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Earning an Online Doctorate in Theology Degree

written by: Darlene Zagata•edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 12/10/2011

Earning an online doctorate in theology degree can be a good option for those with a M.A. degree in a related field, who wish to go one step further but need a more flexible routine to complete their education.

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    A doctorate in theology degree is a well-respected academic research degree. Candidates should apply for acceptance into the program if they have an M.A. in religion, theology or philosophy. Seeking to complete a doctorate expands one's range of theological knowledge, enhances the candidate’s teaching ability, and also increases academic researching credentials.

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    An online doctorate in theology degree is normally a two to six year program. A master of divinity in theology is frequently a cited pre-requisite for a doctorate, although there are plenty of distance learning institutions that accept a different M.A. as well.

    The distance learning degree requires 40 to 60 credits beyond a master's degree, along with a doctoral dissertation. Depending on the school, distinctions may vary slightly between the Th.D. and Ph.D., which usually determine prerequisites for admission to the programs, as well as which faculty -- Divinity or Theology -- supervises the degree.

    An internship, courses, thesis and life experience may be applied to the required credits. A maximum of 10 credits is normally allowed for life experience, which may include ministerial and administrative service. Although requirements vary according to the distance learning institution, a written pre-entry examination is frequently required.

    Letters of recommendation may also be requested. An online doctorate of theology degree qualifies an individual to work as a professor as well as in top-level ministerial and administrative capacity.

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    Selection of Program Offerings

    These online degree programs are not as numerous as one might expect. For example, Christian Leadership University offers a doctorate in theology. The student can choose from a variety of courses such as Creative Writing, Pentateuch Studies, the Life of Christ, an Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Cultural Studies and more.

    The Euclid Institute offers online doctorate degrees in both Catholic theology and Eastern Orthodox theology, with possible areas of specialization such as liturgical studies and religious philosophy among others.

    Liberty Online Degrees offers several different programs, including a doctor of philosophy in theology and apologetics, which qualifies the student to teach at the university or graduate level.

    Miami Christian University offers a doctor of philosophy in theology, which is research-based, rather than course-based. The degree requires a pre-requisite of an M.A. or its equivalent, and it also calls for the student to write a 250 page dissertation on a topic in theology that is agreed upon by the dissertation chair.

    These institutions are definitely worth looking at if you desire to complete a doctorate in theology degree online.