Bible Schools: Seminaries, Colleges, Institutes, Churches; Which is Which?
There are millions of Christians. Out of those, there are hundreds of thousands in the world who have either casually dabbled in or intensely studied the bible and theology their entire adult lives. There are thousands who have made it their mission to elevate to an advanced level of collegiate studies, and attended bible schools with goals of obtaining degrees from theological seminaries or other institutions. Masters degrees are high-ranking, while Doctorate degrees go to the most educated experts in theology. These world-renowned experts will usually go on to be Professors in colleges, or educators known by the title of “Doctor”.
Some people on the other hand are well educated, and hold no degree. They are self-trained and absorb abundant knowledge after decades of personal study outside of any classroom.
Which one do you pick?
Schooling & Education Comparisons
Here are some types of education for experts in biblical studies and theology. To know which is best for you depends on what outcome you wish to achieve. You may wish to start with one, and then realize you prefer to switch to a different type of bible school based on your education goals.
Theological Seminaries & Divinity Schools
- provide graduate level education, offering degrees such as Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, Master of Christian Counseling and many more.
- A bachelor’s degree is required for admission.
- Typically accredited by a federal agency
- Theological Seminary: equips for leadership roles such as pastor, counselor, missionary, etc.
- Divinity School: a theological division within a larger University. Academic study or pastoral focus.
- Requires high school education only.
- Entry level bible courses
- May offer biblical language studies
- Typically not accredited, so not eligible for federal student loans. Depends on institution.
- Typically requires no high school diploma
- Not accredited
- No federal loans available
- Offer online classes
- Teaching on how to understand the bible.
Church Based Seminary Education
- Rare in USA
- Requires no high school diploma
- Developed by churches
- Equips for general ministry
- May offer non accredited graduate degrees
Church Education (may be termed as a “school” but no certificates or degrees offered)
- Not accredited
- No highschool required
- Creates own classes based on church doctrine
- Free education for active members
- Not recognized as a school
- No degrees offered
- Speakers need not have teaching credentials or degrees
- Equips for general ministry
- Not considered a seminary, Institute or college.
Costs of Bible Schools
Going down the list, there will be varying degrees of costs. Of course, those which require a previous Bachelor’s Degree may cost significantly more out-of-pocket, due to the time invested and number of classes.
Church education classes are not technically “schools”. They take place “in house” within the church, and are basically just extra learning sessions outside of church services. Example: a “Tuesday Night Men’s Bible Study School” in a local Presbyterian Church.
Some cults also offer training in their doctrines such as the “Theocratic Ministry School” in Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls (no longer offered since 2015) which is a gathering of people trained strictly in doctrines taught by the religion, assisting members in public speaking. Elders usually provide these free sessions, and they are practice talks witnessed by the congregation. They are not “schools”. Mormons offer seminars with study guides.
General tuition examples: Theological Seminaries
Master of Divinity: Total degree cost: $61,740
Dallas Theological Seminary: Approximately $13,000 per year plus fees
Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary: $20,000 plus additional fees, plus health insurance costs of $5000/single (unless insurance waived)
Princeton Theological Seminary Approximately $17,000 per year plus health insurance costs
*Continue your research: See a list of Evangelical Seminaries by denomination here.
General tuition examples: Bible Colleges
Geneva College $25,000/year offers
- Accredited, Graduate and Undergraduate. Offers master’s degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Counseling, Higher Education, Leadership Studies and Organizational Leadership.
Reformation Bible College (Ligonier, RC Sproul) *Unaccredited; Approximately $10,000/year++ plus fees
Start Researching Bible Schools
Researching legitimate bible training schools takes much work and dedication. Those interested should think about how far they’d like to take their training and education, and for which purpose they’d like to advance their studies.
For those who have never attended college, the decision can be difficult, however a college counselor may be of assistance. It is also wise to research the institution’s online reviews, and join social media pages to perhaps make inquiries of other students.
Financial aid may be available for many types of Bible Schools. Contact the school you are interested in to obtain basic information and ask questions. There is no better time to start than now, to begin your search in advanced bible education.
Disclaimer: Doctrines of Faith does not personally recommend bible schools at this time. Examples shown are for research purposes only. Ads may be placed on this page by Google advertisers.