There aren’t a lot of people who grow up with the intentions of studying theology. This is a subject matter that only a few people tend to be passionate enough about to devote their after high school-years to studying. There is a lot of controversies that come along with topics of theology, making it a very interesting line of work to pursue.
For now, let’s explore theology from an educational standpoint, including how you can get a degree, the topics you will study, which schools are best, what you can do with your degree, and much more.
Most of the information outlined below is aimed at those seeking a master’s degree in theology, however, there is a quite a bit of content that is general in nature and applies to all degree levels. You will also find some content sections that are directly geared toward those earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in theology.
Hopefully, after you are finished reading through the information below, you’ll be able to decide if this is a career path that will be well-suited to your interests and preferences.
Why Study Theology?
If you are looking for reasons to study theology, you can rest easy knowing there are more than a few. First of all, this area of study tends to be quite fascinating because you are going to find yourself questioning everything, much like those who study philosophy.
You’re going to come into contact with people who have varying perspectives of the world and you will decide for yourself whether your beliefs align with their beliefs. In many instances, you will likely learn something new that causes your beliefs to change or evolve.
The study of theology has a large emphasis placed on God, but it is pertinent to understand that not religions believe in the same God. Some don’t believe in God at all. As a person studying theology, though, you are going to become familiar with all walks of faith (and non-faith). You are going to see how truly diverse the world is in our thinking from one person to the next, yet how everyone continues to get through life.
On a downside, you will see how some religions and faith negatively impact the world, such as those that push their believers to commit suicide bombings. So as you can imagine, theology is a study in which you will find many topics to be sad and depressing, especially as you watch them unfold into bloody battles and see how they have caused a great many loss of lives over the years.
Another reason to study theology is that it is important. Even though you might not realize it, it wasn’t all that long ago that some people held the belief that religion would cease to exist. Even at the turn of the 20th Century, atheism continued to expand and after World War I, those who were regarded as religious authority figures found themselves not being trusted by society as they once had been. A great many people started believing everything they had been taught about God was made up.
When you study theology, you get to learn about religions and faith from a factual standpoint, which allows you to see how religions do, in fact, have a large impact on society, both positively and negatively. You will become an essential person in the teachings you share with others that will help mold their beliefs.
What Are the Prerequisites for Getting a Master’s in Theology Online or On-Campus?
The prerequisites that you will need to meet to earn a master’s in theology will, of course, depend on the exact program you are enrolling in. Some schools have requirements, whereas others don’t. It also depends on your reasons for study as to what requirements you must meet.
At the Grace School of Theology, anyone and everyone can take undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in theology without meeting any requirements as long as they are studying for enrichment. They must enroll as a non-credit/audit student, but still yet, this provides an excellent way to take advantage of advanced courses if you have yet to meet certain requirements.
On the other side of the fence, if you are looking to earn an actual master’s degree in theology at the Grace School of Theology, there are several requirements you must meet, including:
- Bachelor’s degree (this credential must come from a USDE accredited college/university), or equivalent
- Grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher
If you are applying to the ThM program, you must:
- Provide proof of completion of the Master of Divinity, or equivalent (you can complete this concurrently with your first year’s study if you haven’t already completed it)
- 3.0 GPA or higher
Other requirements that you may have to meet to enroll in a master’s of theology program include:
- Completion of a graduate admission application
- Submitting an official transcript of your bachelor’s completion
- Minimum GPA (tends to be between 2.5 and 4.0)
- Professional Letter of Recommendation
What Is Included in the Master of Theological Studies?
Once you are enrolled in a master’s program for theology, you will have to meet stringent requirements in order to actually graduate with your degree. Theology is no subject for the lazy. It requires a lot of studying and self-discipline to earn a degree in this field of study.
For now, let’s take a look at the extensive requirements you must meet in order to graduate with a master’s in theology from Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. The requirements mandated by this school are fairly general in nature and provide a good example of what most schools require to earn this type of degree.
Saint John’s Master of Theology Requirements
To graduate with a master’s in theology from this school, you must complete 42 graduate credits, with a minimum of 12 of these credits being in one major area of concentration. Six of the credits can be in a minor area of concentration. Three of the credits will come from Pastoral Theology and Ministry courses.
If you take courses in Latin and modern languages, and it is recommended that you do, they will not be counted toward your degree, however, any courses in Greek and Hebrew will. For any of the courses that have a THY designation, you cannot count them toward your credential.
