People study theology for many reasons. Some people are interested in learning
more about the Bible and church history. Others want to go on to graduate
work and research. Still others want to train for leadership roles in the
church and community.
Theology is not the same as religious studies. Most religious studies programs
focus on the study of world religions. That means a religious studies degree
will not train you to be a minister.
In the U.S., the bachelor of theology degree (BTh) is becoming less common.
"The trend in the United States is for students to take their BA in
either humanities or liberal arts as preparation for their master's in divinity
-- a three-year postgraduate program offered at seminaries, divinity schools,
universities and colleges," says Dee Weksten, a former professor at the Perkins
School of Theology in Dallas.
If you want to be a minister, ask your minister or pastor for advice
on schools. This is important because every denomination has different
"Accreditation is a very important factor when considering any college
or university program, particularly with religious schools," say Randall Bell.
He is associate director of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges
(AABC). It accredits undergraduate religious programs.
About 85 North American schools are accredited by AABC. However, schools
don't have to be accredited.
The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accredits theology master's
programs in North America. These schools will only admit students with a bachelor's
degree in a liberal arts field.
Many theology programs encourage students to do a double major in another
field. For example, studies in teaching, counseling or youth work go well
with a theology degree.
Students can often specialize. For example, you may get a theology degree
with a specialization in a field such as music ministry, youth work or pastoral
So what are schools looking for in a theology student? Weksten says admission
requirements at Perkins include examination of personal standards, personal
references, church involvement and a personal essay.
In high school, take courses in religion, social studies and English.
College Compass, an education Web site, also recommends history, natural sciences,
fine arts and music.
Other activities that could help you are attending church, doing Bible
study, participating in youth or church groups or helping in Sunday school.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Protestant
The World of Religions
A detailed site on religions around the globe
Religious Studies Page
A listing of web resources