Theology Courses and Classes Overview

The study of theology helps students understand how religion has shaped mankind throughout history. Read on to learn more about courses students commonly encounter when pursing a theology certificate or degree program.

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Essential Information

Theology can be studied at 4-year universities and theology schools. Those who enjoy taking theology courses may want to pursue Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts degrees in theology or consider a minor program. Theology can also be studied within a dual degree program, such as theology and social work or theology and business. Additionally, there are postgraduate theology certificates for individuals with a bachelor's degree who aren't interested in earning a degree.

For a more specialized program of study, some theology degree programs offer areas of concentration, such as ethics and biblical studies. The curriculum of a theology program typically begins with introductory religion and biblical topics before advancing to subjects like global religion, traditions and morality.

Here is an outline of common concepts explored in theology courses:

  • Historical foundations of religion
  • Philosophy of religion
  • Religious traditions
  • Methods of interpreting biblical scriptures
  • Social ethics

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List of Theology Courses

World Religions

Students in this class learn about the major world religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and others. World religion courses give students the ability to compare and contrast religions throughout time and place, understand the varying concepts of God, comprehend views of death and the afterlife, question why humans suffer and explore how religion has impacted politics. This theology course is usually the first requirement for people looking to major in this field and is taken during the freshman or sophomore year. At some religious-based universities, it may be a mandatory course for all students.

Religion in America

Throughout U.S. history, religion has played a significant role in American life. Students explore religion in the United States, beginning with the early settlers and Quakers and working their way to more recent topics. Attitudes toward Catholicism and Judaism are also explored, along with a study of Islam in America. This class is usually, but not always, an elective.

Contemporary Moral Lessons

Almost every major issue that shapes our world has been impacted by religion. A course studying contemporary moral lessons will discuss topics like abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war, racism and women's rights. This class provides students with the opportunity to see how religion impacts their own views on current events. This class is a requirement of many programs.


Christianity is the preeminent religion in much of the world. Students taking this type of class will learn about the development of Christianity, Christian interpretations of the Bible, divisions within Christianity and Christianity's role in the modern world. At least one class in Christianity is required in most theology programs.

Religions of the Middle East

Christianity, Judaism and Islam, three of the most important religions in the world, were formed in the Middle East. This class largely focuses on how all three religions developed, how all three impacted each other, the importance to the Jewish people of Israel and Islam's spread around the world. This course also highlights the differences between Shiite and Sunni Muslims and discusses current political issues related to this region. This class explores the root causes of various problems in the Middle East. At least one class that studies religion in the Middle East is required by nearly every theology program.

Religions of the Near East

The region from Japan to India, and all points in between, is home to dozens of religions. By studying the religions of this part of the world, students gain an understanding of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism and other sects. Class time will be spent studying the practices of each religion, and will often include deep readings of the Bhagavad Gita and other books of great importance. This class is usually offered as an elective and may be taken at any point during a student's college career.

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