Virginia Graduate Online Theology Degrees & Programs
Graduate online theology degrees use philosophy, critical thinking, and religious scholarship to understand concepts like god, the divine, and the soul. In most cases, graduate online theology degrees might be offered by programs affiliated with an online seminary, school of divinity, or religious-affiliated university. Sometimes, the programs may even be unique to a certain faith tradition. That said, a few secular theology programs may also be available. Graduate online theology degrees and certificates may be earned at the masters and doctorate level.
Why Earn Your Theology Degree Online?
Earning your graduate theology degree online could bring your education to you, on your terms. This format could support students who already have flourishing careers in religious education or in the church or ministry, as well as students who just like to maintain a little more independence.
In many cases, online theology graduate programs take place 100% online. So if you’re already working in a religious career, you could hone your theological expertise and take what you learn right out into your faith community. Online programs also tend to have flexible schedules, enabling students to access their courses around the clock—meaning that with online theology classes, you might not have to worry about still being there for the people who need you. And best of all, if you’re attending an online program associated with a physical graduate school, you might even learn from the same experienced faculty as you’d find on campus!
Types of Online Theology Degree Programs
Graduate Online Theology Degree Programs incorporate a range of unique options, each one designed to meet a specific need. In addition to being offered at the master and doctoral level, with degree and certificate options, students might pursue a range of degree types within each category. For example,
some students might pursue scholarly programs. These would involve writing, analyzing, and discussing theological research and scholarship. Others more focused on things like education, church leadership, and ministry might prefer applied theology programs. These would typically focus on using one’s theological expertise to guide or teach others in a professional capacity. In addition to being called “applied theology,” these practice-based alternatives might sometimes be referred to as online divinity graduate programs.
Below, you’ll find a brief guide to different types of graduate online theology degrees you might pursue.
Masters in Theology Online Programs
Several different types of online masters in theology programs may be available. In addition to academic and applied theology programs, different programs might have a range of prerequisites, or even be unique to a certain faith tradition. For example, some programs might be open to anyone holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Others might require a bachelors in a related field like religious studies, theology, catechetics, or apologetics. They might also ask for professional or volunteer experience working in religious education, ministry, or church leadership. Some may even ask for affirmation or documentation that you’re an active practitioner of a certain faith.
A range of specific degree types may be offered at different universities, including the ones listed below.
- Master of Arts in Theological Studies (or Master of Arts in Theology): This type of online masters in theology may either be practice-based or scholarly. Some of these programs might be designed for clergy and those with experience in religious professions. Others might be designed for students without a religious bachelor's degree and little or no experience in a religious profession.
- Master of Divinity Online (MDiv): Online Master of Divinity programs are typically professional degrees, often offered by online seminaries or schools of divinity. They may be designed to help people in clergy and religious ministry roles educate others about theology.
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS): Online MTS Programs tend to focus on scholarship. They’re often designed to prepare students to pursue further study, such as in a PhD program. As such, they may emphasize skills related to writing and explicating theology-related research.
- Master of Theology (Th.M): Often offered as a post-masters degree, Online Master of Theology degrees may be seen as a degree level between an MDiv and a PhD in Theology. That said, in some cases, these may be designed or viewed as terminal.
- Master of Sacred Theology (STM): Online STM Programs are also technically post-masters degrees, and students in these programs usually need to have earned a masters in or related to theology in order to apply. They’re often offered by Catholic-affiliated programs, and may aim to help students build their theology research credentials to prepare for potential doctoral study.
Remember, these and other online theology masters degrees may vary on a case-by-case basis. This could hinge on factors like the school in question and its religious affiliation (if any), the types of students the program is designed to serve, its orientation, the faculty teaching there, and other details. For more information, contact the school in question.
Online Theology Doctorate Programs
Online Theology Doctorate Programs, as with masters programs, include a spectrum of degree options, areas of focus, and approaches. Both professional and academic degrees may be offered, as well as degree options unique to one faith tradition. While the requirements to apply to these programs may vary, students are likely to need a master’s degree in theology or a similar subject, research experience, and potentially professional experience and/or active adherence to a certain faith.
- Online PhD in Theology Programs: One of the most recognizable degree options outside theology, PhDs may be a versatile degree option. Online Theology PhD Programs tend to be scholarly, though practice-based PhDs may also be offered at some schools.
- Online Doctor of Pastoral Theology Programs: One of several professional theology doctorate options, these programs are generally designed to support students in pastoral and ministry-related careers. For example, they may look toward theology education roles, or applying theology expertise in church leadership positions.
- Online Doctor of Sacred Theology Programs: Somewhat less common, the Doctor of Sacred Theology is typically offered by Catholic universities, specifically within the pontifical university system, though you might find it at some other types of schools. It’s a research-focused doctoral program that often looks toward teaching about theology and canon law in university settings.
- Online Doctor of Canon Law Programs: As with Online Doctor of Sacred Theology Programs, these are generally only offered by Catholic institutions within the pontifical university system. Within the church, it could be seen as an equivalent to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, though it does not prepare someone for legal practice in a civil setting.
Online Theology Graduate Certificate Programs
Online theology graduate certificate programs are typically concise, in that they require relatively few courses to complete compared to a theology graduate degree program. This category includes masters certificates and post-masters certificates. They tend to focus narrowly on a single topic within theology, such as theology education, topics within Christian philosophy, biblical and theological studies, and more. They may serve to enhance the expertise one has already earned with a master's degree or higher, or act as an opportunity to take your first steps into graduate education.
Find Your Graduate Online Theology Degrees & Programs
Search for graduate online theology degree programs with GradSchools.com. You could browse the sponsored program listings here, or filter by degree type using the menu. Click on the name of a program you think you might be interested in to read more. Then use the info on that page to get in touch, and start your application!
Catholic Distance University
This program is designed for adults with an undergraduate degree who wish to deepen their knowledge of Sacred Scripture.