Individuals with an interest in religion and religious studies may build long lasting and far reaching careers serving as professionals within the field of religion. Employment can be gained as qualified Protestant ministers, Roman Catholic Priests, and Jewish Rabbis. Competition for jobs within various religions is anticipated to be keen. Graduates who obtain formal training through theological schools, colleges, and universities receive the educational training, knowledge, and experiences necessary to build careers as clergy members.
As a master’s degree is generally required for most religion related employment positions, pursuing an online degree is generally one of the most efficient means of gaining the qualifications necessary for future job success. Earning a degree through an online, accredited religious studies degree program is one of the best ways of meeting personal, educational, and professional goals. As many students maintain work or family responsibilities while pursuing a degree, most colleges have developed innovative online programs to meet the demand.
Most online religious studies degree programs provide students with virtually similar educational experiences as their traditional, brick and mortar counterparts. Online religious studies degree programs generally consist of the same materials, instruction, and information as on campus classes. Most online programs give students the added benefit of flexible course scheduling, a more personalized educational experience, and one on one interactions via Internet chats with professors and other students.
As with any career, a solid educational background is a vital foundation for future career success. Choosing an online degree program is often difficult and requires students to research and select programs which meet their educational needs, personal preferences, and personal goals. To assist with the selection process, we’ve created a list of the best accredited colleges and universities which offer students a great starting place to choosing the best online degree program to meet their educational needs. Here are the Top 10 Online Schools For Religion Degrees:
1. Columbia University
Columbia University is a private, Ivy League educational institution located within Manhattan, New York City founded during 1754 as King’s College. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education within the state of New York and also the fifth oldest university within the U.S., Columbia University in the City of New York. As one of the U.S.’s nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution, Columbia has a longstanding tradition of providing academic excellence.
Over 250 years ago, the Royal Charter of George II of Great Britain founded Columbia under the original name King’s College despite competing interests regarding the location and religious affiliation of the university. With Anglican ties, all parties agreed to establish principles of religious liberty within the school’s policies. Columbia’s first classes were held for eight students within a newly constructed schoolhouse adjacent to the Trinity Church (which is now lower Broadway in Manhattan.) Columbia’s mission was to create future leaders of society with an education focused upon the principles to “enlarge the Mind, improve the Understanding, polish the whole Man, and qualify them to support the brightest Characters in all the elevated stations in life.” During the past 20 years, Columbia has grown to be the forerunner of medical research with the development of the Audubon Biotechnology and Research Park. Columbia has also continued growth and the development of research and teaching programs to become one of the best academic centers in the world. S
Students interested in a bachelor degree in religion may participate in courses like: Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan, Buddhism: East Asian, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Chinese Religious Traditions, Japanese Religious Traditions, Introduction to Judaism, Religion 101, Early Christianity, Qu’ran in comparative perspective, life after death, introduction to the Hebrew Bible, religion and American culture, evangelicalism, religion and its critics, junior’s colloquium, sociology of religion, the Lotus Sutra in East Asian Buddhism, topics in Tibetan philosophy, law and Medieval Christianity, Krushna, exploring the Sharia, seminar on classical Sufi texts, Shinto in Japanese history, readings from the Sephardic diaspora, ancient Jewish texts, religion and humanitarianism, defining marriage, religious worlds of New York, rethinking place, and inquisitions, new Christians, and empire. Graduates from a bachelor degree program may advance to employment or a higher degree program. Courses at the master’s level include: the history of Christianity: the Church of the first millennium; the history of Christianity II: introduction to Western European Church history; patterns of Biblical exegesis in the early Church; the construction of the self: theology and autobiography in early Christian and Byzantine literature; the development of conciliar Christology: the doctrine of the trinity from origin to Augustine; gender in ancient Christianity; history of Christianity: pre-modern papacy; law and Medieval Christianity; origin of Alexandria; contemporary