Master of Divinity Online is the study of Religion and Theology, where one grows in understanding faith, understanding the cultural realities and social settings within religious communities, and growing in emotional maturity, personal faith, and moral integrity. The master’s in divinity, or MDiv, is a professional master’s degree for people who want to pursue a career in a vocational ministry which is usually a career as a pastor or theologian. The MDiv is the most essential graduate degree for people pursuing a calling in ministry. This article provides in-depth information on the online MDiv master’s degree, the types of degrees, what one can do with this degree, the best schools, scholarships available, information on accreditation, career options, etc.

Masters of Divinity Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master of Divinity Online Programs

The best online master of divinity degree programs are accredited and offer a balanced mix of all essential factors, including the institution’s reputation, quality and experience of the faculty, infrastructure, student services, and affordability. The OMC team has thoroughly examined some of the country’s best online MDiv programs and created a list to assist future MDiv students in selecting a program that meets their expectations and needs. The best online MDiv programs are listed here:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Harding University
915 E. Market Ave., Searcy, Arkansas 72149
Clarks Summit University
538 Venard Rd, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania 18411
University of Northwestern, St Paul
3003 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55113
Grace School of Theology
3705 College Park Dr Ste 140, Conroe, Texas 77384
Loyola University Chicago
1032 W. Sheridan Rd, Chicago, Illinois 60660
Columbia International University
7435 Monticello Rd, Columbia, South Carolina 29203
George Fox University
414 N Meridian St, Newberg, Oregon 97132
Moody Bible Institute
820 N LaSalle Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60610
Denver Seminary, Washington DC
3600 Brightseat Road, Landover, Maryland 20785
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
278 Whites Bridge Rd, Standish, Maine 04084
Eastern University
1300 Eagle Rd, Saint Davids, Pennsylvania 19087
Regent University
1000 Regent University Dr, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23464
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
Fuller Theological Seminary
135 N Oakland Ave, Pasadena, California 91182
Anderson University
316 Boulevard, Anderson, South Carolina 29621
Multnomah University
8435 NE Glisan St, Portland, Oregon 97220
Southeastern University
1000 Longfellow Blvd, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Houston Baptist University
7502 Fondren Rd, Houston, Texas 77074
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
5001 N. Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, Missouri 64118
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
3939 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, Louisiana 70126

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master in Divinity Programs

Master of divinity online programs include Pastoral Studies and Christian Biblical theology. The programs generally involve studies in philosophy, church history, Hebrew, and the Greek Old and New Testaments. The MDiv program also includes practical experience like most professional degrees. Many online divinity programs require between 70 and 80 credit hours, which typically takes two years.

The online divinity degree may also contain Christian Education courses, liturgical studies, and services in Latin and Hebrew. The online divinity degree program may or may not include a thesis. In several denominations, the MDiv is required for ordination. For example, the United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, requires candidates for ordination as elders to earn an MDiv and candidates for ordination as deacons to earn either an MDiv or a master’s degree in another field with additional theological studies.

Masters in Divinity Degree Types

The master of divinity online is a full-time program that prepares students to start their careers in church ministry and for those interested in Christian theology. Typically, many branches of Christianity require 7 to 8 years in the religion to be ordained as pastors or priests. Within the formal degree category, the seminaries offer two master’s degrees: Masters in Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Arts in Divinity (MA) Program.

Master in Divinity (MDiv)

Master in Divinity (MDiv Online) is an advanced program that provides students with an opportunity to do a deeper study in scriptures, deepen their faith, and prepare them to fulfill their calling to serve God. Students who complete the program will be prepared for further studies and also lead pupils and congregations to interpret scriptures. 

Master of Arts in Divinity (MA Divinity)

A Master of Arts Divinity (MA Divinity Online) is an alternative to the master of divinity online program. This program focuses on developing deep knowledge in divinity-related and based topics. It covers a genuinely comprehensive educational plan and usually requires two years to finish, with around 30 to 60 credits. Students of MA divinity programs could take courses in strict hypothesis, philosophy, history, scriptural investigations, and different electives that might give a broad perspective on the Christian confidence, as well as other religions.

