Conservative and affordable online seminary options
A few weeks ago, I received a reader’s email asking about safe seminary options for a Christian. A couple of weeks later, I received a similar message on Facebook from another potential seminary student. Given today’s environment in higher education, it isn’t shocking. High prices combined with ideological indoctrination make seminary a tough choice. So, that got me to thinking and trying to answer for my readers: What is the safe, best and most affordable online seminary? Here are our Top Choices for Best and Most Affordable Online Seminary for today’s Christian.
First, a couple of notes. This list is in flux and subject to regular updating as we gain new information. Check back often as we update. If you think your school should be on the list–drop us a note.
We focused on schools with online options because this has the most flexibility. Also, online seminary lets you stay anchored in your faith and family.
Online Seminary provides a great way to avoid the indoctrination of living on campus. The milieu on campus at some seminaries (like in the Southern Baptist Convention) involve significant peer pressure to reject conservative views on justice for progressive Liberation Theology like we’ve documented at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Be sure to do your research. Click on the school links and view the school profile. Compare not only the price of the degree programs but the accreditation and experience. Are you looking for a liberal arts college or a degree in New Testament Theology? You can probably find what you are looking for on this list of reliable and conservative and affordable online divinity schools. There are even affordable online bachelor degrees available from most of these institutions. But first, let’s start with a non-traditional option to get ministry training.
The most affordable way to get biblically competent theological training
Do you need a seminary degree? What if you only want one or two classes? There are growing options in this area. You can audit a class at a traditional seminary or consider a special study program. For example, Dr. Russell Fuller—literally the guy who wrote one of the best textbooks on biblical Hebrew—offers classes online.
Dr. Fuller’s offering is called Theology Classroom.
“We have had two successful semesters now, averaging around 100 students,” Dr. Fuller said. “This coming fall, we will offer eleven courses, three Greek and three Hebrew courses (beginning, intermediate, and advanced), and New Testament Survey, Theology 1, the book of Judges, the Epistles of John (and including the letter to the churches in Revelation), and a practical ministry/evangelism course taught by Tom Rush. The last five classes do not require Greek or Hebrew.”
The classes are very affordable, $250 dollars per course (if you take three courses, you get a fourth course for free, all eleven courses for $2,000).
“We are not accredited. This keeps the prices low,” Dr. Fuller said. “The content is the same or better than most accredited institutions. We make the non-language (Greek and Hebrew) courses accessible to all. The language courses are difficult, but if you put the effort and time into them, most can learn these as well. We do not have formal assignments, papers, tests, etc. We will not even call on you in class! We have a no intimidation guarantee. Come give it a try. These courses are for motivated learners. Of course, we will suggest assignments for mastering the materials, especially for the Greek and Hebrew courses.”
The classes are recorded for download for those who cannot attend live sessions. Language classes meet twice a week. Non-language classes meet three times a week.
“We teach in general consistency to the Baptist Confession of 1689,” Dr. Fuller said. “We are very conservative in our theology.”
Fall classes begin on August 30 and end on November 18. For more information, see the website at russelltfuller.com
Want a sample of advanced theology and Bible doctrine without paying? The solution is to check out Dr. William Lane Craig’s amazing (and free!) lectures available at Reasonable Faith website. It covers everything from Natural Theology (listen first to these lectures) to the Doctrine of Christ to Eschatology. These Sunday School classes are better than what you will receive at almost any seminary—particularly if you are looking at online options.
Most Affordable Regionally Accredited Online Seminaries & Divinity Programs
Most of this essay will deal with schools that are sound theologically and have good, trusthworthy faculty. However, there are going to be many fine schools I do not mention. That’s because the point of this is to combine quality and theologically safe schools with affordability. Before we start, let’s list two of the least expensive schools so you can compare these numbers with schools that come highly recommended.
Now the two most affordable (and not included in my list of recommendations) are Belhaven University (at $199 per credit hour for its online Theology degree). So, taking two classes including the technology fee would only cost you $1,344. The Belhaven online calculator is available here. Another inexpensive school for comparison is Campbellsville University. Campbellsville University’s online seminary offerings include a Master of Theology and Master of Divinity costing $299 per credit hour. Both Belhaven and Campbellsville are regionally accredited and probably provide the most affordable online master degree and other online degree programs.
Now, for schools we know to be reliable.
Another great affordable online seminary option is Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. MABTS offers online programs including a Master of Divinity, an accelerated M.Div, Master of Arts degrees in programs like Apologetics, Biblical Conseling, Christian Education, Missiology, Theology and Worship along with doctoral degrees including a D.Min and Ph.D. All are available online. Also, the school has an online bachelor program.
One reason we can at this time recommend Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary as a conservative and affordable online seminary is that MABTS is a strong supporter of the Conservative Baptist Network of Southern Baptists.
MABTS costs $330 per credit hour for Master level programs and $3,295 per semester for a Ph.D. program and D.Min. programs cost $1,647.50 per semester.
MABTS has a page offering a comparison of its cost compared to the national average. According to MABTS, its M.Div. program costs $8,350 per year compared to the national average of $18,254 per year.
It really does make MABTS an affordable online seminary.
Liberty continues to be one of the most affordable for online seminary study. The John W. Rawlings School of Divinity offers part-time rate of $395 per credit hour for Master programs and doctoral programs. Full-time rate is a block at $2,750 per semester. Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Again, regional accreditation is the gold standard. So, if you are looking for it, then Liberty deserves your consideration.
And the accredited online degree offerings are numerous at Liberty. Here is a list of some of the options:
Divinity Master’s Degrees
Biblical Exposition (M.A.)
Biblical Languages (M.A.)
Biblical Studies (M.A.B.S.)
Christian Apologetics (M.A.)