Mormonism: mediating religious identity in the 21st century city; the Byzantine Christian tradition; patterns of Christian monasticism; seminar in law and Medieval Christianity; the first crusade and Latin Christendom; introduction to the sources of Canon Law in the Medieval Latin tradition; colloquium on papal councils; colloquium in the history of Christianity; angels and demons; religion and the sexual body; religious formations in Mughal times; the conflict between Medieval mysticism and orthodoxy; issues in the study of South Asian religion; manners and morals: comparative approaches to religion and politics in Medieval advice; colloquium on comparative religions: comparative networks; Scriptural Exegesis; religious conversation in history; exploring the Sharia; Muslim and Christian mysticism: a comparative analysis; narratives and commentaries: readings in religious perception; orality and textutality in Islam; the Persian mystics: Attar and Rumi; readings from the Sephardic Diaspora; readings in Hasidism; Jewish philosophy and Kabbalah; Jews in the later Roman Empire; patriarchal and Rabbinic authority in antiquity; ancient Jewish texts; Talmudic narrative; divine human animal; rethinking place; seminar on classical Sufi texts; ideology and masses; genealogy and time in the study of religion; genealogy, pragmatism and the study of religion; event, ethnography, and history; topics in contemporary religious identity; seminar in the history and philosophy of religion: Hegel and Nietzsche; politics, cultural identity and moral philosophy; Hegel and Derrida; the Lotus Sutra in East Asian Buddhism; Buddhism and neuroscience; liberation and embodiment in Indo-Tibetan yoga traditions; topics in Tibetan philosophy; Shinto in Japanese history; Chinese Buddhist texts; topics in Chinese Buddhist studies; Buddhist texts; Mahayana Buddhist scripture; Chinese Buddhist literature; Japanese Buddhist literature; Krishna; the Bhakti movement; Hindu poet-saints of North India: Bhakit texts in North India: bodies and spirits in East Asia; ghosts and Kami; Japanese esoteric Buddhism; readings in Tokugawa religious and intellectual history; readings in Japanese religion; religion in American culture; religion and humanitarianism; defining marriage; religious worlds of New York; American Protestant thought; the African American prophetic political tradition from David Walker to Barack Obama; secular and spiritual America; topics in American religious history; American evangelicalism; theory and method in the study of religion; field methods for religious studies; research in religion; and religion, race, and slavery. Columbia University is accredited by multiple commissions and agencies including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation and offer online students some of the very best opportunities to achieve a degree.
2. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University (GCU), a non-profit, Christian university, was founded during 1949 in Prescott, Arizona. GCU’s founders established the university to meet the regional demand for a Southern Baptist faith based institution and welcomed it’s first class of 93 students. Initially GCU suffered financial difficulties yet quickly grew to expand its campus and academic programs. During 1951, the university moved its campus to lands donated by the Southern Baptist Church of Phoenix. Donations from Reverend Rock and S.F. Hawkins combined with strong leadership of church members allowed the university to provide a quality educational experience to students. In the years following, the university continued to thrive and during 1984 became recognized as Grand Canyon College. From 1994 until 2004, the university suffered tremendous organizational and financial difficulties. During 2004 the California based Significant Education, LLC, company purchased the struggling university. Upon the ownership transfer, the university became a the first for-profit Christian institute within the United States. In the five years following the transfer of ownership, the university expanded its campus, assumed its current name, and began offering its first online degree programs. Presently, GCU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees within business, education, liberal arts, and healthcare disciplines through six schools including: the College of Arts and sciences, the College of Education, the College of Doctoral Studies, the College of Nursing, the College of Fine Arts and Production, and the Ken Blanchard College of Business. Students interest in a obtaining an online master’s degree in Christian leadership, pastoral ministry, urban ministry or youth ministry may find on of the top programs at GCU. GCU focuses on giving students the skills necessary to develop, specialize and strengthen skills gained during bachelor degree courses. Master level courses in Christian leadership include: spiritual formation and mentoring, theories of leadership, Old Testament foundations, New Testament foundations, Systematic Theology, Christian worldview and contextualization, biblical hermeneutics, and leading through crisis, conflict, and change. Grand Canyon Universities are accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and offer students some of the best online degree programs necessary for career success.
