Top 30 Best Religious Studies Degree Online Programs (Bachelor’s) 2021

online religious studies degreeIn this article, we profile the top 30 best religious studies online degree programs at the bachelor’s level.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), religious workers earn a mean annual wage of $40,070. However, certain industries like colleges, universities, and hospitals pay their religious workers close to 10k more. PayScale, an online salary database, reports that salary increases are based on education level. This means that earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies or a related discipline may impact your earnings potential. Thankfully, religious studies online degree programs are offered from accredited and top-ranked institutions. To help with your research, we determined some of the best religious studies online programs available today.

Ranking the 30 Best Religious Studies Online Degree Programs

Methodology

We reviewed 86 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and other reputable online sources that offered bachelor’s degrees in religious studies online, or closely related programs in biblical studies, ministry, or theology. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation (regional and/or national); institution or bachelor’s program rankings with at least one major publication, focusing primarily on U.S. News & World Report; and affordability. We selected schools with an undergraduate tuition of less than $39,000 per year. We then listed our 30 selected programs according to raw affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for our top 30 best religious studies online degree programs.

#30 – Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Online Bachelor’s in Theological Studies

Standish, Maine

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Online, with no residency requirement! Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s religious studies degree online program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $38,820

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers a religious studies degree online with no residency requirement. The program is designed for graduates to enter into service of the Catholic Church or continue to a graduate program in theology. There is a fast-track option for students to enter into the graduate program in theology or divinity at Saint Joseph’s. Featured core classes include Catholic doctrine and theology, fundamentals of Catholic moral theology, and introduction to Catholic social teaching. The entire degree consists of 120 credits. Saint Joseph’s College  has been ranked #136 in top regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report.

#29 – California Baptist University

Online Bachelor’s in Christian Studies

Riverside, California

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CBU offers top online religious studies programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $36,340

California Baptist University offers one of the top online religious studies programs in the form of its bachelor’s in

studies, which is designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions in churches and other Christian organizations. Many graduates have also used the program as preparation for graduate programs in theology and ministry. The degree is made up of 48 major credits, including courses such as the history of Baptist thought, latter prophets and writings, and Paul and the early Church. The institution offers a generous transfer credit policy and accepts credits from other institutions upon credit evaluation. California Baptist is ranked #40 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#28 – Colorado Christian University

Online Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies

Lakewood, Colorado

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Ranked with U.S. News! CCU is a top school for online bachelor’s in religious studies programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $34,750

Colorado Christian University offers one of the best online religious studies programs through its online bachelor’s in biblical studies, which is designed to prepare graduates to serve in churches and other Christian organizations. The 120 credits include general education and major courses that are typically taken one at a time in five-week blocks. CCU offers a very generous transfer credit policy that can further accelerate completion by giving credit for previous college courses taken at other universities. CCU has a dual degree program, in which classes in the bachelor’s degree program can count towards the institution’s Master of Arts in theology. Colorado Christian has been ranked #68 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#27 – St. Thomas University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Miami Gardens, Florida

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Preparation for a career in ministry! St. Thomas University offers online religious degrees.

Undergraduate Tuition: $32,940

St. Thomas University’s online bachelor’s in religious studies is designed to prepare graduates for a wide range of careers in ministry, social services, and education. The program covers Christian teachings and leadership, but it is not dedicated to one denomination and reflects Florida’s diverse ethnic and religious communities. Courses may include Christian moral decision-making, surveys of the New Testament, and world religions. The program is designated for those with an associate’s degree or equivalent coursework who can transfer in the majority of general education courses from other institutions. St. Thomas has been ranked #94 in best Southern universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#26 – King University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Bristol, Tennessee

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Ideal for working adults! King University’s religious studies degree online programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $31,840

King University offers one of the best religious studies degree online programs in the country, designed for the working adult with previous college experience. The generous transfer credit policy allows students to utilize previous college credits towards their degree. The online format makes the program reachable for working students who may not otherwise be able to complete their undergraduate degrees. Depending on the number of college credits completed, students should apply as a freshman or transfer student. Once accepted, courses may include Bible study that matters, historical geography and archaeology of the southern levant, and understanding the world’s religions. King ranks #47 in best Southern universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#25 – Andrews University

