The notion of getting a seminary degree has evolved over the years. In the past, a traditional seminary degree was known to prepare one for ministry. But apart from becoming an authority in religious matters, a seminary degree can prepare you for other career options. You can become a counselor, an expert apologist, a chaplain, a teacher, or an adviser.
In addition to this, most free online seminary degrees offer courses in leadership, intercultural education, and so on. As a result, a student can become versed in people management. Other career options include fundraising, social work, and humanitarian service.
In this article, we explore tuition-free online seminary degrees as well as accredited schools that offer seminary degrees.
Why Get an Online Seminary Degree?
Contemporary adult education takes different forms. One of these ways is through distance learning.
These days, it is very difficult for ministers to move away from their families for years in order to bag a seminary degree. Such a move usually demands another one upon graduation.
As a result of this, several master’s and doctoral programs have been offered online for free. Some of them demand only a small registration fee, while others offer free degrees for people in developing countries.
Moreover, these graduate programs are flexible and more convenient than on-campus programs. You can opt for a synchronous or asynchronous option. Synchronous means you must join virtual lectures as they take place, while asynchronous means you can do this independently.
These and many more are the catches in getting an online seminary degree. It also makes religious enlightenment available for laymen who are interested in finding academic answers.
However, you should consider religious affiliation, lifestyle, course concentration, and on-campus requirements when choosing a program.
Requirements For an Online Seminary Degree
The basic requirement is a high school diploma or associate degree in theology and a minimum 2.0–3.0 GPA. Some schools require a recommendation letter for acceptance into the major. Also, an above-average SAT or ACT is commonly preferred. The best schools also expect students to carry out capstone projects.
Unless you are looking for a random online education, a point to note in choosing an online program would be to ensure that it has the seal to operate.
However, if you are looking for a spiritually enriching education, there are certain online schools that offer that. These schools operate independently of external regulations to maintain autonomy. Note that such degrees are likely unrecognized.
Whatever the case, you are sure to find what you want in this article. Below are the popular bodies that regulate the operation of online seminary schools:
- The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
- The Association of Theological Schools
- The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
Also, confirm a school’s status on its website or on the U.S. Department of Education’s database website.
15 Free Online Seminary Degrees
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
- ISDET (International Seminary for Distance Education in Theology)
- Fullers Seminary
- Ohio Christian University
- Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology
- Grand Canyon Theological Seminary
- Colorado Christian University
- Liberty University
- Saint Leo University
- Moody Bible Institute
- Saint Joseph’s College
- Bethel University
- Louisiana Baptist University and Seminary
- Wesley Seminary
- Central Christian College of the Bible
Different schools have unique requirements for admitting students to their online graduate programs. Some are more stringent than others. You should visit the schools’ websites linked to the various schools to check the school’s requirements.
#1. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary started its online classes in 2004. This institution offers one of the best free, accredited online seminary degrees in the US. It has a tuition-free online seminary. The focus of the courses cuts across a wide range of interests. These free online courses include teachings on biblical exposition. It also has courses on theology and culture, work/worship, and many others. They are broken into chunks of a few minutes each.
11 of these free online courses help Ministers and workers study while getting equipped to become religious leaders.
SBTS also offers graduate and postgraduate degrees. Some of them are Masters of Divinity degrees, several Masters of Arts degrees, and Doctor of Ministry degrees.
Its online library is well-designed to meet the needs of its distant learners.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a connection with the Southern Baptist Church, and about 85% of its students are members.
SEBTS has approval to partake in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. This body regulates access to distance learning programs.
#2. ISDET (International Seminary for Distance Education in Theology)
This is a popular institution that offers online learning for free. The ISDET Doctoral degree program is free for those in developing countries. Those in developed countries only pay a small registration fee.
The courses are divided into different subjects using modules. Each module takes an hour to complete.
That is not all. With rich and expansive modules, ISDET offers bachelor’s degrees, MDivs, Masters in Theology, and doctoral degrees. Enrollees are expected to complete a project and thesis, no matter the graduate program.
ISDET, in order to maintain an independent stance on biblical topics, is not accredited by an external body. Instead, it is subject to independent checks and reviews. It has a strong doctrinal statement and a commitment to academic excellence.
But if you are looking for a self-enriching spiritual experience, then we highly recommend ISDET.
#3. Fullers Seminary
This seminary offers 100% online seminary courses. An online library is available, including shipping options for study resources. Reviews from students praise the unique learning options at Fullers’ seminary. The robust discussion forums and convenience are added advantage.