3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is the first and oldest public universities located within the United States. UNC was the only state university awarding degrees during the 18th century. Principle founder, William Richardson Davie, was a member of the North Carolina General Assembly and assisted in the sponsoring of the bill which chartered the university on December 11, 1789. Just six years following its charter, the school welcomed its first student on February 12, 1795. Davie served on the university’s board of trustees from 1789 until 1807. Davie was the recipient of the university’s first honorary degree during 1811 and was bestowed the title “Father of The University.” North Carolina Governor David Lowry Swain kept UNC open during the Civil War after persuading Confederate President Jefferson Davis to exempt some of the university’s students from being drafted. Despite Swain’s efforts, population losses due to war casualties within Chapel Hill caused a population loss larger than any village within the South during the war and the university was forced to close from December 1, 1870 through September 6, 1875. The university reopened in the years that followed and gradually expanded. During 1931, university President Frank Porter Graham assisted in legislation between the State College of Agriculture and Engineering and the Women’s College. The university was renamed the Consolidated University of North Carolina and during 1963 transitioned to a coeducational institute. Many of the women attending the university transferred to Chapel Hill during their junior year due to requirements for freshmen to live on campus and lack of adequate dorms. The Women’s College was resultantly renamed University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of North Carolina assumed the name University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC was officially recognized as the flagship university within a statewide system as it predated the Women’s College and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro by 98 years. During 1955, UNC became desegregated within its undergraduate programs and became the site of many political protest during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Due to the civil unrest during the era, a Speaker Ban Law was declared during 1963 which prevented communists to conduct speeches on state campuses within North Carolina. University Chancellor William Brantly Aycock and University’s President William Friday heavily opposed the law and a 1965 amendment provided “infrequent” visits to the campus by communists. When the university’s board of trustees overruled the chancellor of the university’s decision to allow Marxist speaker Hubert Aptheker and civil rights activist Frank Wilkinson to speak at the campus, thousands of students attended. By 1968, a group of UNC students led by the student body president filed a federal lawsuit against the university and the Speaker Ban Law was overruled. Since the 1960s, UNC has expanded many of its programs and grown to be a highly ranking, world renown liberal arts university. UNC is part of the Research Triangle of colleges, which includes Duke University located in Durham and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, operating as lead research and teaching universities within the state. By the late 1990s, UNC rapidly expanded its enrollment and 729 acre campus by establishing one of the largest endowments from 1990-2000. During that time period, UNC’s endowment increased fourfold by growing at a record breaking $2 billion dollar rate in ten years. During 2007, UNC completed plans to complete construction on a satellite campus, named Carolina North, located at the Horace Williams Airport. The Carolina North site will include expanded science facilities, additional residence halls, and more classrooms as the student population expands. Presently, UNC offers 71 bachelor, 107 master, and 74 doctoral degree programs and enrolls over 28,000 students. UNC also offers 300 study abroad programs throughout 70 countries and has doubled international student admission within the last 5 years. UNC follows a Making Connections curriculum which requires all students to fulfill a liberal arts based general education requirement before advancing to specialized studies within fields like medicine, nursing, business, education, information and library science, public health, journalism, mass communication, or other programs. UNC follows a one of a kind, strict Honor Code identified as the “Instrument of Student Judicial Governance.” The entirely student run Honor System is divided by three branches, the Student Attorney General Staff, The Honor Court, and The Honor System Outreach. Each student run branch works together to determine how to resolve academic and conduct offenses against the university community while promoting integrity and honor throughout the university community. During 1985 UNC was named a Public Ivy by Richard Moll’s book The Public Ivies: A Guide To America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities and by college guides written by Howard and Matthew Green. UNC is ranked highly by Forbes Magazine, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the U.S.News and World Report, Business week, the QS World University Rankings, and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. UNC is also one of the top ten public research universities within the U.S. and ranked 57th among international universities. UNC is one of two public universities who have the largest number of Rhodes Scholars. UNC offers students interested in pursuing a degree in religion many options. UNC has bachelors, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in religious studies and offers undergraduate minors in religious studies, Christianity and culture, Islamic and middle eastern studies, and Jewish studies. UNC also has an honors program for undergraduates and frequently hosts public lectures regarding studies in religion. Additionally, UNC provides continuing education and seminars in the discipline of religion. Courses at an undergraduate level include: religion and society in historical novels; introduction to the New Testament; traditional Jewish writings; archaeology of New Testament Palestine; introduction to religion and culture; introduction to religion and culture; technology, the self, and ethical problems; religion in America; Asian religions; topics in the study of religion: what is Scripture; the birth of Christianity; religious things; Creolization and Latina/o religious transformation in the U.S.; the Buddhist tradition: Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka; topics in religion and culture: Jewish cultural history; topics in comparative religion: love and devotion in South Asian literature; Biblical Hebrew; gender theory and the study of religion; studies in American religion: the study of religion; studies in American religion: religion and civil rights; modern Muslim literatures; selected topics in the study of Asian religions: women in Japanese religions; introduction to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament literature; introduction to philosophical approaches to religion; African-American religions; introduction to the history of Christian traditions; and ethnographic approaches to contemporary religion. Graduate level courses include: seminar in religion and culture: love in ancient times; problems and methods in New Testament studies; readings in American religion since 1865; and topics in religion and culture: Walter Benjamin. UNC’s programs are accredited by the the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and provide online students one of the best opportunities to expand education and achieve professional goals.
