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What Are the Different Types of Theology Degrees?

Some students who want to become priests must study church history.
In order to teach at the college level, most scholars in comparative theology and religious studies hold advanced degrees.
Ordained ministers may be required to earn a theology degree.
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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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Theology degrees involve studying religious ideas and practices as well as theories and beliefs about God or the creator. Seminaries and religious organizations organize theology degree programs that are normally aimed at people who wish to become ordained or otherwise actively involved in a religious ministry. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs that attract religious and non-religious people who happen to have an interest in the subject.

Christians who wish to become ordained ministers can study theology degrees that are offered by different various Christian denominations. Within the Roman Catholic Church, anyone wishing to become a priest must complete an undergraduate theology degree that focuses on the church history and beliefs. At the end of the degree program, students become ordained and start to work as priests. Throughout the world, Lutheran, Baptist and Episcopalian churches as well other Christian groups organize similar degree courses that prepare people to work as pastors. Some Christian colleges offer courses inter-denominational courses that are not based upon the theology of one specific branch of Christianity but that cover a wide range of basic Christian beliefs.

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People who belong to other religious groups including Muslims and Jews can study for Theology degrees that are offered by religious schools or communities. As with Christian groups, these degree courses are designed for individuals who wish to become rabbis or imams. Some degree programs are recognized as valid by other non-religious educational establishments while others are regarded as vocational training courses.

Students at non-religious colleges and universities can earn theology degrees while learning about various different religions and belief systems. In many instances, these course focus mainly on major religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism although students may be able to focus mostly on one religion rather than taking classes to learn about multiple belief systems. Aside from general theology degrees, some secular colleges also offer courses that are designed for those who wish to become involved in religious life although these programs are usually referred to as divinity, rather than theology, courses.

Many educational establishments offer both masters degree programs and doctorate level courses. Typically, students must have successfully completed an undergraduate theology degree before enrolling in one of these programs. Masters degree programs usually last for at least a year and involve studying a particular element of faith in great depth. Doctorate level courses can last for several years and some people involved in these courses work alongside archaeologists to study and translate newly discovered religious texts and documents. As with master's courses, doctorate programs usually involve studying one element of a religion such as early Christian history or Jewish heritage rather than studying faith in general.

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