Fullers Seminary awards a MaDiv, an MA in Theology and Ministry, an MA in Theology, and an MA in Intercultural Studies. There are also certificate courses in Bible Studies.
Concentrations in the MADiv also include intercultural studies that cut across Black and Asian American Missions. It has no residency requirements.
This seminar aims to position ministers for the work of missions and global service. All you need is a high-end internet connection, a laptop or desktop, access to YouTube, plus other tech demands.
#4. Ohio Christian University
This school offers free online seminary degrees. All programs are tailored to meet the busy schedules of the students. Ohio Christian University also offers online programs to students who may consider studying from the comfort of their homes.
The MA in Ministry has concentrations in Pastoral care and Counseling, Practical theology,, and Sports, Recreation and Fitness Ministry Concentration.
Global Missions is their BA program with distance learning options. This demands that students complete 24 credit hours. Concentrations include Biblical studies, Biblical Theology, and two others for a total of 54 hours. Another online option is the Associate of Arts in Christian Ministry. Enrollees can transfer credits with at least a C-grade.
Interestingly, you can also pursue their unique 100% online dual Major Program. In the end, you would have bagged an MBA and an MA in Ministry. This program serves pastors who major in Church finance. It also teaches businesspeople who take part in ministry.
Ohio Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
#5. Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology
TGAT offers many quality post-graduate, master’s, and doctoral diplomas in theology. It is a pioneer in online seminary degrees, with committees set up all over the world.
This seminary provides great resources at no cost. Many CDs and books are made freely available for download. Students from developed countries pay a small registration fee and no tuition, while those from poor countries pay nothing.
The program ranges from Bachelor Of Theology, Bachelor of Ministry, MAdiv, MA in Biblical Studies, Post Graduate Diploma in Apologetics, and many other doctoral programs.
TGAT like ISDET, is unaccredited. However, they offer great resources for seekers of spiritual knowledge and development.
#6. Grand Canyon Theological Seminary
Grand Canyon Theological Seminary offers one of the best free accredited online seminary degrees. This university offers a Masters of Divinity degree. To gain admission into this college, you must have critical thinking ability and writing skills. You also have to be able to reason and analyze details soundly.
Grand Canyon program helps students to reflect on Christian theological issues in the Post apostolic to the medieval era. This University also offers several Bachelor of Arts and Masters degree programs. Scholarships and grants are available to students who sail through such grants.
Grand Canyon Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools and other bodies.
#7. Colorado Christian University
This is an accredited, interdenominational Christian college. This institution currently runs its College of Undergraduate Studies and College of Adult Studies. Those seeking a flexible learning experience can take courses online, including dual options. With this, students can save time. The over 80 programs offer graduate, undergraduate, licensure, and certificate programs from a Christ-centered viewpoint.
Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Some of the courses are as follows:
- Applied Apologetics
- M.A. Cultural Engagement
- Applied Apologetics, M.A. Innovative Evangelism
- MA in Curriculum and Instruction: Biblical Studies
- M.A. Practical Apologetics
- Applied Apologetics, B.A. Innovative Evangelism
- MA in Biblical Studies
- Applied Apologetics, B.A. Practical Apologetics
- BA in Biblical Studies
- Christian Ministry, B.A.
- AA in Biblical Studies
#8. Liberty University
Liberty University offers affordable online seminary degrees. This university is dedicated to training Champions for Christ. Through its over 400 online programs, students study for their master’s and doctoral degrees. Also, there are special benefits for those who are in the military. Retired military workers also benefit from the special offer
The goal of Liberty University is to provide an education where students will achieve an added sense of purpose and impact all those around them. Programs run into several units of credit. They also have unique course layouts and concentrations. Some of these degree programs include:
- Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Worship
- Master Of Theology
- MAR: Christian Apologetics
- Doctor of Ministry – Biblical Studies
- MAR: Homiletics
- MTS: Master of Arts in Theological Studies
- BS: Religion
- MAR: Master of Arts in Religion: Next Generation Ministry
- BS: Religion: Apologetics
- BS: Religion: NextGen (Next Generation Ministries)
- Bachelor of Science in Religion: Digital Discipleship
- AA: Religion
- AA: Psychology: Christian Counseling
- THM: Church History (Non-Thesis)
- CTG: Bible Exposition
#9. Saint Leo University
This school offers online seminary degrees in the liberal arts. The graduate programs at Saint Leo University are taught from a Catholic Christian perspective. However, people of other beliefs interested in liturgical studies can apply.
