An accelerated theology degree can help prepare you for meaningful work to give your life a purpose.
Theology is defined as the study of God and religious belief. A degree in theology is not about getting rich. Or even being famous, although there are high paying jobs you may get with a theology degree. But you will find that a degree in theology can help prepare you for service.
To help others. To understand the bigger picture of life.
A degree in theology can help you explore:
- what you believe
- why you believe it
- how this applies to for your life
Then you may be ready to guide others. There are careers in church ministry, teaching, writing, fundraising, social work, even Bible translation or overseas relief work.
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But you probably don’t want to spend 4 years working away at a degree when you know that people need help now. You may want to be ready and equipped to serve, but you feel attending school for years and building up a huge pile of debt is a horrible way to start your ministry.
Jesus told a parable of feeding a crowd of over 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. It is possible to do big things with limited resources. What if you could have a degree in theology in 18-24 months for less money than you thought possible? Find out how!
Types of Accelerated Theology Degree Programs
The types of theology degrees are varied but all focus on the study of God’s nature and revelation to us. You might pursue a bachelor’s degree in religion, religious studies, theology, or apologetics. Some of the majors often chosen are:
- Biblical and Theological Studies
- Biblical Languages
- Biblical Scholarship
- Christian Counseling
- Christian Ministries
- Global Studies
- New Testament
- Old Testament
- Systematic Theology
- Writing and Literature
Which field of theology inspires you most?
Accelerated Theology Degree Programs Overview
When you take a degree in theology, you usually want to find a school that aligns with your own personal beliefs. Most Catholic theology students will be looking at a Catholic school, and Protestants for a certain type of Protestant school. But no matter what denomination or division of the Church you come from, theology classes tend to cover the basic tenants of your faith.
Your spiritual growth may be formed by classes such as:
- Foundational Issues in Apologetics
- Christianity and the Cults
- Biblical Studies and Apologetics
- Church History
- World Religions
- Historical Theology
- The Church: Its Mission and Hope
- Old Testament Overview
- New Testament Overview
Not only are you learning about foundational beliefs but you may be gaining skills to teach others.
Careers with an Accelerated Theology Degree
A theology degree will probably not make you rich. Very few people pursue theology careers with the intention of making millions of dollars. Your focus is more likely on making a difference in the world around you.
But you still need to pay the bills. In the Gospel of Luke 14:28, Jesus states that if you want to build a tower you should first sit down and figure out the cost. A wise learner will first consider the cost of his project before starting out. Even for a degree in theology.
Careers in theology can be many, although most will be connected with a church, mission organization, religious school, or charity.
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Social and Community Service Manager||$69,600|
|Religious High School Teacher||$62,870|
|Director of Religious Activities||$45,110|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
What an amazing list of jobs! Can you imagine the satisfaction and purpose you could find in one of these careers?
There are many who have left higher paying careers to pursue a humbler life in ministry. Jack Gleeson, famous for his role as King Joffrey in Game of Thrones, left a successful acting career to instead study theology at Trinity College in Dublin.
Pursuing a career in theology may allow you to leave a legacy of hope and change in the world instead of fame and riches.
Also, if you are interested in a career in psychology or counseling and would like to combine it with your religious beliefs, a growing number of universities offer either a Christian psychology degree or a Christian counseling degree.
Why Get Your Theology Degree Through an Online Accelerated Program?
While there’s certainly something to be said for the mentoring opportunities and peer learning you receive from on-campus classes, there are also quite a few reasons to pursue your degree online, and at a faster pace. This may be an online bachelors, an online masters, or even an online doctorate in theology.
Get moving! Once you have committed your mind and your heart to following this path, there is no need to wait to start your degree. Most universities in North America will offer start dates each month. No need to wait until the next semester starts.
Move faster! Classes on campus normally run for 16 weeks. Online classes are usually 8 weeks long. You learn the same material but at twice the speed. If you have the time to devote to your coursework, you might finish your degree in half the time.
But move when you want! You decide when you want to do your schoolwork, not the campus’ class schedule. You may also get to decide where you do your work because you won’t have to move or commute to campus.
Accelerated online classes are designed to work for you. How’s that for a 3-point sermon?
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3 Ways to Accelerate Your Theology Degree Even More
Completing your theology degree quicker may not only save you money but allow you to start serving in your chosen ministry quicker. Using these 3 strategies, you may shave years off the time you spend in school.
1. Test Out of College Classes (Save 1 Year)
Did you know that you don’t have to take classes to get college credit? Most schools will accept credit that you may earn through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
You can register to take the exam, pay an $89 fee, answer the 90 multiple-choice questions, and as long as you get 50% correct, you earn 3 college credits in classes like humanities, history, and natural sciences.
This method might earn you up to 30 credits, which is 10 classes worth. Usually, that would take you about a year. You’re now a sophomore just by taking some short tests. There are even study guides you can read beforehand.
2. Get College Credit for Your Life and Work Experience (Save another Semester)
Have you participated in youth ministry? A cross-cultural missions trip? Completed training as a Worship leader or in children’s ministry? Maybe you served in the military or held a job before entering college.
All of that valuable time you put into serving can also potentially earn you credit. Most colleges and universities will award Credit for Prior Life Experience. At Liberty University, for example, you can earn:
- 9 credits for having done a year with Youth With a Mission (YWAM).
