The 20 Best Master’s in Theology Programs Online for 2020

college student studying for Masters Degree in Theology

Are you looking to continue your biblical education with a master’s in theology, but would like to do so remotely? Here, we have combed through dozens of online programs to gather 20 of the best programs that don’t require you to set foot on campus.

It’s impossible, of course, to definitively choose which programs are best. Each strategy focuses on different factors and has its own flaws. Thus, below are simply suggestions. This list is not meant to be complete or authoritative.

For the purposes of this list, we have not considered master’s in divinity, master’s in ministry, or other related degrees, focusing solely on master’s in theology. The list below has been compiled using multiple rankings by organizations such as Best Colleges, The Community for Accredited Online Schools, and Best College Reviews.

The rankings from these multiple sources have been compiled, assigned point values, and combined, so that the below are the most highly rated master’s in theology programs overall, skewed toward affordability, and not taking into account doctrinal beliefs or specific denominational affiliation.

1. Liberty University 

Liberty didn’t hit #1 on any lists, but because of being in the top ten in multiple, it earned the spot as the overall highest rated master’s in theology program. 

Notably, Liberty’s program is designed for students who have already completed a master’s in divinity or similar degree. Students choose from six different specializations, including Christian Apologetics, Homiletics, Church History, and Global Studies. The program can be completed entirely online, though there are opportunities to visit campus for intensives if students so choose. All coursework is asynchronous, affording lots of flexibility.

Estimated yearly tuition: $8,468

For more information, visit their website here.

2. Columbia International University

Columbia was ranked #1 in online master’s in theology for 2020 by Best Colleges, and #2 by The Community for Accredited Online Schools for 2017. The program is meant to be rigorous, and research and academics focused.

Columbia’s MA in Theological Studies is available both to students with a background in theology and to those with unrelated undergraduate degrees. The track for those without a theological education background is 48 credits, while that for those coming in with more than 30 credits in Bible, theology, or church history is 33 credits.

Estimated yearly tuition: $10,181

For more information, visit their website here.

3. Lincoln Christian University

Polls indicate 82% of graduates would choose Lincoln again if they had the opportunity to re-choose their school. At Lincoln, students take two courses back to back each term. There are spring, summer, and fall terms, with one-week breaks between. Thus, students still finish the program in two years while focusing on just a single course at any given time.

Estimated yearly tuition: $8,395

For more information, visit their website here.

Biola Universtiy Calvary ChapelPhoto Credit: ©

4. Biola University 

Biola offers multiple online master’s degree programs in theology, including MAs in Bible Exposition, New Testament, and General Theology. Certain tracks are not available completely online but are instead available as hybrid programs. However, students who choose one of the fully online degrees are not required to visit campus unless they want to. Biola’s program is offered through the Talbot School of Theology.

Estimated yearly tuition: $11,614

For more information, visit their website here.

5. Franciscan University of Steubenville

It’s important to note that this is a Catholic school, but its high rankings put it on this list. All of Franciscan’s faculty have met canon law requirements for the mandatum, a standard only 30 U.S. Catholic universities have met, according to Best College Reviews. Students can choose between two tracks, catechetics and evangelization, which is available exclusively on campus, and canon law, which is available online.

Estimated yearly tuition: $12,888

For more information, visit their website here.

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6. University of Dallas

The University of Dallas’ master of theological studies offers a unique breadth of study. Core courses focus on Catholic dogma, rites, and institutions, and thorough examinations of scripture and church history, while electives cover religious and secular topics. Students can earn a concentration in biblical theology or supplement their studies with business and liberal arts classes.

Estimated yearly tuition: $33,750

For more information, visit their website here.

7. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) offers an array of online degrees, including an online master of theological studies. The program is aimed at lay ministers, students wanting to deepen their knowledge of the Bible, and some doctoral candidates. Split into Biblical studies, theological studies, and worship-leading sections, the program allows students interested in teaching over preaching to substitute pedagogical courses for the worship-leading section. The master of arts (theology) includes eight additional credits and is designed for doctoral candidates.

Estimated yearly tuition: $7,022

For more information, visit their website here.

8. Harding University 

Harding offers three options of online master’s degrees in theology: a general Master of Arts, a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and a Master of Divinity. The program is highly customizable; the general MA program allows concentrations such as New Testament, Historical Theology, and Systematic Theology. The general MA is research and teaching geared, whereas the MA in Christian Ministry is ministry-oriented.

Estimated yearly tuition: $10,569

For more information, visit their website here.

Cornerstone University Science CenterPhoto Credit: ©

9. Cornerstone University 

Cornerstone University offers a master's in theology online on a limited basis, and students must have completed a master of divinity or similar program before being admitted. However, if students qualify, the program offers New Testament and Old Testament specializations, both of which include a professional practicum and master's thesis. Courses offered include Biblical Theology, Grammar and Translation, and Advanced Old Testament Exegesis. The biblical studies are taught by published scholars who have lived and studied in Israel and are considered experts in both testaments.

Estimated yearly tuition: $14,966

For more information, visit their website here.

