From a literal perspective, theology translates to the study of God. Theo – which is from the Greek for ‘God’ and ‘ology,’ which means the study of – translates to the study of God. However, theology studies, like its cousin religious studies, typically address the concepts of religious truth, history, rituals, and divine beings, among others.
Why Study Theology?
Answering questions like – Does God Exist? – Or, Do we, as human beings, genuinely have free will? – is why we study theology.
Said another way, theology is the study of God and religious beliefs that allow individuals to address those questions that continue to afflict the human condition but remain unanswered. Do we have free will? Does God exist?
If you are seriously considering studying theology in college, be certain to find the answers to questions like –
- What is theology?
- What is the difference between theology and religious studies?
- What is theology, and how does it differ cross-culturally?
The study of theology includes anthropology, history, and philosophy, plus an entirely different perspective of its own. Debating the nature of God – amongst one of the many religions – plus each individual’s relationship with God creates an opportunity to address complex but rewarding work.
It might help to learn that some people refer to theologians as professors of God.
What Does a Theologian Do?
Theologians challenge themselves (and others through their professional work) to address some of the most philosophical and ethical queries of human existence. As such, theologians find that the study of religion and religious studies offers insightful, if not fascinating topics for deep debates, personal insights, and opportunities for tremendous spiritual growth.
Individuals who are interested in studying theology will often have career aspirations as leaders of a church or a religious organization. Still, other theologians seek to become bible educators or volunteer and charitable organization managers. Theologians seek to delve deep into the study of the Scriptures while working to alleviate what is often the needless suffering of individuals across the globe.
Most Popular Schools with Online Theology & Vocational Studies Degree Programs
National Estimates for Clergy Workers
Employment estimate and mean wage estimates for this occupation:
Most Affordable Online Theology & Vocational Studies Degree Programs
How to Become a Theologian?
A theologian focuses on the rational study of religion, faith, religious history as well as the more modern religious issues. The reality is that as long as religious texts have existed, there have been professional theologians studying, analyzing, interpreting, and disseminating the contents of such texts. If you would like to learn how to become a theologian, make sure you also find out the answers to these questions –
- How do you become a theologian if it is a career objective to become a religious studies educator?
- How long does it take to become a theologian?
The time it takes to become a theologian depends on the degree you wish to earn. An associate degree in theology is a good starting point, but most theologians continue to earn their baccalaureate, master’s, or doctorate degree in theology to reach for certain desirable theological positions in the church or academia.
What Can You Do With a Theology Degree?
Because the study of theology includes a broad education across many disciplines, theologian graduates will find that this degree is a great springboard to a number of rewarding careers in theology. Careers in religion and theology often include work as a foreign missionary, a professional translator of scripture, or an educator at a private religious school, to name a few. Take a moment to learn the answer to – What can you do with a theology degree?
Careers in Theology
The answer to the question – What can you do with a theology degree? – has multiple answers. Consider this partial list of careers in theology –
- A chaplain, cleric, pastor
- A charity fundraiser
- A religious studies or philosophy teacher
- An Archivist
- A community service manager
- A pastoral counselor
- A journalist
- A historian, to name a few.
Theology Degree Types
The field of theology offers a variety of academic degrees at various levels.
Associates in Theology Degrees
The most basic of academic degrees take about two years to complete and offers an associate degree in theology online or on-campus. Many on-campus and online associates degree in theology offer interested students the opportunity to gain some traction at the college level while completing the required general education of all college-level degrees.
Most associates in theology online degrees will include modules or classes that focus on critical communication and problem-solving skills, plus history classes that offer students the chance to delve deeper into one or more religions, faiths, or historical texts.
Many associate theology degree holders choose to complete their baccalaureate degree in theology. These are discussed next.
Bachelor’s in Theology Degrees
Those students enrolled in a bachelor of theology online or on-campus program choose to delve further into the study of important biblical concepts and principles, typically in Christianity, but sometimes in one of the many other world religions.
Classes included in an online bachelor of theology degree program typically cover religious studies topics like Christian ethics, discipleship, prophets, the early church, interpreting scripture or bible languages, among others. For students intending on enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in theology online or on-campus program, it is important to understand the sector’s labor and employment statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers these relevant and topical statistics –
|Online Bachelors Degree in Theology Top Employing Occupations|
|Position for Bachelor of Theology Online Graduate||Projected Growth for Position of Grad from Bachelors Degree in Theology Online|
|Clergy||21% through 2029|
|Elementary School Teachers||4% through 2029|
|Religious Workers||3% through 2029|
About 2/3 of those individuals who graduate with an on-campus or online bachelors degree in theology will work in one of five occupations types – management occupations, social service-community workers, sales, administrative support, or education – library services. Many online bachelor of technology degree programs offers great flexibility for students and working learners who must compete for time barely available during their already overbooked schedules.