Specializations in Masters in Art History Programs

Apart from what one learns in an MDiv online, an additional focus on specific aspects of divinity can be achieved through specializations and concentrations. Specialization gives students thorough schooling in subjects they need to know in-depth, and it sets them up for higher theological programs like a doctorate in theology (ThD), or a doctorate in philosophy (Ph.D.). Some specializations in a master’s in divinity include: 

  • Biblical Studies and Languages Biblical studies make the student understand God’s word, interpret the bible, and also learn the different translations of the Old Testament and New Testament. 
  • Christian Ethics The Christian Ethics specialization is intended to prepare ministers to draw in culture with a convincing Christian comprehension of the world. Through this focus, the student gains comprehension of how to interpret culture and apply a Christian perspective to issues like those connected with science, theory, visual expressions, film, decisive reasoning, regulation and government, and morals. 
  • Worship, Theology, and Arts The Master of Divinity in Worship, Theology, and the Arts program will set one up for the exemplary elements of clerical authority, like pastoral care and leading the congregation, cultivating spirit-led worship experience, the art of storytelling, and forming people of faith. 
  • Race, Cultural Identity, and Reconciliation Supporting reconciliation and building community amid racial and cultural diversity is most difficult and challenging. This area of interest helps students with foundational research and assessment abilities to ponder racial, ethnic, or social conflicts. 
  • Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care This specialization is an in-depth understanding of pastoral theology, which also relates to the goals of chaplaincy and care.  
  • Catholic Theology The Catholic Theology specialization offers a deeper explanation of catholic theology and is an advantage for students who are interested in serving catholic societies and churches. 

A few examples of other concentration and focus areas are:

  • Intercultural and Urban Studies
  • Youth, Family, and Culture
  • Asian American Ministry
  • Leadership in the Times of Change
  • Black Church Studies

Apart from these specializations, MDiv aspirants also have the option to choose related programs, such as: 

  • Master of Theology Online
  • Master of Divinity and Social Work Online
  • Catholic Master of Divinity Online
  • Online Master of Divinity Chaplaincy
  • Master of Arts in Theology & Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Religion
  • Master of Sacred Theology

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master of Divinity Online Programs

Master of Divinity online degree programs may go from around 72 to 80 credits usually taking about two to three years, albeit a few programs may permit students to complete somewhere in between two and five years if done part-time. A few of these degree programs are accessible online, yet may include individual service insight through entry-level positions, practicums, part-time apprenticeships, or other field instruction necessities intended for assisting students with cooperating with different clergymen and giving instances of Christian help in real life.

Students in masters of divinity online programs ordinarily take courses in Religious Philosophy, Hebrew Scripture, New Confirmation, Service, Christian Morals, and Social Settings. Some programs may offer extra focus on Scriptural Dialects, Apprenticeship Services, or Chaplaincy, and depending upon the program and concentration, a few students may be expected to finish a project.

Students can study a variety of subfields within MDiv, based on their interests and career ambitions. These sub-fields or specialties go further into the subject area, providing students with unique knowledge and skills, allowing them to apply for certain professions and stand out from the competition. The curriculum can differ from university to university. Here are a few examples of common core courses graduate students can come across in master of divinity online programs:

Apologetic and EthicsThis course teaches students to prepare for a ministry in a pluralistic world. It addresses the truth and tenets of the Christian faith.

Biblical StudiesThis course is a detailed study of the scriptures, which will have a direct impact on the spiritual growth of individuals.

TheologyThis course is a blend of biblical, theological, and pastoral training which goes deeper into key areas of theology, and traditional and contemporary theological issues.

Some other examples of common core courses in a master of divinity online program are:

  • Christ in Synoptic Gospels
  • History of Christianity
  • Church and Culture
  • Counseling and Spiritual Care
  • Pastoral Studies

As for the learning outcomes of an online master’s in divinity program, graduates would have:

  • a command of the fundamental lexicon and grammar of both Greek and Hebrew, as well as of the process for exegeting the biblical text in the languages in which it was originally written;
  • assurance in the inerrant and authoritative nature of the Scriptures, as well as the capacity to live and witness truthfully as a Christian in this day of pluralism;
  • a solid understanding of reformed theology, particularly as it is established in the Scriptures and summed up in the church;
  • a more profound affection for God, his Word, and his people, as well as an intensified longing for the sanctification of one’s own life.
  • a distinct comprehension of the overarching ideas, goals, and messages included within each individual book of the Bible, as well as their place within the greater canon of sacred writings;
  • evangelism and shepherding skills commensurate with the particular gifts bestowed by God on each individual;
  • competence and knowledge in serving in a church or other ministry-related context; and
  • an understanding essential to building a foundation in church history and the evolution of Christian doctrine.

