As much of the western world grows more secular, faithful Christians have an even greater need to understand theology - the basics of the faith so they can grow in their walk with Christ and bear fruit in their ministry to unbelieving friends and neighbors. Never have Christians had better access to more high quality, biblically faithful Christian education.
Many seminaries and Christian colleges offer Theology Certificate Programs in the Bible and Ministry to help believers as they seek to be more grounded in their faith. These programs provide graduate-level theological training in an accessible, online format that fits the needs of Christians who want deeper study.
This article explores seven faithful and trusted Evangelical institutions that offer Theology Certificate Programs in Bible and Ministry studies. The descriptions contain links to the certificate programs, an overview of each program's purpose, and a survey of the theological and Biblical studies courses each program offers.
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1. Bethel Seminary
The Seminary at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota has an attractive program for students who wish to get a quick overview of the Bible and Theology. Bethel’s Biblical Studies Certificate includes 9 hours of study in three core courses in the theological curriculum. The program “offers condensed but robust theological training that will serve learners well in any ministry or industry context.”
Students may study in person in St. Paul or they can complete their courses online. The three courses consist of a “condensed selection of Bethel Seminary’s foundational courses.” They do not specify which particular courses the student will study, but as you will see with other programs, they often contain a mixture of Bible and Theology courses.
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2. Dallas Theological Seminary
For those looking to “gain an overview of theology and Bible,” Dallas Theological Seminary has 30-hour certificate programs which can be completed completely online. Students may also choose 3-5-day intensive courses in person at one of the Seminary’s locations for more traditional in-person study.
The Graduate Certificate at DTS requires 30 credit hours of coursework. Students enroll in 9 credit hours of Systematic Theology, 9 credit hours of Bible Exposition, 3 credit hours on the Christian Life, and 9 credit hours of electives. Students also have the option to take another 6 credit hours of courses through the Seminary in addition to the required course of study for the certificate.
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3. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Located in Kansas City, MBTS offers certificate programs which “are designed to offer basic biblical, theological, historical, and personal training for lay ministry in the local church.” To obtain a certificate from MBTS, a student must complete four courses in one of the following disciplines- History and Theology, Biblical Studies, Humanities, Business, Counseling & Psychology, Christian Education, Ministry, or General Studies.
MBTS also offers a Certificate of Ministry Studies or Advanced Certificate of Ministry Studies through the Midwestern Women’s Institute. Bi-vocational worship leaders and lay leaders involved in worship ministry also have the option to complete a Certificate in Worship Ministries.
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4. Moody Bible Institute
Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute offers both online and in person Graduate Certificates. Their two online programs require 21 credit hours of course work at the graduate level and “provide you with an overview of the Bible, theology, ministry, and the Christian life”
Moody’s certificate in Biblical Foundation helps the student gain and introductory understanding of “the Scriptures, systematic theology, church history and spiritual formation, followed by the integration of this knowledge with modern strategies for ministry.” Students take introductory courses in Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Spiritual Formation, and Systematic Theology.
Moody’s Biblical Studies Certificate requires students to enroll in the same introductory classes in Old Testament, New Testament, Biblical Interpretation, and Systematic Theology as the Biblical Foundation Certificate. However, Biblical Studies students also take two elective courses in the Bible.
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5. Reformed Theological Seminary
Reformed Theological Seminary touts their graduate certificate as “one of the most convenient ways to invest in theological formulation and increase the ways they can serve the church.” They offer certificates through three different programs to help the student “deepen your understanding of the Scriptures for personal growth while opening doors for teaching, writing, and so much more.”
Certificate students at RTS can choose to enter programs in the Biblical Languages, Bible, or Theology. In the language program, students study either Greek or Hebrew. They take two courses in grammar and one on exegesis. Students in the Bible program focus on either the Old or New Testament. Old Testament students take courses in the Law, the Historical Books, the Writings, and the Prophets. The New Testament track offers courses in the Gospels, Acts and Romans, the Pauline Letters, and the General Letters and Revelation. Finally, the Theology program offers concentrations in Historical Theology, Applied Theology, or Systematic Theology.
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6. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Students who enroll at the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship seminary, located in Louisville, receive a Certificate in Great Commission Studies. The purpose of the program is “to provide individuals with graduate-level, biblical, theological, and ministry knowledge so that they become able to serve more effectively in their local churches.
The Certificate in Great Commission Studies consists of five courses. Every student takes Biblical Hermeneutics, which teaches students how to study and interpret the Bible. Students choose from one of the two introductory courses to both the Old and New Testaments. They also take one of the Seminary’s three courses in Systematic Theology and study either Missiology or Discipleship and Family Ministry.
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7. Talbot School of Theology
Talbot School of Theology, which is located on the campus of Biola University in California, opens its certification program to “anyone who desires to deepen their knowledge of God and His word.” They suggest the certification would be helpful for “a wide range of students – including church lay leaders, church elders, and ministers without formal training.”
Talbot’s program requires students to complete six courses– one on how to understand and interpret the Bible, a survey of the Old Testament, a survey of the New Testament, and three courses in theology. The first theology course covers God, Scripture, and Creation. The second course introduces the student to Christ, Humanity, Sin, and Salvation, while the final course gives the student an understanding of the Spirit, the Church, and Last Things.
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