Masters in Theology

What Do You Learn in a Masters in Theology?

A Master of Theology (Th.M) is a graduate education program that typically offers a deeper level of education and skill training in theology. In this type of degree, students typically choose one of several concentrations. Some of those options may include Biblical studies, theology, history and ecumenic, religion and society, and practical theology. Students typically learn more than they would in a bachelor’s degree. Some students go on to complete a secondary master’s degree program such as an MA(TS) or MDiv.

Students may find a wide range of educational opportunities for them in completing a masters in theology. Often, they may be able to study areas that are important and interesting to them. This may include courses that are in a particular area of interest as well as those to prepare them to work in a wide range of jobs and in various career paths.

Theology Masters

Top 25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters in Theology

The following are the top schools for a master’s degree in theology based on the number of students graduating from the program during the 2019/2020 school year, based on data from NCES.

College / University GraduatesAcceptance Rate 
Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global98N/A
Ohio Christian University58N/A
Life Pacific University4991%
The Catholic University of America4985%
Moody Bible Institute4194%
Biola University2570%
Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary2181%
Multnomah University2053%
Union University2053%
Western Theological Seminary19N/A
Concordia Theological Seminary15N/A
Evangel University1597%
Graduate Theological Union14N/A
Columbia International University1248%
Oral Roberts University1268%
Drew University1171%
Point University1129%
Dallas Theological Seminary10N/A
Pillar College10N/A
Tabor College856%
The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology8N/A
Southwestern Christian University762%
Calvin Theological Seminary6N/A
Denver Seminary6N/A
Saint Johns University578%

Theology Courses May Include

Each school sets their own requirements for what students learn in this program and path. This includes the types of courses and the number of credits needed. Aside from skills developed through scholarly research and critical thinking, students may take courses such as the following as a part of their master’s degree in theology.

1st course Apologetics

Apologetics

In this course students typically learn a defense for the Christian worldview, which may include how to respond to objections of the Christian belief using different tools and rationale. Scripture and reason are often the two primary tools discussed as defense mechanisms.

2nd course Major Approaches to Theology

Major Approaches to Theology

This course usually provides an introduction into theological study, looking at items through a Christian lens and focusing on the study of God. Areas of discussion may include the nature of context, organization, and existential issues in the study of theology.

3rd Course Systemic Theology

Systemic Theology

This course typically covers the in-depth study of Christian Doctrines. Topics covered may include but are not limited to sin, revelation, humanity, and God.

4th Course Theological Hermeneutics

Theological Hermeneutics

The primary focus of this course is usually the study and interpretation of scripture. The different types of applications used to interpret scripture as well as how to build upon the current understanding of theological approaches, may be discussed.

5th Course Christian History

Christian History

This course typically covers the history of Christianity. It is usually divided into two portions. The first covers the first century AD all the way through the Reformation. The second portion of this course covers the Reformation all the way through current times.

6th Course Christian Ethics

Christian Ethics

This course encompasses a number of categories but typically focuses primarily on the study of theology and how to apply the ethics and values of Christian beliefs in teaching and interpretation of scripture.

  • Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access

5 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters in Theology

It may be possible to use a master’s degree in theology to qualify for a range of positions including working in Catholic leadership positions in parishes, charities, hospitals, or other locations, working as a K-12 teacher (though additional licensing may be necessary), or working as a youth minister. Some may also use this as a step towards becoming a Catholic priest, working as a seminary professor, or becoming a missionary.

A Master of Theology is referred to as Th.M. A Master of Divinity (MDiv) is another term for a master’s in theology, though some schools offer this as a separate degree path with slight differences in what is covered.

While programs differ, many master’s degrees in theology require between 34 and 38 credit hours. Students may need to take specific courses and meet other degree requirements set by the school.

Completing a master’s degree in theology typically takes 2 years with full-time study. Some colleges and universities may offer a shorter option with an accelerated program and online learning. Part-time options may be available, too.

Students completing a bachelor’s degree in another area who wish to study theology may find this program worth it. A graduate degree may offer more insights and skills in areas that are important to the work done in these careers.