4. Northwestern College
Northwestern College was established as a private college during 1902 as the Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School within Roseville, Minnesota. Founded by Pastor Dr. William Bell Riley of the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Northwestern is the only non-denominational Christian college within the state. Riley’s vision to created a Christ focused academic experience for students pursuing higher education became the school’s mission statement. The statement reads: “Northwestern College exists to provide Christ-centered higher education equipping students to grow intellectually and spiritually, to serve effectively in their professions, and to give God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community and world.” Northwestern held its first classes for 7 students and during 1904 awarded its first degrees to graduates. During 1905, the college outgrew the church where classes were originally held and purchased its first property at Six South. This location was later named Fireside and Firetrap. During 1914, WWI postponed founder Riley’s vision to create a 12 story temple style building within Minneapolis but by 1920 the college expanded its grounds to Lyman Court to accommodate a growing enrollment and house 225 students. Two years later the school again expands its campus to accommodate married students. By 1932, the college holds Vacation Bible studies for over 8,200 youths throughout nine states. The college opened the Northwestern Theological Seminary during 1935 to accommodate 47 students pursuing training as pastors and expands its Bible school. During 1944, the college assumes the name Northwestern Schools to include its Bible school, Theological Seminary, and four year liberal arts programs. In 1947, William Franklin Graham, best known as Billy Graham, is appointed president by the dying Dr. Riley. The college suffered financial difficulties and organizational problems following Graham’s term as president and the Bible School and theological Seminary are closed. Following restructuring, the college assumed its present name, Northwestern College. The need for a more secure financial and constituency support base delayed the 1966 North Central Association accreditation and within two years, the school created its campaign for “New Northwestern.” This campaign secured the accreditation during 1968 and allowed the college to expand it’s 87 acre Nazareth Hall during 1970. Within 2 years, following major refurbishing and remodeling, the college begins holding classes as the “New Northwestern” with over 180 students and 11 faculty members. During 1978, the college received accreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is formally recognized as an emerging liberal arts college. During 1990, the college instilled it’s FOCUS degree completion program and Pathway Project to extend alternative education to non-traditional students. Within four years the college launched it’s Center For Distance Education and began offering online degrees. The MacLaurin Institute and the college began a partnership during 2000 to enable Northwestern faculty members to teach Bible courses at the University of Minnesota for transferable credit. The college began offering it’s first graduate degrees in 2005 when The Center For Graduate Studies was opened. One year later, the college expanded many of its degree programs, reached a 3,500 student enrollment, and its endowment growth reached its highest: $15 million dollars. The college launched its Envision Excellence campaign to the public to attract capital and increase enrollment during 2007 and by 2009 had achieved many of its fundraising, developmental, and expansion goals. Presently, Northwestern offers education to over 3,000 students within 55 bachelor degree and 2 master’s degree programs. The college required students to earn a minor in Bible studies in addition to chosen degree fields to instill spiritual development and Christian beliefs. The college also offers a unique dual degree program with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology in the field of engineering science or applied mathematics. Individuals interested in religious studies degrees may pursue undergraduate degrees in Christian ministries with specializations in children and family ministry, early adult ministry, intercultural studies, ministry, pastoral ministry, youth and family studies, and urban studies. Northwestern’s religion degree programs are accredited by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and offer some of the best online degree programs. Undergraduate courses within the Christian ministry degree program include: world religions, introduction to ministry, theological and philosophical foundations of ministry, relationships, teaching methods in ministry, human sexuality, leadership in ministry, family studies, introduction to biblical counseling, and ministry internship. Graduates who complete a bachelor degree program may advance to a Master of Divinity degree program. Courses at a master’s level include: foundations of children and family ministry, foundations of early adult ministry, foundations of pastoral ministry, foundation of youth ministry, spiritual formation, theology of leadership, Biblical hermeneutics, Bible in its world, history of Christianity, theological prolegomena, biblical theology, systematic theology, contemporary issues in theology, and apologetics and ethics. Graduates who complete a master degree program may advance to careers as pastors or pursue a doctoral degree. Northwestern provides some of the best accredited online degree programs necessary to build future success.
