Online Bible degree programs, also known as biblical studies programs, are available at various levels of study. They can be found at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Graduate level certificate programs are also offered by some schools. Attendance at a Bible college is the typical choice for those seeking biblical studies degrees, however, general universities and colleges also offer degrees in related areas of study. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as a bachelor's degree for graduate level programs. References may be required as well.
Many biblical studies programs can be completed totally online. However, some degree programs could require students to complete internships in a church or other appropriate setting, a possible time commitment of up to one year.
Students pursuing online Bible education programs are often able to customize their program and work at their own pace. Live lectures are normally run via streaming video while recorded lectures may be available through MP3 audio format or archived videos. Online classroom environments, available through schools' web sites, provide access to assignments, reading materials and communication tools used to foster interaction between instructors and students.
Associate Degree in Biblical Studies
Admission requirements for those seeking an associate's degree include the need to submit documentation of having earned a high school diploma or GED. Online Associate of Biblical Studies programs are usually offered in either a self-paced format or a structured format, which can take up to 16 weeks to complete.
Along with general education courses, students typically choose from a certain number of elective courses specific to their biblical area of interest. These can include the following:
- Old and New Testament studies
- Bible study methods
- Spiritual life and community
- The Church and its doctrines
Bachelor's Degree in Biblical Studies
Bible colleges offering an online biblical studies bachelor's degree or similar program usually develop it as an all-purpose training course in the field of theology. In some cases, this degree might qualify an individual for pastoral ministry. Program applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Some Bible colleges may request applicants to give information about their involvement in religious or church activities in addition to requiring references from those who can comment on students' commitment to and skills in biblical studies or outreach.
In addition to general education and biblical studies coursework, specific classes may include:
- Pastoral Ministry skills
- Contemporary theology
- Biblical interpretation
- The New Testament
Master's Degree in Biblical Studies
Online master's programs in this field of study may lead to a number of degrees, such as a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion or Master of Theology. Some universities and Bible colleges offer distance learning master's degrees that allow students to concentrate in one of several areas, such as Christian studies, counseling, missions or organizational leadership.
Master's programs typically have some sort of capstone course to tie together the program's coursework, and in some cases a thesis is required. Required courses in a master's program vary widely due to the range of degrees available, but students may come across some of the following:
- Readings in theology
- Teaching the Bible
- Interpretation of the Gospels
- Restoration Movement literature
- Historical theology
- Religious education
Online graduate certificate programs in biblical studies usually require prospective students to hold a related bachelor's degree or its educational equivalent prior to registration. Certificates can usually be completed in a shorter time frame than degrees and allow students to focus on a single area of interest.
Common coursework at the graduate level often includes the following:
- Introduction to theological study, research and writing
- Literature and theology of the Old and New Testaments
- Principles of Biblical research and interpretation
- Systematic theology
Programs in biblical studies, theology, ministry or other related fields are typically designed to prepare students for careers in religious or community services, which could range from serving as a minister to working as a counselor. Some programs could also be beneficial for those seeking careers in academia.
Those seeking to pursue careers in religious or community service can pursue biblical studies programs online. Coursework can be completed online, while some programs require internships in churches or similar settings for completion.