Those students who are called to enter the church do have the option to study online and can even complete their entire course of study - from associate to doctoral degree - online.
General Information regarding Online Theology Degrees
At present, Liberty University Liberty University appears to be the only educational institution that offers online degrees in theology. Choices are not limited, though, and although they offer only one associate degree and one bachelor's degree, there are numerous master's degrees and doctorates to choose from.
Students who earn a qualification in theology have the option of working within the church as well as that of working in related positions in traditionally non-religious fields like education and social work. Within the church, career opportunities are found in areas like missionary work and evangelism.
Studying online is also preferable to studying on-campus as not only can a student work at his own pace, he can also continue to work while studying and thus receive a steady income. A significant amount of money will also be saved on transportation and accommodation costs.
Online Associate Degrees in Theology
Associate of Arts in Religion: Liberty University
The degree program consists of a total of 60 credit hours and is aimed at giving students a thorough and practical understanding of the Bible and how it can relate to solving present day problems. Students are also given an overview of the Bible's content and origin, Christian theology and the Christian Church, and the program's main objective is to begin to prepare students for a career in the ministry. Students are also given a thorough grounding in communication skills and individual areas of study will include:
- Fundamental Theological Issues;
- Old and New Testament Survey;
- Inductive Bible Study; and
- History of Life.
Liberty University Online will be able to provide prospective students with further information concerning this degree program and the campus can be contacted at 1971 University Boulevard, Lynchburg, VA 24502 (tel: 800-424-9595 and website).
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Theology
Bachelor of Science in Religion: Liberty University
This degree is the natural step up from Liberty's Associate of Arts in Religion and here the objective is to prepare a student both for further study on a seminary or graduate level and for entry level positions in church ministries. The degree program consists of 120 total credit hours and can include several minors, of which the most recommended is Christian Counseling. Individual subjects included in this degree are:
- History of the Christian Church;
- Philosophy and Contemporary Ideas;
- Evangelism and Christian Life; and
- Introduction to Church Ministries.
Further information can, again, be obtained directly from Liberty University, which is an accredited school, at the address given above.
Online Master's Degrees in Theology
Master of Arts in Theological Studies: Liberty University
This degree program is one of several presented by the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School and equips students to be of assistance in a church in a supportive capacity. It has been developed for people who are already lay leaders, pastors and Christian educators and consists of 36 total credit hours. The degree program comprises core courses, electives and professional studies, and examples of individual subjects include:
- Cross-Cultural Evangelism and Church Planting (elective);
- Introduction to Apologetics (elective);
- Old Testament Orientation (core course); and
- Systematic Theology (core course).
Liberty College Online will be able to provide a prospective student with further information regarding this program.
Master of Sacred Theology: Liberty University
Here advanced training is given to those students who find themselves called to full-time ministry. Instruction is given in apologetics and theology, and students also learn how to confront contemporary issues according to the teachings of the church. Research, writing and coursework all form part of this challenging program and students can choose one out of four specializations:
- Bible Studies;
- Practical Theology; or
- Church History.
Again, further information can be obtained from Liberty University Online (see above address details).
Master of Religious Education: Liberty University
This degree program has been specifically tailored to prepare students to practice in positions such as small group pastor, associate pastor and discipleship pastor. The course has been designed to blend the principles of Christian theology with those of education so that a student obtains a well rounded knowledge of both fields and how they can compliment each other. Individual subjects comprise both core and elective subjects, examples of which are the following:
- Theology and Apologetics (core course);
- Small Group Ministries (core course);
- Strategic Driven Ministries (elective course); and
- Church Administration (elective course).
As usual, further information concerning this specific degree program can be obtained through Liberty University Online.
Master of Arts in Evangelism and Church Planting: Liberty University
A student enrolled in this degree program will receive instruction in such concepts as localized evangelism, church planting and church growth and will also learn bible-based evangelistic techniques. The program consists of 36 credit hours and, in order to enroll, students will have to file certain documents with the university including at least one pastoral recommendation and a completed seminary questionnaire. Individual courses offered as part of this program include:
- Theology of Pastoral Ministry (elective course);
- Ministry of Teaching (elective course);
- Church Planting Methods and Culture (core course); and
- Leading the Healthy, Growing and Multiplying Church (core course).
Liberty University Online is able to provide further information regarding this degree program to anyone who is contemplating enrolling.
The above are only a selection of the online master's degrees in theology, religion and divinity as offered through Liberty University Online. The other available online master's programs include:
- Master of Arts in Christian Leadership; and
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Theology
Doctorate in Theology and Apologetics: Liberty University
This program is in blended format, which means that certain courses are available online but others are only available on-campus, and equips students not only to take an active role within the church but also to write and teach on a professional level. Graduation requirements include that the degree has to be completed within 5 years and that a student has to maintain a Grade Point Average of at least 2.00. Individual courses offered through this program include:
- Communication in Christian Ministry (elective);
- Preparation of the Sermon (elective);
- Biblical Foundations of Christian Leadership (professional studies course); and
- Team Leadership and Conflict Resolution (professional studies course).
As usual, more information about this degree can be obtained through Liberty University.
Doctor of Ministry - Worship Studies: Liberty University
The D.Min. with a specialization in worship studies has a theoretical aspect as well as a practical aspect where students get to work and interact with established ministry leaders. This degree program is usually best for those who are already established within the church, including pastors and missionaries. The program ends with a thesis project and also consists of core seminars, worship study seminars and elective seminars, which include the following:
- Building a Theology of Worship (worship study seminar);
- The Role of the Pastor with the Worship Leader (worship study seminar);
- Twenty-First Century Tools and Techniques for the Church (core seminar); and
- Growth and Development of the Contemporary Minister (core seminar).
More information about this, and other, degree programs offered by the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School can be obtained directly from Liberty University Online.
Career Opportunities and Salary Scales
A student who has a qualification in theology on any level can choose to use it either within the environs of the church or in fields that are not necessarily related to religion including education, social work and business. The level of any particular student's qualification will, furthermore, dictate the level at which that student can enter any field or specific profession.
Specific career paths in the religious field include pastor, missionary, church planter and evangelist and there are also further employment opportunities within each of these fields. A student who is qualified to be a pastor, for instance, can choose between becoming a youth pastor or a basic pastor (of which there are several different levels including associate, senior and executive pastor). Further careers for those with theology qualifications include denominational leader, cross-cultural missionary and ministry worker.
The field of education sees those students trained in theology work as church education administrators, Sunday school teachers and instructional supervisors. Social work offers such opportunities as officers in charge of religious activities for various groups such as young adults or seniors, and career paths in business include business chaplains or chaplains to non-profit organizations.
Studies undertaken to determine the average annual salaries of those engaged in theology-related professions have shown the following:
- Chaplain with 5 years experience: $35,000;
- Clergy Member with 10 years experience: $42,000;
- Youth Minister with 5 years experience: $37,500;
- Director of Religious Activities and Education with 5 years experience: $22,500;
- Senior Pastor with 5 years experience: $32,500;
- Ministry Pastor with 5 years experience: $28,000;
- Professor in Theology with 5 years experience: $48,500;
- Christian School Administrator (elementary and secondary school) with 5 years experience: $42,500;
- Curriculum Director with 5 years experience: $40,000.
Although there are all levels of online theology degree programs available, the great majority of them - if not all - are offered through Liberty University Online. It is even possible for a student to complete his entire course of study in theology, from associate degree to doctorate, online and this would be both extremely cost- and time-effective.