5. Regent University
Regent University was originally named the Christian Broadcasting Network University, and founded during 1978 by American televangelist Pat Robertson within Virginia Beach, Virginia. The university is a private, non-profit, coeducational, and interdenominational Christian university dedicated to provide a quality educational experience combined with Biblical teachings. The university’s “Christian Leadership To Change The World” motto represents its mission to cultivate divine inspiration, unwavering dedication, and provide education as a premier institution. Since founding, Regent has grown to become one of the most prominent Christian universities within the U.S. preparing its students to make a difference in the world through mind and spirit. The university welcomed its first class during 1978 and awarded degrees to its first graduates from the School of Arts and Communications in 1980. During 1982, Regent opened its School of Divinity and the School of Business and within two years the university’s programs became accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university expanded to open its School of Government, School of Law, and the School of Psychology during the late 1980s. Regent assumed its present name during 1990 and just five years later opened a second campus located within Washington, D.C. The university also began offering its first master level courses upon the development of the university’s first online School Of Leadership Studies. This program generated worldwide recognition and was modeled by many other schools for its online graduate level education. The university extended instruction to working adults and non-traditional students through an undergraduate degree completion program with an accelerated format during 2000. Regent combined the School of Leadership Studies and School of Business to create the School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship during 2006 and also opened Center for Digital Media within the School of Communication and Arts. The university began offering its first associate level degrees within two years. Regent gained recognition for its exceptional online degree programs during 2009 when the Online College OEDb rankings listed the school as the number two on its list of top online colleges Presently Regent enrolls more than 5,500 students within bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs offered on campus or online. Regent provides a rigorous and rewarding educational experience to its students and has continually offered some of the top online religion degree programs available. Students interested in a bachelor degree may enroll in Regent’s biblical and theology studies, Christian ministry, or religious studies programs. Courses in the Christian ministry bachelor degree program include: biblical languages, spiritual formation, ministry communication skills, Christian ministry, Christian discipleship, studying and teaching the Bible, contemporary issues in the Church, contemporary American cults and sects, Christian missions, Practical evangelism, coaching and mentoring, Apologetics, youth evangelism and discipleship, Biblical archeology, seminar in world religions, philosophy of religions theological writing and research, principles of theology, systematic theology, world religions and cultures, biblical background and interpretation, Christian ethics. mission and message of Jesus, study of the Prophets, Pauline literature, wisdom literature, acts of the Apostles, Psalms, general epistles, church history, American church history, theological and historical studies, topics in theology, and principles of youth ministry. Graduates from a Christian ministry bachelor degree program may advance to master degree programs or entry level employment. Courses at a Master’s of Divinity degree level in practical theology with concentrations in biblical studies, church and ministry, interdisciplinary studies, and worship and renewal prepare students for future career success. Core courses include: information research and resources, academic writing seminar, masters research and writing, principles of Bible study, Biblical hermeneutics, spiritual formation, church and ministry, introduction to Biblical languages, New testament, Old Testament, preparation of Biblical messages, models of biblical discipleship, and worship and renewal. Graduates from a master degree program often qualify for employment as ministers or pastors or may advance to doctoral degree programs. Regent University offers some of the top online degree programs available.