Christian Apologetics (M.A.) – Thesis
Christian Ministry (M.C.M.)
Global Studies (M.G.S.)
Religious Education (M.R.E.)
Sports Chaplaincy (M.A.)
Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
There is also a Master of Theology (Th.M), Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) and a Ph.D. program available online through Liberty University.
We can say that Houston Baptist University (HBU) includes access to some of the best faculty. HBU boasts conservative New Testament professor Robert A. J. Gagnon and in the Apologetics program includes the legendary William Lane Craig, philosopher, theologian and apologist.
Houston Baptist is regionally accredited (the gold standard in higher education) by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award the associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
How does Houston Baptist University compare on price for 2021-2022 academic year? HBU charges $425 per credit hour and $250 per semester Online Student Fee for undergraduate programs. HBU charges Graduate Tuition of $585 per credit hour with $250 per semester Online Student Fee. HBU’s online doctoral tuition is $635 per credit hour and $250 per semester Online Student Fee and there is a $300 per semester Dissertation Fee.
HBU offers many online seminary degrees including a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Apologetics. Here is a list of all the online Master’s and the one online doctorate from HBU:
Master of Arts in Apologetics
Master of Arts in Christian Leadership
Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling
Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Master of Business Administration
Master of Divinity
Master of Education in Higher Education
Master of Education in Educational Administration
Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Master of Science in Learning, Technology, and Design
Master of Science in Human Resources Management
Master of Science in Kinesiology – Sport Management
Master of Science in Management and Entrepreneurship
Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Education in Executive Educational Leadership
Doctor of Education in Executive Leadership in Mental Health and Human Services
Appalachian Bible College is a more expensive option; however, it comes highly recommended because its leadership rejects the Social Justice movement. Appalachian Bible College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is a regional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Appalachian Bible is also accredited by the national accreditor The Association for Biblical Higher Education. You can read more about Appalachian Bible College and its accreditation here.
Cost at Appalachian Bible College Tuition: $580 per credit hour for 2021-2022 academic year, plus $25 per course hybrid technology fee. Audit: $66 per credit hour, plus $25 per course hybrid technology fee
Appalachian Bible College Financial Aid: The school offers federal, state, and institutional aid including scholarships for part-time students, high school (dual enrollment) students, and West Virginians.
The online offerings include and Live-Online Hybrid Model. According to the website, “Appalachian Bible College give you the chance to participate in college classes in real time. Watch from anywhere in the world as the professor lectures; you can even ask questions and take part in student discussions. If you cannot log in at the scheduled time, you can watch recordings later, with approval. You will have the same homework and exams as your classmates on campus. These accredited online courses provide dynamic distance learning for high school students, international students, and anyone desiring to deepen their ministry skills.”
Summary: Appalachian Bible College is a solid conservative choice for in-person or hybrid online Bible and seminary education. At present, some courses and programs are available online with plans to expand more, according to the ABC website. However, it is one of the more expensive options.
As always, the cheapest is not always going to be the best. We’ve tried to provide a qualitative and quantitative mixture in our analysis of the best and most affordable online seminary available presently.
What about online options at Southern Baptist seminaries? What about Southern Baptist Theological Seminary?
At this time, we cannot recommend any of the nationally supported Southern Baptist seminaries. This includes Al Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville along with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) and Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary, formerly Golden Gate.
There are several reasons. Even as these schools expand their online programs—and we must admit this is attractive since these schools are accredited regionally and boast American Theological Society (ATS) endorsement, the schools—ALL OF THEM—are infested with ideologically motivated professors who teach and promote wicked worldviews that are incompatible with what Southern Baptists believe. For example, Dr. Russell Fuller explained how Matt Hall and Jarvis Williams at SBTS promote postmodernism and other dangerous errors. Also, you can forget Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) as it hosts Liberation Theology promoters like Water Strickland and hosts many other problematic ones like Karen Swallow Prior. The safest option it to mark and avoid the six Southern Baptist seminaries at this moment.
Nationally Accredited Affordable Online Seminary Options
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES)
Southern Evangelical Seminary is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). You can read about SES’s accreditation here. The seminary developed what it calls a “digital-first” approach with hundreds of thousands of e-books and other items available through its online library.
Fees range from $239 per credit hour for undergrad to $333 per credit hour for graduate tuition to $417 per credit hour for doctoral study at SES. The current list of degrees available for online study can be found here. Offerings include online bachelor degree and online theological education. The number of credit hours needed for each degree is also listed on the website.
Veritas International University
Veritas International University is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). Veritas has a public statement against Critical Race Theory and similar ideologies. Cost ranges from $210 per credit hour for undergrad to $320 per credit hour for graduate courses to $425 per credit hour for D.Min and $525 per credit hour for Ph.D. study.
There are many choices, so you are sure to find your desired ministry degree among the options at Veritas.
Veritas Theological Seminary offers the following online degrees:
Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Master of Arts in Biblical Studies
Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics
Master of Arts in Archaeology & Biblical History
Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies
Master of Divinity in Apologetics
Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics
Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology & Biblical History
Non-Accredited Options for Affordable Online Seminary Study
Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary
I know the leadership team at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. I trust them to provide a proper theological education. However, it is important to note that Trinity is not accredited and has not been for its 50 years of operation.
Cost of study at Trinity runs from $176 per credit hour for undergrad to $206 per credit hour for graduate study to $243 per credit hour for doctoral study.
There are many online courses of study too. You can view the list here.
What about Dallas Theological Seminary? BIOLA?
Avoid. The infiltration of error via a CSJ ideology makes these schools ones to avoid for the conservative Christian.
Think your school should be on our list of the best and most affordable online seminary? Have a recommendation? Drop us a note.