Theology Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's and bachelor's degree in theology? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses and theology training programs.
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Theology Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

An associate's and bachelor's degree program in theology is going to prepare students to work in churches and religious organizations and help others with their faith and spirituality. While the level of education may determine the specific responsibilities and leadership role someone has within a church, O*Net OnLine reported that 18% of clergy members held an associate's degree, while 25% had a bachelor's degree. Other members earned master's degrees. O*Net OnLine also projected that the employment outlook for clergy members and directors of religious activities could increase between 10% and 19% from 2010-2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to work as youth ministers or other laypersons in the church -Individuals who want work as pastors or religious directors
-People who want to earn a graduate degree in a theology-related field
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) -Clergy ($44,000) *
-Youth minister ($15,000-$47,000) ****
-Associate Pastor ($62,000) **
-Director of religious activities ($36,000) *
-Elementary school teacher in religious organization ($45,000)***
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 20-25 courses including general education courses
-Roughly 40-50 courses including general education course. However, the number can vary depending a concentration and electives
- Practicum
Prerequisites - High school diploma
-Both the associate's and bachelor's degree programs may ask applicants to represent a Godly lifestyle or submit a statement of faith
- High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *O*Net OnLine (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (May 2012 figure), ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figure), ****PayScale.com (May 2012 figure of 10th-90th percentile) .

Associate's in Theology

An associate's degree program in theology is a 2-year program that focuses on biblical teachings and educates you on how to spread the Bible and its word to others. These programs may be transfer or terminal degree programs. The curriculum provides fundamental knowledge of the church, preaching and theology. Depending on their chosen career path, students will have the option to specialize in a certain theological area. Types of concentrations include music and worship, pastoral studies and missions.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Work in a career that will help others
  • Career in religion may be spiritually satisfying for those passionate about their faith
  • Can specialize in areas such as youth ministry
  • Credits earned usually can transfer to a bachelor's degree program in a related major

Cons

  • May be emotionally stressful
  • Earning an associate's degree may limit your career options in this field
  • Can be frustrating at times balancing all of the church and religious duties
  • Must remain ethical and honest

Courses and Requirements

Like all degree programs at the associate's degree level, students are required to complete general education courses. General education requirements will cover areas involving composition, history, humanities, psychology and mathematics. In addition, students will take core theology courses and courses related to their concentration. Theology courses include biblical interpretation, New and Old Testament, Christian ethics, Bible doctrine and world religions. Electives can address topics such as engaging contemporary society, preaching to the youth and worship leadership.

Online Course Options

Associate's degree programs related to theology are available online. An online degree program offers students an opportunity to attend classes while they're working full-time or attending to personal responsibilities. Depending on the program, some classes may be available online or through a hybrid format. Some on-campus attendance may be necessary. Students can learn through video lectures, and assignments may be delivered through a course management system.

How to Stand Out with This Degree

As someone who wants to work in a religious setting, it's important to have a strong belief in your faith. Finding a church or religious organization that shares your beliefs can help guide you as you work and help others in their spiritual journey. If you work as a youth minister, it's important to connect with younger people by staying up-to-date on the latest trends or news in pop culture, music and sports to connect with them on different levels.

Bachelor's in Theology

A theology program at the bachelor's degree level is going to deepen the way students feel about faith and religion. Students will learn how religion affects society and discover ways to spread the word to others. A program will also offer students an opportunity to analyze religion as it relates to human history and evaluate the significance of religion in social and cultural life. Graduates of the program may also choose to pursue a graduate degree in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can prepare you for a master's degree program in theology or divinity
  • May lead to additional career opportunities like teaching or missionary work
  • May be able to assume more of a leadership role within church

Cons

  • May work over 40 hours a week
  • Nights and weekend work may be required
  • Having a bachelor's degree may not qualify you for roles such as marriage and family counselor or university professor

Courses and Requirements

Students in a bachelor's degree program in theology will take advanced religion-related courses. These courses may include biblical themes, modern Christianity, ethics, death and dying, religion and psychology, pastoral care and Christian living. In some programs, students may also be required to complete a practicum in a religious setting. These field experiences expose students to different types of ministries and allow students to interact with those working in their area of interest to get a better understanding of the career.

Online Course Options

Fully online bachelor's degree programs in theology are available for students who want a more flexible format. Students can complete courses at their own pace, and all communication will take place over the Internet. The online program is the same curriculum as the on-campus option. Aside from the Internet, word processing software, a video player program and speakers are usually needed. Communication usually takes place through e-mail and discussion forums.

How to Stand Out with This Degree

One way to stand out while earning your theology degree is to build your skill set. Communication is an essential skill in this field. Whether you're preaching to a group or meeting with individuals on a one-on-one basis, it's important that you're able to listen and reach others who seek your advice or who want spiritual guidance. Leadership skills are also important because you'll have to lead by example and organize ways to help others in need.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Arts in Liberal Arts
      • AS in Science in Liberal Arts
  • Lake Wales, FL

    Warner University

  • Louisville, KY

    The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • Graceville, FL

    The Baptist College of Florida

  • Bethany, OK

    Southwestern Christian University

  • Lakeland, FL

    Southeastern University

  • Cary, NC

    Shepherds Theological Seminary

  • Rocklin, CA

    William Jessup University

  • Shawnee, OK

    Oklahoma Baptist University

Featured Schools

Excelsior College

  • AS in Arts in Liberal Arts
  • AS in Science in Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education completed?

Warner University

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Baptist College of Florida

Southwestern Christian University

Southeastern University

Shepherds Theological Seminary

William Jessup University