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Berrien Springs, Michigan

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Earn a bachelor’s in religion online from Andrews University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $31,008

Through its School of Distance Education, Andrews University offers an online bachelor’s in religious studies focusing on the Seventh Day Adventist faith. Graduates are prepared to work in the ministry as pastors, chaplains, and teachers or continue to graduate school. The 124-credit program is flexible and completely online, making it an excellent fit for working professionals that need flexibility combined with serious coursework. Featured courses include Adventist history and prophetic heritage, Jesus in his time and ours, religion and ethics in modern society, and theology I and II. Andrews University has been ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#24 – Franciscan University of Steubenville

Online Bachelor’s in Theology

Steubenville, Ohio

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Aligning with the Catholic faith, Franciscan University of Steubenville offers a top ranked online religious studies degree in theology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $30,180

Franciscan University offers one of the top online religious studies programs, focusing on the Catholic faith. The program features a liberal arts core along with three fundamental areas of theology in the Catholic faith: doctrine, morals, and scripture. All courses are taught online, with no requirement to visit campus. Online graduates receive the same degree as their on-campus peers. Graduates are well prepared for careers as Catholic youth ministers, missionaries, community outreach coordinators, and more. Graduates may also go on to graduate school in theology programs. Franciscan has an excellent academic reputation and is #15 in best regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#23 – Hampton University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Hampton, Virginia

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Ranked with U.S. News! Hampton University is a top choice for religious studies online degree programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,312

Hampton University offers a religious studies degree online that focuses on a liberal arts foundation with major courses in biblical theology. Students are well prepared for careers in ministry or for secular careers in business, healthcare, education, and non-profit organizations that value an informed religious background and understanding. The program can be completed in four years for students with no previous college experience, but it may be finished sooner for those who transfer in approved credits from other academic institutions. Courses may include African American religion in historical perspective, logic and the scientific method, and pastoral limits of authority. U.S. News & World Report ranks Hampton as #217 in best national universities.

#22 – Ouachita Baptist University

Online Bachelor’s in Christian Studies

Arkadelphia, Arkansas

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Accredited and ranked, Ouachita Baptist offers online religious studies programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,120

Ouachita Baptist provides undergraduate students with one of the best online religious studies programs, focusing on Christian principles within the Baptist faith. The program is fully online, making it an excellent choice for those without on-campus access to this type of degree or for individuals with personal and professional commitments that make it difficult to take on-campus classes. Administered through the Ouachita Pruet School of Christian Studies, students engage in courses such as advanced Christian ministry, introduction to philosophy, and Old Testament prophets. Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify. Ouachita is ranked second in best regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

#21 – Kentucky Wesleyan College

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Owensboro, Kentucky

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Earn an online bachelor’s in religion at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

Undergraduate Tuition: $28,540

The religious studies degree online at Kentucky Wesleyan College focuses on fostering an appreciation and understanding of religious diversity that prepares graduates for successful careers in ministry, nonprofit work, journalism, and the private sector. Students study various religious traditions in-depth and use interdisciplinary analysis to engage with the material. The heritage of Kentucky Wesleyan is from the United Methodist Church and offers a strong liberal arts culture that promotes critical thinking. Courses may include Christianity and culture, religions of the world, and the sociology of religion. Highly regarded as a strong academic institution, Kentucky Wesleyan College is ranked #18 in best regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

#20 – Crown College

Online Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies

Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota

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Religious and biblical studies programs online at Crown College!

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,980

Crown College offers one of our top online religious studies programs in the form of its program in biblical studies. Students often pair it with a minor in counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, human services, or care ministries to further enhance the degree and increase employability. The program is also excellent preparation for graduate study in a related program, at Crown College or elsewhere. The entire curriculum is delivered online with no campus visit requirements, which makes the program reachable for those unable to attend on-campus courses. Crown College ranks #119 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #12 in top performers on social mobility, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#19 – Bluefield College

Online Bachelor’s in Christian Studies

Bluefield, Virginia

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Ranked and accredited! Bluefield College – earn an online bachelor’s in Christian studies.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,570

