A PhD in theology is the highest level of academic distinction one can earn in the field. The programs on this list focus on Christian theological systems. Often doctoral degrees in theology will have stiff requirements in foreign languages such as Greek, Hebrew, as well as, modern language. In large part because of such stringent requirements, there are not that many online PhD degrees in theology. The online doctorates available, however, are ideal for those who are not able to attend on-site courses.
Christian Theology seeks to explore, understand, and explain Christian belief and practices. Scripture, biblical languages, church history, preaching, and ministry are some of the key topics that a PhD in theology will focus upon. Another important aspect of theology is the study of how Christianity relates and compares to other religious and theological belief systems.
Several important trends in theological research and ministry practice are now moving onto center stage in academic and pastoral theology. Theologians will have to wrestle with the nature of power structures, the loss of the youth, and the rise of the “Nones”, climate issues.
As the academic pinnacle of the discipline, the online Doctorate in Theology program prepares students for theological teaching and research in seminaries, colleges, and universities.
Check out our “Things to Consider” Section:
Can I earn a doctoral degree in Theology through an online program?
Yes, Theology programs are available online, or through a hybrid format.
In what manner are Theology degrees awarded?
Generally, they are awarded as either a Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, or Doctor of Practical Theology.
Must i pursue a career in clergy if i have a Doctorate of Theology (D.TH.) degree?
No. Besides becoming a pastor or a member of the clergy, you can also pursue other interests, such as a/an:
- Interpreter and Translator,
- Motivational Speaker
- College Professor,
- Social Worker,
- Community Service Outreach Manager,
- Plus, much more.
- Best Online Schools for Doctorate in Theology (D.TH.) Degree Programs
- Frequently Asked Questions
For more information, see: Top 3 Online Schools for Doctor of Ministry Degree Programs and 10 Best Online Schools for Ph.D. in Religious Studies
In developing this list, we took into account the best-known components of an ideal online Doctorate in Theology program. Cost, for example, should not be an obstacle to a quality Ph.D. education. To this end, we disclose the tuition rates, and credit transfer programs as may be available on the school’s official website from which the majority of the facts were obtained. The 8 Best Online Schools for Doctorate in Theology (D.TH.) Degree Programs for 2021 on our list offer the same quality of training and education as that of traditional doctorate degrees. We expound on their arsenal of features emphasizing:
- The quality of education delivered through excellent virtual platforms that are focused on Theology,
- Offers 100% or Hybrid degree programs, providing convenience and flexibility for the working professional,
- Provides comprehensive courses and lectures, all steeped rich in the field of Theology,
- Displays and maintains proper Accreditation credentials,
- Offers affordable tuition options,
- Sharpens research skills to gain Biblical worldview,
- Expands teaching and leadership skills in ministerial duties,
- Provides a wide selection of program concentrations,
- Offers positive reviews from graduates and other reputable academic resources,
- Unveils each online school’s Ph.D. in Theology admission and graduation requirements.
To learn more, please see our Methodology page.
Best Online Schools for Doctorate in Theology (D.TH.) Degree Programs
Ph.D. in Bible and Theology online
Cavalry University is committed to excellence in preparing men and women to live and serve in the church. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, this university offers nearly 50 different degree programs in various disciplines with the Bible at the core of each one.
Students who want to earn a Doctorate in Theology will be pleased to know that a Ph.D. in Bible and Theology is now available at Cavalry University, with the option of pursuing it online or from one of their regional campuses. This degree program aims to produce outstanding exegetes of the Bible in its original languages and theologians who will be able to contribute in Biblical worldview. Their graduates are expected to serve both the academy and the church as researchers in the field of Biblical and theological studies.
Depending on the duration of the Biblical Language courses, students may be required to accomplish anywhere within 60 and 78 credit hours.
learn more about Cavalry University’s ONLINE PH.D. IN BIBLE AND THEOLOGY DEGREE program.
Northwestern Theological Seminary
online Doctor of Philosophy in Theology
Found in New Port Richey, Florida, the Northwestern Theological Seminary offers students the opportunity to acquire their degrees through a theologically accredited, non-traditional approach.
Their Doctor of Philosophy in Theology degree program equips students with necessary knowledge and training teaching vocations, research, and scholarly enhancement of ministerial practice. The program requires a total of 54 credit hours, exploring courses ranging from Bible Study Method and New Testament Survey to Pneumatology and Soteriology.
The school also allows some core courses taken in the past to be transferred and credited upon receipts of transcripts, letting students earn the degree faster.
learn more about northwestern theological seminary’s DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THEOLOGY ONLINE DEGREE.