6. Ohio Christian University
Ohio Christian University (OCU) is a private, baccalaureate based, institute of higher education located within Circleville, Ohio. OCU is affliliated denominationally with the Churches of Christ in Christian Union and provides a unique, faith based educational experience to regional students. Founded during 1948 as the Mount of Praise Bible College to train ministers for the Church, the university was later renamed the Circleville Bible College. Since founding, the university has expanded many of its programs and has grown to be recognized by the Church and society for offering a holistic, biblically integrated, Christ oriented education following the Wesleyan tradition. Ohio Christian University flourished with a system based upon honoring Jesus, advancing God’s purpose, and interdependence between students, faculty, and staff. Students at OCU receive knowledge through classroom and clinical experience necessary to promote leadership based upon a lifetime of service. The university combines faith and learning to cultivate academic excellence, critical and creative thinking, and competent professionalism to transform communities, churches, and professions. During 2006, the university assumed its present name and received regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. OCU offers some of the best undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field of religious studies via online instruction. OCU offers associate of arts degrees with concentrations in biblical studies, Christian ministries, intercultural ministries, ministry to children, pastoral counseling, worship arts ministry, youth ministries, or pastoral ministry. At the bachelor degree level, OCU offers a bachelor of arts in leadership and ministry. OCU also offers a masters of arts in ministry. Courses at a bachelor level with a concentration in Christian ministries include: reasoning skills, computer literacy, algebra, communication skills, English composition, understanding self and society, introduction to sociology, general psychology, Christian worldview, humanities, New Testament and Old Testament survey, introduction to philosophy, introduction to literature, Western civilization, Church history, bible study methods, hermeneutics, personal evangelism, New Testament, Gospels, Acts, Romans or Galatians, Advanced Greek, Greek Exegesis, Old Testament, Pentateuch, theology, systematic theology, holiness literature, introduction to Christian education, introduction to missions, sanctification seminar, preaching, music in the Church, principles of counseling, pastor as administrator, issues in counseling, and growing a great commission church. Graduates who obtain a bachelor degree may advance to a masters of arts in ministry through two tracks of study. The pastoral care and counseling track prepares individuals for careers within ministry fields. The practical theology track is for ministers who seek to apply theological principles to current issues and challenges within the field of ministry. Courses at a master’s level within the pastoral care and counseling track include: introduction to graduate studies, history of Christian thought, theology of John Wesley, worship in the church, Old Testament history and interpretation, New Testament history and interpretation, pastoral care giver, methods of pastoral counseling, spiritual issues in pastoral counseling, ethical and legal issues in pastoral counseling, and pastoral intervention in crisis. Ohio Christian University offers students some of the top online degree programs necessary for propelling personal, educational, and professional goals.
7. Spring Arbor University
Leaders of the Free Methodist Church, who ministered to the poor and advocated freedom for slaves, founded Spring Arbor University during 1873. Edward Payson Hart, the Michigan based Free Methodist Church leader, was one of the founding fathers of the Spring Arbor Seminary which provided instruction to elementary and secondary students regardless of religious beliefs. The seminary offered sound learning and the promotion of Christianity to all students on property owned by Michigan Central College near the Potawatomi Indian village. The seminary grew to enroll 200 students and was recognized as a Junior College by 1907 but declined due to WW1. Following the war, the seminary continued to provide instruction based in Christian training and principles and during 1923 the school was recognized as an academy. During 1929, the academy assumed the name Spring Arbor Seminary and Junior College. The school gradually began offering courses in higher education and phased out primary and intermediate instruction by 1930. In the years following, the school expanded many of its programs and received accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools during 1960. The school was again renamed upon accreditation and became Spring Arbor College. During 1963, the college eliminated high school instruction and began offering its first four year degree program. During 1965, Spring Arbor awarded its first college degrees. The college continued to develop degree programs, expand its campus, and provide degrees through the 1970s. During the early 1980s, Spring Arbor launched the first of many degree completion programs for adult learners and non-traditional students within locations like Jackson, Lansing, and Flint with as many as 17 locations presently operating throughout Michigan. Students may participate in accelerated associate or bachelor degree programs in fields like: business, Christian ministry leadership, education and teacher certification, family life education, organizational management, nursing, and social work. Presently, Spring Arbor is involved in a network of over 20 affiliate colleges who have adopted or created programs similar to Spring Arbor’s curriculum. The university also launched cross cultural studies programs during the 1980s in international settings like Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East which gained worldwide recognition. After receiving formal approval to award its first masters degrees during 1994, Spring Arbor gained university status and changed its name to Spring Arbor University during 2001. Graduate education continued to expand during the1990s and early 2000s with offerings at a master level in fields like: business administration, communication, counseling, education, family studies, nursing, management, and spiritual formation and leadership. During 2002, the university began offering its first online courses in its entirely online Masters of arts in communications degree program. This lead to the development of multiple online degree programs at varying degree levels. Spring Arbor also continued to expand its campus grounds and grew to claim international status as an organization dedicated to spiritual heritage and academic excellence within 70 majors and degree programs. Spring Arbor offers some of the best online programs available today to students with an interest in religion degrees. Spring Arbor offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in: worship arts, worship ministry, youth ministry, children’s ministry, Biblical studies, camping ministry, theological studies, Christian ministry leadership, and pastoral ministry. Courses within a bachelor degree program in theological studies include: Pentateuch, Old Testament Prophets, theology in Psalms and Wisdom literature, snyoptic Gospels and Acts, gospel of John and revelation, Pauline Letters, theology in Romans, Doctrines of the Christian faith, history of Christianity, history of Christianity in America, introduction to philosophy, Christian ethics, contemporary moral issues, spiritual formation, theological praxis and the essentials of ministry, elementary New Testament Greek, elementary Biblical Hebrew, philosophy of relision, world religions, Patristic theology, history and theology of the Reformation period, sources and norms of theology, development of Wesleyan theology, history of Ancient and Medieval philosophy, biblical interpretation, doctrines of the Christian faith, and theology in Romans. Graduates from a bachelor degree program may advance to a master’s of arts in spiritual formation and leadership degree program. Courses include: Christian spirituality, disciplines of the spirit, formational theology, spiritual wisdom of the Hebrew Scriptures, social justice and Christian spirituality, world Christian spirituality, Jesus Christ and New Testament spirituality, history of Christian spirituality, spiritual directing and Ignatian spirituality, formational ministry in the church, and special topics in Christian spirituality. Most graduates of a master’s degree program may gain employment in the field of ministry or advance to doctoral degree programs. Students interested in a religion degree will find some of the best online degree programs are available at Spring Arbor University.