Bluefield College provides undergraduate students with one of the best online religious studies programs, focusing on convenient distance education courses that prepare them for ministry leadership. Graduates are conferred a B.A. in Christian Studies with a concentration in ministry leadership. Career paths include being part of leadership within a church, a religious organization, a faith-based non-profit, or a missions-based entity. All courses are offered online, but students do have the option to participate in field-based internships that give them practical experience. Students are also well prepared for graduate studies in divinity, theology, and other related areas. Bluefield College has been ranked #59 in best regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

#18 – Belhaven University

Online Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies

Jackson, Mississippi

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Earn a biblical studies degree online at Belhaven University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,025

Belhaven University offers a religious studies degree online for students who are interested in a career in Christian ministry or faith-based human-services organizations. Graduates go on to careers as lead pastors, youth pastors, chaplains, missionaries, and counselors. In addition to the general coursework, students can choose a concentration in human services, preparing them to work directly with clients in social service settings. Coursework may include exploring the Old and New Testaments, Old Testament historical and poetic books, and the life and teachings of Jesus. Represented in multiple U.S. News & World Report categories, Belhaven has been ranked #53 in best regional universities in the South and #23 in best value schools.

#17 – Brescia University

Online Bachelor’s in Theology

Owensboro, Kentucky

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100% online bachelor’s in theology – Brescia University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $25,100

Offering an online bachelor’s in religious studies, Brescia University’s program in theology with an emphasis on pastoral studies provides students with the knowledge and practical skills to be effective ministers, according to the standards of readiness set forth by the institution and the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. The institution is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The program is 100% online with no campus visit requirements and is a popular choice among working professionals looking to either advance in ministry or make a career change. Brescia ranked #33 in best regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

#16 – Saint Leo University

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Saint Leo, Florida

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Accredited and affordable! Saint Leo University’s online religious studies programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $24,640

Similar to an online bachelor’s in religious studies, Saint Leo University provides students with a distance degree in religion that focuses on Christian principles and doctrine. Graduates can move into one of many career paths, including those of a clergyman, minister, youth minister, missionary, chaplain, and more. Saint Leo has a partnership with the Benedictine brothers and sisters of Saint Leo Abbey and Monastery, which provides students with additional insight into the life and service of ministry professionals. Saint Leo ranks #26 in best regional universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#15 – Faulkner University

Online Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies

Montgomery, Alabama

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Completely online! Faulkner University’s religious studies degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $22,990

Faulkner University offers a religious studies degree online, in the form of a bachelor’s in biblical studies that prepares students to serve in Christian organizations or faith-based entities that value biblical knowledge and interpretation. Many graduates go on to work as pastors and directors in organizations across the globe. The program consists of 41 courses totaling 122 credits. Students may transfer in classes from other institutions by utilizing Faulkner’s transfer credit policy. Students may choose to either log in to live sessions or view them in a recorded format. All courses are online with no requirement to visit campus. Faulkner was ranked #103 in best Southern universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#14 – Liberty University

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Lynchburg, Virginia

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Known for its expansive online programs, Liberty University offers an online bachelor’s in religion.

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,587

Known for its online programs, Liberty offers an undergraduate degree in religion that is designed for those interested in a career in full-time ministry. The program fosters an in-depth understanding of Christian theology, the Bible, and the Church. The program is administered by Liberty’s John W. Rawlings School of Divinity and features faculty members with both academic and professional experience. The online degree is the same as the on-campus degree, with no difference appearing on the transcript. Designed for working professionals, the entire degree can be completed online. Liberty is ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#13 – Regent University

Online Bachelor’s in Biblical & Theological Studies

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Regent University’s online bachelor’s in religious studies costs under 19k per year!

