursuing an online program, especially if they're juggling responsibilities, such as those involving work and family, on top of completing their studies. Also, online degrees can be more affordable than campus-based programs and provide a wider range of options for students with specific interests or professional goals.

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