Top Online Religious Studies Degree Programs

What is a Religious Studies Degree?

A religious studies degree looks at one or many faiths and belief systems. It often examines how religion evolved through its sacred texts and traditions. By learning these things, you may gain a comparative view of world religions.

Online religious studies programs are available at all levels. From associates to doctorate. You can choose a general program or focus on prepping for a clerical career. It all depends on your calling.

Associates degrees in religious studies may ready you to continue your studies. Or pursue a supportive role in the ministry. Often, they look at sacred texts, theology and philosophy.

Bachelors degrees in religious studies may dive deeper into theology and biblical studies. Depending on your major you may need to do an internship in a ministry or church setting.

Masters degrees in religious studies programs usually focus on seminary areas. You may continue to study the Bible, study pastoral counseling or Christian ministry.

Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry

Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry - Church Music

Students build a strong foundation in the Bible and theology while preparing to serve a pastoral role.

Students learn to interpret the Bible for themselves and others by exploring the Scripture.Students learn about the Bible and Christian faith. Alongside, one may learn how to lead people in congregational praise and worship while sharing the gospel through music and song.
  • Study of the Prophets
  • Christian Ministry
  • Intercultural Evangelism
  • Christian Doctrine
  • Biblical Tools
  • Teaching the Bible
  • Pentateuch
  • The Gospels
  • Study of the Prophets

No specific accreditations other than regional through Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)

No specific accreditations other than regional through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)No specific accreditations other than regional through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Religious Studies Degree Programs

The classes you take in a religious studies program are different at each level of study and depend on your major. While class names vary, below is a brief list of topics you might study if you major in Biblical Studies:

  • Biblical Languages (Hebrew and Greek)
  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Old Testament
  • Gospels • Prophets
  • Teaching the Bible
  • Ethics

There are many ways to tailor a religious studies degree program to your interests. The following are examples of different programs at each level of education.

Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry – Pastoral Care

A BA in Christian Ministry studies the Old and New Testaments. Along with biblical and theological studies, you may learn how to guide others. This may mean studying the ministry. Its functions and how to support people using a Christian worldview.

Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies

A BA in Biblical Studies may guide you through major theological themes. Creation, Sin, Reconciliation and Hope are some examples. While studying scripture and its context, you may learn how to interpret and share wisdom.

Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Biblical Studies

A BS in Professional Studies may take a biblical worldview to business. While studying business concepts for the workplace, it often focuses on service. As such, you may learn about organizational behavior, teams, management principles and ethics.

Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling

A MA in Pastoral Counseling studies the Bible and Christian principles. Then applies faith-based concepts and counseling methods to help others. Some programs may ready you to pursue a state license, but this is not usually the case. Pastoral counseling is a specialty in counseling ministry, not a licensed mental health field.

Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS)

A Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies explores the qualities needed for service. It may ready you to pursue a career in pastoral ministry. While building your own leadership style, you may work on community-based projects.

Master of Arts in Youth and Family Ministry

A MA in Youth and Family Ministry studies human growth from childhood to adulthood. You may also study a range of theology and biblical topics. Then, learn to apply these concepts to engage and guide younger congregants.

Master of Theology (ThM)

A Master of Theology is a research degree. It usually focuses on deepening one’s faith and understanding of the Bible. At the same time, a ThM degree may hone ministry skills for careers in the church or as a chaplain. There are many ways to tailor this degree to an area of interest.

Master of Divinity (MDiv)

A Master of Divinity explores church leadership. You will likely study the gospel, Bible, theology and pastoral care. Other courses may focus on how to apply biblical principles in an ethical manner. It is also common to study the basics of Hebrew and Greek, evangelism and discipleship. Some schools offer anchor points like Church History, Chaplain Ministry or Cyber Theology.

Doctor of Divinity (DMin)

A Doctor of Divinity is a professional degree. It usually covers the finer points of effective Christian leadership. At some schools, you might streamline a focus in ministry with other interests. For instance, you may want to guide people in the armed forces. If so, a Doctor of Ministry in Military Ministry might sensitize you to the stresses on military personnel.