Find Funding for Theology Masters Programs

Completing a master’s degree in theology may require some students to seek out funding options. According to data from NCES for the 2019/2020 school year, the average master’s degree tuition for that year was $19,792. To pay for that, many students need to consider funding options. There may be more than one option available. To help, here are some examples of available funding that may apply.

Scholarships

Scholarships may be an attractive option for many students. These are typically never paid back. Students may need to meet specific requirements to obtain and maintain them. They are offered by a wide range of organizations who wish to encourage people to enter a specific area of study. There may be options available to those completing master’s degrees. Check out available scholarships for theology students.

Champions for Christ Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Champions for Christ Foundation was founded by Mac Snyder as a member at City View First Baptist Church. The vision is to help students going into full-time ministry with education assistance. This scholarship is open to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who are preparing to enter full-time Christian ministry.

Amount: $43,000

Deadline: May 11

The Brown Endowment Fund

Who Can Apply: The Helen and Richard Brown Endowment for Pastoral Scholarships derives from a generous gift received in the 1990s, designated to support pastoral ministry in the United Church of Christ. Over $250,000 annually was awarded in scholarships for seminarians and sponsorships for continuing education events.

Amount: $35,000

Deadline: March 2

Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Scholarship is available to female, Christian women who demonstrate financial need and live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia. Annual grants were awarded to more than 10,000 students each year.

Amount: $10,000

Federal Loans

Federal student loans are a common option for many students. These loans are backed by the U.S. federal reserve. That means that they typically have terms and conditions that meet specific requirements. Student loans for graduate students are available, though they may be a bit different from those for undergraduate students. Nevertheless, they often offer the flexibility that students need as they attend graduate school.

Here is a look at some of the options for graduate degree programs through federal student loans

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are available to graduate schools and professional students. Unlike direct subsidized loans, which are made available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, direct unsubsidized loans often do not have a need based requirement. More students may be eligible for them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are made available to professional or graduate level students. They are designed to pay for educational expenses that are typically not paid for through other loans. Eligibility for these loans is not based on financial need. However, some require a credit check to be performed, and borrowers may not qualify without meeting other requirements in some cases.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans enable a student to combine all of their undergraduate and graduate level federal debt into one new loan. This consolidation loan is typically provided after a student completes their education.

Private Student Loans

Another potential tool to help cover the cost of a graduate education is the use of a private student loan. Private loans are not under the same regulatory control as federal student loans. As a result, the terms and conditions of these loans are based on what the lender sets. Various lenders exist all with a range of different loans to potentially offer.

When considering a private student loan, be sure to learn about all requirements including when repayment begins and if it is possible to refinance the loans later. Also important is to learn the qualifications. Some of these lenders require a specific credit score, GRE score, or GPA. Other rules and regulations may apply as well.

Is clergy a good career?

A person completing a master’s degree in theology may be able to work as a clergy member. This may include working as a Catholic priest, congregational care pastor, missionary coordinator, pastor, rabbi, or other positions. They typically conduct religious worship and perform spiritual functions associated with the denomination they are a member of, including any associated functions with beliefs and practices of the religious faith. In addition to this, a clergy member typically provides spiritual and moral guidance and assistance to members as well.

They pray and promote spirituality. Clergy members also read from sacred texts, such as the Bible, Torah, or Koran. They may also prepare and deliver talks and sermons to groups of people. Some also organize and lead religious services and plan or lead religious education programs.

Some of the day to day work of a person in the clergy may include leading classes or community events following the beliefs and requirements of their denomination or religious faith. They may also develop educational programs based on those beliefs. They or others may carry out those lessons. Clergy also often counsel clients and patients regarding personal issues often related to their beliefs. They may also develop promotional strategies for the organizations they are a part of in an effort to raise awareness or funding. Often, they also visit people in their homes to provide support.

To work as a member of the clergy, a person typically needs extensive education, including a master’s degree and, in some cases, a work history. There may be some skills learned on the job, but students are expected to have a strong foundation of knowledge before heading into this type of career path that comes from their educational background. 

Theology Masters
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.