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,720

Similar to an online bachelor’s in religious studies, Regent University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies for individuals interested in a career in ministry or for those seeking a greater understanding of the Bible. In addition to interpreting biblical text, students study the Hebrew and Greek languages as they delve into how language translations have impacted the meaning of scripture over time. Graduates are well prepared for ministry roles or further graduate study. The entire degree is built to be delivered completely online with no travel requirements. Regent has been ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#12 – Grand Canyon University

Online Bachelor’s in Christian Studies

Phoenix, Arizona

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Ranked with U.S. News! GCU offers an online religious studies program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800

Individuals looking for a religious studies degree online may find the Christian Studies bachelor’s degree at Grand Canyon University to be a plausible option, due to its affordable tuition, financial aid and scholarships, and reputation as an online leader. The program is housed within the College of Theology and serves as a central arm of the entire institution, as Grand Canyon is a non-profit Christian university. Students learn to interpret Christian texts and apply them to modern-day issues. Graduates are prepared for careers in full-time ministry, non-profits, and social service agencies. Grand Canyon was ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#11 – Moody Bible Institute

Online Bachelor’s in Theological Studies

Chicago, Illinois

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Offering an affordable religious study degree online – Moody Bible!

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,970

Individuals looking for one of the more rigorous and theologically based online religious studies programs may consider the undergraduate theological studies program at Moody Bible Institute. Students delve deeply into past and present theology in an effort to increase discernment of the meaning of the Bible as it relates to their personal lives and the lives of those they impact. Graduates typically move into full-time ministerial positions or continue to graduate school in theology. Courses may include the Church and its doctrines, self and social identity in Christianity, the New Testament and theology, and the Old Testament and theology.

#10 – Louisiana State University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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LSU’s online bachelor’s in religious studies ranks with U.S. News.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,962

Louisiana State University offers an online bachelor’s in religious studies that provides students with an examination of the major religions and belief systems of the world, with particular concentration on their role in human history and culture. Graduates are prepared for careers in fields like journalism, public affairs, and education, and for further study in graduate school. Courses may include contemporary Christian thought, religion in America, and world religion. To complete the degree quicker, students can transfer credit from previous institutions upon approval. Admission requirements vary depending on whether the applicant has already attended a postsecondary institution or not. LSU is ranked #153 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#9 – Oregon State University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Corvallis, Oregon

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OSU’s online bachelor’s in religious studies prepares students for law, history, and other fields.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,858

Oregon State University offers an online bachelor’s in religious studies that provides students with a rigorous academic examination of world religion and its impact on culture. Students use an interdisciplinary analysis to look at aspects of religion as it relates to sexuality, ethics, diversity, and violence. Students can prepare for graduate studies in fields such as history, law, sociology, and many more. Moreover, graduates can move into several career paths, including journalism, education, public policy, and the like. The entire program can be completed entirely online. Oregon State is ranked #153 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#8 – Arizona State University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Tempe, Arizona

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A top-ranked religious studies degree online program – ASU!

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,338

Arizona State University provides undergraduates with a religious studies degree online that looks at world religions from an interdisciplinary lens, engaging religion within the context of culture, life, death, gender, art, and media. Students also engage critically with religion and its impact both domestically and abroad. Graduates from the program are prepared to enter into careers in private industry, non-profit entities, and public agencies. The program is also excellent preparation for a number of graduate-school pathways. As one of the most innovative institutions, Arizona State has been ranked 103rd in best national universities and first in innovation by U.S. News & World Report.

#7 – The University of Memphis

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Memphis, Tennessee

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Accredited and affordable! The University of Memphis offers an online bachelor’s in religious studies.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,912

Students seeking an online bachelor’s in religious studies from an accredited state institution may find the offering at the University of Memphis a good fit, due to its affordable price structure, rigorous coursework, and online convenience. The program is taught by the same faculty that teach on-campus courses. Students engage deeply with world religions and study them using various cross-disciplinary analytical methods, giving them an expansive worldview that prepares them for careers in organizations that value religious knowledge, including social services, counseling, and the like. Many students also use the program as preparation for graduate school. Memphis is ranked #258 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#6 – Missouri State University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Springfield, Missouri

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Study religion online at Missouri State University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,938

Missouri State University provides students with an online bachelor’s in religious studies that delves into how world religions have impacted history and shaped all forms of culture. Students can choose from concentrations in biblical studies, religion and culture, religions of Asia, and religions of Europe and the Middle East. Students are required to choose a minor or secondary major from a list of several options. Also, students may choose from a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. Graduates have gone on to careers as archaeologists, chaplains, counselors, editors, journalists, and teachers. The degree is also excellent preparation for graduate school. MSU has been ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#5 – American Public University

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Charles Town, West Virginia

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A flexible and online religious studies program – APU.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,360

Offering one of the top online religious studies programs, American Public University provides students with an interdisciplinary degree that delves deeply into religion within the context of several academic areas, such as anthropology, economics, history, psychology, sociology, and more. Students are challenged to think critically as they engage in inquiry related to the content, their peers, and their professors. The culmination of the program is a capstone project involving the intensive study of a major figure, philosophical movement, or contemporary religious issue. The entire program is built to be delivered entirely online and is a popular choice among working adults who need flexibility and convenience.