Accreditation for Master of Divinity Online Programs

Accreditation is a term covering both starting and progressing endorsement of a school, post-secondary institution, or program, which offers to meet the standard requirements of a nationally recognized and authorized accrediting body. The authorized accreditation body monitors the academic and administrative quality of the school, institution, and program. While there are no universities that offer a master of divinity online accredited program, the universities, as institutions, must be regionally accredited by one of the following authorized accrediting bodies:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Find out more about why attending an accredited school is very important, in our Accreditation Guide.

Timeline for graduation from Master of Divinity Online Programs

The length of the master of divinity online program depends on the course selection and the structure of the program. If the program allows students to study at their own pace, then this can potentially lead to late graduation. Those that have fixed schedules and structures enable a faster time to graduate. The typical timeline of a masters in divinity online degree program is as follows:

Typical length of a full-time masters in divinity program: 2 years (sometimes 3 years)

Typical length of a part-time masters in divinity program: 4 years (up to 7 years)

Typical credits required:  72 to 80 credits

Some colleges offer flexibility for working individuals to put in fewer hours per week to complete their programs, resulting in an extended duration of the graduate program.

Master of Divinity Online Programs Admission Requirements

Many schools and institutions lean toward an applicant with a theology undergraduate degree. Consequently, a bachelor’s degree from an authorized college or school may be required to enter an MDiv program. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in other areas may also be considered but may have to take up some prerequisite courses to be eligible for admission. The common admission requirements for a masters of divinity online are: 

  • Application Form with the applicable fee
  • Official academic transcripts
  • A letter of intent from the applicant explaining the rationale and purpose for obtaining a master’s degree in theology. 
  • Letters of Recommendation – Letters of Recommendation from past mentors and references.
  • Personal Statement – A brief personal statement is required by most MDiv programs. Students are required to describe the goals and purpose for their taking up the program. In lieu, some colleges may ask for a Graduate Résumé or Statement of Purpose.
  • GRE/GMAT Score – GRE or GMAT scores are normally not a necessity for masters of divinity online. But it is always best to check with the admissions office for exact requirements.

Master of Divinity Online No GRE Divinity Programs

While most master’s programs require a GRE score, it is increasingly common for universities to waive this requirement for MDiv programs. Moreover, even if the GRE score is an admissions requirement, it is generally waived for applicants who have a high GPA. Here are a couple of online masters in divinity with no GRE:

  1. Luther Seminary
    Luther Seminary prerequisites a bachelor’s or equivalent from a reputed college or university.
    The MDiv online does not require GRE.
  2. Yale Divinity School
    Yale Divinity School offers MDiv online degrees that do not require a GRE score for enrollment.

Accelerated Master of Divinity Online Programs

It is not uncommon for universities to offer masters in divinity programs from which one can graduate in less than 2 years. By opting for fast-track programs or credit transfers lower graduation times can be achieved. Some universities offer accelerated MDiv online programs that help the applicant complete before the typical schedule of 2 years. Some examples of universities that offer accelerated masters in divinity are:

  1. Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary In Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary, each accelerated MDiv online program consists of a total of 60 credit hours. However, it is worth noting that Greek, Hebrew, and preaching/teaching are all required at the master’s level, even if they were finished at the bachelor’s level.
  2. Elizabeth Town College Elizabeth Town College is a School of Graduate and Professional Studies that has partnered with Lancaster Theological Seminary and offers students an exciting bachelor’s-to-master’s accelerated-admission opportunity. The university has certain criteria to be met by the applicants for admission.

Free Divinity Courses Online

Numerous students are keen on a Master of Divinity Online Free program. Unfortunately, such free programs are very rare. However, there are several individual free online courses from earlier years’ master’s programs. While these free courses will not grant a degree, they will assist students with acquiring the information and comprehension of what they would face if they enrolled in a master of divinity program. Some examples are:

  1. Master of Divinity (MDiv) – The International Seminary of Distance Education in Theology (ISDET) gives a free online-based program for the master of divinity. This program is not authorized, but ISDET puts forth a solid defense about why authorization is not needed for divinity programs. 
  2. Udemy – Udemy does not offer a specific divinity course but has some spiritual courses that are free or are available at reasonable rates.
  3. Christian Leaders College – Although the Christian Leaders College does not offer a specific free master of divinity degree online, it has a ministry degree with free courses online. These courses contain Old Testament and New Testament surveys and Christian basics.