- 6 credits for having a diploma in Child Evangelism
- 3 credits for attending a national worship leaders conference
You may also get credit for military service and workplace training. You may earn up to 15 credits this way. Another semester of classes potentially done without going to class!
3. Stay Continuously Enrolled with the Max Courseload
Most students will enroll in 15 credits each fall and spring semester. A respectable 5 classes every 4 months. Take the summer off to work at summer camp or do a church internship. A great way to order your life, but it will take you 4 years to get your degree.
On the other hand, you may almost double the number of credits you earn in a year. Many universities allow you to take up to 18 credits each semester and also offer classes over the summer. In one year, you might earn 54 credits.
If you add the 30 credits you earned through credit by exam and the 15 credits from credit for prior life experience, you could be done in just over 4 semesters. That is 18 months.
Bonus: Transferring Your Existing College Credits
Did you start another degree before you felt the call into ministry? Those credits you earned may be put to good use to meet your theology degree requirements.
To make sure your pre-existing college credit is useful, check that:
- Your previous college was accredited
- You applied yourself and earned at least a C in the class
Even if the class doesn’t match any of your concentration requirements, you may still apply the class to your electives.
How to Lower Tuition Costs for Your Theology Degree?
You’ve counted the cost, and you’re ready to start this journey. Although you are prepared to make sacrifices, the good news is that earning your degree might cost you less than you originally planned.
A typical theology degree will require 120 credit hours. That’s a lot of credits to pay tuition for.
If you earn credits by exam or through prior learning, you may not have to pay tuition for those credit but a much lower fee. You may then take advantage of financial aid to lower your personal expenses even more. Look for:
- Grants and Loans from the federal government (fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – FAFSA)
- State grants
- College scholarships
- Scholarships from private businesses or organizations
- Tuition assistance from your employer
Using these strategies may help you save money. Your theology degree might cost you a ⅓ of what you planned.
Theology Degree Accreditation
Are you planning to continue your education after you receive a degree in theology? Maybe add training in education or counseling. Or continue with a master’s or doctorate in theology?
Accreditation adds validity to your degree. Most schools will be regionally accredited and that is good enough.
If you are looking for a higher level of theological accreditation, check if your school is accredited by:
- The Association of Theological Schools
- The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
- The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
You can check a school’s accreditation on the U.S. Department of Education’s database website.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Theology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
American Public University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Religion program. The program includes a final capstone project on a related topic of the student’s choosing. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits, with up to 90 qualifying, transferable credits accepted. Applicants must have completed high school and must submit a government-issued ID.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Clarks Summit University offers a number of bachelor’s degrees related to theology. Applicants must have a high school diploma. Degree options include Accelerated Pastoral Ministries, Worship Studies, Youth Ministry, Pastoral Ministries, and Camping Ministries. The required credits range from 120 to 151 credit hours and courses last for 8 weeks.
Clarks Summit University is accredited by The Commissions on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and The Association of Biblical Higher Education.
Dallas Baptist University offers 3 online bachelor’s degrees in theology. Students may choose from Biblical Studies, Christian Studies, and Christian Ministries. Each program requires the completion of 120 credits and a GPA of 2.0 or higher to graduate. When applying, applicants must fill out an online form and have a high school diploma.
Dallas Baptist University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Gardner-Webb University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry, a Bachelor’s in Discipleship Studies, and an Accelerated Pastoral Ministries degree. Students must complete roughly 120 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.72 or higher and a SAT score of 1015 or an ACT score of 22.
Gardner-Webb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Grand Canyon University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies. Online courses last for 7 weeks. A total of 120 credits are needed to graduate, and students can transfer in up to 90 qualifying credits. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, but applicants with a GPA of 2.5 may apply if they have high SAT scores.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lancaster Bible College offers online bachelor’s degrees for mature students. Students interested in gaining a degree related to theology may choose between a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies or in Ministry Leadership. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. Applicants must have a spiritual life reference and an autobiographical essay.
Lancaster Bible College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Christian Leadership and Management. Applicants only need to prove they have graduated from high school. Courses last for 8 weeks, and the program can typically be completed in 3.5 years. Students need to complete 120 credits to graduate, and if they have qualifying credits, they can transfer in up to 75% of the required credits.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Regent University offers three bachelor’s degrees related to theology, including Biblical & Theological Studies, Christian Ministry, and Christian Leadership & Management.
Classes range from lasting 8 weeks to lasting 15 weeks, and 120 credits are required to graduate. Students 24 and older must take the programs online, while those that are younger may take classes online or on campus. All transcripts and test scores must be submitted when applying.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southeastern University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Ministerial Leadership. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.0. The program offers four areas of concentration that students may choose from: Biblical Studies, Christian Ministry, Humanitarian Ministry, and Pastoral Care and Counseling. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate.
Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Bachelor’s in Missions and Ministry. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, with the option of 12 elective classes from the School of Lifelong Learning. To apply, interested students must submit an online application with all official transcripts.
The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Start Now… Serve Faster!
A degree in theology does not necessarily require 4 years of classes. Nor do you need to end up $100,000 or more in debt. Does that make the path to ministry seem a little more doable? You may still follow your calling into service while providing for your family.
You may be a good steward of your resources and earn an accelerated online degree in theology or an online degree in religious studies in 18-24 months.
Then where will you go? And who will you serve?