#4 – Eastern New Mexico University

Online Bachelor’s in Religion

Portales, New Mexico

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An accredited and affordable online bachelor’s in religion – Eastern New Mexico University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,648

Eastern New Mexico University offers a religious studies degree online as part of its bachelor of applied arts and sciences religion concentration program. The program is designed for those with an applied science degree from an accredited institution. Students transfer in all of their associate degree credits and finish their first bachelor’s degree by completing courses at Eastern New Mexico. Students are required to take foundational courses in the Old and New Testaments and religious history. The program can be completed entirely online with no campus visits. Eastern New Mexico has been ranked #95 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#3 – Valdosta State University

Online Bachelor’s in Philosophy & Religious Studies

Valdosta, Georgia

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Study philosophy & religious studies online at Valdosta State.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,583

Valdosta State University offers an online bachelor’s in religious studies with concentrations in religion or philosophy. Students can choose from a dual religion and philosophy track or choose just one area to specialize in. the program is academic in nature and looks at various religious and philosophical issues, thinkers, history, and more. The interdisciplinary nature exposes students to several academic areas, such as literature, history, sociology, and the like. Courses may include epistemology and scientific reasoning, ethics and society, logic and argumentation, and world religions. Founded in 1906, Valdosta is a public institution and is ranked #154 in top public schools by U.S. News & World Report.

#2 – Florida International University

Online Bachelor’s in Religious Studies

Miami, Florida

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FIU, an affordable choice for online religious studies degrees.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,565

Ranked as one of our top online religious studies programs, Florida International University provides undergraduates with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies through its renowned Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. The program is designed to be delivered entirely online with no travel requirements or campus visits, although students are always welcome on campus to take advantage of the resources offered there. Students can choose from specialty tracks in Abrahamic religions, Asian religions, indigenous and other religious traditions, and society and ethics. The total coursework includes 120 credits and can be completed in four years, or less than that if the student transfers in credits. FIU has been ranked #187 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#1 – University of Central Florida

Online Bachelor’s in Religion and Cultural Studies

Orlando, Florida

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#1 most affordable religious studies degree online – the University of Central Florida.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,368

The University of Central Florida offers undergraduate students the opportunity to earn a religious studies degree online through its program in religion and cultural studies. Students examine religion, philosophy, and other traditions to develop critical thinking, research acumen, and abstract reasoning. Students may go on to become clergy members, foreign service officers, humanitarian workers, missionaries., chaplains, and non-profit directors. All courses are delivered online, with no requirement to visit campus. UCF ranks in several U.S. News & World Report categories, including #160 in best national universities, #16 in most innovative schools, and #77 in top public schools.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an online bachelor’s in religious studies degree?

There are several career paths for graduates of online bachelor’s degree programs in religious studies. Below we take a look at some of the most common occupations.

Archivist
Archivists evaluate and preserve historical records and documents, and they must have a strong background in religion and history.

Community Development Professional
Community development professionals are on the front lines of many faith-based organizations and charities, working diligently to help their clients receive services and help the organization grow through fundraising, marketing, and outreach.

Journalist
Graduates from more academically focused religious studies programs become well versed in world religions, history, philosophy, politics, and culture. As such, they are able to move into journalistic careers where religious and cultural analyses are highly regarded skills.

Pastor
Many religious studies students enter into the program with the intent of doing religious work in the form of ministry. Many religious studies programs are Christian-based and prepare graduates to lead churches, where their main duties include preparing sermons, counseling, administration, and community outreach.

Youth Minister
Youth ministers specialize in working with young people, including pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults. They focus on many of the same duties as a lead pastor, but they tailor their approach to the needs of this specific age group.

