Earning one the 7 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Theology and Christian Studies provides students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of religion. It will give students the skill set to preach the Word with expertise, whether it be inside or outside of the church, and further enhance one's knowledge of the Bible and its teachings. Most people that obtain a master's in this field do it to explore ministerial life and pastoral leadership, teach religious studies at the high school or college level, become a social worker, work as a missionary that travels around the world, or lead and direct a church parish.
Working online gives students the freedom to create a flexible schedule that allows them to receive a degree while also working professionally or taking care of personal commitments. Most students seek colleges and universities that are affordable for them, but also a school that is reputable and will give them the best possible education. The median work for someone in the theological field is just under $46,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to U.S. News, most masters in theology require 30 to 50 credits in order to complete the program. Also according to U.S. News, tuition can range anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000. Most colleges will require students trying to enter into the program to have a bachelor's degree, available transcripts, and a 2.5 GPA. Many schools will additionally require letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"
The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:
- Finances (40%)
- Academic Rigor (35%)
- Student Gratification (25%)
Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.
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Below is our list of the 7 Most Affordable Online Master's Degrees for Theology and Christian Studies.
#7 – Fordham University
Master of Arts in Catholic Theology
Fordham University offers an online Master of Arts in Catholic theology, a broad program that introduces you to the study of theology as an academic discipline. Students will concentrate on one of the following areas of study: Bible, Historical Theology, or Systematic Theology. The Bible concentration requires the completion of 12 courses to graduate while the other two require ten. Whichever concentration is chosen, students must also take four to six classes in the other areas in order for completion of the program. A core course examination must be completed at the end of the semester. A student must also be fluent in either German or French, attend class on a full-time or part-time basis, and write a final interdisciplinary project. The office of admissions requires a letter of intent, writing sample between five and 20 pages in length, and three letters of recommendation. According to Best Catholic Colleges, Fordham is ranked sixth in the country among all Catholic universities and is ranked as the top Catholic college in New York. Their primary religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic church.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $38,503
#6 – Marquette University
Master of Arts in Christian Doctrine
Marquette University offers an online Master of Arts in Christian Doctrine which aims to deepen students knowledge of Christianity and its teachings. The MACD program requires 30 credit hours to be completed, with 21 hours coming from the core classes. These classes include Old and New Testament Methods, Christian Doctrine I & II, Late Medieval to Early Modern Teachings, Origen to Late Medieval Teachings, and Introduction to Theological Ethics. Upon completion, students will have a strong understanding of the scriptures, Church history, and Christian doctrine. The office of admissions requires undergraduate degrees to be obtained first, as well as three letters of recommendation, a personal statement specifying the applicant's reason for applying, vocational objectives, and special areas of interest. The school also offers scholarship aid to those who teach at a Catholic school or are planning to in the upcoming year. According to U.S. News, Marquette ranks in the top 50 among the Best Value Schools. Their religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic church.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,377
#5 – Abilene Christian University
Masters of Arts in Theology
Abilene Christian offers an online Master of Arts in Theology program. The purpose of the degree is to give you the skills and knowledge to utilize Christian resources in practicing theology in the church, academy, and contemporary society. Courses focus on topics and figures within and outside of the Christian tradition. As part of the admissions process, applicants must have two letters of recommendation, an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 3.0, a purpose statement following the specific guidelines outlined on the website, and a GST Writing Assessment. To graduate, students must complete a 48 credit hour thesis program; 27 credits of which must be from the core curriculum classes and 21 from other theology-affiliated courses. AC is ranked No. 21 among the Best Regional Universities in the West, according to U.S. News. AC's religious affiliation is with the Churches of Christ.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $27,175
#4 – University of Dallas
Masters of Theological Studies
The University of Dallas offers an online Masters of Theological Studies program that will prepare students for life in the ministry. The MTS program offers a concentration in Biblical Theology requiring a set of electives to be taken with it. Students have the option of completing their degree without a designated concentration, and instead of using their elective courses to study an area of theological or ministerial interest. MTS students must complete 22 core curriculum credits coupled with 15 credits of elective courses, 12 of which must include scripture courses. Students must also complete an annotated bibliography as part of their requirements which should demonstrate theological knowledge as well as pastoral leadership skills. The office of admissions requires students who apply to have a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 2.75. UD ranked 4th among Best Value Schools in the West region, according to U.S. News. UD's religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic church.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,657
#3 – Loyola University New Orleans
Masters of Pastoral Studies
New Orleans, LA
Loyola University New Orleans offers an online Master of Pastoral Studies program which provides students with the education to become wiser and more effective ministers, as well as to lead by example in proclaiming the Good News through words and actions. To complete the program, students must complete 36 credit hours, 18 of which focus on core theological courses, nine credits focus-area courses, six credits of electives, and three credits in capstone courses. The student's concentration will be on ministry work, pastoral life and administration, religion and ecology, individualized programs, and pastoral care. As part of the admissions process, students must include a statement of purpose, have a TOEFL score of at least 580, and have a third-party evaluation of academic services. LUNO is ranked as the 10th Best Regional University in the South and the 4th Best in the Nation for Diversity according to U.S. News. LUNO's religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic church.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,524
#2 – Columbia International University
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Columbia International University offers students an online Master of Arts in Theological Studies that includes highly engaging, hands-on classes taught by educated professors. The program is both rigorous and interdisciplinary with a focus on courses in biblical studies, church history, intercultural studies, and theology. Two program tracks are offered for students: a program for those with no previous experience in studying the Bible or theology and a second track for students who have at least 30 semester credit hours in Bible, Theology, or Church History. In order for CIU students to receive their MA in theology, they must complete 18 hours in their main concentration, 12 core credits, and six open electives. Finishing the program on average can take anywhere from a year and a half to two years. Completion of the program opens the door for academic careers, missionary work, leading a church, and ministry work. The program will teach students a lot of concepts, including how to apply biblical interpretations to different contexts, as well as tools and techniques for evaluating Bible doctrine. In 2015, CIU was ranked 3rd among all Christian colleges and universities according to Christian Universities Online. CIU's main religious affiliation is Multidenominational Christian.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,476
#1 – Campbellsville University
Master of Theology
Campbellsville University offers an online Master of Theology program which prepares students for life in the ministry. Students may choose from three areas of emphasis for their degree: Biblical Studies, Pastoral Leadership, or Theology. Students must complete 18 credit hours in their main area of focus and 12 credit hours in the other two areas to meet the required 30 hours. As part of the admissions process, applicants must have 18 undergraduate hours in Christian studies, a master's degree, or other applicable graduate courses. Students must complete an interview with the Dean of Theology and submit a philosophy of ministry essay. With theology, students will explore the history of the Christian church as well as the ethics and heritage of Baptist history. The program has both a flexible and convenient format to assist students with different schedules. CU has a church outreach program for theology students to get involved with to take part in different events around the area. CU ranked 4th among all Christian colleges across the U.S., according to independent researchers of Christian Universities Online.