The Top 15 Online Masters in Religion Degree Programs


As a person of faith, you may have gotten the call or just have a sincere desire to pursue an advanced degree in religion. However, you may not think you have the time to commit to a traditional, on-campus experience. Fortunately, the prevalence of online distance learning programs has made pursuing an advanced degree in any subject or field of study accessible to anyone with an internet connection, including religious studies. But what is a degree in religion, anyway? There are many different types of religious graduate degrees to choose from, and they all lead to a different career or life path.

* Masters of Theological Studies (M.T.S.): This scholarly degree is for someone who is looking to get their doctorate in religion, do advanced research, or publish in the field of religious studies.

* Masters of Divinity (M.Div.): This pastoral degree is for someone who is pursuing a career in the ministry as an ordained priest, pastor, minister, or church leader.

* Masters of Theology (M.Th.): This educational degree is for someone who wants to teach religion at the college level and is commonly earned after an M.Div.

The online schools gathered in this list focus mainly on programs that fall into the Theological Studies track, but most of them also offer graduate degrees in divinity, theology, and other religious studies.

Here you will find the Top 15 Online Master Degrees in Religion at some of the finest religious schools in the country. The methodology used to rank these institutions considered overall reputation, regional accreditation, and their affiliation with a governing religious council. Secondary consideration included advanced doctorate options available, breadth of studies covered in each program, and overall flexibility of schedules for online students. Finally, any nationally recognized ranking awards, such as U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) or the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), were also assessed.

15. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a graduate school affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. There are five campuses in California, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado. All courses are taught in agreement with and not contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message. The seminary’s goal is to provide religious education anytime and anywhere, so online programs were specially developed to provide students with the most convenient access to religious education programs. They offer three graduate degrees, including a two-year Master of Theological Studies program that went online in 2013. The program strives to create a real connection between the students, instructors, and classmates with multiple interactive methods. This includes video lectures, live video chats, threaded email discussions, and shared research projects. Students also have access to virtual library assistants and research materials. The program is 100% online and requires 49 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $245 per credit hour (Southern Baptist rate)
* USNWR Ranking: None

14. Trevecca Nazarene University

Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts school with the main campus in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the official university of the Church of Nazarene, the largest Wesleyan-holiness denomination in the world, but they accept all students who subscribe to their ideals and standards. Academic programs focus on Christian values, critical thinking, and meaningful worship. The institution commits itself to serving those who have served in the Armed Forces. It is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program, a post-9/11 GI Bill which provides eligible veterans free tuition for advanced college degrees. Their Master of Arts in Religion is a unique 18-month program that prepares students for careers in education, nonprofit, and missionary work. There are two concentrations to choose from, Biblical and Theological Studies or Pastoral Arts. The program is 100% online and requires 33 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $350 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: None

13. Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit school with their main campus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are one of 28 institutions affiliated with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. In 1909, it became the first coed Catholic university in the world with its first class of female students. Today, the institution is one of the largest Jesuit universities in the nation and the largest private university in Wisconsin. Their Master of Arts in Christian Doctrine degree was designed to give seekers a deeper understanding of their religion and faith. The learning curriculum provides a traditional Catholic, Jesuit foundation with additional studies into Orthodox and Protestant doctrines and practices. This specialized religious studies degree attracts students of all backgrounds and beliefs who are interested in pursuing theological enrichment for personal or professional reasons. The program is 100% online and requires 30 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $350 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #86 Best National University

12. Calvin Theological Seminary

calvin-theologicalCalvin Theological Seminary, located in Grand Rapids Michigan, is closely tied to Calvin College and affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The seminary believes that whole-person learning on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level is necessary to success in all programs, including their online Theological Studies program. That is why they created their courses in religion as a hybrid rather than taught completely online. Every semester, flexible online courses begin, but twice a year you will be required to travel to the main campus in Grand Rapids for a weeklong intensive course of fun activities, ministry, and study. This program gives every student the opportunity to create strong bonds with instructors, mentors, and your online classmates. Students are also required to participate in online video chats and discussion boards for classroom projects, community interaction, and prayer. The curriculum is extensive and requires 57 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $443 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: None

11. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

southwestern-baptistSouthwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is a private, non-profit institution located in Fort Worth, Texas and affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The online program offers five graduate degrees, including a Master of Theological Studies with a cross-cultural missions track. This degree provides students with theological training and an overseas mission experience, requiring an additional nine credit hours. The college offers discounts to church staff members, and a generous scholarship is available to students are who Southern Baptist church members. There is also a foreign language curriculum that teaches the full degree in Spanish. There are two types of online classes. Synchronous courses are live interaction classes where students view the course at the same time as on-campus students. Asynchronous courses are flexible multimedia classes that students complete on their own schedule. The program is both 100% online or hybrid and requires 36 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $440 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: None

10. Saint Joseph’s College

St-Josephs-College-MaineSaint Joseph’s College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts institution with their main campus in Standish, Maine. The college welcomes students of all faiths to their on-campus and online programs of study. Founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, it is now the only Catholic college in Maine. Offering distance learning since 1976, its online program nurtures intellectual, spiritual, and social growth in students with a value-centered focus. The Master of Arts in Theology program is one based on philosophical thought and grounded in solid Roman Catholic doctrine. It is also useful for Christians who are interested in deepening their faith, regardless of career choice. There are three specializations, Diaconal Studies, Pastoral Theology, and Sacred Theology, as well as a fast-track program for students enrolled in their online undergraduate Theological Studies program. The program is 100% online and requires 36 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $340 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: None

9. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan UniversityIndiana Wesleyan University is a private, Protestant evangelical Christian institution affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. Its main campus is in Marion, Indiana. It is the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the largest private institution in Indiana based on enrollment. This Christ-centered university aims to provide accessible education programs to students who are committed to changing the world. Their Masters of Theological Studies degree provides an in-depth religious education from a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective. The online curriculum is specially designed to assist adult learners with services that are meant to maximize online success and student satisfaction. The program provides access to academic advisors, electronic library services, and spiritual advisors who will provide support and encouragement along the way. The program is 100% online and requires 36 credit hours to complete.

Online Tuition: TBD per credit hour
USNWR Ranking: None

8. Colorado Christian University

colorado-christian-univColorado Christian University is a private Christian interdenominational liberal arts college located in Lakewood, Colorado. Founded in 1914 as the Denver Bible Institute, the school eventually grew into a four-year college and in 1989 merged with Colorado Baptist University. Today it offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees. The university boasts a robust online catalog of programs, including two religious master’s degrees, one in Biblical Studies and one in Theological Studies. A key distinction that makes both of these tracks unique is the inclusion of geographic studies and ancient languages to understand religious texts better from their Greek and Hebrew origins. Courses are typically five weeks long, and a degree takes approximately two years to complete with full-time study. Both programs are 100% online and require 39 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $495 per credit hour
* ACTA Ranking: Top 2% of colleges nationwide

7. Saint Leo University

Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo University is a private Catholic institution with a main campus located in Saint Leo, Florida. Founded by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida in 1989, the university embraces strong Catholic values and deep religious faith. While this is the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in Florida, they welcome online learners of all faiths. The university has a committed history of educating military members with 17 education centers located on bases in seven states. Regularly ranked as one of the country’s most military-friendly institutions, they offer special services to veterans, active military members, and their families. In addition to dozens of online graduate degrees, they also offer master degrees in Theology. This program provides students with a broad understanding of academic theology from a Roman Catholic perspective. The program is 100% online and requires 36 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $450 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #51 Best Colleges for Veterans

6. Liberty University

liberty-universityLiberty University is a private, non-profit Christian University. Founded in 1971 by Dr. Jerry Falwell, the institution has a sprawling main campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. A pioneer of online learning, they offered some of the first courses of its kind in 1985 and is now the country’s largest private, nonprofit online institution. The University strives to provide all online students the opportunity to interact closely with their campus classmates by connecting through Liberty Online Communities. There you can participate in weekly convocations, hear guest speakers, and connect through Gospel-centered services. Online students also have the unique opportunity to join mission trips around the world. Their Master of Arts in Religion program provides a solid foundation for understanding the Bible with specializations in global studies, leadership, church history, and more. The program is 100% online and requires 60 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $380 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #80 Best Regional University (South)

