If you want to learn more about religion and its role in our global culture, an online degree in theology might be the perfect choice for you. An online theology degree is a must for those interested in leading a church or work as a missionary. A theology or seminary degree offers an in-depth education in the practice and philosophy of religion, as well as the everyday practice of the church's ministry. Clergy members who choose to major in seminary studies often include priests, ministers, pastors and rabbis. Though seminaries were originally developed to teach Catholicism, almost all Christian denominations—Episcopal, Methodist and so on—now operate seminary colleges. Students may want to attend a school that teaches a denominational faith that matches their own. Some programs may also be geared more toward academic study, while others focus on practical knowledge.
THE CAREER PATH
You might assume that all theology majors eventually become ministers and pastors, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, it’s possible to work in many different industries, and have a wide variety of jobs, after completing an online theology program.
First of all, you could work in teaching, either at the high school or college level. In this type of work, you would help students understand theological and religious principles, as well as the histories behind the major global religions.
You could also work in a writing or communication-based career, such as a journalist. Religion reporters often work for local newspapers, writing about happenings in faith communities and helping people understand issues from a religious perspective.
From research careers to religious leadership, there is virtually no end to the various careers you can hold as a theology student. But the variety of options is not the only advantage of this career choice. As a theology major, you would also enjoy a rich understanding of theological perspectives and history. You would be able to use excellent communication, research, and writing skills, which would be developed and enhanced during your education. This makes you an ideal candidate for many careers in nearly all industries.
To understand your options after graduation, let’s look closer at two potential careers for someone with a theology education…
- High School Teacher—You don’t have to work for a Christian high school to teach religious studies, and a degree in theology would set you up for a wonderful career in this field. High school teachers prepare classes, assess student development, and prepare students for graduation and life after school. The salary is very rewarding in this career, and although an online degree in theology is a good start, you will need an education in teaching, as well as the appropriate certifications and license, which are administered at the state level. The country will always need high school teachers, so this is also a stable, secure career.
- Writer—You may not think of authorship and writing as a clear path for someone who has majored in theology, but during this education you will develop your critical thinking and communication skills, which are essential to being a good writer. Many people are interested in religion and spiritual messages, and writing on religious subjects could make you a popular and successful author, especially if you find a new way to conceptualize religion. This career has a strong median salary, so you can reasonably expect to earn a decent income. If you are in the top 10% of writing, you can actually earn more than $118,000. The educational requirements will vary (there’s no required degree for publishing a book) but you will probably need a bachelor’s degree to excel in this career.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Think you might be the right person to enroll in an online theology degree? To excel in this education, as well as the career, you first need a deep belief that religion is an important part of our culture and communities. Theology gives you a deep understanding of religion, but if you don’t appreciate the good things that religion can do, while also recognizing its flaws, you likely won’t love a decades-long career in this type of work. You don’t have to be extremely religious, but you do have to appreciate religion as a source of good for individuals and communities.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Students who want to enter the ministry can earn a seminary degree online—either a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. Specialties for those with a seminary degree include Biblical language, religion, missionary work and youth ministry. Most clergy earn at least a master’s degree, with some choosing to earn an online doctorate degree. The online doctor of divinity is a popular degree title, with both a doctor of philosophy and a doctor of theology also available.
An online seminary degree enables students to work and complete educational credentials from anywhere in the world. Online seminary degrees are a convenient and often-used option for professionals working in developing countries or missionary service as well as those who work as clergy and wish to study while remaining in active service with their local congregations.
Coursework often covers religious administration, church business and finance. Most who attend online seminaries are aiming for a career in the clergy or wish to work inside a religious institution or organization. Students seeking to enter ministry should first check with their denomination for any additional credentials that may be required, including supervised experience or ordination.
Click on a program to view tuition, accreditation, and admission requirements. Compare prices as you keep the average cost in mind ($30,000 – $50,000 for an online bachelor's degree).