Master’s in Theology Degrees
Many theologians who have earned an on-campus or online theology masters degree choose to work in academia as this allows them to continue their academic adventure into theology at the same time. If you are interested in earning your master in theology online degree, with an ultimate objective of becoming an educator, the U.S. federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics offers this timely statistical guidance –
|Online Masters in Theology Post-Secondary Religion Teachers|
|National Estimates for Post-Secondary Religion Teachers with a Master of Theology Online Degree|
|Number Employed (5/2019)||23,490|
|Median Yearly Salary||$88,970|
It is also prudent to review the salary estimates – across percentiles for those who have earned a masters in theology online degree.
|Online Masters in Theology Post-Secondary Religion Teachers|
|Percentile Wage Estimates for Post-Secondary Religion Teachers with a Master of Theology Online Degree|
|10%||$41,540 per year|
|25%||$55,570 per year|
|50%||$75,240 per year|
|75%||$103,960 per year|
|90%||$151,180 per year|
If you have already earned your online theology masters degree, the next and terminal degree would be a doctorate in theology online or on-campus program.
Doctoral in Theology Degrees
Students who wish to enroll in a theology doctorate online or on-campus degree program have the opportunity to further refine their theological studies. Most online doctorate in theology students pursue advanced degrees with online doctorate in theology degrees as a Doctor Philosophy, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Practical Theology, or Doctor of Theology.
Many doctorate of theology online or on-campus programs are designed for working adults and allow degree candidates in theology up to seven years to complete the theology doctorate online degree. Individuals who complete a doctor of theology online or on-campus program find rewarding careers as educators, researchers, clergy members, ministerial professionals, archivists – librarians, translators, journalists, or community service managers, among others. It is noted that the admission requirements for a doctorate in theology online programs vary, so students are encouraged to explore each program in its entirety to ensure it meets their education objectives.
Accreditation of Theology Programs/Degrees
Theological schools and programs are typically accredited regionally, by one of the USDE’s regional agencies or accredited by a specialized accrediting agency. Check out this list of the regional accrediting agencies within the United States –
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Typically, accredited online theology degrees have received specialized accreditation by the ATS – which is an acronym for the Association of Theological Schools in the United States & Canada. The ATS has more than 260 schools that offer accreditation at the post-baccalaureate level. The ATS’ member schools include many Christian denominations and schools of the Jewish faith, although all schools of religion are welcome to become affiliated members.
Accredited online theology schools may also receive accreditation from these accreditation agencies, which have received approval by CHEA or by the USDE – the U.S. Department of Education –
- The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges & Schools – this Virginia-based organization was established in 1979. TRACS’ mission is to promote the development of quality post-secondary schools with a distinct Christian mission. The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges & Schools’ membership exceeds 75 institutions of higher education from nearly two dozen states and six international locales.
- The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) – located in Orlando, Florida, the Association for Biblical Higher Education has approximately 150 institutions of higher learning members in North American. These schools offer nearly 2,500 programs to more than 57,000 students.
- The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) – founded in 1926 as a non-profit organization, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission includes accreditation to schools located within all fifty states and internationally. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to ensuring quality education that is delivered non-traditionally – through various distance learning modalities.
Many quality schools offer both an undergraduate and graduate certificate in theology online and on-campus. Undergraduate theology certificates online are the perfect stepping stone for those who wish to enroll in a theological baccalaureate degree eventually. Graduate theology certificates online (or on-campus) are a great option for working learners who have academic objectives that include a masters or doctorate degree in theology.
Additionally, many online theology certificate programs offer specialized programs. For example, a certificate in theology online may specialize in the Latino population, while another online theology certificate program may offer to specialize in women’s studies or underserved youth.
Scholarships, from a general perspective, are simply financial awards that help students pay for a college-level degree. Scholarships are offered by schools, individuals, organizations, the government, and anyone with a charitable heart and philanthropic goal.
Some theology scholarships are a one-time gig; however, other scholarships for theology students offer a renewal option to scholarship recipients if they meet the scholarship’s renewal requirements. Scholarships are the preferred method of financing one’s education because fully funded theology scholarships do not have to be repaid, whereas a typical student loan does.
Here is a sampling of the many available scholarships in theology for students at various academic levels –
The Mary Bivins Foundation Religious Scholarship Program – this scholarship is available to both graduate and undergraduate degree students studying to become Christian Ministers. Students must complete twelve credits (as undergrads) or nine credits (as grad students) prior to applying to be a Mary Bivins Scholar. These theology scholarships are valued at $2,500 per semester for undergraduate students and $3,500 per semester for those studying for a graduate degree in theology.
The Fund for Theological Education – this theological fund offers fellowship to those students who are interested in faith-based learning. The fund offers a variety of scholarships in theology as follows – ministry fellowship, dissertation fellowship, congregational fellowship, or doctoral fellowship, among others.
The Disciples Home Missions – this organization supports the Disciples of Christ and offers several theology scholarships as follows –
- Star Supporter Scholarship or African American Scholarship Fund – available to African-American ministerial students.
- The Katherine Schutze Memorial Scholarship – for women seminary students.
- Songbook Choi Memorial Scholarship – available to Pacific or Asian-American students of ministry or theology.
- Iva & Lloyd Mattison Youth Ministry Scholarship – for those theology students focused on mentorship and youth ministry.