5. Southeastern University

southeastern-univSoutheastern University is a private Christ-centered institution affiliated with the Assemblies of God church and welcomes online students from all Christian denominations. They have a main campus located in Lakeland, Florida, and they offer three online master degrees in Theological Studies, Ministerial Leadership, and Divinity. The Theological Studies track will enhance your understanding of the historical, ethical, and practical aspects of religion, including a focus on Pentecostal theories. This program prepares students for professional careers or advanced fields of study in education, church leadership, nonprofit leadership, and biblical studies. There are three graduation options to choose from, a thesis, directed reading, or extended curriculum. Southeastern University offers an online, hybrid Doctor of Education program for students who want to continue their religious studies to advanced levels. The program is 100% online, requires 48 credit hours, and takes 24-48 months to complete.

* Online Tuition: $495 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #42 Best Regional College (South)

4. Columbia International University

Columbia International UniversityColumbia International University is a private institution located in Columbia, South Carolina. It is evangelical in nature and no official affiliation with any specific denomination. They proudly embrace all on-campus and online students who represent more than 50 religious denominations. The courses they offer online use the exact same curriculum as the campus classrooms, so you know you are getting the same education with a flexible schedule. They offer three unique Master of Arts programs in religion, including Theological Studies, International Studies, and Muslim Studies. For the Theological Studies track, the program offers two convenient formats for students of all backgrounds. The first is for college graduates with no previous coursework in biblical or theological studies, and the second is for those who have at least 30 semester hours in Theology, Bible, or Church History. The program is 100% online and requires 48 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $455 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #35 Best Regional University (South)

3. Dallas Baptist University

dallas-baptist-univDallas Baptist University is a liberal arts Christian university located in Dallas, Texas. Founded in 1898, institution integrates faith into all areas of campus life, athletics, community, and academics. With 58 online degree programs available and a student course completion rate of 92%, their distance learning program is developed to help all students succeed. Their online Theological Studies program has been designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of biblical, historical, and theological principles. There are three concentrations, Christian Heritage, Christian Ministry, and Christian Scriptures, that allow students the opportunity to choose which direction will meet their personal, spiritual, and professional needs. They also offer six dual degree graduate programs that academically pair with the Theological Studies degree, including education, global leadership, and children’s ministry. The program is 100% online and requires 36 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $823 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #35 Best Regional University (West)

2. Regent University

Regent University is a private Christian research university in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Established by Pat Robertson in 1978, this non-denominational institution offers dozens of master and doctorate degrees in six schools on campus and online. The School of Divinity offers six advanced degrees in religion, including Theological Studies. This program provides students a sophisticated understanding of religious disciplines for the purpose of general education or continued graduate studies. Online students will be well-prepared for advanced theological research, writing, and teacher training for future careers in leadership, education, and community services. There are four concentration areas to choose from, including biblical studies, Christian theology, interdisciplinary studies, and the history of Christianity. The School of Divinity also offers an online Ph.D. in Theological Studies with two-week residencies required each semester. The program is 100% online, requires 48 credit hours, and takes 30-48 months to complete.

* Online Tuition: $495 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #46 Best Online Graduate Education Program

1. University of Dallas

univ-dallasThe University of Dallas is a private, independent Catholic institution with their main campus in Irving, Texas. Offering online education since 2005, the university strives to provide the same educational and transformative experiences for their distances learners, as they do for their on-campus students. The same professors who teach the classroom courses also teach the online courses, so you will be on track with your on-campus classmates, but studying at your convenience. Because these courses are identical for all students, there is the option to attend classes on site if you choose. The Theological Studies program has two areas of concentration to choose from, Biblical Studies or Catholic Secondary School Teaching. An intellectual approach to Scripture from a Catholic perspective prepares students for a career in education, community service, or continued religious studies. The program is 100% online and requires 37 credit hours to complete.

* Online Tuition: $650 per credit hour
* USNWR Ranking: #15 Best Regional University (West)