You must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. A few of the required courses are outlined below, however, keep in mind that those with a THY designation do not count toward the earning of your degree but they are still required:
- THY 402 and 404: Intro to the Christian Tradition I and II
- A Scripture course
- MONS 410 Rule of Benedict (this is for those who are studying with a concentration in Monastic Studies)
- A Systematics course
The courses listed above are only but a few of the ones you must complete, and in addition to you have to:
- Submit a graduate paper
- Prepare for and pass a comprehensive exam (this is completed after meeting all other requirements)
Liberty University Master’s of Theology Requirements
When choosing to earn an online Master’s degree in Theology from Liberty University, you have to choose between six areas of concentration. The concentration you choose will determine which courses you have to complete. Below is a list of the concentrations and a few courses that each concentration requires. Regardless of the area of concentration you choose, you must complete THEO 603: Modern and Contemporary Christian Thought, THEO 610: Biblical Theology, and THEO 679: Theology Capstone.
- NBST 615 – John
- OBST 660 – Psalms
- APOL 610 – Miracles
- NBST 640 – Apologetics and the New Testament
- CHHI 610 – Historical Development of Christian Theology
- CHHI 670 – History of Evangelicalism
- GLST 600 – Cultural Anthropology
- GLST 650 – Intercultural Communication and Engagement
- HOMI 605 – Expository Preaching
- HOMI 635 – Preaching for Special Occasions
- THEO 605 – Theology of Global Engagement
- THEO 626 – Doctrine of God
What Are the Different Types of Masters in Theology Jobs?
There are several career paths you can follow with a master’s in Theology. Your preferences, of course, will decide which career path is best for you.
Some people who hold this credential choose to become a journalist. Working for media outlets, they report on a variety of topics, including local church activities, religious happenings around the globe, and even political issues occurring within the church.
Even though your salary in this line of work will vary from one employer to the next as well as the geographical location you work in, the average annual salary for a reporter is only a mere $37,720. If you’re looking for a strong return on your investment (ROI) for your theology degree, the occupation of reporter won’t likely help you achieve this goal. Still yet, the job can be very exciting because you will be traveling. There’s even a chance you will go overseas, which in and of itself is an experience that can broaden your theological perspectives.
One of the most sought-after career options of those earning a master’s in Theology is that of a minister. And while you may think of a minister as a person who stands behind the pulpit, the truth is, ministry can take on many forms, including that of a youth pastor, missionary, and more.
When working in ministry, you can find employment in churches, hospitals, and even relief agencies located all around the globe. Your job is to provide religious leadership, helping the communities you work within. Much of your time will likely be spent making sure your community is well fed and has plenty of clean clothes and proper shelter. If you so choose, you can even pursue a career in music ministry, however, you will likely need your theology degree to have a concentration in music to land a job as a music minister.
A great number of those with a degree in Theology choose to become teachers of this subject at colleges and universities. This job requires a lot of research and may require you to extend your studies and earn a doctoral degree. If you have an idea you would like to pursue the role of a college professor of Theology, it is recommended that you study education during your undergraduate years of study.
It may seem a bit off the old beaten path, but many people who study theology actually go on to become social workers. Theology and social work correlate a lot with each other once you think about it. Both areas put a heavy emphasis on helping others and doing things that enhance the lives of those living in your community. This history career path has an expected job growth rate of 38 percent, making it an excellent occupation to pursue. And with a master’s degree, you may even be able to land a social worker supervisor role, which can easily push your salary above $61k a year.
Where Are the Best Master of Theology Schools?
When it comes to choosing a school to earn a master’s of Theology degree, your pickings are going to be nowhere near slim. Let’s take a quick look at the top five online schools for earning this type of credential.
Moody Bible Institute
This private Christian school was founded in 1886 and has become an interdenominational school that enables its student to customize their course to meet their own career aspirations.
When enrolling in the school’s online master of arts in theology program, you will take part in distance learning courses that are based out of Chicago, Illinois. The 36-credit program prepares students to become well-versed in scripture, enabling them to deliver sermons according to a variety of genre. Its curriculum consists of 12 courses and allows students to graduate in as little as 36 months.
Santa Clara University
You’ll pay $984 per credit hour at the Santa Clara University, but you can rest assured you will graduate with a very in-depth understanding of theology. And to help pay for your studies, you can always go after money from scholarships and grants. The master of theology program helps students expand their knowledge of Catholic theological principles, and thanks to its online format, students can complete their courses at a pace that best suits their lifestyles.
