A master’s in theology is a significant asset for anyone looking to pursue a career in the field of theology. There are several bible schools, seminaries, and other US universities that provide a range of theology master’s programs. This qualification can lead to job opportunities not only in a church but also in other spheres of society.
Read on to learn where you can study theology, what graduate programs are available, career options, as well as pros and cons of this type of program.
Best Theology Schools and Programs
Liberty University, John W. Rawlings School of Divinity
Master of Theology (Th.M.)
Acceptance rate: 50%
On-campus and online options
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a well-known private Evangelical university founded in 1971. Today, it is a large non-profit university and one of the largest Christian universities in the world, with an overall acceptance rate of 50%. It was ranked number 4 in college campuses in the US by Niche.com.
The institution’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity offers a 30-hour Master of Theology (Th.M.) program that takes a year and a half to complete. The program deals with theology and apologetics and aims to convey a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and how it relates to modern issues. The program is available in a thesis and a non-thesis format – the former being perfect if you are planning to go on to pursue a Ph.D.
The program offers various specializations, such as Biblical Studies, Theology, Global Studies, Church History, Christian Apologetics and Homiletics, and offers the option to pursue your master’s degree in theology online. Detailed tuition and fees information can be found on the university’s Expenses & Financial Policy page. Financial aid in the forms of loans and scholarships is available.
Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry
Master of Theological Studies (MTS)
Acceptance rate: 26%
Boston School is a private research university that was founded as a Jesuit School in 1863 and is today located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It offers programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate levels through its eight schools and colleges with an overall acceptance rate of 26%.
The MTS program offered by Boston College provides rigorous training in theology and its various sub-disciplines. Out of the total 48 credits, half are for core courses of general theology and basic competency subjects like Christianity, history, and biblical studies. The remaining credits are electives, which allow students to specialize in their chosen field. The tuition for the program is $28,700 for 24 credits and financial aid, scholarships & assistantship options are available.
The University of Notre Dame, College of Arts and Letters
Master of Arts in Theology
Acceptance rate: 19%
On-campus, online, and hybrid options
The University of Notre Dame was founded by the French priest Edward Sorin in 1842 and is located in Notre Dame, Indiana. A world-famous private Catholic research university, it houses seven schools and colleges and has an acceptance rate of 19%. The university is mostly residential, with 80% of students living on-campus.
Its 36-credit MA Theology program aims to create Catholic leaders who can revive Catholic education and culture in society. As well as an on-campus option, you can also pursue the program through online or hybrid study, and even as biannual courses in Jerusalem and Israel. The tuition is $695 per credit and financial support is available for all students.
Lincoln Christian University
MA in Bible and Theology
Acceptance rate: 39%
Founded in 1944 as a Bible Institute, Lincoln Christian University is located in Lincoln, Illinois. Today, it is a Christian higher education institution with an emphasis on a Christ-centered curriculum. The university aims to prepare students to apply the knowledge they gain in the practical world.
The university’s MA in Bible and Theology program is fully online and is made up of 12 courses, meaning you can easily pursue the degree while also taking care of family and/or continuing to work. It will give you in-depth Bible knowledge and a Christian worldview and can be completed in two years. The tuition per credit hour is $484, with many scholarships and grants available for eligible students.
Dallas Baptist University, The Graduate School of Ministry
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Acceptance rate: 99%
Dallas Baptist University is a liberal arts Christian university with an acceptance rate of 99%. It was founded in 1898 and is based in Dallas, Texas with additional campuses in Hurst and Plano. The university is divided into seven colleges and two schools and offers over 100 programs in a range of disciplines.
Its MA in Theological Studies is taught in a ministry context and is a blend of classical theological study and practical orientation. The program teaches biblical, theological, and historical concepts suitable for application within the modern ministry. This program can be completed fully online, with options to study through evening classes or as a hybrid program.
Of the total 36 credit hours, 24 are core courses and for the remaining 12, you can choose concentrations such as Christian Scriptures, Christian Ministry, or Christian Heritage. Many scholarships and financial aid options are available to assist with the tuition, which is $1,053 per credit hour but can come down to $369.67 with the maximum scholarships.
What Jobs Can You Do with a Master’s in Theology?
A theology graduate program will help you practice in church ministries or work in education. You may also work for global missionary organizations that help people and communities in need. Here are various roles you can secure with a master’s degree in theology, with the average salaries for each.
Head of Pastoral Care ($65,820)
A pastoral care head works in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers to take care of the spiritual and emotional needs of their patients.
Senior Pastor ($62,817)
A senior pastor provides spiritual leadership to a congregation and oversees the administrative processes of a church.
Chaplains are employed in hospitals, healthcare facilities, or any other setting where their spiritual services are needed. They typically provide spiritual guidance and comfort for patients and their families and work closely with caregivers and therapists.
Pastoral duties vary depending on the denomination, but generally, a pastor is responsible for spiritual guidance and leads worship services.
Philosophy and Religion Teacher ($49,866)
A religion or philosophy teacher gives classes to students on topics related to religion and philosophy.
There are many more career options for anyone with a master’s in theology degree, such as hospice chaplain, children’s ministry director, religious education director, pastoral counselor, theology professor, and religious/community/social service manager.
What are the Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Theology Program?
There isn’t one set of requirements for all theology master’s programs, as requirements vary between different schools.
However, common requirements include:
Make sure you research the programs you’re interested in, check the requirements, and prepare your application well before the deadline.
Pros and Cons of a Master’s in Theology
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of studying a theology master’s degree, and of following a career in religion or theology more generally.
Advantages of a Master’s in Theology
A Better Understanding of Humanity: Theology involves the study of many religions, and so gives you insight into humanity’s past and present. This can help you to relate to people from all over the world and all walks of life.
Opportunities to Serve: Having a master’s in theology provides a lot of career opportunities in service to others, whether in the form of spiritual and emotional guidance, counseling, education, or preaching.
Peace of Mind: Studying theology helps you to gain new insights and a more peaceful outlook on life.
Drawbacks of a Master’s in Theology
Fewer Career Options for Women: Although there are many career options for women in fields related to theology, opportunities are still more limited in some denominations and certain organizations.
Lower Salaries: The pay range in service-related roles is typically lower than jobs in business or science, for example. However, you will be rewarded in other ways, like job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Theology Master’s FAQs
What’s the Difference Between Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Theology?
The terms “master’s in theology” and “master’s in divinity” are often used interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same thing, and some institutions offer both types of theology degrees.
A master’s in theology deals mostly with a theoretical approach, whereas a master’s in divinity focuses more on preparing students for the practical world.
Do Pastors Need an MDiv?
An MDiv or Master’s of Divinity is not compulsory to become a pastor. However, an MDiv qualification can be very helpful, depending on the church or organization. In any case, to lead a congregation, you need a certain amount of knowledge and skills, which you will learn through an MDiv.
What Can a Woman Do with a Theology Degree?
Although certain denominations and organizations do not allow women to be ordained as priests, in many cases a woman can enjoy the same career opportunities through a master’s in theology as a man with the same degree.
Not all churches require you to have a master’s in theology to work as a pastor or in a similar role. However, having this qualification can be helpful in pursuing this type of career. There are countless universities and learning centers that offer graduate programs in theology and religious studies.
Furthermore, there are many options to learn online, in a hybrid form, or through evening courses, allowing you to pursue your studies while continuing to work or look after your family.
Ready to submit your grad school application? Before you do, check out our guides to applying to grad school and grad school requirements.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.