Christian College Guide
I have compiled a list of colleges, universities, and seminaries that will help you as you look for the right place to train for ministry. What do these schools have in common? They are all accredited schools, some more well-known than others, but all providing quality education and producing pastors, missionaries, educators, counselors, and/or chaplains. In addition to seminaries, I have also included a number of secular theology schools for those of you looking for such programs for your Ph.D. or other advanced programs. My including schools does not mean that I agree with a school's doctrinal position. May I also add that me not including a school probably doesn't mean anything - I just haven't included every possible school out there.
I have also developed a quick reference guide for degrees. This can be a useful tool in determining which degree would be best suited for you. This is especially useful as you look into graduate programs. Many seminary students will blindly go into a degree program, without realizing all of their degree options.
If you're looking into Masters and Doctoral-level work, please also see our Choosing a School page.
Colleges, Seminaries, and Graduate Schools
Baylor is the largest Baptist education institution in the world. They currently boast an impressive 150 fields of study and have over 14,000 students. Baylor offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees. They are located in Waco, Texas.
Baptist Bible College and Seminary is a conservative Baptist institution that offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees. Their undergraduate degrees are pretty common in Bible colleges - Missions, Pastoral Ministry, various teaching programs, etc. They also have some more atypical offerings as well (atypical for a Bible College at least) such as Intercultural Youth Ministries and Business Administration. Their graduate programs are divided between their Graduate School and Seminary. Their graduate-level programs have developed some since the first time we surveyed them back in 2008. They separate the seminary from their college. Both offer graduate programs, but the seminary's mission includes "preparing men to qualify for ordination." The graduate school offers the Master of Arts degree, along with Master of Education degree and Master of Science degree in counseling. The seminary offers the Master of Ministry, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. They also offer the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, and Bible Exposition. On top of that the Ph.D. can be done through distance learning (I know a professor that has completed his through one-week modules). They are regionally accredited, which I would take over ATS anytime. It really is a great option for those looking for a good quality program, but are already teaching or are in a ministry that you do not want to leave. From what I've researched and heard from students and others that are acquainted with Baptist Bible College and Seminary, the school has excellent faculty and good academic, as well as practical, courses. It really is worth looking into for anyone considering seminary. Baptist Bible College & Seminary is located in Clarks Summit, PA.
Bob Jones University is a Christian liberal arts college and considered (at least by me) to be one of the more strict Christian schools (strict in the sense that there are many rules and regulations concerning student behavior). They are officially non-denomination, but are Baptistic in doctrine. They have a large selection of undergraduate programs and provide great facilities. I would be careful with their graduate programs. Understand that their teaching is top-notch, but the vast majority have their terminal degrees from BJU, which means that there is no academic diversity. Despite that fact, what makes this school so tempting is their range of programs, including advanced degrees in subjects that many schools just don't have. I would recommend this school, but I would also remind you that there is Christianity outside of BJU, as some students forget that after a semester or two here.
Calvin Theological Seminary is a school that prides itself in academic excellence. I have seen several of their students' work in theological journals. They are, as you might have guessed, from a Reformed tradition. They house a good library for anyone looking to study the Reformation especially. They offer M.Div, M.A., Th.M., and Ph.D. programs. Calvin is located near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Probably the smallest school on the list, C.E.D.S. is fairly new, but able to provide accredited classes and degree programs in several theological fields. Their professors are from various backgrounds, with some coming from private institutions like Wake Forest University. They offer M.A.. M.Div., and D.Min. programs and are located in High Point, NC.
CUA has well respected programs in Biblical and Theological Studies. I would highly recommend their doctoral program in Church History, if you're interested in such a program. Obviously this school comes from a Catholic background. They are part of a theological union of sorts that incorporates evangelicals as well. That way if you really wanted to study at CUA and wanted your doctoral advisor to be Methodist or Baptist or whatever, they will work to accommodate you. This would be an interesting alternative to a secular school, but I would not suggest it for those going into evangelical pastorates. CUA is located in Washington, DC.
