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Best Online Degrees in: Theology

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Theology

Value
Brescia University is the winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for value. It is ranked No. 21 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best regional colleges in the South, and offers its students multiple opportunities for financial aid. Brescia students can expect to receive an excellent education in return for their tuition investments.

Flexibility
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is ranked on College Prowler as No. 99 out of 1,133 schools for having a manageable course load. In addition to ensuring that students do not have more class work than they can handle, SAGU also provides online classes that students can fit into their busy schedules. SAGU is therefore our winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for flexibility.

Career Support
Regent University is ranked No. 8 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best schools for student services and technology. Regent University offers career placement assistance, as well as other career services, for both students and alumni. It also holds career fairs and offers students the opportunity to browse job listings. Regent University is therefore the winner of best career support.

Financial Support
St. Joseph’s College of Maine awards 100% of its first-time, full-time students with some form of financial aid, the National Center for Education Statistics reports. In addition, 60% of all undergraduates receive a scholarship or grant. Due to the college’s commitment to providing students with tuition assistance, it wins the award for best financial support.

Technology Support
Regent University provides students with live streaming video and a smartphone app for on-the-go access to services, according to U.S. News & World Report. It is therefore ranked No. 8 for student services and technology. Regent University also has an IT Help Desk, where students can call and email for assistance with the Regent Web portal, email, and Blackboard.

Student Engagement
At Regent University, instructors work hard to make sure students participate in their online classes. They hold weekly office hours, respond to emails within 24 hours, and also track student sign-ins into the class portal, which increases student participation. This has earned Regent University a ranking of No. 24 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best online schools for student engagement and assessment, and has made Regent University our winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for student engagement.

Disability Support
Brescia University provides disability information on its website, where students can also access frequently asked questions, tutorials, and information on accommodations. The university also has a program that gives new students assistance with transitioning to college. In addition, there are tutoring resources for individuals who need extra help with their classes. Brescia University is therefore the winner of best disability support.

Library and Research Support
Crown College is the winner of the best theology bachelor’s degree for library research and support. Its library website allows traditional and online students to search catalogs, databases, and subject guides. It also offers help with conducting research and citing sources, and has tutorials that provide students with information on how to utilize library resources. For students that need extra assistance, there is a ask-a-librarian feature, which puts students into direct contact with librarians.

Learning Support
Regent University is ranked No. 8 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best online schools for student services and technology. It provides students with live tutoring, live streaming video, and a smartphone application for on-the-go access to services. Because it offers students multiple learning services, Regent University is the winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for learning support.

Faculty Credentials
At Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU), 85% of online instructors have been teaching online for two or more years. In addition, all online instructors must receive training in conducting online classes prior to teaching. Its commitment to maintaining a skilled and knowledgeable faculty body has earned SAGU a ranking of No. 42 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best online schools for faculty credentials and training, and has made SAGU our winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for faculty credentials.

Faculty Accessibility
Regent University is ranked No. 24 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best schools for student engagement and assessment due to its faculty members’ dedication to playing an active role in students’ education. At Regent University, professors hold six weekly office hours and track student sign-ins to online classes. Instructors also respond to student emails within 24 hours. In addition, class sizes are kept small, according to College Navigator, with 19 students for every faculty member. Regent University is therefore the winner of best faculty accessibility.

Alumni Engagement
At St. Joseph’s College of Maine, alumni have access to multiple opportunities for interaction and involvement with the university, which they can access through the alumni website. Alumni members can keep track of events and news, utilize an alumni directory, participate in social networking, and contact the alumni office with any concerns. St. Joseph’s College of Maine’s superior alumni program has earned it the award for best alumni engagement.

Prior Learning Options
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) allows students to get credit for dual credit classes, AP exams, and life experience. According to the university’s website, students can earn up to 30 hours of college credit for experiential learning. SAGU is therefore the winner of the best online theology bachelor’s degree for prior learning options.

New Online Student Orientation
According to Regent University’s website, online students can participate in an online orientation through Blackboard. In addition, Regent University provides a skill-based Blackboard course for students who haven’t had classes in a long time, to help acclimate them to college-level learning. Regent University is therefore the winner of best new online student orientation.

Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology

Online theology degrees are designed to equip students with a greater understanding of religion and religious traditions, as well as cultivate the ability to comprehend and interpret religious texts in their historical and present-day contexts. This field of study may focus exclusively on theology as derived from the Bible and the Christian tradition, or may incorporate theological perspectives from other religions. Theology is a solid degree choice for students who are considering entering pastoral service or church administration, or who want to lay a foundation for future graduate study in theology.

Online bachelor’s degree programs in theology can usually be completed in four years of full-time study. However, some accredited colleges do allow students to accelerate their degree plan. Program length may also be shortened by transferring in prior credits from academic work completed at other colleges or by transferring in college credit earned through AP classes taken in high school.

Class Curriculum

Theology is offered as part of a comprehensive liberal arts education at most institutions. As such, students take courses in writing, mathematics, the social and behavioral sciences, the natural sciences, and the fine arts and humanities alongside their theology courses. A student’s foreign language requirement may be in Biblical Hebrew or Koine Greek, the two primary languages used in the Bible. Theology course work often encompasses scripture, theological ethics, liturgy, ministry, and Christian history. Major courses in a theology degree program might include:

  • Biblical Tradition and Culture. In this course, students become acquainted with various religious traditions that find their roots in the Old and New Testaments. The course emphasizes how biblical traditions have influenced culture, including literature, communal identity, and ethics.
  • Christology. This course examines the life and times of Jesus Christ, his claims, his teachings, his death, and what the church has taught concerning Jesus throughout history. The course also explores how other religious traditions outside of Christianity view Jesus.
  • Introduction to Ministry. In this course, students learn about the role of a minister in a church, including his or her responsibilities and struggles. Students learn effective methods of ministerial counseling and the importance of self-care in a career that involves pouring so much of yourself into others.

Homework in a theology degree program tends to be research-intensive and writing-intensive. Students are asked to provide in-depth interpretations of religious texts and commentary on the writings of notable theologians, citing relevant sources and coming to individual conclusions. Some theology students will be asked to write sermons and sermon outlines on various theological topics, drawing from ancient scripture, yet written in a way that is relevant to today’s society. Some programs also encourage or require an internship in ministry or faith-based charitable work.

Building a Career

The most obvious career paths for people with a degree in theology are in ministry or in faith-based nonprofit organizations, although many do go on to pursue careers that are open to anyone with a liberal arts education, such as writing, business, sales, and communications. Graduates may go on to become pastors, assistant and associate pastors, youth and children’s pastor’s, women’s pastors, or worship or music pastors. Other job titles might include directors of ministries to the homeless, missionaries, chaplains, pastoral care staff, and church administrators. Those who obtain a graduate degree in theology or a related area after completing their bachelor’s program may be qualified to teach courses in religion, theology, philosophy, or related areas at public or private colleges and universities.

The median yearly salaries of clergy and directors of religious activities and education were $43,970 and $36,170, respectively, as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Entry-level employment in these fields often requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, the BLS explained. While both of these professions are projected to experience average employment growth between 2010 and 2020, employment in the field is not guaranteed, and salaries can vary greatly depending on the size of the church or organization you work for, the area of the country you live in, your level of experience and education, and the complexity of your roles and responsibilities.

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