10. World Mission University

With a global focus, World Mission University was founded by religious scholar Dr. Dong Sun Lim. The program is designed to train lay people aspiring to careers in religious service, as well as established and emerging missionaries and pastors. The program is open the transfer credits, and students with previously earned theology credits can transfer in up to 50% of the total degree requirements. 

Estimated yearly tuition: $5,426

For more information, visit their website here.

11. Fordham University

Fordham ranks #5 on Best College’s list and is associated with the Jesuits. It finds its place lower on the list partially due to the higher cost, but it offers multiple online master's degrees through its Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. Perhaps its most unique feature is the university’s strong focus on counseling and training counselors. Fordham holds accreditations and affiliations with nine external agencies, giving it one of the most varied and complete sets of endorsements of any theological institute in New York.

Estimated yearly tuition: $36,240

For more information, visit their website here.

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12. Concordia University Irvine

Concordia’s online master’s in theology program emphasizes practical applications. Concentrations include Christian education leadership, research in theology, youth ministry, theology and culture, and servant leadership. Many of the courses feature synchronous, real-time delivery. Notably, students of all religious affiliations are welcome, and applicants don’t need any previous theological training.

Estimated yearly tuition: $8,136

For more information, visit their website here.

13. Urshan Graduate School of Theology

Urshan is unique as the only accredited Apostolic Pentecostal graduate institution in the U.S. Its master of theology online program is available in thesis and non-thesis tracks. The program gives students a Pentecostal framework for a future in preaching or teaching through exploring biblical languages, the history of the Oneness movement, and biblical research. Though most classwork can be completed online, students do need to fulfill a residency requirement, typically fulfilled with two separate weeks of study in St. Louis.

Estimated yearly tuition: $7,650

For more information, visit their website here.

14. Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Started in 1951 to train men for the priesthood in the Catholic Church, the school has now branched out to offer online programs such as an online master’s in theology intended to ready both men and women for roles in ministry, teaching, and postgraduate work. The program offers seven different areas of concentration—apologetics, bioethics, Church history, dogmatic theology, general studies, moral theology, and sacred scripture—allowing a great degree of customization. No thesis is required, though students intending to pursue a doctorate may write one.

Estimated yearly tuition: $5,830

For more information, visit their website here.

15. Moody Bible Institute

Moody Bible Institute was famously founded by evangelist D. L. Moody. Moody’s program focuses on missions and ministry with six pre-determined concentrations, or an option to design your own. The six concentrations are Biblical Preaching, Leadership, Missions, Pastoral Ministry, Ministry Entrepreneurship, and Interdisciplinary studies. The program claims uniqueness in delivering coursework at the master’s level that is generally associated with doctorate-level theology.

Estimated yearly tuition: $8,938

For more information, visit their website here.

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16. Faith International University 

Unlike some larger schools on this list, Faith International has less than 1,000 students. However, it boasts divisions in China and Korea and a global virtual campus. The online master’s in theology reaches its global audience through a variety of technology, including DVDs. It was developed with Christian missionary workers in mind, as well as anyone desiring a thorough education in Christian theology. At 72 credits, it’s a hefty and thorough program. Though largely online, students do finish the program with a field ministry or practicum elective.

Estimated yearly tuition: $9,334

For more information, visit their website here.

17. Newman University

Newman is a Catholic university offering two online master’s programs in theology, either a master of arts or a master of theological studies, depending on what the student wants to do with the degree. The MA is a more rigorous program intended to prepare students for further study, while the master of theological studies is designed for those who want to be better catechists and high school-level religion teachers. Though students aren’t required to visit campus, there is usually an on-campus intensive during each course that students are encouraged to attend.

Estimated yearly tuition: $11,434

For more information, visit their website here.

18. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the oldest and largest in the Southern Baptist Convention. The Master of Theology degree has two tracks, either research or ministry. The ministry track is geared toward ministry preparation, while the research track is designed for students planning to pursue a doctorate, and thus contains a thesis component.

Estimated yearly tuition: $11,776

For more information, visit their website here.

Harvard student masters in theologyPhoto Credit: ©

19. Harvard University

Harvard Divinity School offers three graduate degrees: the three-year master of divinity, the one-year master of theology, and the two-year master of theological studies. The program also notably features about a 7-12 to 1 student to faculty ratio, and as of 2017, a whopping 97% graduation rate.

Estimated yearly tuition: $50,923

For more information, visit their website here.

20. Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University’s master’s degree in theological studies offers concentrations in Christian Scriptures, Christian Heritage, and Christian Ministry. The theological studies degree is one of many master’s degrees the university offers. Dallas Baptist offers a variety of dual degree or accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degrees, as well as fully online, fully in-person, and hybrid options.

Estimated yearly tuition: $20,127

For more information, visit their website here.

There were many other schools that could easily have made this list. For some more top master’s in theology programs, check out the links below:

Accredited Schools Online

Best College Reviews

Best Colleges

Affordable Colleges Rankings

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

Alyssa Roat studied writing, theology, and the Bible at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She is the co-author of Dear Hero and has 200+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.

This article is part of our larger Higher Education resource library centered around colleges and universities. We hope these articles help you narrow down your search for Christian colleges and seminaries. 

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