Columbia Biblical Seminary, part of Columbia International University, offers a fairly wide range of masters degree options. They offer the D.Min. and Ed.D. programs as well.
Clearwater Christian College offers a number of undergraduate degree programs that include majors in Christian Ministry, Bible, Pastoral Studies, and several education majors. They also offer a Pre-Law degree. The only graduate program they offer is an M.Ed. degree. They are regionally accredited. Clearwater is located in Clearwater, Florida.
Dallas Theological Seminary is an evangelical seminary that has consistently produced conservative pastors, teachers, and scholars. Dallas has a more traditional setup than most. They offer an M.A. degree that has twice the number of credits as other M.A. degrees (around 67 as opposed to around 36). They have no M.Div. program, but they have a Th.M. program that is basically an M.Div. program with an extra year added to it. I have found Dallas grads to be very well equipped and more than competent professors and teachers. D.T.S. is located in Dallas, Texas.
Duke offers a Divinity School for M.Div. and Th.D. programs and a Graduate School that offers M.A./Ph.D. routes. Duke is affiliated with the Methodist Church, but is very liberal in its theology.
Though largely Methodist in background, Garret has interaction with several other denominational seminaries in the Chicago area. They have M.Div., M.A., and D.Min. programs, as well as M.T.S. and Ph.D. programs.
Gordon-Conwell has a rich history as American seminaries go. They are evangelical, with students from nearly 100 denominations (I didn't realize there were that many). Their main campus is in South Hamilton, MA, although they have satellite campuses in Charlotte, NC and Jacksonville, FL.
Grace is a conservative Christian seminary offering graduate and certificate programs. They offer both M.A. and M.Div. programs, with two doctoral programs, one being the D.Min. degree. Grace also offers the Doctor of Missiology degree, which is not a common program. They are beginning to do more with distance learning, offering a couple of M.A. programs currently. Grace is located in Winona Lake, Indiana.
An evangelical college and affiliated with the University of Aberdeen. The school's degree offerings include the B.A., M.A., M.Th., D.Min., and the M.Phil. and Ph.D. The latter two degrees are considered research degrees and are completed by way of a thesis for the M.Phil. and a dissertation for the Ph.D (no coursework, as is typical with U.K. research degrees). They seem to be very open to students studying through distance education. H.T.C. is located in Dingwall, Scotland - about half an hour from Inverness' airport.
Liberty offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields and is the largest evangelical institution in the U.S. On the undergraduate level, they have way too many options to mention. Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary is the school within the university that handles the seminary training and offers M.A., M.R.E., M.Div., and D.Min. programs. Their counseling program extends to the Ph.D. level and they have recently added a Ph.D. in Theology and Apologetics. Liberty's distance learning program has been ranked #3 in the nation and provides good content as well as convenience. I did my M.A. at Liberty and was impressed with the faculty and with the coursework. Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Lutheran Theological is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Their main thrust is to prepare ministers, especially of the Lutheran variety. That being said you don't have to be Lutheran to go there and they do offer some good advanced degree options. They have S.T.M., D.Min., and Ph.D. degrees, as well as M.A. and M.Div. programs. They seem to be geared especially for those currently pastoring or in a ministry already - ie. they offer flexible class schedules and options. L.T.S. is located in Philadelphia.
The Master's Seminary offers the degrees of Bachelor of Theology, M.Div., Th.M., D.Min., and Th.D. In addition to these they also offer a diploma in Theology (Dip.Th.). The diploma program is designed in particular for those that are in ministry, but do not hold a B.A. or Th.B. degree. This offers practical, formal education without having to do the 60 hour Bachelor of Theology program offered at the seminary. The Master's Seminary is located in Sun Valley, California.
Mid-America is a conservative, southern-Baptist seminary. They offer Associate, Master, and Doctoral-level degrees. One unique thing about M.A.B.T.S. is that they offer both the D.Min. and Ph.D. degrees. Compared to other seminaries in the U.S., Mid-America is certainly on the lower-priced end of the spectrum. Mid-America has its main campus in Cordova, TN and a branch campus in Schenectady, NY.
