Theology Degree

Theological Studies Overview

Simply put, Theology is the study of God- an examination of the consequences and meaning of faith- through the exploration of topics such as the human condition, the nature of reality, the person of Christ, and the nature of God. Often thought of as an area of study reserved only for chaplains, ministers, members of the clergy or academics, Theology is helpful and important to every Christian- and even to those who do not believe in God. A theological education is designed to promote professional enrichment and equip individuals with the tools needed in all aspects of life, through the exploration of spiritual, religious and vocational concepts.

Career Paths with a Theology Degree

A degree in Theology will prepare a student for a wide range of potential careers, in settings such as religious organizations, hospitals, home health care services and schools. Theology Studies is a popular educational choice for those pursuing a career in pastoral counseling (or any area of therapy that is provided in the context of the Christian faith), because students learn more than just facts and information- they learn the how to apply theology on a practical level. It is also very common for students who plan on pursuing an advanced degree in Divinity, Ministry, Religious Education, or Theological Research to begin their academic career with an undergraduate degree Theology.

Listed below are a few of the many career outcomes for students with a degree in Theology:

DegreeOccupationsAreas of Service

M.A in Theological Studies

Grief Counselor
Social Worker*
Vocational Counselor
Pastoral Counselor
Religion Teacher
Spiritual Director
Ph.D. Candidate
Minister of Visitation
Social Services
General Medical & Surgical Hospitals
Colleges & Universities
Counseling Center
Religious Organizations
Home Health Care Services
Institutional Chaplaincy

Associates Degree in Theology (A.Th.)- 2 years

An associate degree in Theology Studies (A.Th.) program typically takes two years to complete. While in the program, students receive a foundation in the theology of the Church to equip them for entry-level ministry and religious education careers. Many students transfer to a bachelor's degree in Theology Studies program upon graduation to further their studies. By the time of graduation, students in an A.Th. degree program should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of biblical foundations.
  • Understand major biblical doctrines and principles of theology.
  • Clearly explain the importance of the history and theology of the Church.
  • Analyze the purpose, significance and application of the New Testament.

Associates in Theology Curriculum

Most associate degree in Theology Studies programs are comprised of 60 semester hours of general education core courses, biblical foundations core courses, theology core courses and upper division theology courses. Students are typically required to keep a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 Some schools require students to choose a ministry or pastoral emphasis. The table below includes examples of biblical foundations core courses in an A.Th. degree program:

CourseCourse Description

Old Testament Survey I and II

Survey course covering the Old Testament in its historical and cultural context.

Introduction to Biblical Doctrine

Foundation in Christian doctrine covering topics such as God, the Bible, Sin, Salvation and the Church.

Acts and Writings of Paul

Explores the book of Acts of the Apostles with a focus on Paul's life, times, and writings.

Introduction to Church History

Overview of the development of the Christian Church from the first century to the 21st century with a focus on significant persons, events, movements and ideas.

Public Devotional Speaking

Scriptural look at the tools of public speaking that provides opportunities for students to speak topically, expositionally and devotionally.

Bachelors Degree in Theology Studies- 3-5 years

Undergraduate programs in Theology Studies prepare students to pursue a Christian vocation or lay ministry career. Graduates can also apply for admission to a graduate program in an area of Christian studies. By the time students graduate, they should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic terms and relationships in biblical theology and church history.
  • Understand basic concepts in the Old Testament and New Testament.
  • Articulate an understanding of the Christian worldview and demonstrate an ability to communicate that worldview as it relates to other religions.

Bachelors in Theology Curriculum

Students in a bachelor's degree in Theology Studies program receive a broad biblical, theological and religious studies foundation. The curriculum combines General Education, Bible and Religion courses with Interdisciplinary Electives. The following table includes several courses offered in a bachelor's degree in Theology Studies program:

CourseCourse Description

Introduction to Theology

Overview of the major concepts of Christian theology and their interrelationships including the doctrines of Scripture, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, salvation, sanctification, and the Church.

Old Testament Narrative and Law

Exegetical and theological study of Old Testament narrative and legal materials that introduces their basic content, movement, context and significance.

Systematic Theology I and II

Exploration of major protestant theological systems and the doctrines of scripture, God, humanity, sin, and Christology.

Philosophy and Sociology of Ministry

Survey and analysis of secular and religious educational philosophies that have affected the church's ministries.

Early Christian Literature

Integrates the study of early Christianity with the study of Mediterranean life and thought from 300 BC to AD 1200.

The Synoptic Gospels

Introduction to the current "state of the question" in research on the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Colleges and universities typically offer students enrolled in a bachelors program the opportunity to choose a minor such as Christian Education, Children's Ministry, Youth Ministry, Church and Nonprofit Administration or Pastoral Ministry, as a means to further develop themselves academically and spiritually.