2020 Median Salary for Clergy

The median salary for a person working as a clergy member in 2020 for each state is listed below, and it is obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$47,440Alaska$36,510
Arizona$56,440Arkansas$46,040
California$67,540Colorado$57,530
Connecticut$56,320Delaware$58,980
Georgia$52,260Florida$49,080
Idaho$50,720Hawaii$49,890
Indiana$46,690Illinois$49,100
Kansas$46,420Iowa$49,140
Louisiana$48,910Kentucky$51,670
Maryland$55,480Maine$53,340
Minnesota$52,780Massachusetts$60,020
Montana$49,380Michigan$45,150
Nevada$54,420Mississippi$48,240
New Jersey$52,350Missouri$51,260
New York$51,600Nebraska$47,500
North Dakota$51,800New Hampshire$62,820
Oklahoma$49,320New Mexico$55,170
Pennsylvania$43,430North Carolina$51,000
South Carolina$46,580Ohio$46,580
Tennessee$47,520Oregon$48,670
UtahN/ARhode Island$50,290
Virginia$48,380South Dakota$44,550
Wisconsin$55,880Texas$51,450
Washington$68,840VermontN/A
West Virginia$40,230Wyoming$57,550

Is religious activities director a good career?

Another potential career path for those with a theology master’s degree may include working as a religious activities director. This may include working as an adult ministries director, a chidlren’s minsitries director, religious education coordinator, senior adults director, or one of numerous other specific roles. A person in this type of work typically coordinates or designs programs and conducts outreach to promote education based on their religion or belief system, often based on the faith or denomination. Many times, their work includes providing counsel and guidance to others, along with leadership, in areas of religious, marital, health, or financial problems.

A religious activities director’s job is often specific to their faith but typically includes identifying and recruiting potential volunteer workers and training and supervising religious education instructional staff. They may also develop as well as direct the study of religious education programs within groups or full congregations. They may also publicize programs through various sources like mailings, bulletins, and newsletters, to encourage others to participate. Often, they also select the curricula or the class structure for the programs they are promoting.

The work activities of a religious activities director may include developing educational programs and leading classes or community events. They may also work hand-in-hand with others to train staff members for the various social service skills needed. They may present social service programs to the public and supervisors workers who are providing those services to the patient or client.

To do the work of a religious activities director, a person typically needs to have a bachelor’s degree, though not all positions require this. Some may desire a master’s degree, while other organizations may choose someone with ample work history in the field. Some education and skill development is provided as a component of the job, in many cases.

Theology Masters , Important Skills for Religious Activities Directors
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

2020 Median Salary for Religious Activities Directors

The following is the median salary for a person working as a religious activities director in 2020 by state, based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$70,140Alaska$54,430
Arizona$43,820Arkansas$30,670
California$56,390Colorado$63,120
Connecticut$40,320DelawareN/A
Georgia$56,510Florida$39,560
IdahoN/AHawaii$41,280
Indiana$40,870Illinois$38,280
KansasN/AIowa$48,680
LouisianaN/AKentucky$36,020
Maryland$50,350MaineN/A
Minnesota$63,610Massachusetts$72,160
Montana$28,100Michigan$37,820
NevadaN/AMississippi$69,680
New JerseyN/AMissouri$66,820
New York$43,660Nebraska$58,580
North DakotaN/ANew HampshireN/A
Oklahoma$30,540New MexicoN/A
Pennsylvania$34,670North Carolina$87,650
South Carolina$75,060Ohio$45,200
Tennessee$71,660Oregon$42,250
UtahN/ARhode Island$40,120
Virginia$47,700South DakotaN/A
Wisconsin$40,480Texas$52,830
Washington$75,890VermontN/A
West VirginiaN/AWyomingN/A
Sandy B CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy Baker

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

Sandy’s experience also includes writing about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarship searches, and managing college loans and grants. This includes aiding both students and parents in managing the application and financial aid process from start to finish. Her writing in this area has been featured in The New York Times, Cleveland Magazine, and several blogs.

Sponsored Result

Study anywhere. Study any time.

Join the millions earning their degrees online!

32.6% of graduate students were enrolled exclusively in online courses in 2019*.

X