Founded in 1886 by D.L. Moody, the Moody Bible Institute has been a consistent producer of pastors, missionaries, and teachers. Their curriculum is similar to other Bible colleges, as they have undergraduate degrees in Biblical Studies, education fields, music, missions, and a few more. They offer several Master of Arts programs (in Biblical Studies, Intercultural Studies, Spiritual Formation and Discipleship, and Urban Studies). They also offer the Master of Ministry degree as well as graduate-level certificates. In addition to traditional classes, Moody is offering a limited number of programs via distance learning. Moody is located in Chicago, IL.
New Life is a seminary that was founded in 1996. The school is baptistic in doctrine and theologically conservative. They offer a Bachelor of Arts program in Biblical Studies with concentrations in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, Pastoral Studies, and Biblical Languages. They also offer a Bachelor of Arts program in Urban Christian Ministry with concentrations in Christian Education, Cross-cultural Ministry, Church Planting, Youth/Music, and Counseling. They also offer a Master of Arts program in Urban Christian Ministry with concentrations including Biblical Studies, Youth/Music, Church Planting, and Divinity (not to be confused with a Master of Divinity degree). Also, if you're just looking to get biblical language training but aren't looking for a degree, this may be a good option for you. New Life is located in Charlotte, NC.
Offering graduate programs that include the M.Div., M.T.S., and D.Min. They are also one of the few Baptist institutions that offer the Master of Sacred Theology, a one-year, post-graduate degree for those already with an M.Div. or its equivalent. N.B.S. is located in Tacoma, Washington. If you are in the U.S., but nowhere near Tacoma, apply for one of their "fly-outs" if you're interested. They will fly you out for free and you'll stay a weekend and see the school and a bit of the area. I did this when I was looking into Masters programs and was very impressed with the school.
Piedmont offers Associate, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral programs. Piedmont was founded on, and still adheres to, dispensational beliefs and is conservative in its theology. Their graduate school differs in their setup from a more traditional seminary in that they offer the M.A. and Ph.D. route, instead of the M.Div. D.Min. route. This allows for their graduates to be better suited for teaching ministries especially. I did my undergraduate work here and was impressed with the course content, the student body, and quality of staff and faculty that they had. Their programs primarily focus on training full-time Christian workers - pastors, missionaries, school teachers, and musicians. The fastest growing aspect of the school is currently its online degree programs - both undergraduate and graduate. It is a great option for those that cannot attend traditional classes or are overseas. Piedmont is located in Winston-Salem, NC. *(it should be noted that I am currently on faculty here, although I wrote the previous statement long before I got this position).
Going back almost 200 years, P.T.S. is a well established, well known seminary. Their students and professors are encouraged to publish their work in theological journals and they attract high-quality faculty. They are theologically liberal or reformed . . . or both, depending on the faculty member. They are located in Princeton, New Jersey.
Reformed Theological Seminary has three main campuses - Charlotte, NC, Orlando, FL, and Jackson, MS. They offer M.Div., M.A., and D.Min. programs (degrees and concentrations vary by campus). In addition, they also offer classes in Washington D.C., Atlanta, GA., and online for anyone interested in either their M.A. in Religion or their certificate program.
Regent University is a Christian Liberal Arts institution. Regent offers undergraduate programs in a wide-range of subjects including Animation, Business, Government, Religious Studies, and Theatre. They also have a good variety of graduate programs. They offer graduate degrees in Business, Education, Law, as well as several other fields. Their Divinity School offers the M.A. and M.Div. as well as the D.Min. and Ph.D. for those looking into doctoral programs. They also have a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and a Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree. Both would be useful in a variety of ministry and education related organizations. Regent, with its plethora of programs, deserves to be looked into. Regent is located in Virginia Beach, VA.
Roanoke Bible College offers undergraduate degrees in Bible and Education. They offer several minors that are typical of Bible colleges (youth ministry, music ministry, etc.), but they also offer a minor in non-profit management. I feel that knowledge of administration skills is something that is lacking in many pastoral/Christian ministry programs. Having a minor in non-profit management can also be of great assistance to secular non-profits and para-church organizations, such as a Missions Agency or Humanitarian Aide Agency. They are located in Elizabeth City, NC.
