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If you are a pastor who has completed a Master's in Divinity and would like to enhance your competency to address matters in the Christian faith, you are a perfect fit for the Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree. It is a one-year second-level graduate study that you can take after completing a Master of Divinity or its educational equivalent.
The STM is a 24 to 32-credit-hour cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary program designed for individuals who have completed a first graduate-level education and a desire to study advanced theological topics. It will work perfectly for you if you need additional academic credentials and biblical competency before enrolling in a Ph.D. program.
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Most graduate classes in Theology are offered via the traditional face-to-face system, and fully online curriculums are rare. In short, you do not have many schools to choose from if you have committed to pursuing the STM online.
Here's An Easy Way to See Your Best Options: Use these Page Jumps!
- Chicago Theological Seminary
- Institute of Lutheran Theology
- Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
- Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
- Liberty University
The schools that offer a fully online Master of Sacred Theology or STM program online are rare. Many of them are offered through hybrid learning formats, requiring students to attend classes on-campus.
In helping you select the best graduate school offering the blended STM program, we considered these factors:
- Delivered through a hybrid learning format that requires graduate students to comply with virtual class requirements and physical, on-campus attendance based on their coursework,
- Rigorous and extensive coursework with areas of focus that include Historical Theology, Religion & Society, Preaching, Arts & Worship, Psychology & Religion, Social Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Inter-Religious Engagement,
- Maintains strong support programs and help centers for students' academic and career success, should they pursue the Sacred Theology doctorate program or embarking on faith-based careers as clergy or religious educators,
- Employs professors who have established reputable careers in theological school, or Christian service and religious leadership institutions,
- Offers transfer credits, as well as financial aid for reduced graduate study costs,
- Officially recognized by accrediting academic organizations,
- Affiliated with theological or religious associations that seek to advance the discipline.
Please visit our Methodology page for more about details on our ranking process.
Best Online Sacred Theology Programs and Schools
Chicago Theological Seminary
Consisting of a year of advanced theological education for individuals who have completed the MDiv or its equivalent degree, the STM of Chicago Theological Seminary is designed for students who want to master advanced theological disciplines.
Employing a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary approach to theological and biblical studies, its curriculum is ideal if you wish to make a sound academic preparation for a Ph.D.
The STM curriculum at Chicago Theological Seminary has these areas of concentration:
- Chaplaincy Studies
- LGBTQ Studies
- Inter-Religious Engagement
- Study of Black Faith & Life
- Muslim Studies
The curriculum consists of 8 courses or 24 credit hours, including a Master's Writing Seminar and Thesis course. It requires class participants to write and submit a Master's level thesis that is useful in the study of religion and God.
Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada, the Chicago Theological Seminary is manned by a faculty of experts in theism, religion, writing, and transformative thinking.
Institute of Lutheran Theology
The distance learning program for the graduate in sacred theology at ILT is a research degree for holders of the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or its equivalent. It is flexible and you can finish it in 30 credits.
The online classes at ILT are conducted in virtual classrooms, creating the possibility for discussions, interactions, and brainstorming among students and faculty. It also includes a thesis course that requires participants to submit theological research papers or thesis with the guidance of an advisor.
The STM curriculum at ILT will equip you with the understanding and ability to:
- Express your views concerning your particular area of focus and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of other theological traditions.
- Formulate sound biblical interpretations of your stated areas of focus.
- Develop research strategies and formulate relevant research questions relative to your area of focus.
The academic programs of ILT comply with the quality standards of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
Are you a pastor or a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod? Have you committed to pursuing a doctorate or aiming for higher responsibilities in your church? If your answer is yes, then the online STM degree at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary is the answer to your desire.
The program reveals a curriculum packed with ministerial, biblical, and leadership courses. There are the 10 areas of focus, with which students must earn 32 credits, including 16 credit hours any of these areas of specialization:
- Old Testament
- New Testament
- Systematic Theology
- Church History
- Preaching & Worship
- Pastoral Care
- Missiology & Evangelism
- Pastoral Leadership
- Interdisciplinary Theological Studies
WLS has introduced a revised STM curriculum. If you are on your way to your STM degree, you will not be required to take the new required courses especially if you have finished 32 credits including the 16 credits in your area of focus. In its stead, you will be permitted to work on your final thesis and finish your degree as quickly as possible.
The Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary is accredited by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod School Accreditation (WELSSA).
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
The hybrid Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry at BCSTM is a flexible program equivalent to the STM degree. It is a combination of face-to-face and online classes.
Students are exposed to a deep academic inquiry blended with contextual realities to provide them with a good understanding of the diverse needs of their church and the modern world. They are also equipped with pastoral, biblical, and theological resources that are essential in enhancing your Christian vocation.
Students must earn 48 credits or two to three years to complete the degree program.
MATS students must take a thesis course that explores their topic of interest to demonstrate what they have learned through your pastoral and theological coursework at BCSTM.
BCSTM is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
The online Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at Liberty University intends to provide you with a comprehensive study of theology, the Bible, the Christian church, and other topics.
Taught by a faculty with leadership experience in the Christian ministry, this graduate program offers a general understanding of ministry-related topics and develops your research and writing skills to prepare you for work in a Christian community, fortifying the school's commitment to teaching all courses from a Christian viewpoint.
You will need 36 credit hours and about two years to complete this program that is recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges.
Sacred Theology vs. Theological Studies: What's the Difference?
Sacred Theology refers to the study and learning of divine stories and revelations written in books such as the Bible or Koran. It is available to individuals who have a master’s degree and looking to qualify for higher positions or pursue a doctorate.
Theological Studies, on the other hand, is a study that goes beyond understanding the text in the Scriptures. It is the study of the concepts, observations, and traditions of faiths and religions within these areas of focus:
- History of Worship
- Study and Interpretation of Scripture
- Practical Applications of Faith
- Philosophy of Faith, and
- Cultural Impacts of Religion
If you can't make up your mind about the available STMs, there are alternative master’s degrees you may consider, like the Master of Theological Studies.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Master of Sacred Theology degree?
The Master of Sacred Theology is a graduate-level education that is the perfect preparation for church professionals pursuing a Ph.D. It is also intended for those specializing in an advanced theological topic or seeking advanced training via a cross-disciplinary approach to biblical or theological work.
What constitutes an online STM degree program?
Online STM students learn theological and historical aspects of the Bible and their relationship to the modern world through distance education. Online schools conduct their classes through a virtual classroom and deliver the lessons to their students via the internet.
What does the Master of Sacred Theology degree aim to achieve?
The STM is intended to provide students with mastery of one area of theological study than what is available at the M.Div. level. It can also serve to accomplish specific aims such as:
- Immerse students in an advanced course on their chosen area of focus
- Prepare students for further studies at the Ph.D. or doctoral level
- Provide students with essential qualifications for a teaching career
- Enhance the ministerial understanding and skills of students
What are the most common career options for STM graduates?
Master of Theological Studies degree holders become pastors, ministers, university professors, and denominational leaders. The average annual salary of a pastor in the United States is $102,517.
- Schools that offer the Master of Sacred Theology program native are rare. But it doesn’t imply that the demand for professionals with this degree is low.
- With the increasing number of churches in different parts of the country, it is hard to ignore the demand for pastors and ministers.