8. Southwestern Christian University
Southwestern Christian University (SCU) was founded as the first Pentecostal, Bible based institution of higher learning during 1946 within Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Originally named the Southwestern Bible College, the university was initially established to train Christian church leaders within the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The university expanded greatly in the years following founding and became formally recognized as a junior college during 1964 upon accreditation. Increased enrollment, steady growth, and expanding programs enabled the university to become one of the largest junior colleges within the U.S. As the largest university within the Pentecostal Holiness church, the university expanded its programs and campus. Due to the expansions, the university was renamed the Oklahoma City Southwestern College to more accurately represent the school’s mission and program offerings through the 1970s. In 1979 the university began awarding its first bachelor degrees. During 1981, the university was reorganized and many of its programs were scaled back as the Church ended plans for a junior college. The university refocused its academic goals and became a Ministry training institute. Additionally, the school was moved from Oklahoma City to Bethany, Oklahoma and was renamed the Southwestern College of Christian Ministries. The restructuring of the school allowed further expansion through the 1980s and 1990s. During 1998 the university began offering its first master’s degrees and within three years assumed the name Southwestern Christian University upon gaining accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Upon accreditation, the university was officially recognized as a full Christian liberal arts university offering associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees within a variety of programs. Students interested in a religion degree may find one of the best online programs available at Southwestern Christian University. Courses for a bachelor of science degree in biblical studies include: English composition, introduction to public communications, U.S. history, college Algebra, introduction to philosophy, logic and critical thinking, introduction to sociology, Old Testament history and literature, New Testament history and literature, biblical Hermeneutics, Pentecostal history, biblical discipleship, systematic theology, Church history, modern secular Christian worldview, Christian social ethics, teaching meathods, research methodology, Romans, Hebrews, Luke-Acts, intertestamental literature, comparative religions, Apologetics, Wesley Studies, the world of C.S. Lewis, psychology of religion, philosophy of religion, history of Israel, Wisdom and Christ, culture, and the Church. Graduates from a bachelor degree program may advance to employment within the field of religion or a master degree program. Southwestern Christian University offers a masters of ministry degree program with concentrations in: Church planting/revitalization, intercultural studies, leadership studies, life coaching, pastoral ministries, or theological studies. Courses at a master’s level include: bibliololgy, spriritual formation of a leader, Pentecostal/charismatic history and theology, Hermeneutics, theological foundations for ministry, research methods, and the ministry application project. Students who concentrate their master’s degree in the field of pastoral ministries also participate in specialized courses like: small groups and community, evangelism and mission, contemporary communication, leadership: conflict management, and pastoral care. Graduates who complete a master’s degree program may advance to employment within the field of ministry or pursue a doctoral degree. Southwestern Christian Unversity’s online degree programs offer students some of the top educational experiences necessary for creating successful careers.