A Southern Baptist seminary, Southeastern provides Masters and Doctoral programs. They place heavy emphasis on their M.Div. program and provide a Th.M. for those already having completed a Masters degree in Theology or a related field. See also their undergraduate programs offered through Southeastern College. I had a particularly bad experience with their admissions office. That being said, I know some great teachers and pastors that have come out of the school and I can't fault the entire school based solely on the admissions staff. I really do get excited just looking over some of their course offerings. They have some really great Masters-level lectures from true experts in their fields. Southeastern is located in Wake Forest, NC.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a good option for anyone that is looking for seminary education and doesn't mind moving to Kentucky. They offer a very impressive library and good faculty. Their degrees and concentrations available are varied and offer good preparation for any type of ministry. Their doctoral programs are top notch and usually well respected. Along with Southeastern, S.B.T.S. has become much more conservative in the past decade or two. S.B.T.S. is located in Louisburg, KY.
Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College is an institution focused on apologetics and evangelism. They offer a B.A. in Religious Studies only. Their graduate programs are much more diverse and the focus of the seminary. They offer the M.A.R., M.A., and M.Div. programs. They have several concentrations that you will find at few other seminaries. For example, they have concentrations (for M.A. and/or M.Div. programs) in Islamic Studies, Philosophy, Jewish Studies, and Apologetics. They have two doctoral program, a D.Min. and Ph.D., both specializing in Apologetics. They are still a relatively new school, so they are still trying to find their niche. I think in the next 10-20 years S.E.S. will begin to be more well-known among conservative, evangelical Christians as a top spot to train for apologetics. I say that as one with no ties to this school whatsoever. I base it on the fact that they have access to quality faculty, have good leadership and vision, and are developing a distance learning program (though, I believe their distance option is via correspondence, so I would hope that they will change that to a more internet-based format). Southern Evangelical Seminary is located in Charlotte, NC.
Very similar to Southern Baptist Seminary and Southeastern overall. However, Southwestern does offer several interesting programs that you won't see many other places. For example, they offer an M.A. in Archaeology and Biblical Studies; a Master of Arts in Lay Ministry; and a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies. They have their campus in Fort Worth, as well as one in Houston.
Tennessee Temple is a conservative evangelical institution with dispensational beliefs. The University offers eleven majors, including Bible, science, history, psychology, music, and business, among others. They offer specializations in many of their majors. Their graduate programs include a M.Ed. and five seminary programs. They seem to want to have all of their bases covered here. They have the Master of Ministry, Master of Christian Education, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Tennessee Temple is accredited by T.R.A.C.S. They are located in Chattanooga, TN.
In the UK, a college is a recognized body that is capable of training students. It is granted the right to do so by being affiliated with a University. Trinity College is affiliated with Bristol University and offers training for pastors, teachers, and other Christian ministers. They are located in Bristol, England, just a bridge away from Wales. Bristol is a center for Baptist activity in England, and has been for centuries. Trinity offers Ph.D. programs, as well as Masters-level degrees. Like most U.K. doctoral programs, Trinity's is pure research - no classes. Because of that, they do offer a distance option, so one may be able to stay in their home country and travel to Bristol a couple of times a year.
Trinity is one of the more recognizable evangelical schools. T.E.D.S. provides degrees including M.A., M.Div., M.Ed., Th.M., and several Ph.D. programs including one in education (instead of the more typical Ed.D.). In addition to these, Trinity Law School in Santa Anna, California, offers the Juris Doctor degree. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has its main campus in Deerfield, IL, but also maintains satellite campuses as well.