Additional possible topics covered:

  • A survey of ethical situations, and the impact that Christianity has had on ethics in a variety of fields
  • An introduction to the fundamentals of Christian ministry
  • A formulation of orderly, rational, and coherent set of Christian faith and beliefs as the strong foundation for apologetics, research, and defense
  • An introduction to composition and delivery of the sermon
  • Discussion of various types of religious instruction such as sermon, homily, testament, call to salvation and catechetical instruction
  • Analysis, classification, preparation, composition and delivery of religious oratory
  • An introduction to effective evangelism
  • Foundations of missionary work in contemporary society
  • Creating a cycle of spiritual renewal in established congregations
  • Leading Christian spiritual formation and discernment
  • Effective and ethical leadership for youth and family ministry initiatives
  • Survey of the Old Testament, focusing on comprehensive timelines and personalities
  • Survey of the Gospel focusing on creating a cohesive timeline of Jesus’ life and ministry
  • Jesus’ life as fact, as fiction, and as an archetypal model for counsel in the modern world
  • Introduction to the New Testament texts, with focus on comprehensive timelines and cultural influences
  • How Christianity and the Bible have influenced culture and history
  • Creating a meaningful and full prayer life as an individual and as a leader

Master's Degree in Theology (M.T.S) 1-3 years

Earning a master's degree in Theology Studies (M.T.S.) prepares graduates to work in a variety of fields, including teaching, research and counseling in hospitals, churches or private practices. With thesis and non-thesis programs that take one to three years to complete, there are options to fit every situation. Graduates of M.T.S. programs are expected to meet program objectives that include:

  • Advanced knowledge of the Bible, including a synthetic understanding of the major books.
  • Articulate an advanced understanding of the historical development of theology.
  • Ability to connect theological views with contemporary issues.
  • Demonstrate the leadership, evangelism and service skills needed to lead a local church or religious group.

Masters in Theology Curriculum

A master's degree in Theology Studies curriculum combines coursework in Biblical, Historical, Theological and Ministerial Studies. Students who plan to become pastoral counselors can learn about areas such as marital problems, early childhood trauma, mental illnesses and substance abuse. A ministry internship and/or residency may also be required. The table below defines some of the courses found in Theology Studies graduate degree program:

CourseCourse Description

The Gospels

Exposition of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with emphasis on the biblical theology of these books, their genre and application.

Hebrews to Revelation

Introduction to the General Epistles and Revelation that includes the history, setting, theme, purpose and message of each book.

The Church in the Modern Era: Europe and America

Study of Christianity in Europe and America since the rise of the Enlightenment with emphasis on the numerous influences that have forged the religious scene.

Elements of Greek

Introduction to the reading and translating of New Testament Greek and a basic understanding of text critical issues.

Introduction to Pastoral Counseling

Foundational orientation to pastoral counseling as a practice of ministry and as a theological bridge discipline connecting ministry and marriage and family therapy.

Research and Summary of Christian Doctrine

Instruction and guidance for the writing of a summative research paper and a general review of the major issues of Christian doctrine.

Additional topics possibly covered include:

  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the Old Testament
  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of Exodus, Hebrews, and prophets of the Old Testament
  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the Gospel texts and supporting historical texts
  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the New Testament
  • Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of James, Paul, and the Psalms
  • Study of eschatology and Revelation from archetypal and literal perspectives
  • Survey of ministerial and missional practice
  • Survey of spiritual theology and church history
  • Cultivate spiritual qualities necessary for an emergent church leader role
  • Cultivate and practice personal and social qualities for an emergent church leader role
  • Hone research methodology in a community of faith and learning
  • Seek exposure and analysis to texts considered to be spiritual classics
  • Seek exposure and analysis to current commentary by spiritual leaders of history and modern day, including papal encyclicals
  • Research the art and practice of spiritual traditions and sacramental objects
  • Deconstruct eras of worship music; survey historical trends in music and chant, analyze current data, and predict the future of sacred song
  • Prepare individuals for foreign assignments in institutional settings
  • Prepare individuals for pastoral ministries in local church settings
  • Hone of exegetical and theological skills for those looking to pursue apologetics and theology
  • Preparation of individuals who discern a vocation toward theological writing
  • Seek and find collegial networks and mentorships with peers and faculty

Phd in Theology

Obtaining a research doctorate in theology is considered to be the academic equivalent of a doctorate in philosophy. Candidates may ultimately discern a vocation toward pastoral work but the focus of the degree is on developing the analytical skills, methodological competence and knowledge base to to carry out innovative research or to teach at an advanced level. Programs are selective as to the candidates they admit, however, candidates should be prepared for the following workload:

  • Equip candidates for leadership positions in ecclesiastical and related organizations
  • Allow candidates to lead in research and discovery via an interdisciplinary, ecumenical framework
  • Support research projects that underscore the Church’s reflection on God
  • Support research projects that aid the Church’s self-reflective endeavors
  • Research the rubric of theological inquiry of other faith communities, and how ecumenical support is helpful
  • Work collaboratively among students, faculty and colleagues, facilitating scholarly interchange
  • Allow for free exchange of ideas amongst the traditional sub-disciplines of theological studies such as the Bible, biblical history, theology, and pastoral works
  • Research projects that have an interdisciplinary or global scope will be strongly encouraged
  • Emphasis is placed on research data, methodology and interpretation
  • Study sacred and canonical texts, including but not limited to the Old and New Testaments
  • Study languages in situ, as well as historical developments; literature of the period and subsequent theological interpretation
  • Evaluate the structures of foundational theology; systematic theology; historical theology; theological ethics; and philosophical theology
  • Survey the variety of Christian traditions over the ages and throughout the world.
  • The study of liturgical and homiletic practices over the ages and throughout a variety of cultures
  • An evaluation of the social organizations in which ministry occurs (such as congregations, hospitals, faith-based organizations, ecclesial bodies, mission organizations, and ecumenical and interfaith organizations