The degrees include
- MA in Theology
- BA in Religion
- BA in Liberal Studies
- AA in Liberal Arts
#10. Moody Bible Institute
Founded in 1886 by Dwight L. Moody, this Bible School has an online option for students. Students can take an online tour of the school. MBI has a Master of Divinity program taught by published faculty members.
Topics like church history, biblical theology, and the Hebrew language are part of its core curriculum. As usual, the requirements for each school are different. This institute, for instance, requires two internships where students can gain practical experience. Its religious affiliation is conservative.
This school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
#11. Saint Joseph’s College
This college offers an online Master of Arts in Theology. The program is a Roman Catholic-centered one.
Students can choose to specialize in pastoral theology, sacred theology, or advanced diaconal studies. There is an option for undergraduates to fast-track their programs.
#12. Bethel University
This university offers several degree programs and intensives. Some of them include MAdiv, MA in Biblical Studies, and others. There are also a variety of doctoral degrees. Some are fully online, while others require one to two weeks of on-campus visits.
#13. Louisiana Baptist University and Seminary
This school offers a unique seminary education in nontraditional ways. Students can opt for e-ccampus live study, synchronous format, or independent study.
Each format is created to suit students’ needs, goals, and schedules. It is organized into six schools, which are administered by a dean.
Available programs of study are certificate, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. All of these are Christian-based and cover several concentrations.
LBU offers four Master’s degree programs and two doctoral degrees. Students are expected to complete a thesis and practicum.
To get admitted into its graduate degree program, LBU must recognize the enrollee’s school.
#14. Wesley Seminary
The seminary offers a 75-hour Master of Divinity degree. It is built around local church ministry and interlocks the bible, theology, and church history.
This is to provide a tool that those in the Ministry can immediately use. Options for online, evening programs abound.
US News & World Report called Indiana Wesleyan University a “top Masters university”. This university is the parent unit of the new Wesleyan Seminary.
#15. Central Christian College of the Bible
CCCB is recognized by the Association of Biblical Higher Education. This school is popular among those pursuing an online seminary degree. The degrees take a considerable length of time to complete depending on the type.
- Associate of Biblical Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Biblical Ministry – This degree can be completed entirely online.
- Bible Certificates.
Online Bachelor’s Seminary Degrees
- Theology at Franciscan University(BA)
- Bachelor of Theology, Counseling Concentration at SATS
- Bachelors in Theology at University of Aberdeen ( Full or Part-time)
- Bachelor of Arts in Christian Missions (Institute of Lutheran Theology)
- Bachelor of Biblical Studies – Christian Leadership University
- General Theology at SATS(BA)
- Bachelor of Arts in Biblical at archeology- Newburgh Theological Seminary and College of the Bible
- Bachelor of Arts in Religion – Kentucky Wesleyan College
Online Seminary Master’s Degree
- MA Theology
- MA Theological studies
- Msc Philosophy, Science and Religion
- MA Biblical studies
- MA religious studies
- Msc Interreligious dialogue and diplomacy / Interfaith Studies
- MA Divinity, Ministry, and Missions
Online Seminary Doctoral Degree
- ISDET Doctor of Theology Program
- ISDET Doctor of Apologetics Program
- North Central Theological Seminary Doctor of Divinity Program
- St Christ University of Theology and Seminary Doctorates Degree in Theology
- Esoteric Interfaith Church Doctor in Theology Program
- Northwestern Christian University Doctor by Dissertation
- Trinity Graduate School Doctor of Theology Program
To make the best out of a seminary school, you must adopt the best study culture. See our article on Effective study skills every student should adopt.
A tuition-free online degree is a convenient way to get a seminary education while going about other commitments.
Even if you’re not interested in religious leadership, such a degree will enlighten you and answer many existential questions.
Moreover, a postgraduate degree can position you for a senior position in administration, and leadership.
The schools in this article are all accredited by the relevant bodies to carry out online studies. What’s more? They do this at little to no cost through the donations of passionate individuals.
What is the cheapest online seminary graduate degrees?
If you have the basic requirements, then you should check out the listed schools. Prominent in the list of schools that offer affordable and free online seminary degree is ISDET and TGAT. However, these schools have no external regulators. They carry out their own checks and reviews.
Are online seminary degrees legitimate?
Accredited online seminary degrees are legitimate. Some of them have regional or national accreditation to teach and award such degrees. This makes the degrees valid and acceptable.
What can else can I do with a seminary degree?
There are great career options for those with a seminary degree. In contemporary times, a degree in theology and the like means more than a ministry call. You can offer expert service in humanitarian affairs, become a counselor, or a post-secondary school teacher. You can also hold a senior position in an NGO, leadership, and people management.