9. Hope International University
Hope International University was originally founded as the Pacific Bible Seminary during 1928 within Southern California. Presently located just south of California State University within Fullerton, California, the university has operated as a private, non-denomination Christian based university with faith based connections to the Restoration movement and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. After founding, the university purchased land within Long Beach, California for its campus. Hope continued to expand its mission, programs, enrollment, and faculty in the years following completion of its campus. During the 1940s, the university completed construction at the Long Beach campus and continued its expansion through the 1950s. Hope received regional accreditation for its programs during 1962 and was renamed the Pacific Christian College. Having outgrown the Long Beach campus during the 1960s, the university was relocated to Fullerton during 1973. The university continued its expansion and extended its focus with a mission to integrate faith, service, and education combined with a dedication to empower students with Christian based education necessary to serve not only the Church but the world. The university developed additional degree programs and during 1997 was renamed Hope International University upon receiving university status. Presently Hope offers instruction through online degree programs or within its four campuses. Hope is made up of two schools, including the traditional undergraduate college identified as the Pacific Christian College; and the one-site or online degree completion, graduate, and adult learners programs: the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Hope enrolls approximately 1,700 students from over 35 states and 40 counties within its five colleges including: the Pacific Christian College of Ministry and Biblical Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Psychology and Counseling, the College of Education, and the College of Business and Management. Hope focuses on serviced based professions and provides students with a solid educational experience blending faith, leadership, and ethics. Hope offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, education, ministry, music, psychology, human development, and social sciences. Hope also offers certificate and degree completion programs for working adult students. Since the launch of Hope’s online degree programs, the university now offers over 300 online courses within multiple fields of study. Students interested in obtaining a degree in religion may find some of the best online programs available at Hope. Hope offers bachelor degree programs in associate ministry, biblical studies, and children and family ministry, and master degree programs with concentrations in Christian leadership, church planting, intercultural studies (missions), pastoral care, and worship. Courses within an associate ministry bachelor degree program include: homiletics, creative teaching and curriculum development, care and counseling in youth ministry, ministry to children, and many other courses geared toward specializing a degree. Courses within a master’s in ministry program include: developing spiritual disciplines, building effective teams, conflict management in ministry, heritage and leadership, personal development of the minister, the Church: past, present, and future, and other specialized courses designed to refine studies learned within a bachelor degree program as well as prepare students for future career or educational pursuits. Hope International University’s programs are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association For Biblical Higher Accreditation. Additionally, Hope is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and offers some of the best online degree programs available.
10. Liberty University
Liberty University was originally founded by Jerry Falwell, Sr. as Lynchburg Baptist College during 1971. Located within Lynchburg, Virginia, Falwell created the university to extend higher education to residential students while promoting Christianity based spiritual development. Falwell’s vision was to develop a world renown institute for higher learning focused upon academics, biblical truth, and athletics. During 1976, the university changed its name to Liberty Baptist College and 8 years later gained university status. The university then was renamed Liberty University. the university quickly became the largest Christian college throughout the world and has expanded to offer over 230 programs of study located within its 6,000 acre campus and through online programs. All of Liberty’s students follow The Liberty Way code of conduct based in a solid doctrinal mission statement promoting the balance between spirituality, freedom, and academics. Liberty’s programs have grown to receive the highest accreditation offered by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1980. Additionally, Liberty received accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges between 1984 through 2008. Liberty has one of the highest acceptance rates for traditional, on campus students as well as for online students maintaining job or family responsibilities while pursuing a degree. Liberty’s LU Online is one of the top distance learning programs offering 36 degrees. LU Online awards associates through doctoral degrees in a 16 week format similar to its on campus courses as well as 8 week subterm courses. Liberty offers one of the best bachelor of science in religion programs available online. The Christian based religion degree provides students knowledge based upon a biblical foundation and the fundamentals of the Bible, Christianity, Christian theology, and the Christian church. Students gain an educational experience instilling oral and written communication skills, contemporary issues in ministry, and managing professional ministry issues in personal and professional environments. Courses include: contemporary worldviews, survey of biblical literature, Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, inductive bible study, John, Acts, Genesis, Romans, Daniel – Revelation, biblical archeology, History of the Christian church, methods of teaching Bible and religion, evangelism and the Christian life, introduction to missions, cultural anthropology, contemporary mission problems and issues, history and survey of missions, philosophy and contemporary idea, Christian evidences, pastoral duties, organization and administration of the local church, introduction to Christian thought, theology survey, the person and work of Christ, fundamental theological issues, principles of youth ministry, foundations of youth ministry, campus ministry, biblical foundations of worship, role of the worship leader, principles of leadership for the worship leader, and current issues in worship. Graduates from a bachelor degree in religion may advance to employment in a range of church ministry jobs or continue to advanced degree or seminary programs. Attaining a degree from LU Online’s accredited religion programs are one of the best paths to gaining the education and experience necessary for future success in fields like youth ministry, women’s ministry, biblical studies, intercultural studies, theology, worship, pastoral leadership, or church ministries.