How much money can you earn with an online religious studies degree?

Full-time ministry is the preferred career path for graduates of religious studies programs. As such, we have chosen to focus on the full-time salaries of individuals doing ministerial work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for clergy is $56,560 per year. The data reflects the salaries collected from over 52,000 clergy as of May 2020. When analyzing by quartile, the data shows the bottom 25% earn $38,110, compared to $66,980 for the 75th percentile and $89,510 for the 90th percentile.

Data from Payscale.com reflects a similar median salary for full-time pastors at $50,162 annually. The statistics are based on user submissions of over 3,000 verified salary profiles. In addition to median salary data, Payscale shows that pastors’ salaries increase as they gain more experience. Entry-level pastors earn $40,249 per year, compared to mid-career ($49,003) and late-career ($54,003) pastors.

Approximately 50% of the 52,000 clergy work for religious organizations. When breaking pay down by industry, we see that clergy working for religious organizations earn an average salary of $54,100, the lowest-paid category. Clergy working for home health care and nursing care facilities earn the highest median wages per industry of $59,570 and $59,180 respectively.

What is the job outlook for individuals who have completed a religious studies degree online program?

The jobs available for individuals with a religious studies bachelor’s degree are expected to grow in number by just over two percent during the period of 2020-2030, as projected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The modest growth is slightly lower than the expected overall average growth for all other occupations tracked by the BLS.

Like most other occupations, religious studies degree holders should find the best job prospects in large metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Portland. For smaller regions, non-metropolitan areas in Oregon State have the highest concentration of full-time clergy. Other states with the highest concentration of full-time clergy include Montana and Hawaii.

Demand is expected to be driven by the retirement of current clergy who leave the occupation. The slower-than-average growth rate is due to the continued trend of secularization in society as more people choose not to be involved with organized religion. Keep in mind that the two percent growth represents full-time ministerial work only and does not consider other career paths taken by religious studies graduates. Those fields are expected to see strong growth rates, particularly social service and charitable organizations that have seen surges in demand.

What professionals associations can you join while earning an online bachelor’s in religious studies degree?

American Academy of Religion

The American Academy of Religion is the largest society dedicated to the scholarly investigation of religion. The organization boasts more than 8,000 members and is not a faith-based organization. Rather, the AAR has members with academic expertise in nearly all religions, and they neither endorse nor condemn any religious beliefs or practices. There are a total of 10 AAR regions throughout the United States. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the AAR offers academic publications, regional and national conferences, and grant programs.

Association of Practical Theology

The Association of Practical Theology is an academic organization founded in 1984 that features members from around the United States, many of them faculty members at colleges and universities. The APT does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other category. Members are able to meet at the biennial conference, where an inclusive and supportive environment is fostered. The APT offers professional development, publishing opportunities in academic journals, and advocacy for the profession.

Association of Youth Ministry Educators

The Association of Youth Ministry Educators is a faith-based Christian entity that is dedicated to the teaching and training of future youth ministers and the support of current youth ministers as they navigate the different stages of their careers. The association has members throughout the country that participate in networking, scholarly publications, professional development, and mentoring. In addition, members are able to gather at the annual conference, which takes place in various locations each year.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in religious studies degree?

Bachelor’s degrees are typically 120 credits and take four years to complete. Online religious studies programs generally follow this model and require students to complete 120-130 credits, including general education courses, major courses, and electives. Students with no college experience generally take four years to complete the degree but are allowed much longer timeframes. In addition, some students can take 6-8 years to complete a degree due to part-time enrollment. This is a common occurrence, as most online students have full-time jobs or other commitments that do not allow for full-time credit loads or year-round enrollment.

Students with previous college credits can finish in one to two years, as most online religious studies programs have generous transfer credit policies that allow students to transfer up to 90 credits. 90 credits is the maximum allowed, as institutions require students to complete at least 30 credits in order to be conferred a degree from the destination institution.

Some accelerated programs exist that are designed for students to be able to complete the entire 120-credit program in just three years. These accelerated programs typically offer year-round classes or shorten the academic term, allowing for increased enrollment.

BDP Staff
July 2021

Related:

This concludes our list of the top 30 best religious studies online programs.

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