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Theology training is available through a variety of sources, including universities, religious schools, and Bible colleges. In addition, some churches sponsor their own educational programs that offer a theology education to both laypeople and clergy. Training may be available in a classroom environment, although many churches and schools are now turning to online education programs to provide theology courses to those who cannot attend in-person classes. There may also be significant differences in the focus of theology training as well as the types of theology offered by individual schools and churches.
Schools that prepare people for lay and ordained ministry, such as seminaries, religious schools, and Bible colleges, typically offer theology training as part of their core curriculum. Unless the student plans to specialize in theology at the postgraduate level, students in these ministry-oriented programs will likely be expected to take a series of courses in the basics of theology but may not receive much in-depth training in specialized areas of the discipline. These students will be expected to study other aspects of ministry and their religion, including historical studies, counseling, and administration of religious organizations and congregations. It should be noted, however, that some religious traditions place a significant emphasis on knowledge of theology and may devote a fair amount of their clergy formation program to theology training.
Other institutions that offer theology training include universities, particularly those that offer religious studies degrees or that sponsor graduate schools of theology. These schools may offer theology courses at the undergraduate or postgraduate level, and their students may be able to earn master's and doctoral degrees in theology. Students who are not preparing for the ministry may be more likely to attend these schools than seminaries or ministry training programs, and they may find a greater breadth and depth of training available in their curricula.
In recent years, different types of theology have also emerged that can greatly expand on the theology training opportunities available to students. These areas of theology include feminist theology, gay and lesbian theology, and the theologies influenced by those in the developing world. Schools affiliated with a particular religious movement or organization may also teach courses that are primarily part of their own theological tradition.
In an attempt to encourage laypeople to develop their own knowledge of theology, training is sometimes available through special continuing education for religious education programs. These programs may be a part of a house of worship's own education program or may be taught to laypeople through colleges and seminaries. In addition, many religious schools now offer theology training through various types of distance learning programs, making it easy for those who do not have access to a brick-and-mortar theological school to take theology classes.
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