Christian Leadership University
Distance learning degree Doctor of Theology
A Christian private and non-profit institution that caters to students all over the world Christian Leadership University is one of the very few institutions that offer a Doctor of Theology degree 100% online. It is headquartered in Cheektowaga, New York,
This degree program is ideal for Christian ministers and workers who want to study the Scripture systematically. What sets it apart from other Ph.D. degrees in Theology is its refreshing approach to practical courses. The Word of God is presented in a way that ordinary people can understand with clarity and depth. Students are guided step-by-step through the process of receiving divine revelation and letting God shape their theology.
Some of the courses on offer include Basics of Christianity, Law and the Spirit, and Bible Research Methods. Students must complete the 30-credit requirement for specific courses and another ten for practical ministry work.
learn more about the Christian leadership university’s DOCTOR OF THEOLOGY DEGREE program.
online Doctor of Philosophy in Renewal Theology degree
As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for Christian thought and action, Regent University located in Virginia Beach, Virginia offers a variety of degree programs, from associate and bachelors to masters and doctoral degrees. It is credited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Regent University has the Doctor of Philosophy in Renewal Theology on offer for students who prefer to take the degree program online, albeit with a two-week on-campus residency each semester. This doctorate prepares them to take part in the broader conversation of the theological academy from a renewal perspective and help equip emerging church leaders worldwide. In this program, students are encouraged to explore the academic and spiritual aspects of biblical studies, history, and theology to enhance their knowledge and mastery.
Original research is also expected, with topics ranging from charismatic gifts, the Holy Spirit, Renewal movements, and others. Students are also given a choice to focus on a particular area of expertise such as congregational studies, social ministry, and contemporary evangelism.
learn more about regent university’s DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN RENEWAL THEOLOGY DEGREE.
Ph.D. in Theology and Apologetics distance learning degree
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia is one of the largest Christian non-profit universities in the country, making it affordable and accessible to many students who want to further their education. Its online education program has been getting more and more popular in recent years.
Students who are passionate about reaching the world of Christ through powerful writing and teaching ministry can take up a Ph.D. in Theology and Apologetics. The degree program is designed to train ministers, pastors, and Christian writers to serve as faculty in academic institutions and make an impact in Christian scholars. It is also the best path for them to become theologically and biblically informed leaders for the church and community.
Liberty University has earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). As an advanced and comprehensive online bible college program at the doctoral level, this Ph.D. degree is still flexible and convenient with many courses available online. There is, however, a requirement to go on campus for a week at a time and attend class in an intensive format.
learn more about liberty university’s online pH.D. DEGREE IN THEOLOGY AND APOLOGETICS.
Doctorate in Biblical Studies E-learning degree program
A private, Christian liberal arts university found in Montgomery, Alabama, Faulkner University offers several theological degree programs that integrate the knowledge of God’s Word into every element of education. For students who are pursuing their education out of campus, the university has online degree programs in theology that they can choose from. It includes a Doctorate in Biblical Studies.
As part of the Kearley Graduate School of Theology, this Ph.D. degree involves 54 hours of credit units and capped with a student’s dissertation. It aims to guide and equip morally oriented and ethically driven scholars in studying the Bible. They are asked to complete foundational courses, Biblical Scholarship, and Christian Ministry and Advanced Studies in Biblical Hermeneutics.
learn more about faulkner university’s ONLINE DOCTORATE IN BIBLICAL STUDIES.
Colorado Theological Seminary
Doctor of Theology in Christian Counseling
Located in Lake Helen, Florida, Colorado Theological Seminary offers online courses in cooperation with the National Christian Counselors. One of their available degree programs is Doctor of Theology in Christian Counseling.
The program provides a Biblical foundation study in counseling for pastors and individuals to help them assist their parishioner’s needs. Some of the courses students will explore in this degree include Creation Therapy, The Holy Spirit, Covenants, Christian Counseling, and Marriage Counseling. Students need to complete 40 semester hours in total.
learn more about colorado theological seminary’s DOCTOR OF THEOLOGY IN CHRISTIAN COUNSELING DISTANCE LEARNING DEGREE.
Online Doctor of Theology degree
The Evangelical Seminary located at Myerstown, Pennsylvania prides itself on its commitment for biblical faithfulness, whether their students study pastoral ministry, leadership, marriage and family therapy, or spiritual formation.
Their Doctor of Theology degree program combines traditional components like core courses and dissertation with nontraditional aspects of learning like specialized readings and research courses. It requires the same number of credits and time frames as a Doctor of Ministry but with a richer theological reflection as well as academic credibility. Students are given seven research tracks to choose from, including Missional theology, Pneumatic theology, Biblical theology, and others.
Completion of the degree program takes as little three years with a 39-credit requirement. It is fully accredited with no mandatory GRE or MAT.
learn more about the evangelical seminary’s ONLINE DOCTOR OF THEOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How can one obtain a Doctorate in Theology?
