Theology Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Theology is the study of religion. Most schools offering degree programs in theology require foundational courses covering all religions and then allow the student to focus his or her studies on a specific belief. This article explains more about theology schools and the process for selecting one.

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Those seeking a degree in theology can choose from a wide variety of schools offering different programs and concentrations. Students can choose an analytical or research related approach, or focus on a fuller understanding of one specific religion with the goal to teach or take up ministry.

10 Theology Schools

The following table lists the top ten theology schools. The table lists the types of degrees that each school offers and the estimated tuition for the 2016-2017 school year.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2016-2017)*
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate Undergraduate: $50,480, Graduate: $24,676
Creighton University Omaha, NE 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $35,942, Graduate: $820/credit hr.
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Graduate Certificates, Master's and Doctorate $21,840 - $36,300
Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $27,408
Saint Louis University St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $40,100, Graduate: $1,075/credit hr.
Seattle University Seattle, WA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate Undergraduate: $40,500, Graduate: $631/credit hr.
University of Dallas Irving, TX 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $36,000, Graduate: $7,800 (half-time)
University of Dayton Dayton, OH 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's and Doctorate $620-740/credit hr.
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $1,854/credit hr.
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $23,920

Sources: *School websites

School Selection Criteria

The following considerations may be helpful to students when deciding on a school:

  • Students interested in studying theology should make sure that the religion of his or her choice is offered and is offered at the desired degree level.
  • Some theology programs are offered by traditional four-year universities, while others are available at seminaries; students should choose between them based on the campus environment and overall college experience they are looking for.
  • For students who are looking for research-based programs, it is important to find out whether there are faculty members with whom they share research interests, who could serve as advisors.
  • Students who want to study in distance learning formats can try to find schools that provide online coursework.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the undergraduate level, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theology. At some schools, these programs are intended for individuals who want to pursue ministry careers in a specific religion. In the United States, programs focused on Christian ministry are the most common, but there are distinctions between Catholic- and Protestant-run programs. Alternatively, there are more general bachelor's degree programs that focus more heavily on critical thinking about religion in order to prepare students for graduate research or professional school in any field. Some programs can be found fully online.

Master's Degree Programs

There are several different theology-related master's degree options. Students may earn a two-year Master of Arts (MA) in Theology, which typically serves as preparation for ministry careers. Some schools offer students the chance to choose a particular concentration based on their future aspirations, such as advanced diaconal studies, pastoral theology or sacred theology. Another option is a three-year Master of Divinity (MDiv), which provides specific theological training for aspiring Christian ministers. After earning an MDiv, students may advance their education through an additional year of study in a particular interest area, leading to a Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree. Fully online programs are also available at the master's level.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctoral degree programs place an emphasis on theological research and teaching. Students choose a particular topic on which to focus their studies, such as historical theology, systematic theology, biblical studies, theological ethics or comparative theology. Prior to graduation, students may be required to demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign languages, such as Greek, Latin or Hebrew. These programs award either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Theology (ThD). Graduates typically go on to work as professors at academic institutions.

Theology programs can be found at many 4-year, private universities. Relevant degrees can be found at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

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