To graduate from the program, you will have to complete 16 courses, which total up to 48 credit hours. The program itself takes 24 months to complete, but if needed, you can extend your study time by becoming a part-time student, which gives you up to four years to graduate. 36 of the required credit hours are focused on basic theology and you will get the choice to choose between nine credit hours of varying electives. If you have earned credit from another school, you can have up to 12 credits transferred.
You’ll have to earn 36 credit hours to earn your master’s in theology from Harding University as well as take part in an integrative capstone project that occurs during your final semester of study. Even as an online student, you will have access to the school’s vast library, which features close to 120 online databases.
The majority of courses will focus on:
- Servant leadership
- Conflict management
- Women and interdisciplinary ministries
- Spiritual formation
- Christian evangelism strategies
Founded in 1941, Cornerstone University was originally called the Baptist Bible Institute and provided classes to only 200 students. Nowadays, the school features more than 100 programs and has become an educational leader in providing credentials to those seeking a degree in theology.
When completing the online master of arts in theology, you will gain an in-depth understanding of biblical knowledge, which will allow you to enhance your effectiveness as a minister. You will have to complete a total of 12 courses, all of which are completed according to 15-week blocks.
If you choose to enroll full time, you can earn your degree in as little as two years. If, however, you need more time and you wish to enroll as a part-time student, you will have the opportunity to extend your studies over the course of three to four years, whichever works best for you. And because class sizes are so small — 12 to 15 students — you will graduate knowing you received an intimate and intense learning experience.
What Are Master of Theology Programs Like?
A master of theology program is going to vary from one school to the next, but for the most part, you can expect your program to last anywhere from two to four years. When choosing to earn your degree online, you will have the freedom to complete your courses according to a schedule that works best for you.
Some online master of theology programs mandate students to take part in live weekly online lectures, meaning you may have to commit to one or more sessions each week, such as attending an online lecture each week on Monday at 10:00 a.m. Still yet, because the lecture is online, you can log into your computer from anywhere that has Internet access and attend the lecture from the comfort of your own home or even your work office.
Online programs are much different than on-campus programs because you don’t have a professor standing over your shoulder telling you to do your work. Because of this, you must sharpen your self-discipline and motivation skills to make sure you get your work completed on time. Even though you will likely be able to complete your coursework according to a slow-paced schedule, there will still be final deadlines that you must meet.
For example, let’s say you have a course with 30 assignments and you are given 15 weeks to complete the entire. You can schedule your homework accordingly so that you complete two assignments a week, or if preferred, you can complete five assignments a week and complete the course in six weeks. It’s all up to you.
How Much can a Person Make With a Master’s in Theology?
With a master’s degree in theology, you will have the potential to make a lot of money. As stated before, though, it all depends on which career path you choose to follow. Another major factor that will influence your earning potential is your networking skills. If you become a reporter, for example, you will likely only make about $37,000 a year. If, however, you can use your networking skills to land a job with a major television network, you may be able to earn over $100k a year.
It is also with a master’s degree in theology that you can become an executive director. All religious-affiliated schools employ some type of executive director to oversee their operations. A person with an undergraduate degree is not going to be qualified to fill this type of role. With a master’s degree, though, you will have the knowledge and experience it takes to supervise administrative personnel and ensure the school is operating according to the most effective and efficient methods possible.
If you gain employment as an executive director at a small religious school, you can expect to make about $45k a year. If, however, you land a job at a larger school, such as a university, it’s not uncommon for those in this role to bring in more than $200k a year; this makes the job of an executive director an excellent role for earning a high ROI for your master’s in theology.
When people think of earning a degree in theology, many of them automatically think of becoming a pastor. The truth is, though, there are multiple career paths to travel down with this credential. From education to social work to music, you can use your degree to follow a path that best suits your interests and passion.
It’s pertinent to keep in mind that if you wish to earn a master’s in theology, you are going to need to earn an undergraduate degree first. This in itself will likely take up to four years. After your undergraduate studies, earning your master’s will take about two to four. And then after your master’s, if you want to get a doctoral degree, you’ll spend another four to eight years in college. It’s all up to you how far you want to take your studies, but one thing remains the same, the farther you go in your studies, the more money you will be able to make, and more importantly, the more knowledge you will acquire.