As the peak of academic excellence, earning a Doctorate in Theology is definitely not a walk in the park. It is something that can only be achieved with effort, determination, and passion. Aside from the subject courses, Ph.D. in Theology students are also expected to successfully defend a dissertation, which will showcase their research abilities and critical reflection. They must be capable of cultivating theologically reflective practices of Christian discipleship.
Most Doctorates in Theology programs requires applicants to earn a master’s in divinity or a master of arts equivalent with a strong emphasis on Biblical Studies. Often, schools give a specific GPA requirement, which can be at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Other prerequisites include competence in biblical languages, like Hebrew and Greek.
Research, as many are well aware, is fundamental in a doctorate, not least in the field of Theology. A Ph.D. in Theology is most likely to require students to complete courses featuring the said languages that are integral to research regardless of their areas of specialization. Examining old Bible texts will require language mastery besides English. As such, many universities recommend students to be proficient in specific foreign languages as it is also a graduation requirement
Who are the most suitable to study the Doctorate of Theology?
Those who want to pursue this degree must have an innate love for writing and studying as they will be doing a lot of this throughout the program. Theology doctorate holders have previously obtained undergraduate degrees, establishing their interest in the field.
Theology students generally find it fascinating to conduct an in-depth study of religion, its origins, and its impact on the modern world. If, after earning your bachelor’s degree you find yourself aiming for the highest academic achievement, doctorate study is for you. If studying religious ethics, analyzing God’s existence through analytical thinking, and contemplating metaphysical debate on advanced levels keep you interested, you make a great candidate for a Ph.D. in Theology.
It is worth mentioning that students of Theology must be willing to have their initial beliefs and assumptions challenged with regards to God and other religious truths. Ideally, they must see studying Theology as a spiritual awakening that can strengthen their faith and equip them with the necessary knowledge in educating others about His Word, while also becoming adept at it academically.
What do students study in Doctorate in Theology?
Designed to teach students the foundations and formative aspects of religious tradition and its philosophy, a doctorate in theology can explore and tackle various subject matters. Some specializations are available in most programs, and subject matters like Christian ethics, philosophy, practical theology, and mission studies are covered.
They are encouraged to gain substantial knowledge of the field of work within divinity. As mentioned before, students are also required to be proficient in two more languages besides English, which include Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and German.
In the end, they must be able to apply the substantial body of knowledge they have gained to research, investigate, develop, and contribute new knowledge in areas of investigation, scholarship, and professional practice.
How long does it take to earn a Doctorate in Theology?
Because of its complex and rigorous nature, most Ph.D. degree programs can take years to complete. It also depends on the pace of individuals and the requirements that they need to deliver before they can graduate. Since a Doctorate in Theology involves a lot of research, it can usually take students 4 to 6 years to complete, although there are instances that one can finish it in as little as three years.
Other factors can also affect the length of time that it takes for students to finish a Ph.D. in Theology. For those who are juggling their career and family while pursuing further education, earning a doctorate can be challenging. The coursework can be challenging to get through in an accelerated format, with the first few years of the program devoted to required courses and elective classes.
Defending their dissertation can take a substantial amount of preparation and culmination as well. It is not something that you can rush on. Some dissertations can take months and even years to complete.
What are the career options for Doctorate in Theology holders?
With regard to future endeavors, Ph.D. in Theology graduates usually pursue teaching positions in colleges and universities. They typically specialize in certain areas, like the New Testament or the Old Testament literature. There are also subjects that involve Christian discipleship, spiritual formation, and Biblical history.
Some Doctors in Theology choose to hold positions in church administration, especially if their doctorate programs have pastoral components. It is not unusual to hold positions in a church, with some of them starting as associates or junior pastors. Others have advanced leadership roles and even managerial ones. A few Ph.D. in holders take on responsibilities that have to do with counseling, especially when it comes to families and married couples.
Specific roles that doctorate in theology graduates can aspire to include youth director, youth ministry director, religious education director, minister, priest, and pastor.
As a whole, Doctorate in Theology graduates is equipped with skills in ministry, pastoral work, and theology to help them with their career path.
Some graduates choose the less traveled path like working as public speakers, television personalities, and even writers. There are also others who serve society through missionary programs that serve underprivileged communities and address social issues.
What salary range can holders of Doctorate in Theology expect?
Graduates of Doctorate in Theology who are clergy members receive a median salary of $44,250, as indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who choose a teaching post, which is often the case, can receive as much as $66,380 annually. Many graduates who want a teaching vocation go on to teach philosophy and religious studies. The highest-paid teachers in this field earn as much as $125,050. The lowest-paid can only receive less than $35,280.
It is important to remember that salaries vary depending on the level of experience and positions. Those who will teach, however, can celebrate the fact that job openings for postsecondary teachers are expected to grow by 13% from now to 2024. The same applies to jobs regarding religious activities directors, with a 2% to 4% growth rate.