How to Pay for Master of Divinity Online Programs

An MDiv online program can cost several thousand dollars as the fees of online masters programs increase year by year. Even though online students do not have to pay for student accommodation, transportation, and meals, they still have to pay the tuition fees, which are sometimes prohibitively high. Fortunately, there are a variety of funding sources available that can significantly lower the overall cost of education. Some such sources of funding include:


Scholarships are awarded to students who have a very good academic record. They can be from the institution itself or from those that have a religious affiliation or interest in cultural heritage. Scholarships are considered free as the student does not need to pay them back. (Note: Read about Scholarship Scams)


Those students whose families cannot afford tuition for a master’s program can apply for a grant. Grants are need-based, unlike scholarships, and can pay all the educational expenses in addition to the tuition fees.

Graduate Assistantships

Students can sometimes take up part-time teaching in the same institution or assist other students in projects or workshops where in turn the institution offers a fee waiver or a stipend.

Student loans

Students can apply for educational loans to lower the cost of the tuition fee, and other educational expenses. Such loans are sanctioned based on the applicant meeting certain eligibility criteria.


Students can fill in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to check and be eligible for financial aid.

More information on financial aid is available in the comprehensive Financial Aid Guide.

Scholarships for Master of Divinity Online Programs

Students who have excellent educational track records can explore the numerous graduate scholarships they would be eligible for. Often, merit-based scholarships may be offered by online master of divinity schools, or religious and private organizations. Here are a few examples:

Baylor University

Truett Seminary offers several scholarships covering up to full tuition for select incoming students who have shown outstanding academic prowess, leadership potential, and ministry experience. Selected students will be awarded $1,000. Deadline: May 01, annually.

University of Notre Dame

Students who are accepted into the master of divinity online degree receive 100% scholarships that are renewable during the three-year program, provided the student is making good academic progress. The scholarship is valued at over $175,000 over three years. Deadline: TBA for 2024-2025.

Yale University

Yale University awards scholarships to selected students of master of divinity based on merit decided by the admission committee. All merit awards cover 100% of the tuition fee and provide an additional $3,000 annual scholarship. Deadline: Closed for 2024 | TBA for 2024.

FAQs about Divinity Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Master of Divinity Degree?

The master of divinity degree is the study of Religion and Theology, where one grows in the understanding of faith; understanding the cultural realities, and social settings within religious communities; and growing in emotional maturity, personal faith, and moral integrity.

What will I learn in the Master of  Divinity Program?

Will a Master of  Divinity prepare me for a ministry?

Where can I study Master of  Divinity online?

Do I have to be good at computers to enroll in the Master of  Divinity Online degree?

How long does an MDiv take? What if I need a break?

What is the difference between a Master of Theology and Master of Divinity?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master of Divinity Graduates

Graduates of masters of divinity online can involve themselves in the local church, work with scriptural dialects, become Christian school instructors, and teach Christian religious philosophy or scriptural religious philosophy. They can also take up church planting and proceed to become religious educators.

Here are a few examples of career titles and average annual remuneration that MDiv online graduates are projected to make:

Certifications and Licensing for Divinity Graduates

An MDiv online program helps students grow in understanding and get a deeper knowledge of the subject. Although graduates from specific degrees may require licensing and certification alongside their degree to be employed, this is not the case for a master’s in divinity.

Additional Resources for Divinity Professionals

An MDiv online degree provides a great platform for students to understand divinity and its various aspects, enhance their credentials, and improve their overall knowledge of Biblical studies. However, numerous experts decide to seek after more profound comprehension of their spiritual practice and explore their faith. There are a few resources available for such seekers:

  1. Society of Biblical Literature The Society of Biblical Literature is an international society and enrollment association with numerous researchers. It is the most well-established and largest learned society committed to the interpretation of the Bible by experts from various disciplines. Through its work, SBL upholds academic examination and encourages the public comprehension of the Bible and its impact.
  2. Yale University Yale University’s Center for Continuing Education provides opportunities and resources to students of the Christian ministry and laypeople who want to grow in faith and personal and professional growth.
  3. Moody Bible Institute Moody Bible Institute helps students develop biblical expertise and advanced preaching skills. The program involves studying Hebrew, Greek, Bible interpretation, ministry leadership, pastoral practice, and narrative preaching.
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