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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Kaltenbach

US Distance Learning Ph.D. Programs in Leadership, Ministry, Bible, and Theology

Updated: Jan 29

****This page is regularly updated****

I'm currently writing a series of blog posts about earning theological and ministry degrees at a distance. I realize few will actually read these posts and even fewer will care, but I hope that I can help at least one person think about their next steps with education.

The doctoral programs I've listed below are of an academic nature and do not account for professional doctoral programs such as the DMin, EdD, DBA, DML, DIS, DSL, D.Ed.Min., DMiss, etc. One of the universities listed below is not a Christian university, but nonetheless, I believe their degree will help Christian leaders. A majority of professional doctoral degrees offered by Christian universities or seminaries are already set up as "distance learning" programs. When I say "distance learning," I'm referring to Ph.D. degrees that are earned through a combination of online/on-demand classes, independent study classes, one or two-week-long intensive/modular classes, live-streaming classes, cohort format, etc. (sometimes "distance learning" is also referred to as "hybrid" or "hybrid learning"). A couple of the Ph.D. programs are offered 100% online, but those are few and far between. Regardless of the school's distance learning format, each of the following schools is accredited by regional accrediting agencies (HLC, WSCUC, SACSCOC, etc.) and/or reputable national accrediting agencies (ATS, ABHE, TRACS, etc.). In other words, all the agencies that accredit the following schools are validated by CHEA (the US Department of Education).

Most educational institutions offering Ph.D.s have similar admissions requirements. Though the GRE is required for some programs, an increasing number of schools no longer require the GRE for admission into their religious/theological Ph.D. programs (schools like Boston University, Brown University, Princeton University, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, etc.).

Considering the advancement of technology, increase in relocation costs, and mindset shifts because of the global pandemic, I believe more Christian universities and seminaries will move towards making some (or all) of their Ph.D. concentrations accessible via distance learning. In any case, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. If you’re intrigued by what you read, glance at some of the other blog posts in this series: obtaining an overseas Ph.D., earning an overseas master's degree, and where to earn a 100% online master's degree.

Amridge University (Turner School of Theology)

Anderson University

*Doctorates offered 100% online

Ph.D. in Leadership (Church Ministry concentration)

Ph.D. in Preaching (Offered by Clamp Divinity School)

Andrews University

The Antiochian House of Studies

Baylor University (Truett Theological Seminary)

Biola University (Cook School of Intercultural Studies -or- Talbot School of Theology)

B.H. Carroll Theological Institute

Ph.D. in Scripture & Witness (Old Testament, New Testament, Biblical Languages, Preaching or Hermeneutics), Faith & Heritage (Theology, Philosophy, Christian Heritage or Ethics), Ministry & Formation (Christian Education, Pastoral Ministry, Psychology & Counseling, Administration or Leadership), and Worship & Mission (Worship, Missions or Church Music)

California Baptist University

Calvary University

Ph.D. in Bible & Theology (New Testament emphasis)

Carolina University

Clarks Summit University (Baptist Bible Seminary)

Ph.D. in (concentrations: Bible Exposition, New Testament, Old Testament, or Systematic Theology)

Columbia International University (Columbia Biblical Seminary)

*modified European model- 2 classes while the rest is research

Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Irvine (The Townsend Institute for Leadership & Counseling)

Dallas Baptist University

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies (concentrations: Business, Higher Education, Ministry, or Leadership)

Dallas Theological Seminary

(DTS just announced their program is now available via live-streaming + short intensives)

Eastern University

*No counseling degree prerequisite for the Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy

Evangel University (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary)

Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation & Theology (concentrations: New Testament Introduction & Biblical Theology, Old Testament Interpretation & Biblical Theology, and Biblical Exegesis & Systematic Theology) and Intercultural Studies (Missiological Studies or Relief & Development)

Evangelical Seminary (part of the Kairos University Network)

*Their Th.D. is in-between a Ph.D. and D.Min., but I still listed it as academic

Faulkner University (Kearley Graduate School of Theology)

*MPhil degree earned en route to Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (emphasis in either Old Testament or New Testament)

Fuller Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Theological Studies (concentrations: Christian Ethics, Church History & Historical Theology, Liturgical Theology, Public Theology, Political Theology, Practical Theology, Systematic Theology, or Theology & Culture) or Intercultural Studies (concentrations: Anthropology, Bible & Mission, Children at Risk, History of World Christianity, International Development, Islamic Studies, Leadership, Migration Studies, Mission Theology, Missional Church, or Church & Society)

Gateway Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (concentrations: Old Testament or New Testament) or Theology (concentrations: Historical Theology or Systematic Theology)

Georgia Central University

Indiana Wesleyan University

Institute of Lutheran Theology

Ph.D. in Old Testament, New Testament, Philosophical Theology, Historical Theology, Systematic Theology, or Ethics

Johnson University

PhD. in Leadership Studies (concentrations: Educational Leadership, Missional Leadership, Organizational Leadership, or Philosophy & Theology of Leadership)

Lancaster Bible College (Capital Bible Seminary)

Liberty University

*Doctorates offered 100% online

Ph.D. in Applied Apologetics, Bible Exposition, Business Administration & Leadership, Christian Leadership (concentrations: Church Revitalization, Digital Discipleship, Ministry Leadership, Next Generation Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Strategic Christian Ministry), Christian Worship, Education & Organizational Leadership, Leadership, Organization & Management (various majors), Practical Theology, Psychology & Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Psychology & Theology, or Theology & Apologetics

Lipscomb University

Luther Rice College & Seminary

The Master's Seminary

Ph.D. in Old Testament, New Testament, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology, or Systematic Theology

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling & Education, Church History, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Practical Theology, or Theology

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Apologetics, Biblical Counseling, Biblical Theology, Ethics, Historical Theology, Ministry, Missiology, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching, or Systematic Theology

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

*ThM degree earned en route to PhD

Ph.D. in Biblical Exposition, Biblical Interpretation, Christian Apologetics, Christian Education, Christian Leadership, Counselor Education and Supervision, Evangelism, New Testament, Old Testament, Theology

Northwest Nazarene University

***Offered in Spanish and will be offered in English soon.

Omega Graduate School (American Centre for Religion & Society Studies)

Oral Roberts University

Pepperdine University

Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, Historical Theology, or Systematic Theology

Regent University (Regent Divinity School)

Saint Leo University

St. Thomas University

Samford University (Beeson Divinity School)

***Launching in 2024

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Apologetics & Culture, Applied Theology (concentrations: North American Missiology or International Missiology), Biblical Counseling, Biblical Studies (concentrations: Old Testament, New Testament, or Biblical Theology), Christian Leadership, Historical Theology, Preaching, Systematic Theology, Theological Studies (concentrations: Historical Theology, Philosophy of Religion, Christian Ethics, Public Theology, or Systematic Theology), Theology & Worship

Southeastern University

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

*ThM degree earned en route to Ph.D.

Southern Evangelical Seminary

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

*Most of the degree is offered using the FLEX format

Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling, Christian Education, Christian Ethics, Church History & Historical Theology, Church Music & Worship, Evangelism, Family & Generational Studies, Foundations of Christian Education, Great Commission Apologetics, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Pastoral Studies, Philosophy of Religion, Preaching, Systematic Theology, or World Christian Studies.

Trinity Graduate School (Trinity Bible College & Graduate School)

Trinity International University (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

Veritas International University

Western Seminary

1 Comment

Sallie Garvin
Sallie Garvin
Sep 21, 2021

Thank you, Caleb. You saved me a lot time.

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