Graduate Certificate in Religious Education

A graduate certificate in religious education may ready you to teach religion in schools and parishes. Or, to administer religious education programs. For some, it may serve as a platform to a MAPS degree.

How Long Does It Take to earn a Religious Studies Degree?

A Full-time student may earn a 120-credit religious studies degree in four years or less. For a Master of Theology, it may take one year full-time.

Religious Studies Degrees That Could be Completed in 208 weeks

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Colorado Christian University120 credits 348
Regent University 120 credits Multiple48
Indiana Wesleyan University120 credits 448

The Cost of a Religious Studies Degree

The cost of a religious studies degree often depends on where you attend school and what you study.

Some schools, for instance, offer a discounted rate for pastors and/or state residents. The average in-state tuition for a religious studies degree is $8,723. On average the out-of-state cost is $31,735. Make sure you check what your school charges for fees.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Out-of-State Tuition Cost
Colorado Christian University120$469.00$56,280
Regent University120 $574.00$68,880
Indiana Wesleyan University120 $384.00$46,080

Top Schools that offer Religious Studies Degrees

According to the NCES, there were over 50 schools that offer religious studies degrees or programs. From those schools there were 6,692 religious studies degrees or programs awarded to students. The majority (73%) of these programs were bachelors degrees.

School

2017 Grads total/degrees awarded

Tuition (Out of State)

Liberty University

1,219

$22,584

Yeshiva University

370

$43,500

Cairn University Langhorne

150

$27,279

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

103

$8,620

University of Virginia (Main Campus)

84

$49,032

Florida State University

50

$18,786

Duke University

48

$55,695

Baylor University

41

$45,542

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

40

$35,170

Emory University

31

$51,306

Source: https://datausa.io/profile/cip/religious-studies

Choosing an Accredited Religious Studies Degree Program

There are a few types of accreditation that may apply to religious studies degrees. The first is for the institution as a whole, the second for individual programs.

There are six regional agencies who accredit colleges within a given geographic area. Studying at a regionally accredited school enables you to apply for federal aid. Also, due to agreements between these schools, you may be able to transfer credits from one to the next.

Schools with this status have to first undergo a review to show they follow standards. Then, maintain or improve on them to renew their status. To verify these details, you can visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).

Bible colleges and Christian liberal arts colleges have distinct accreditors. One accrediting agency for Bible colleges is the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). ABHE is a national, institutional accrediting agency.

ABHE accredited institutions need students to take part in ministry formation experiences. The scope of ABHE spans all levels of postsecondary education. From associate to doctoral degrees. They also accredit biblical, theological and ministerial programs.

In contrast, Christian liberal arts colleges encourage ministry involvement. But most do not need it nor offer formal training, supervision, and evaluation. Many are members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). CCCU institutions have a board-approved and public institutional mission statement that is Christ-centered.

Yet another accreditor in this field is the Accrediting Commission of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). They do not accredit undergrad programs or Bible Colleges. But, do approve graduate theological degree programs (master’s and doctoral levels).

What can you do with a degree in Religious Studies?

There are 335,846 people in the workforce with a religious studies degree, and the number is on the rise by .694%. Most of these employees are men and average 44.8 years of age.

Top Salaries by Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Rhode Island130$102,950
New Hampshire110$93,640
California1,630$92,600
Florida170$89,560
Virginia730$89,120

Careers with a Religious Studies Degree

Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary

Philosophy and Religion Teachers in postsecondary schools teach courses in philosophy, religion, and theology. Some combine research with their teaching career.

  • Median Salary: $78,790
  • Job growth through 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: PhD

Historians

Historians research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past. They gather their material from archives, books, artifacts and other sources. Their work often provides advice and guidance.

  • Median Salary: $61,140
  • Job growth through 2026: 6% (As fast as average)
  • Entry-level education: PhD