Often offered through seminaries and other religious-affiliated institutions, students can pursue a wide range of graduate certificate programs related to theology in online formats. Students interested in these programs may wish to consider factors like program length, religious affiliation/requirements, available concentrations and course topics when making their decision. Here we discuss some of these factors for various types of online certificate programs.
Types of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Theology
Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies
Students can pursue graduate certificate programs in theological studies that may require as little as 12 credits and be completed in as little as 6 months. Some of these certificate programs offer additional areas of concentration, such as ministry preparation, study of Black faith and life, interreligious engagement, chaplaincy studies and LGBTQ studies. Courses may be offered in 8-week long sections and may include audio or video lectures, live video chats and/or online discussions. Certificate programs in theological studies may cover course topics in Christian ministry, systematic theology and apologetics, while programs that offer additional concentrations typically focus coursework and electives within that specific concentration.
Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies
Graduate certificate programs in Christian studies are generally designed for religious leaders looking to deepen their knowledge in Biblical and theological topics. Some programs may require as few as 6 courses, while others require around 31 credits and can be completed in 1.5 years. Students in some programs may also choose to participate in optional intensive residencies on-campus for further learning opportunities. These certificate programs may offer specific tracks, like ministry leadership or marketplace leadership, while other programs provide a larger overview, which may cover subjects in church history, Christian ethics, theology and Old and New Testament.
Graduate Certificate in Bible and Theology
Graduate certificate programs in Bible and theology are typically about 30 credit hours in length and prepare students for further graduate study and/or seminary. Some programs may allow students to replace an online course with on-campus intensives that last 3 to 5 days, but many of these programs can be completed 100% online. In order to graduate, some of these certificate programs may require students to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and demonstrate Christian character and observance of specific doctrines, such as salvation by faith in Christ and participation in a local church. Students in these programs may take courses in various books of the Bible, like the Gospels, Acts and the Prophets, systematic theology, Bible study methods, theological methods, Christian life and missions.
Common Entrance Requirements
Students planning on applying to graduate certificate programs in theology usually need a bachelor's degree and some programs may require students to have a minimum GPA of a 2.0. Generally, these certificate programs do not require the GRE, but because they are religiously-affiliated, these programs may look at spiritual criteria for admission, such as demonstration of Christian character, evidence of saving faith and involvement in a local church/ministry. Students are typically required to include their transcripts, references and questionnaire or essay answers with their application. For the essay portion of the application, students may be required to include an autobiographical statement, a statement of purpose and/or a statement of calling. A few programs may also ask for a resume with detailed church and ministry involvement included.
Students can choose from several different graduate certificate programs in the field of theology that are available in online formats. These programs vary in length and may offer different areas of concentration.