Not to be confused with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Trinity Theological Seminary is a more non-traditional seminary offering a smattering of degrees available exclusively through distance education. Although not accredited yet by a recognized American accrediting agency, they are validated by the University of Wales in the U.K. Validation/authorization can be viewed as the U.K. equivalent to accreditation, so a degree from here should hold the same weight as any other degree from the University of Wales. They seem to have a very qualified staff, many graduating with terminal degrees from well-recognized names such as Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological, and Purdue University. Their degrees include the B.A., M.A., M.B.A., M.Div., D.Min., and Ed.D. One unique aspect of their programs is their degree specializations in several leadership-based fields, including conflict management. While many seminaries offer modular-based D.Min. programs for those active in ministry, Trinity is one of the few that offer the degree totally online.
Union Presbyterian Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The school has a strong emphasis in training both pastors and teachers. They provide graduate degrees, including a Th.M. program, as well as several doctoral programs. Their main campus is in Richmond, VA, but they also have a limited campus in Charlotte, NC.
The University of Aberdeen is one of the U.K.'s best known schools for theological education. They offer undergraduate degrees, as well as master and D.Phil. programs. If you're new to UK education, check out the Education in the UK section of my Choosing a School page. As a general rule, though, it is important to note that their M.Phil. programs are usually one year in length. Their D.Phil. programs are usually around three years, but there is no coursework for their research-based degrees. Aberdeen offers top scholars as faculty and a wide range of subjects to study. Since their website can be tricky, I've included some links here to specific areas (College of Arts and Social Sciences - Undergraduate Programs; College of Arts and Social Sciences - Graduate Programs). If considering this school, also consider one of their affiliate colleges (listed above), Highland Theological College. Aberdeen is located in the beautiful northeast of Scotland.
The University of Kent offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees in Theology and Religious studies. They have some very interesting M.A. programs (such as their M.A. in Divination and Cosmology) and are a good U.K. option if you're looking into Ph.D. programs. The University of Kent is located in Canterbury, England, not far from the Cathedral of Canterbury, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and some nice research libraries.
South Africa? Who's going to South Africa? Well, you may not have to. UNISA has programs that won't require you to move to the other side of the world. UNISA offers degrees in just about every subject you can think of - it is one of the largest (if not the largest) educational facilities in South Africa. They offer the Th.D. in a lot of subjects including Church History and Missions. What makes it even more appealing is its price. You will pay a small fraction of the cost per year to be enrolled at UNISA when compared to just about any other decent school in the rest of the world (I think the doctoral program was around $850USD per year last time I looked . . . did you get that? Per Year.). As with many non-U.S. doctoral programs, you will do research and writing for your degree instead of two years of classwork. For those of you looking into non-traditional programs, this may be up your alley. I found them to be well respected overseas and every South African that I've spoken with has great things to say about UNISA. Keep in mind that accreditation is a U.S. term. UNISA and most other overseas universities have to be "authorized" by that nation's Ministry of Education or the equivalent. According to most guidelines this authorization is equal to "regional accreditation" in the U.S. I only add all of this because I get a lot of questions about UNISA's status. (I am currently working on a Doctor of Theology degree in Church History from here - I'll let you know how it goes. Feel free to contact me as well with questions about their programs.)
Wales Evangelical School of Theology is a great institution in southern Wales. The school is open to overseas students and distance education in some instances. They offer two undergraduate degrees - the B.A. and the L.Th. (a Licensure, but similar in scope to an Associate of Arts Degree.). The school offers some practical programs such as several M.A. programs that include specializations in "Pastoral Studies," "Contemporary Church Leadership," and "Scripture and Theology in Practice." They also offer the Master of Theology, Master of Ministry, and Doctor of Ministry, all practical in their scope. Their research degrees include both the M.Phil. and Ph.D., and both requiring no coursework (research and writing only), as is typical of U.K. research programs. They associate a lot with the University of Wales (especially Lampeter), but their faculty is comprised of evangelical Christians. They have a very conservative doctrinal statement and come from a reformed tradition. This is an excellent choice for those thinking of studying in the U.K., but still seek a Christian environment. W.E.S.T. is located in Bridgend, Wales.
Don't know a M.Div. from a D.Min? Check out the Degrees section of this website for an in-depth look at each degree listed here. For more info on U.K. schools check out the Choosing a School section of this website.